Posted on June 1, 2023
“In the fall of 2014, I was having lunch with Barry Castleman. My collection of Employee Photo ID Badges was part of that conversation. I asked my old friend, “how can I create an exhibit that would use the Badges to personalize all the Asbestos Disease victims who were unknowingly exposed to asbestos at their jobs?” I remember, we had finished lunch and were in the parking lot when Barry came up with the answer. “2015 will be the 100th Anniversary of Irving Selikoff’s birth,” Barry exclaimed. As they say, the rest is history. All it took was a phone call to Linda Reinstein, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization’s (ADAO) director, to get the go-ahead to create the first iteration of my exhibit for the 2015 ADAO conference. The exhibit and resulting poster were titled: BADGES, A Memorial Tribute to Asbestos Workers,
Not only was the exhibit well received at the 11th ADAO Conference, it went on the road to the Harvard Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) from October 26 – December 2, 2015. It even went on display at the New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Conference on December 3rd and 4th, 2015.
In addition to displaying the exhibit, Linda and I had an amazing educational opportunity to present a seminar to the HSPH public health masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students, and the faculty about the history of asbestos, the human cost of inaction, and progress and challenges for the future. At ADAO, a vital part of our mission is to educate the public and medical community about asbestos-related diseases. These students were and are the medical and public health professionals of the future. We are thrilled to extend the conversation.
After the ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference and showings in New England, the exhibit also was shown at educational venues including the Workers’ Memorial Day Exhibit at the AFL/CIO, and The Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health.
After that amazing exhibit and poster launch in 2015, the exhibit and annual posters have been continually updated with the upcoming 2023 poster focusing on the Asbestos scourge that continues to take place in Libby, Montana, and the tragic impact of the W.R. Grace Company’s legacy mining on its miners and Libby community residents.” Earl Dotter
We want to share with you the themes and honorees of the “BADGES” poster series:
2015 Honoring Dr. Irving Selikoff: This inaugural poster pays tribute to Dr. Irving Selikoff,
a pioneering physician and researcher whose work exposed the dangers of asbestos. His contributions laid the foundation for future advancements in awareness and prevention.
2016 Remembering Alan Reinstein: This poster honors Alan Reinstein, a passionate advocate who tragically lost his battle with mesothelioma. His story serves as a reminder of the urgent need for continued advocacy and an asbestos ban.
2017 Honoring Senator Barbara Boxer: The third poster pays tribute to Senator Barbara Boxer, whose commitment to protecting public health and pursuit of justice has significantly contributed to the fight against asbestos.
2018 Themes of Resilience and Progress: This installment titled “Asbestos Fighters” celebrates the courageous individuals dedicated to battling the asbestos crisis, highlighting their resilience and determination.
2019 Progress and Challenges from the Frontlines: This poster sheds light on advancements in asbestos prevention while acknowledging the ongoing challenges faced by asbestos workers and advocates.
2020 & 2021 Art, Advocacy, and Academia: The posters explore the intersection of artistic expression, advocacy, and academia in the fight against asbestos-related diseases. They emphasize the power of collaboration and the role of education and creativity in driving change.
2022 Art, Advocacy, and Action: This addition to the series reinforces the importance of combining artistic expression with activism. It celebrates the power of visual storytelling in raising awareness, inspiring action, and bringing about meaningful change.
2023 Our Past. Our Present. Our Future. Where Knowledge and Action Unite: Focused on Libby, MT, one of the sites of the worst man made asbestos disasters, this poster highlights the toxic dust created by WR Grace during the mining and distribution of contaminated vermiculite. Hundreds of residents died from asbestos exposure from these activities, and more cases of asbestos-caused illnesses continue to surface.
The “BADGES: A MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO ASBESTOS WORKERS” poster series is a testament to the collaborative efforts of Earl Dotter and ADAO in our shared mission to eliminate asbestos-related diseases. With each New Year, the series not only commemorates influential figures but also serves as a call to action, urging individuals and communities to join the fight against asbestos exposure.