Sunday, September 9, 2007

Intro and Chap 1--- Confusing arguments for an inappropriately generalized topic


It seems as if environmental perspectives often clash with those that are sustainable. There is interestingly enough a difference in both geographical and historical origin of these perspectives. Agyeman seems to be most interested in how these both work together rather than their differences. At the root of environmental justice and sustainability there exists a grey spot where they collide “theoretically, conceptually and practically”. It is these similarities that must be focused on in order to achieve anything in these areas which is where the EJP and NEP come into play. These paradigms are the basis for JSP which is a progressive idea that helps span each perspective making the goals of Sustainable, Environmental Justice possible.

I think that the book goes about discussing these paradigms the wrong way as it builds barriers to the new minds that approach this field. Instead of labeling the perspectives as these confusing acronyms, Agyeman should have simplified it all and described what the goals of sustainability advocates and environmental justice advocates are. Each party has specified interest sets which do not necessarily coincide with the generalized perspective portrayed. The JSP sounds like the most viable solution, but is going to end up being like politics’ “Green” party which no one really knows what they stand for. Fence sitters can only last for so long concerning hot-headed issues like this one.

Chapter 1:

Environmental justice’s first official exhibit of protest was in Warren County, NC after the government wanted to dump toxic, PCB infested soil in towns with a large minority population. There was a large protest and many were jailed. This set a precedent for years after this happened in 1984 as EJ now constantly deals with situations such as this one. Now, governmental agencies are getting involved in a more scientific way by trying to map out EJ communities and prevent issues such as the Warren County problem.

I believe the way people, as portrayed by Agyeman, go about dealing with EJ is from too much of a macro perspective. In order to work with this it must be dealt from within. For an agency to try and target EJ areas is not the smallest of tasks, to begin with. Even if these areas could all be identified, they each would need to be dealt with differently. A more micro perspective would be a better way at going about this. If EJ could be seen as more of a grassroots movement, more support would definitely be given.

Agyeman- Introduction and Chapter 6

SUMMARY- Introductory Chapter

Agyeman begins by distinguishing the difference between environmental justice and sustainability. Environmental justice, he argues, focuses on “community reaction to external threats” (a bottom up approach) while sustainability deals with man’s relationship with the natural environment and his responsibility to take care of it (a top down approach). Although these two factions do not seemingly share the same values, Agyeman proposes that we bridge the gap between them and form a new paradigm which he calls the Just Sustainability Paradigm. Agyeman uses evidence from various countries to show that there is a direct correlation between a nation’s “commitment to equity and its “commitment to environmental quality” (5). Specifically, he says that nations can best combine sustainable policy with social awareness if different organizations within the nation come together, adopt the same attitude, and fight for the same cause.

MY THOUGHTS- Introductory Chapter

The Just Sustainability Paradigm (JSP) could definitely work if all of the players involved could agree on the same set of core values and goals. Unfortunately, individual interests (whether held by key leaders or even entire organizations) usually corrupt collaborative efforts like the JSP. If the JSP becomes a prominent paradigm, it will certainly gain attention from politicians and the political parties that they represent. At which point, the integrity of the JSP will more than likely be compromised. As we discuss the complexity of large scale environmental change, I grow increasingly convinced that progress is almost exclusively possible at the local level. Looking at the enormous task at hand, I tend to believe that policy makers and power players will never find a complete (or adequate) solution to the problem.

SUMMARY- Chapter 6

Coincidentally, Agyeman begins this chapter by questioning whether change is most effective at the local or national level. He does not necessarily answer this question, but he does claim (and justify) that coalitions can overcome their differences and work together for a common cause. He says that the JSP must adopt a specific standard and only accept partner organizations that fully agree to and support this standard. Under this system, individual interests will hold less weight than the collective goal.

MY THOUGHTS- Chapter 6

I have a completely different attitude about the information presented in Chapter 6 than I do the information presented in the Introduction. Specifically, I think that Agyeman makes a strong argument when he talks about the promises of environmental space as a means to achieve the goals of the JSP. If we were to zone, design, protect, and provide environmental space for disenfranchised members of society, we could move out of the realm of theory and into the zone of practicality. Although we may never change the corrupt systems that govern society, we can certainly introduce sustainable practices from the bottom up and enable individuals to fight against injustice.

