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Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice

Julian Agyeman
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 245
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  • Book Info
    Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice
    Book Description:

    Popularized in the movies Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action, environmental justice refers to any local response to a threat against community health. In this book, Julian Agyeman argues that environmental justice and the sustainable communities movement are compatible in practical ways. Yet sustainability, which focuses on meeting our needs today while not compromising the ability of our successors to meet their needs, has not always partnered with the challenges of environmental justice.Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice explores the ideological differences between these two groups and shows how they can work together. Agyeman provides concrete examples of potential model organizations that employ the types of strategies he advocates. This book is vital to the efforts of community organizers, policymakers, and everyone interested in a better environment and community health.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-0774-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    The relationship between environmental justice and sustainability groups has traditionally been uneasy. What might at first glance seem like an obvious case for partnership, for coalition, is fraught with ideological and other concerns, despite the obvious enthusiasm of funders. How has it come to this, and more to the point, how do we move forward?

    Environmental justice and sustainability are two concepts that have evolved over the past two decades to provide new, exciting, and challenging directions for public policy and planning. Environmental justice can be understood as a local, grassroots, or “bottom-up” community reaction to external threats to the...

  5. 1 Environmental Justice
    (pp. 14-38)

    In this chapter, I attempt to do three things that are necessary in order for the reader to understand my later arguments and case study. First, I briefly track the history of the environmental justice (EJ) concept and resulting movement. I examine its institutional setting and some of the policy tools its advocates and activists use, finally offering an EJ critique of risk assessment and expert-led research. Second, I look at the definition, framing, and discourse of environmental justice and at the EJP in order to compare and contrast it to the NEP and JSP in chapter 3. Third, I...

  6. 2 The Sustainability Discourse and Sustainable Communities
    (pp. 39-78)

    What are sustainable communities? How do we define them, and what are their characteristics? If developing sustainable communities will improve the quality of our lives, how do we create them? In this chapter, I focus on four themes that help differentiateenvironmentalsustainability, or the NEP, fromjustsustainability, or the JSP. First, I look at the origins and the theoretical and practical aspects of sustainability, sustainable development, and sustainable communities, focusing on a critique of environmental sustainability. Second, I look at a few policy tools and policies currently available and being used in U.S. cities and in cities and...

  7. 3 Just Sustainability in Theory
    (pp. 79-106)

    Having given a background to the discourses of environmental justice and sustainability, sustainable development and sustainable communities, to narrow-focus and broad-focus civic environmentalism and some linkages between them, it is my intent in this chapter to more fully map the nexus between the discourses of environmental justice and sustainability.¹ In other words, I now want to characterize the JSP as a bridge between the NEP and the EJP, noting its similarities to and differences from each. I show its global and local relevance and its four main focal areas of concern: quality of life, present and future generations, justice and...

  8. 4 Just Sustainability in Practice
    (pp. 107-132)

    This chapter moves the theory of just sustainability into practice.¹ First, I develop a Just Sustainability Index, through which I assess the commitment of a range of national environmental and sustainability organizations to the JSP. This is done in order to provide a rough and ready metric, a rule of thumb as to where well-known national organizations stand in relation to justice and equity issues. I then present three representative programs or projects in each of five sustainability issue categories (land-use planning, solid waste, toxic chemical use, residential energy use, and transportation) that are demonstrating just sustainability in practice in...

  9. 5 Alternatives for Community and Environment
    (pp. 133-175)

    In this chapter, I present an explanatory case study of the organization Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), based in Boston’s Roxbury district. ACE was chosen as the unit of analysis because I believe that it, like all the other representative programs or projects described in chapter 4 with a JSI of 3, is demonstrating certain aspects of the JSP in practice in urban America. Although ACE identifies itself firmly with the environmental justice movement (ACE 2002), it is my belief that in its ten years of operation, it has changed both organizationally and programmatically. Is ACE still an environmental...

  10. 6 From Confrontation to Implementation: Some Concluding Thoughts
    (pp. 176-186)

    In this final chapter, I present five concluding thoughts, out of the many I could have chosen, which I hope will help fuel the debate that will begin to move us from the tradition of confrontation between the EJP and the NEP toward greater understanding and hopefully strategies for the implementation of robust, joined-up policies for just sustainability at the local, regional, national, and international levels.

    First, I develop thoughts on the debate about whether the local or national level is a better place to make coalitions or engage in the cooperative endeavors that I believe are leading the way...

  11. Appendix: Principles of Environmental Justice
    (pp. 187-190)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 191-206)
  13. References
    (pp. 207-224)
  14. Index
    (pp. 225-244)
  15. About the Author
    (pp. 245-245)