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Neighborhood as Refuge

Neighborhood as Refuge: Community Reconstruction, Place Remaking, and Environmental Justice in the City

Isabelle Anguelovski
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Neighborhood as Refuge
    Book Description:

    Environmental justice as studied in a variety of disciplines is most often associated with redressing disproportionate exposure to pollution, contamination, and toxic sites. InNeighborhood as Refuge, Isabelle Anguelovski takes a broader view of environmental justice, examining wide-ranging comprehensive efforts at neighborhood environmental revitalization that include parks, urban agriculture, fresh food markets, playgrounds, housing, and waste management. She investigates and compares three minority, low-income neighborhoods that organized to improve environmental quality and livability: Casc Antic, in Barcelona; Dudley, in the Roxbury section of Boston; and Cayo Hueso, in Havana. Despite the differing histories and political contexts of these three communities, Anguelovski finds similar patterns of activism. She shows that behind successful revitalization efforts is what she calls "bottom to bottom" networking, powered by broad coalitions of residents, community organizations, architects, artists, funders, political leaders, and at times environmental advocacy groups. Anguelovski also describes how, over time, environmental projects provide psychological benefits, serving as a way to heal a marginalized and environmentally traumatized urban neighborhood. They encourage a sense of rootedness and of attachment to place, creating safe havens that offer residents a space for recovery. They also help to bolster residents' ability to deal with the negative dynamics of discrimination and provide spaces for broader political struggles including gentrification. Drawing on the cases of Barcelona, Boston, and Havana, Anguelovski presents a new holistic framework for understanding environmental justice action in cities, with the right to a healthy community environment at its core.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32218-8
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    Every Friday, a group of East African refugees walks energetically into the grounds of The Food Project greenhouse on Brook Avenue in the Dudley section of Roxbury, one of the twenty-one official neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts. The greenhouse is a 10,000-square-foot space that acts as a community space and learning center for residents and gardeners. Appearing shy and cautious at first, refugees soon engage in lively conversations about their raised beds, the workshop on safe farming they attended the previous week, and the growth of their greens and herbs in winter. These refugees are one of nine groups that have...

  5. 2 Environmental Justice, Urban Development, and Place Identity
    (pp. 29-54)

    Environmental justice scholarship and studies on place and place attachment in historically marginalized neighborhoods are vast and well developed, and I will not review them in depth here. In this chapter, I connect existing knowledge on environmental inequalities to the structural mechanisms that produce them and to a political economy of environmental discrimination and unequal urban development. Environmental inequalities are situated within broader processes of urban growth and often originate in policy and planning decisions that negatively affect residents and the stability and quality of their neighborhoods. I present North American, international, and transnational perspectives on environmental discrimination and inequities,...

  6. 3 Stories of Neighborhood Abandonment, Degradation, and Transformation
    (pp. 55-98)

    In the Dudley, Cayo Hueso, and Casc Antic neighborhoods, activists struggled within complex historical processes of marginalization as well as racial, social, and spatial inequities. In each of these three neighborhoods, residents and their supporters responded to a past history of uneven development, overall degradation and abandonment, and substandard environmental and health conditions. The Dudley neighborhood in Boston faced decades of disinvestment, white flight, and racial violence. Casc Antic in Barcelona experienced periods of abandonment but more recently unequal social and environmental revitalization as the new democratic municipality of Barcelona tried to redevelop the city after the dictatorship. Finally, Cayo...

  7. 4 Holistic Community Reconstruction and Tactical Choices
    (pp. 99-130)

    For the past two decades, activists in the Dudley, Cayo Hueso, and Casc Antic neighborhoods have spearheaded environmental and health improvements and responded to unequal development and degradation in Boston, Barcelona, and Havana. In this chapter, I examine how community activists built complementary projects that led to holistic community reconstruction. As chapter 3 shows, after these neighborhoods suffered long-term abandonment by city officials and became spatially fragmented, activists rebuilt them with environmental and health projects that complemented each other and made them more resilient, sustainable, and robust.

    In this chapter, I pay particular attention to how mobilization unfolded and how...

  8. 5 Place Remaking through Environmental Recovery and Revitalization
    (pp. 131-164)

    Residents, community leaders, and neighborhood workers in the Cayo Hueso, Dudley, and Casc Antic neighborhoods of Havana, Boston, and Barcelona have engaged in comprehensive efforts to address long-term environmental and health inequities. Community reconstruction moved forward in these historically distressed communities thanks to broad flexible alliances. While living or working in a neighborhood, people can develop a tight sense of community and share daily experiences with neighbors and residents. In the area of urban environmental justice little research has been conducted on the relationship between sense of place and community organization, and even less research has been done from international...

  9. 6 Advancing Broader Political Agendas: Spatial Justice, Land and Border Control, and Deepening Democracy
    (pp. 165-194)

    When activists of the urban communities of Dudley, Casc Antic, and Cayo Hueso decided to fight for environmental and health improvements, they did so because they were attached to their neighborhoods, had a vision for place remaking, and wanted to overcome experiences of grief, loss, and trauma. Yet, their mobilization was also situated within a broader context of urban political and socioeconomic processes in Boston, Barcelona, and Havana that affected neighborhood stability, dynamics, and development. In this chapter, I focus on the extent to which the environmental struggles of marginalized communities advanced larger political agendas in the city and contributed...

  10. 7 Conclusion: Toward a New Framework for Place-Based Urban Environmental Justice and Community Health
    (pp. 195-220)

    On a sunny March afternoon in the Dudley Greenhouse, Jennie Msall and Danielle Andrews from The Food Project marvel at the crops grown by refugees from the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights. Throughout the winter, gardeners have tended their crops while discussing their new lives and resettlement in Boston with one another and with their clinician. For refugees, the greenhouse is a space for growing plants, processing and healing trauma, and learning about living and thriving in a new city away from the defined boundaries and schedules of hospital settings. For local young people, the Academic Year...

  11. Appendix A Semistructured Interviews: Barcelona
    (pp. 221-222)
  12. Appendix B Semistructured Interviews: Boston
    (pp. 223-224)
  13. Appendix C Semistructured Interviews: Havana
    (pp. 225-226)
  14. Appendix D Techniques for Data Analysis
    (pp. 227-230)
  15. Appendix E Constructing Grounded Theory
    (pp. 231-238)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 239-240)
  17. References
    (pp. 241-264)
  18. Index
    (pp. 265-276)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-280)