Aloma Dew, Associate Midwest Representative
Aloma began her work with the Sierra Club as an organizer on water quality issues five years ago. A former adjunct professor of history at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Aloma has been involved with environmental issues for years, first as the Environmental Chair and President of the Owensboro League of Women Voters, and later as the governor-appointed chair of the Kentucky Environmental Water Quality Commission.
Now Aloma focuses her efforts on poultry factory farms and processing sites in western Kentucky. Currently, she is working with the Club's Environmental Law Program on a lawsuit against Tyson Foods over toxic ammonia pollution from factory farms. If the case is successful, it will establish integrator liability, or corporate responsibility for these emissions. As it stands now, corporations are able to foist pollution liability on individual growers.
One of Aloma's claims to SC fame is the "Tour de Stench," a tour of local neighborhoods that are directly impacted by factory farms. Aloma created the Tour several years ago and now leads several each year to expose people from the city and the media to the harsh realities of being neighbors with a factory farm. The whole experience is very sensory-many people on the Tours experience the headaches, burning eyes, and sore throats that are routine to the residents. The Tour was such a success in western Kentucky that now other Club activists have begun to organize their own Tours in various states.
Aloma is a grandmother, an underlying source of motivation for her job. "I want to make things better for my grandchildren. I felt that I was at a point in my life where I could do this kind of work full-time." She feels fortunate to be able to work with the Club legal team on these issues, noting that although there are several obstacles along the way, "we have to take our victories where we can." Aloma operates under the motto that somebody has to do all of this work, and that we cannot just sit back and hope that someone else will step up to the plate. "I live in a beautiful state and I refuse to let corporate agriculture come in and ruin it."
Her husband, Lee, now works part-time with the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, a community-based water monitoring program that Aloma helped get off the ground in Kentucky. Aloma and Lee have coauthored a book titled, Owensboro: The City on the Yellow Bank. "Writing a book together prepared us for working together daily on environmental issues...we work well together."