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice, Chapter 2: The Sustainability Discourse and Sustainable Communities

Reaction to Readings-
Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice by Julian Agyeman
Chapter 2: The Sustainability Discourse and Sustainable Communities

As suggested, I tried to start reading Chapter 3: Just Sustainability in Theory, but I found the acronyms so confusing that I had to go back and read Chapter 2: The Sustainability Discourse and Sustainable Communities first. In fact, in order to get through the readings I had to make myself a chart of frequently-used acronyms. Once I was comfortable with Agyeman’s terminology, I was happy that I had decided to read Chapter 2 because it was an informative and interesting treatment of historic and current strategies for environmental sustainability (NEP), environmental justice (EJP) and the emergence of just sustainability (JSP).

Julian Agyeman used this chapter to discuss how sustainability initiatives must go beyond environmentalism to include social justice. With a particular focus on recent US federal government sustainability policies, he discussed how institutions are learning how to become sustainable. Political processes are informing sustainability ventures both in America and abroad, but the author was highly critical of the current Bush administration’s backwards, hypocritical approach to sustainability. In contrast to the Clinton administration’s action-based and collaborative recommendations published in the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) report from 1996, the 2002 Working for a Sustainable World (WSSD) report spoke only of throwing money toward sustainable programs outside the United States. Agyeman used this and many other American social customs to show that there is an “equity deficit” in many US sustainability initiatives.

The vast majority of local American sustainability policies do not even mention, let alone properly address just sustainability. While Agyeman was often critical of American attempts (or lack thereof) of environmental justice, he also mentioned several useful tools for informing local just sustainability policies. Sustainability inventories, the Dutch “environmental space” concept, San Francisco’s Sustainability Plan and ecological footprints were suggested because they all incorporate some concepts of resource allocation and community empowerment.

Agyeman briefly discussed a need for a radical change to American economic thinking, but spent more time in this chapter on other applied policies that could help communities move toward just sustainability. Some of the suggestions include better transit systems, community agriculture, eco-taxes, affordable housing, and Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS) such as the “Ithaca Hours” program. It was interesting to note that it seems that smaller communities are embracing such policies much more easily than large ones and that it is often the cities that are most polluted and full of disenfranchised populations that do not take sustainability seriously.

While I found the entire second chapter to be fascinating. I was most engaged by the section toward the end of the chapter that compared narrow and broad-focused environmentalism. This section was highly applicable to some of my most recent work with the Downsview Park project in Toronto. Having just stepped out of a job where I was helping to build a sustainable community, I was able to critically examine some the policies and institutional attitudes that were informing that project. I have been struggling to see where some of the friction within that project has been coming from, and this chapter showed the need for many such projects to break through into a new kind of “third generation environmentalism.” I now know that some of the major tensions that Downsview has been experiencing could be attributed to its presently narrow focus land restoration without a true balance of community cooperation.

Granted, massive projects take a long time to implement, but perhaps Downsview is wrong in aiming toward land restoration before attempting to address some major community-based hurtles. It appears that Kenneth Reardon will be addressing such issues of community cynicism toward government-led projects and so I hope to learn more strategies for dealing with this.

Should all sustainable initiatives look first toward community justice in order to be successful? This question also ties in with the community garden project that we are working on with Keith. Do grass-roots sustainability projects (gardens and otherwise) have a higher level of success because they are initially informed and powered by a broad-focused community approach?

I was interested in the author’s mention of the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) as a new and more appropriate measure economic stability. I will have to read further chapters of the book in order to learn more about this Index. I am hoping to get some more information on this topic because I would like to compare it to other alternative economic tools. In fact, I was surprised that no mention was given to Howard T. Odum’s concept of Emergy accounting, which is another alternative systems evaluation tool that combines ecological and economic thinking. Emergy accounting and the idea of “embodied energy” is currently being used to inform permaculture design principles and practices around the world, but is it applicable here?

