Ben Clark, who is a PhD candidate in the Anthropocene Household Project in the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute (IAHI) and he’s also Cultural Resources Manager at Indiana State Parks. So, depending on the day, you might find him in Indiana’s state parks, or working with the Anthropocene Household Projects in Indianapolis neighborhoods.
“The Anthropocene Household Project is a way of taking the huge geological concept of the human impact on earth, and flipping it on its head and looking at it in a very localized household level,” he said.
That is to say, what we do in our individual households has an impact on the environment.
This project is gearing up to collect water, dust, and soil samples from households in Indianapolis neighborhoods. Through this project, both academics at IUPUI and individual holders in affected communities will have a better understanding about the extent of lead contamination.
It is from some of these same neighborhoods that Clark will take oral histories for his doctoral research.
“In Indianapolis in particular, we see environmental racism’s impact in neighborhoods inhabited by people of color,” he said. “There are sections of the city with majority Black residents that have groundwater contaminated by industrial chemicals.”
Clark, who was born and raised in Ohio, moved to Northwest Indiana, where he attended high school. After receiving a BA in history from Indiana University, he spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer in the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky.
Clark might from time to time, as the Cultural Resources Manager at Indiana State Parks, have an opportunity to walk trails in the woods. There are, however, many other aspects to his position.
“We have lots of prehistoric indigenous Native American sites and modern 20th century archaeological sites that all need to be carefully managed,” he said. “Part of my job is to manage that whole process. But I also get to do fun things like develop our website content. I have also developed a fourth grade Indiana history curriculum that looks at the history of Indiana through the lens of state parks.”