Sunday, September 16, 2007

What motivates...

Chapter 6 “From Confrontation to Implementation” by Agyeman
Chapter 4 “Greening the City” by Mark Roseland


For this section of my blog, I am going to refer to something from the Roseland Ch. 4 (optional) reading. Roseland explains that the “enlightenment” to “go green” for many developers and landscape architects came out of a recognition of a growing market in environmental responsibility. I have been both excited and frustrated in the past couple of years with this movement. It is exciting in that it is initiating positive environmental change, however; it seems that if the main inspiration for “going green” is profit, then calling it environmental responsibility is a paradox. Developers who have chosen to follow this trend are not taking the responsibility to do so, but taking advantage of a lucrative opportunity.
At an architecture firm that I worked at, about 6 years ago, I remember talking to a fellow project-manager about some design ideas she had for a client who had said they were open to using to hay-bale construction in their home. This was a high-end residential architecture firm, and this sort of idea was highly unconventional, however; she thought since the client seemed interested, that the architect at our firm might be willing to look into it. My coworker brought the idea up at a staff meeting, and everyone else at the firm laughed (literally) at her suggestion. She realized that they thought she must be joking, and so she reverted back to convention. I would love to see how this scenario would play out today, given the prospect to do something “cutting edge” in high end design, promising of exposure to potential clients looking for this type of “environmentally-responsible” firm.


Agyeman mentions “the short term marriage of convenience” between groups with different agendas coming together when an issue becomes painful enough for both of them. I was left wondering if Agyeman believes that the scenario of equally-sensed urgency from opposing groups is the only time they would be willing to put down their differences to work together? Unfortunately, I think it is. And this could be extremely disastrous, because it seems that there is an urgency that is somehow lurking under the radar of extreme urgency, and we need the collaboration to start now. So my question becomes, what would inspire collaboration between the various types of groups, before it gets to the point where it is a forced partnership, or more importantly, before it is too late? I think Agyeman makes several great arguments in the two chapters I’ve read (3 & 6) for why the JSP is a good solution for both the NEP and the EJP reaching their goals, but I didn’t see him talking anywhere about the nuts and bolts of what leads them to finally making that JSP commitment.


In the final chapter of Agyeman presents ideas that he hopes will lead to implementation of sustainability practices through synergistic efforts from the EJP and the NEP movements.
First he discusses the debate about sustainable efforts from organizations with different ideological differences being more likely to mesh at a local or national level. He shows that when an issue creates a sense of urgency for both types of groups, that it has an overriding effect on any differences within the coalition.
Second he argues that ironically, the bridge between the EJP and NEP will not come from a collaboration between the two, but from EJ groups working with JS groups. He brings up an interesting point; that the JSP group “may not have experienced injustice in the personal and visceral way that many neighborhood-based EJ groups have” (179).
Third he examines the problem of unfulfilled policy rhetoric. He confirms that there is more action, implementation, and general follow through at the local level. He also alludes to the tendency of the NEP’s policies to be far less explicit and quantifiable than those of the JSP and the EJP policy promises. He calls for a general need, on local, national, and international levels, to have wider policy discussions on clarifying how progress, success, need, sufficiency, and efficiency are measured.
Fourth he shows the promise of utilization of tools such as environmental space. However; he mentions the point of view that given the current U.S. political climate, it may be too late to institutionalize environmental space. He brings up a hopeful point to counter though, that no other country in the world has such an advanced EJ infrastructure to base this environmental space implementation on.
And lastly, he looks at his definition of the JSP vs. the EJP and examines where certain groups fit in. He makes sure to clarify that the “JSP is not rigid, single, and universal…. It is flexible and contingent, with overlapping discourses that come from recognition of the validity of a variety of issues…”

1 comment:

concrete said...

I understand your point about the developer that builds green for the wrong reasons (or at least greedy ones), but at the end of the day isn't he/she building green because people want green, and isn't the notion of there being a public market for green houses (or pillows, or coffee mugs, or whatever) a far more powerful and optimistic way to view the economics of green building? Also...not all developers are greedy, just 98%. Thanks for your personal and interesting thoughts.