Environmental Justice Intro & Chap 4

Introduction and Chapter 4: Just Sustainability in Theory

In the introduction, Agyeman gives a brief history of the relationship between environmental justice and sustainability. Environmental justice is characterized as a grassroots “bottom-up” approach, while sustainability is a “top-down” approach. This dichotomy creates the void which separates the two movements. Agyeman then introduces Just Sustainability as the bridge that can unite these two movements, which are in actuality not as dissimilar as many think.

In Chapter 3, Just sustainability in Theory, Agyeman discusses the differences between Just Sustainability, Environmental Justice Paradigm, and New Environmental Paradigm. Agyeman also explains how the Just Sustainability Paradigm is more flexible than either framework, but can also act synergistically with EJP and NEP.

What I found most interesting about Agyeman’s argument is the supposition that the Just Sustainability Paradigm is the one right way to unite the Environmental Justice Paradigm and the New Environmental Paradigm. Clearly his argument is based on the need to create synergy between disparate social and environmental movements, but the fact that that focusing more on environmental justice, or the environment (ecology) appeals to different audiences is not addressed by Agyeman. Collapsing the disparate messages into a single message may hinder the environmental justice and ecological environmental movements more than help. Agyeman states clearly the difference between EJP and NEP is a “narrow-focus vs. broad-focus agenda” and proceeds to develop this concept through a transit example (85). While the results – improved public transit – are the outcomes of both his examples, it seems like that is not a satisfactory result. This begs the question of marketing, and why advertisers tailor ads for the same product to different demographic markets. Clearly they do so to appeal to a wide variety of individuals.

With environmental justice and “green” environmentalism, the principle is the same. Though the messages and the audiences targeted may be different, this may actually serve to increase acceptance of an agenda.

Agyeman Chapter 3 & Reardon Community Development Outline

Summary: Chapter 3 “Just Sustainability in Theory” by Agyeman

NEP – New Environmental Paradigm – “sets out an environmental stewardship and sustainability agenda that currently influences the work of most environmental and sustainability organizations but has little to say about equity or justice.”

EJP – Environmental Justice Paradigm – “framework for integrating class, race, gender, environment, and social justice concerns.”

JSP – Just Sustainability Paradigm – “ ‘the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.’” “Prioritizes justice and equity but does not downplay the environment, our life support system.”

In Chapter 3 of "Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice," Julian Agyeman emphasizes that he is not offering the JSP as a cure-all solution to the problems of environmental destruction and humanitarian injustices in the world, but instead as a bridge between the NEP and EJP. He proposes that “we simply have to bridge the gap with frank and open discussion, if we are to move toward a just and sustainable communities together.” The JSP is put forth as a framework with a foundation in overlapping discourses among movements.

Agyeman explores the reasoning for the gap between the NEP and the EJP, and to sum up (including what seems to be his bias), he suspects that the NEP efforts give primacy to “natural resources, wilderness, endangered species,” etc, instead of “toxics, public health and unjust distribution of environmental risk” because the NEP group is not comprised of people who are not affected by the latter problems. The following table lists some of the corresponding polarizing issues and characteristics Agyeman mentions between the groups.

Although at first glance above table may make it seem that the joining of forces of the two groups would be a solution to the problem of the EJP needing the NEP to mobilize Aggyman’s JSP, in actuality; the two groups need each other equally. “Fundamentally, at global, national, regional, and local scales, the JSP means ‘acknowledging the interdependence of social justice, economic well-being and environmental stewardship. The social dimension is critical since the unjust society is unlikely to be sustainable in environmental or economic terms in the long run (Haughton 1999).”

Agyman describes the GPI, Gross Progress Indicator, which (as opposed to the GDP) uses more than 20 aspects of human life to evaluate the economy that most people actually experience.

Agyeman discusses Community Based Social marketing, and mentions the Ecological Footprint tool, which is popular in the U.S. because it tells us that we are living unsustainable lifestyles by showing us the land area required to sustain our lifestyles. But he explains that the Environmental Space (calculator) is a much better, more powerful policy tool, because it shows specifically how much less we should consume of any given source.


