Casting Shade

Summer is the best season in Rhode Island. People are outside all the time and cooling off under the shade of big, lush trees. What happens when you don’t have shade to cool off in? Some neighborhoods have little to no shade and usually have higher concentrations of Black folx. Why do urban heat maps and redlining maps align? How can we consider shade a resource like food and housing? How do COVID and the climate crisis widen these inequities?

This exhibit encourages you to consider these questions as you listen to the audio story, interact with a series of digital maps, and take a self-guided tour through neighborhoods in your community.

For more audio stories at the intersections of medicine, structure, and the marginalized, visit Not Built for Us.

Ep 2: Casting Shade – Shade Inequity, Health, and Spatial Justice by Angela Zhang

Stream Ep 2: Casting Shade – Shade Inequity, Health, and Spatial Justice by Angela Zhang from desktop or your mobile device

Interactive Maps

JuxtaposeJS Embed

JuxtaposeJS Embed

The 1936 map on the left shows areas graded by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and shows the “redlining” of neighborhoods. The heat map on the right shows the current differences between communities and their temperature. For the full map, click here.

JuxtaposeJS Embed

JuxtaposeJS Embed

This view down Elmwood Avenue at the intersection of Daboll Street reflects a changing urban canopy from the 1930s to today in the Elmwood neighborhood.

JuxtaposeJS Embed

JuxtaposeJS Embed

This view from 234 Elmwood Avenue also reflects a changing built environment in the neighborhood with fewer trees.
This map shows the location of parks and open space alongside HOLC’s housing designations from the 1930s: Type A – Best (green), Type B – Still Desirable (blue), Type C – Definitely Declining (yellow), and Type D – Hazardous (red). Under their racist classification system, HOLC marked neighborhoods with Black and immigrant families as risky for investors, thus preventing residents from securing a mortgage from HOLC or the Federal Housing Administration.

To view the interactive ArcGIS StoryMap audio tour in a new tab, click here.

To access our full interactive mobile tour and audio guide, visit our Instagram @tinyexhibits.

Voices of Casting Shade

Just seeing urban heat island maps and seeing that where the hottest blisters are on a map is where I live, where everybody I know lives, and seeing that discrepancy…I’ve never felt so much tension in a room. I feel like this work has to come with a lot of counseling and therapy for the people that you share this information with and that you work in this field. Cause it’s some heavy stuff.

Kufa Castro, Project Coordinator, Groundwork Rhode Island
Kufa Castro, Project Coordinator, Groundwork Rhode Island
Photo by Moses Sium

One of the interviewed experts in the audio story, Leandro “Kufa” Castro has been with Groundwork RI since 2018 as Program Coordinator, focusing on incorporating creative practices to spread environmental awareness, specifically about climate change resiliency in urban communities. Kufa is also a Project Assistant at Rhode Island Latino Arts working on a cultural history tour of the South Side and West End of Providence. Originally from the Dominican Republic and raised in Pawtucket, Kufa is an artist, actor, and media producer who helped develop a new adaptation of “Comedy of Errors/Comedia de Equivocaciones” for Trinity Rep’s touring production for the summer of 2019, which toured public libraries and parks across Providence County. Kufa also worked as an Agricultural Apprentice with the Southside Community Land Trust from April to September 2018.

The building of I 95 sealed the fate, so to speak, of Allens Ave and the waterfront. The petroleum storage facilities that are there now and the scrap metal yards and all the different heavy industrial uses are locked in place by zoning. 

Sam Coren, PhD Candidate, American Studies, Brown University
Sam Coren, PhD Candidate, American Studies, Brown University

Sam Coren is a public scholar, creative practitioner and graduate student with a lifelong interest in the history and nature(s) of cities. Sam is currently working on a dissertation titled Watershed Metropolis: A Fifty Year History of Rhode Island’s Urban Rivers. Sam has also exhibited as a research-based artist at sites in Providence and upstate New York, exploring humans’ relationships to distressed landscapes, and is currently serving as co-organizer with Doors Open RI of an exhibition titled Providence Waterways.


Angela Zhang (she/hers) will be starting her residency in Seattle after graduating from the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in May 2021. She took a year away from medical school as the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Fellow for the medical school’s Office of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and worked in anti-racism and health equity around abolishing biological race-based medicine, climate change, migration, and incarceration. Find her at dance classes, watering her plants, walking her dog, or tweeting at @zh_angela.

Abbie Hui is a Health and Human Biology graduate (in May 2021) and a 5th Year Masters in Pathobiology candidate at Brown University. Her interests include infectious diseases, maternal and child health, cooking, and exploring!

Maggie Unverzagt Goddard is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Brown University. Her research explores critical theories of the body, material culture and public memory, and cultural histories of the built environment. She created Tiny Exhibits in 2019 and has a passion for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Caroline Cunfer edited the embedded audio clips for the ArcGIS StoryMap. Caroline is a member of the Tiny Team and curator of her own Tiny Exhibit. She is a first-year PhD student in American Studies and an oral historian. She has a passion for wax seals.

Thank you to Frank Donnelly, the Geospatial Information Services and Data Librarian at the Brown University Library, who provided invaluable support in developing the interactive maps. Thanks also to Jim McGrath, @JimMc_Grath at Northeastern University, for recommending Juxtapose from the Northwestern University Knight Lab.

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