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Sam Bloch

Emerson Collective Fellowship

Investigating how shade can be a powerful civic resource to protect us from climate change.

Headshot of Sam Bloch

Sam Bloch has worked as a journalist for more than a decade, first, as an arts writer for LA Weekly; then, as a reporter at The Counter, a nonprofit news outlet focused on the business, environmental, and cultural aspects of food. His reporting took him across the country, from Silicon Valley tech labs to sprawling Missouri cornfields. Along the way, he learned how people in the food industry—from restaurateurs to manufacturers—were grappling with the challenges of climate change. 

Conversations with advocates for the farm workers who push their bodies to extremes in the sun triggered his interest in the health effects of climate change. In 2019, he wrote an article for Places Journal that called upon Los Angeles city officials to recognize shade as an important civic resource and a requirement for public health. That article sparked a national conversation that continues to this day. 

As an Emerson Collective Fellow, Bloch is expanding his article into a book about the relationship between shade and inequality, and about how shade is harnessed as a scalable solution to climate change. 

Heat is America’s deadliest weather event. People of color and low-income families are more likely to suffer, because their neighborhoods are artificially hotter. Decades of racist land-use decisions and underinvestment have created the wide roads, bare sidewalks, and asphalt expanses that are becoming more dangerous for the people who work, live, and play in them—some of whom are without access to air conditioning.

Shade is a simple, sustainable—often overlooked—natural resource that can protect vulnerable people today, while helping us to reduce planet-warming emissions over the long term. Bloch’s book will urge city officials, urban planners, and environmental-justice activists to fight for shade.