Ken Reardon’s Participatory Neighborhood Planning Outline appears to be the framework of an example of DIPS (Deliberative and Inclusionary Processes and Procedures) that Agyeman mentioned.

In Reardon’s list of “Steps in the Process,” number 7, “Monitoring, Evaluating, and Modifying Neighborhood Plans” is expressed as monitoring and evaluation of project implementation, impact, and effectiveness, and the alteration of projects as necessary. I am again reminded of the work I did with the Cornell Division of Nutritional Sciences Community Nutrition Program over this past summer, where at one point our research team worked on evaluation of a Cooperative Extension program; “Cooking Up Fun.” (“Cooking Up Fun” is an integrated nutrition, youth development program designed to help youth aged 9 to 14 acquire independent food skills.) The CNP is very committed to an assets-based participatory approach, and when we had to use a Logic Model to evaluate “Cooking Up Fun,” we realized that it was not an appropriate evaluation tool. Towards the end of my work with DNS, we realized that we would have to develop a new evaluation tool, that would participatory itself, just like the planning. I was not involved long enough to see the new tool come to fruition, but I was there for a meeting where we discussed that we needed to get the community on board to create it; because the idea of success and/or failure of the program should come from the community, not Cornell.


There is really no mention in either of the readings of the process of selection/recruitment/identification for the citizens who are brought on board in the description of the initial stages in the participatory planning process. In many communities, there may be a problem of self-selection when it comes to community participation. Meaning; that the type of citizens who are acting in a way that is seen as counterproductive to progress in a community are not likely to be the same people who volunteer or are selected to participate in community planning. However; perhaps they are the very people whose opinion and perspective needs to be expressed and heard in order to establish a more equitable, sustainable change in a community. Their seemingly destructive behavior may in fact be the best method they know to show their discontent with their community and frustration at their inability to know what changes need to be made, so instead they just choose to be destructive to see things change in some way. I’m reminding myself of a quote from the movie “Donnie Darko,” where Donnie explains his take on Gram Green’s “The Destructors”: “They say right when they flood the house and they tear it to shreds that... ‘destruction is a form of creation,’ so the fact that they burn the money is ironic. They just want to see what happens when they tear the world apart. They want to change things.”

Just Sustainability in Practice: chap 4.

Agyeman creates an index of different environmental organizations, rating them based on if equity and justice are important factors in the groups description. Many of the large name organizations do not have equity or justice written in. Agyemen also gives examples of different organizations that do work on environmental issues while making equity and justice a central role. Agyeman focuses on 5 major environmental issues facing cities: land-use planning, solid waste, toxic chemical waste, residential energy use, and transportation.

What is unfortunate, but not surprising to me in this chapter is the disconnect between equity and environment. The real question is why does this separation exist, can it be eliminated (or at least lessoned), and if so, how? In the example of the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union the separation is shown, and many questions arise. In this example many of the buses which were used by lower income inner city dwellers were in bad shape, and were there were not enough of them either. On the other side the subway was losing money (therefore taking money away from what could be put towards inner city bus improvements, and while it was attempting to draw in riders, it was not doing well. In transportation especially this seems to be a problem that comes up. While many will argue that the construction of these subway lines into the suburbs must be built to create a more sustainable option to driving cars, and that support will follow, the bus riders union provides an example of the dangers of this argument. As of now it seems that the answer is yes, often sustainability and equity do have an inherent separation in many situations (but not all). Much of this has to do with money, the money it takes to create one issue often takes away from the other. Another reason for the separation is the difference of interests of different communities. For those with a lower income getting to work for cheap is what matters, for those with higher income, they have more leisure to focus on environmental sustainability. So that could be some of the why, and the pessimistic sometimes yes they are at odds. About decreasing the distance. Agyeman also provides many examples of this as well. In the same bus situation the group encouraged and got low emission buses, so while the grand scheme planning dream (at least at present) the divide seems almost inevitable, on the small scale bringing environmental sustainability to equity, and equity to sustainability (like the case of reusing materials) is possible.

