Noisy neighborhood? One family lives with it: SJ Toxic Tour Blog

By Donovan Farnham and Isaiah Guzman

Alison Soman, her husband John and their five-year-old son Ben live in perhaps the loudest area in San Jose. Their home in the Newhall-Sherwood neighborhood sits within steps of Highway 880, a train yard sits about 1,500 feet to the east and San Jose International Airport is just beyond that. Photo (c) by Donovan Farnham

Yet Alison said her family has gotten used to the planes, trains and, particularly, the whoosh of the automobiles. "The neighbors and I joke about it being the beach," she said. The San Jose Toxic Tour is produced by the San Jose State University journalism students of Professor Michael Cheers, in collaboration with

Interview with “Smogtown” authors

In the kickoff to Here in the City's "Air Check: petroleum and air pollution from a community perspective," Sara Harris interviews Chip Jacobs and William Kelly, the authors of "Smogtown: The lung-burning history of pollution in Los Angeles."

“The Smogometer”

I'm knee deep in Smogtown: The Lung-burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles by Chip Jacobs and William Kelley. It's written like the pair wishes they were really James Elroy, but it's chock-full of archival research and unbelievable anecdotes about just how toxic the miasma called air was in Los Angeles before the oil companies and defense manufacturers were ever subject to regulation.


The Toxic Tour: Networked public-health journalism's award-winning, crowd-funded "Toxic Tour" is expanding to Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, where we'll put the neglected issues and neighborhoods "on the map," and create a new model for independent journalism.

The Los Angeles Toxic Tour: Request for Proposals

[Download this RFP as a PDF]

Would you like to bring the award-winning "Toxic Tour" reporting project to Los Angeles? and Spot.Us welcome proposals from journalists interested in developing new coverage of pollution and environmental health in Los Angeles communities. Proposals are due Nov. 12 for short-term projects using text and multimedia to document pollution and communities in greater Los Angeles. Topics include neighborhoods, economics, industry, land use, transportation, politics, activism, environment and health.

In rural U.S., a veterinary crisis

The United States Department of Agriculture is stepping into one of the more perplexing situations facing rural America today: a shortage of large animal veterinarians.