The future of Tread
Tread began as a platform to publish and promote unflinching journalism from the heart of the U.S South. That mission will not change.
Late last year, I traveled from my home in Birmingham, Alabama, to Mobile County, where I was raised in a small town called Grand Bay. I’d made the trip south to learn more about a community about 30 miles from where I’d grown up — Prichard, a majority Black suburb just north of the City of Mobile.
For decades, Prichard has suffered at the hands of its water utility, whose leaders have presided over mismanagement and fraud that has left the city crippled.
Every month, Prichard’s residents lose around 60 percent of their water due to the city’s decaying water infrastructure — water purchased at ever-increasing prices from neighboring Mobile.
As a result, residents are forced to cope with increasing bills, unreliable water service, flooding worsened by climate change and an overwhelmed drainage system, and fires that sometimes blaze while firefighters watch, unable to intervene because of low water pressure and sometimes-faulty fire hydrants.
During my trip, I visited Alabama Village, a neighborhood in Prichard on the brink of collapse. There, I met residents like Da’Cino Dees who told me that he and his neighbors shouldn’t be forced to leave because of a decaying infrastructure they didn’t cause. Instead, Dees and those like him have found themselves at risk every day because of the governmental neglect and abuse that led to the conditions in Alabama Village today.
Today, I’d like to announce some changes to Tread that will help me continue to produce journalism that makes a difference in the lives of those like Da’Cino – those often left out of Alabama’s story.
First, I’m proud to let Tread readers know that I am now Inside Climate News’ full-time reporter here in Alabama. Inside Climate News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization that covers climate change, energy, and the environment. For years, the staff of ICN has worked tirelessly to expand local coverage across the country. That expansion has led to critical coverage of environmental issues as they play out on the ground in communities from coast to coast.
It’s worth noting that in moving into Alabama, ICN could have engaged in what’s known as “parachute journalism” — the practice of shipping in a reporter who knows little about a state or its people. The leadership at ICN did the opposite in Alabama, choosing to engage with those already on the ground here in the Yellowhammer State.
As a result of all these updates, you will see some changes in Tread.
Beginning this year, Tread’s coverage will focus more squarely on the death penalty, an issue of paramount public importance. As of this writing, the State of Alabama plans to move forward with the nitrogen suffocation execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday. I plan to witness the execution and will provide an eyewitness account here on Tread.
I also hope to highlight some of my best work at ICN, as well as other environmental news here in the state, lifting up reporting (and reporters) who are keeping politicians and corporations accountable.
So what does all this mean for readers of Tread?
I want you to know, first of all, that I greatly appreciate your support. Thank you so much. Tread allowed me to successfully transition from one journalism job to another, and I couldn’t be more thankful. You’re the reason Tread’s future is bright.
As always, I hope that you find what you read here at Tread to be useful, informative, and engaging journalism. Moving forward, I plan to publish stories on Tread approximately twice a month. These posts may be more frequent in the days leading up to and following executions here in the state. You’ll also likely begin to see stories I’ve reported for ICN shared by both local and national outlets.
Again, I’d like to express my deep gratitude that you’ve continued to read and support Tread. As always, Tread’s reporting will remain free, and I ask that you only give what you’re able, if you’re able.
Thank you for reading and sharing,
Founder, Tread by Lee
Alabama Reporter, Inside Climate News
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