While there are many good examples of equitable sustainability in practice, it would have been interesting to read about those organizations which were not working well with justice and sustainability. Why are these organizations failing, is it due to lack of trying or because of other difficulties. As stated above, I feel that Agyeman actually presents examples of the automatic separation between these issues, if Agyeman had presented failed cases and explained how they could be improved this would have been more effective then just listing good cases.

Concrete Points : Sustainable Communities: Introduction and Chapter 1


Author Julian Agyeman’s introduction describes the basic principles of Environmental Justice (EJ) and outlines what he will be addressing in his book Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice. Agyeman introduces three main movements of environmental thought as they relate to social justice. The three are Environmental Justice Paradigm (EJP), the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP), and the Just Sustainability Paradigm (JSP). Agyeman describes the EJP as one that integrates “…class, race, gender, environment and social justice concerns.” The NEP takes a very different take as it “…sets an environmental stewardship and sustainability agenda…”, but “…has little to say about equity or justice.” Agyeman places these two schools of thought on the opposite ends of the social justice spectrum and introduces JSP as falling somewhere between the two “…acting as a bridge spanning the continuum…”. He goes on to give a bit of the differences but points to Chapters 3 & 4 where he outlines JSP in theory (Chap. 3) and in practice (Chap. 4). Agyeman concludes his introduction by setting the goals for his book, which basically involves explaining and justifying the JSP, and outlining the layout of the chapters as a means to do so.

Chapter 1 provides a history of Environmental Justice, and then slowly builds throughout the chapter towards the description of a scientific means for measuring EJ in towns and cities using the metropolitan Boston area as an example.


Equity vs. Cost/Benefit:
My major critique of Agyeman is in the underpinnings of his basic premise used when creating a community scoreboard-like tool for delivering environmental justice. Agyeman makes an enormous assumption that I am unwilling to make. Agyeman believes that equity should serve as the primary driver for determining how to prioritize environmental efforts. According to Agyeman, if town A has 200 points, and town B has 150 points town A is more deserving or in need of positive environmental action. The underpinning idea being; work to create a situation of social equality… this will be environmentally just. Critiquing this approach is difficult because of people’s want for equality and their passion in the pursuit of that equality. However, consider the situation where a particular environmental remediation in town B could be done at 1/3rd the cost and produce two times the result? A greater number of people could experience a greater benefit for fewer dollars (assume state dollars in this example). The direct pursuit of equity forgoes this cost – benefit approach and chooses to ignore, what some will call a greater good in favor of the creation of local equity among towns.

Agyeman’s description of the three basic EJ perspectives is well thought out and delivered clearly. The only concern that I had was that I found it unlikely that the wide variety of organizations cited categorize themselves tightly into the three groups as cleanly as Agyeman does. I do not criticize Agyeman’s use of categorization, but the absoluteness of his placements I found to be a little convenient for the sake of a clean argument.

Ch 2: The Sustainability Discourse and Sustainable Communities

I chose to read Chapter 2 in Agyeman because after reading several chapter introductions I felt this chapter would give the most comprehensive look at EJ and sustainable communities, it included a case study and ended by looking at policy tools. It is important to bring EJ into our discourse because as Agyeman points out, EJ is often left out of broader definitions of sustainability. Agyeman differentiates between environmental sustainability and just sustainability, making an important argument that, as we have read, sustainability is not only about natural resources and conservation, but also about the health and well-being of all inhabitants in our cities. A criticism that is often leveled at the sustainability movement is that it does not address issues of social justice as much as its "primary concern is the efficient use of natural resources within a capitalist framework." (p. 40). Agyeman echoes some of our class discussion acknowledging that the we know scientifically what we need to do but in many cases we lack the tools for implementation. As a relative newcomer to the sustainability movement I was particularly intrigued by Agyeman's summary of the international commitment to sustainability as early as 1992 in Rio de Janeiro (Agenda 21).
I was also unaware and impressed (and then depressed) by his comparison of the Clinton-Gore President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) to the Bush administration's Working for a Sustainable World. While the Clinton-Gore PCSD emphasized domestic policy and the need for America to collaborate internationally, the Bush agenda has been to support sustainability in other countries but to ignore any significant change on the part of the world's biggest polluter.
Agyeman's summary of effective policy in US cities is worth reading in Chapter 2, but I will not summarize it here (pp. 58-61).
The chapter ends with a comparison of narrow-focus and broad-focus civic environmentalism. Agyeman makes the interesting point that broad-focus environmentalism leaves an opeing of coalition building that can include EJ in the sustainability movement because it provides a more holistic approach to environmentalism that is more systems based as opposed to project based.
Although Agyeman states that we know scientifically what to do to implement sustainability, "we just need to do it", his arguments about the importance of just sustainability show that perhaps we should spend more time focusing on how our definition can be more encompassing, also ensuring that when we undertake policy changes we are always mindful of EJ. I am not familiar enough with the EJ movement, nor with Agyeman's expansion on this point in other chapters but it seems to me that energy needs to be focused on addressing those who have historically been disadvantaged. I must say that I noticed myself thinking, "instead of in my community" and that I need to expand my idea of community to be more encompassing. I'm thinking about this a lot as I work on my social goals in my journal.

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice (SCEJ), Introduction, Chapters 1 and 4

Since I have no background or familiarity with the history of EJ movements or principles, I had to do some catch-up reading, so I read the introduction followed by chapters one and four. What I learned was that I’ve cared about EJ for a long time—in fact, I would say that my main career objective (good-quality affordable housing) is rooted in EJ; I just didn’t know the term for it.

What I appreciated about the reading was Agyeman’s rigorous methodology and disciplined thinking (the lack of which I found somewhat onerous in Hallsmith’s writing). The Introduction briefly outlines the commonalities and schisms between EJ and sustainability, stemming primarily from the sustainability movement’s failure to include social equity among its goals. And while I agree with this assessment in theory, I might counter that argument by pointing out that at a decentralized, grassroots level, many advocates for sustainability are likely to also support EJ movements. I imagine that one possible reason for this is because on a national level, organizations like WWF or the Sierra Club must remain focused on furthering their mission, and the fundraising and membership structures that support the financial goals of the organization may be sufficiently sensitive to dissuade major change to the mission. The reason, then, that the interconnectedness between the two movements would play out on a local level is one, the absence of fundraising imperatives, and two, the ability to more clearly see the relationship between EJ and sustainability in the context of one local issue. Agyeman goes on to develop this notion (crystallized as JSP) in Chapter 1 vis-à-vis the Mystic Watershed problem, and in Chapter 4 by giving the backgrounds of various organizations around the country that particularly embody the principles of JSP through their dual foci of environmental sustainability and social equity.

Clearly, the rationale and approach as outlined by Ken Reardon is heavily weighted toward a JSP. It proposes using the participatory principles of EJ to motivate sustainable, equitable solutions to community challenges. From my perspective as a future real estate developer hoping to work on large-scale, mixed-use and mixed-income projects, participatory planning is de rigeur: there is simply no other way to go about getting all the various community approvals, permits, and financing needed to develop these massive projects. To fail to include community stakeholders would be fatal. However, the one aspect of participatory planning and other deliberative inclusionary processes that I take issue with is the time horizon. Ordinary citizens have to realize that time is money, and most offers have an expiration date embedded in them. No business entity is going to wait indefinitely for a community to decide what’s important, to whom, and what the rules are. The need to be proactive about establishing values and vision is critical to being able to attract (fend off) the right (wrong) opportunities as they arise; the alternative is to stagnate, to be closed off to any opportunity for change, and ultimately fail to thrive.

Agyeman: Chapter 3 "Just Sustainability in Theory"

I chose to read chapter three in order to gain more background into sustainability policy and methodology. Agyeman lays out the statement that his intent for this chapter is to locate the overlap between the JSP (just sustainability paradigm) and the NEP (new environmental paradigm) in conjunction with the EJP (environmental justice paradigm). Although i must say for me this connection was an interesting one but not the message or issue that i most took away with me.

The concept that struck me the hardest was that of the "civil rights" divide that occurs among those most involved in sustainability efforts. He says that "the majority of current sustainability action is generally seen as being through local action involving multistakeholder partnerships." I believe that i do agree with this very rarely is sustainability a whole-community action it is general action taken by those motivated few. He uses the term multistakeholders to describe these people and i believe that i would agree with him however i am not exactly clear as to what it refers to in terms of the community.

He continues by making the very the blunt statement that "traditional environmentalists, and the organizations that hire them, are predominantly middle and upper-middle class, male, and white." He continues by saying that "environmentalists not working in the EJ (environmental justice) movement tend to have a college or postgraduate degree, work in a proffessional job, and own a home." I know that this topic of "segregation" or "civil rights" does not have a lot in direct relation with environmental policy but it struck me pretty hard. I do not fully agree that we can make the full generalization about middle class, white, male environmentalists but i do believe that there is a definite cultural split in the world of environmental action, and i do not know why. I would say that my best guess is that of education it appears that the more educated become more environmentally aware, but if we are all taking advantage of teh same resources shouldn't we all be aware. I do not believe that it is socio-economic status because it definitely does not take an abundance of money or donations to be environmentally aware. His second point about the EJ is something that i do not agree with i would say that the more educated would be more inclined to be a part of the EJ whicle he is defending the conrary.

As mentioned earlier i know that this is not a huge portion of the chapter but i believe that the people and demographic involved in environmental issues is an important one and i think that understanding where and why the split occurs could really help in allieviating the social environemental divide. He says that in his opinion a menthod of helping more people become aware and involved is to focus on the procedures or the processes by which groups achieve their mandated aims thsi will help to create a more diverse base of support. I believe that self evaluation is always important but i believe that this statement is very broad and generalized it gives no specific reference as to how an examination of proccesses will ultimitely help diversity. Diversity is extremely important and to me one of the keys of sustainability in the community, but it is a very difficult goal to achieve and we must really examine why diversity occurs and then how individual proccesses are further facilitating the diverse trends.

Agyeman: Ch.4: Just Sustainability in Practice

Summary: I chose to read this chapter because for me, it is most interesting to know what other people and organizations are DOING. For me the theory is not too difficult; it is putting this or that theory into practice that is most challenging.
Agyeman wants to provide the reader with examples of organizations who are really taking action in a successful and sustainable (?) way. In order to do this, he develops a Just Sustainability Index (JSI) by which he reviews and categorizes organizations who propose to do environmental work. Agyeman wants to know if what they're as committed to saving the environment as they are to serving humans equitably as well. Whether his index answers this question, I'm not sure.
The chapter centers around the JSI as the author gives a short summary of the practices and mission statements of three organizations per five categories. The categories are: land-use planning, solid waste, toxic chemical use, residential energy use, and transportation.
The chapter is less than inspiring in the beginning: Agyeman, as he researches for his index, finds that hardly any organizations show a commitment to his search terms of equity, justice, and/or sustainability.
There is not too much to criticize in this chapter as Agyeman does exactly as he proposes to do. I would wish for a few changes, however. I was hoping for a little more than a simple summary of these organizations who seem to be doing really interesting things: maybe fewer summaries and more meat in each one? For instance, in the category "Toxic Chemical Use," he talks about the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and their celebration of Earth Day in which they encourage marginalized community to take responsibility for the planet. Now, maybe I am wrong, but it seems that especially people who have resources available should be taking responsibility. It just feels like saying, well, we tossed you into this mess, and now you ought to dig yourselves out. Maybe this isn't what the author or the organization was trying to portray. I hope not. I guess I was looking for some more of his opinion, to dig a little deeper and ask the how and why questions, rather than simply what.
There is a man called Paul Ray who wrote a book called "Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World." He writes that in reality there are literally millions of people who are socially aware, and creatively working to change and reshape the world--but hardly anyone know each other. I thought the chapter I read was useful and interesting for two reasons. Not only was the author making an effort to connect people with movements happening across the country, but within each vignette he clearly shows that in almost every one, half the battle of the work they were doing was to create coalitions, connect people--to join together and have a strong base and a holistic approach.

This clearly connects to the reading form Ken Reardon who, very helpfully I thought, goes through step by step the process he's followed in participatory planning. (In order to have participation, we better be able to connect to one another!)

Just Sustainability: Theory and Practice

Each of the paradigms discussed in chapters 3 and 4 are very useful. The New Environmental Paradigm improves upon the old beliefs that the Earth has an unlimited supply of resources that we can use to fuel unlimited growth. Clearly, the NEP has clearly replaced that old paradigm and makes it clear that the Earth’s capacity to produce resources and absorb our wastes is very limited. However, this paradigm fails to capture the fact that society needs to take these limits into consideration while appropriately allocating resources, strengthening social capital and equity (as well as other aspects of healthy societies), and accounting for cultural diversity. The NEP, which the chapters prove are still dominant among the largest environmental organizations, puts wilderness, water, and other indirectly-connected elements of the Earth before people direct problems.

The Environmental Justice Paradigm, upheld by the environmental justice movement, puts people first by emphasizing equity and access. Long marginalized by the dominant environmental movement, the EJ movement makes it clear that sustainability cannot be achieved without widespread equity, access, and recognition of and respect for cultural diversity. On the other hand, Agyeman (book author) proposes that the Just Sustainability Paradigm links these two working paradigms by linking the essential components, such as ecological footprint and debt, equity, access, and empowerment of traditionally marginalized communities.

This discussion proves to be applicable to most of the major societal problems we face today. While Agyeman shows specific community examples of how the JSP is applied, there are examples of where its application is the only viable solution. Global warming is one such case. The developed world is clearly responsible for more than 60% of all the greenhouse gases that society has placed in the atmosphere. As a result, this part of the world owes the rest of the world (which a larger population) because it developed with the causes of global warming. In the international climate debate, China and other developing countries always correctly claim that they should not pay the burden of the emission reductions because their contribution has been minimal. On the other hand, some developing nations (notably the United States) claim that they will not commit to reducing emissions without China and other developing countries committing as well. Clearly, everybody has a lot to lose from inaction. Neither China nor the Unites States have anything to gain from not doing anything. In fact, they have a lot to lose.

Nobody talks about raising funds in the developed world to reduce emissions in the developing world in addition to tough emission reductions in the developed world. If China and India are to shut down all their coal-burning power plants, they will need to be compensated for the lost value of those. No international treaty that takes this kind of equity consideration into account will solve global warming. In this case, the JSP is very applicable.

Agyeman Chapter 1

Another piece to the puzzle in our holistic systems approach to sustainability is environmental justice. When discussing our goal to achieving a sustainable future, important social issues like race, class and poverty must be addressed if we are to be truly successful. Agyeman's book demonstrates how connected the two subjects are and why they must be connected when analyzing the issues and devising policies and plans.

I chose to blog about the books Introduction and Chapter 1 “Environmental Justice” because it begins to explore the important and growing relationship between Sustainability and Environmental Justice.

On page 5 of the Intro to the book, there is a quote from an employee of Greenpeace UK after she was asked if the employees of her organization represented a multicultural Britain. She said “No, that's not an issue for us. We are here to save the word.” The issue of inclusion as a required strategy for change did not even enter her head. This answer typifies a lot of environmental organizations who are made up of rich groups of people and tend to narrow their mission to one aspect of the environment.

“Just Sustainability” - to be successful in our pursuit of environmental sustainability, the goals of Environmental Justice groups can no longer be ignored. The author suggests that a new paradigm be created to combine together the goals of social justice and environmental stewardship to form a new effort called Just Sustainability with a new agenda. This would of course take a lot of cooperation amongst both groups and new agendas would have to be created. This is the challenge.

Key Concepts

Countries that have more dedication and concentration to social equity have more success in maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment.

The Environmental Justice movement should include all disadvantaged groups: poor, people of color, women, uneducated, because they suffer the effects of environmental pollution and problems disproportionately.

Environmental Justice principal states that all people have the right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment....with an equal distribution of the environmental benefits.

In drawing up an action plan to achieving the goal of sustainable communities through the new paradigm of “Just Sustainability”, I felt overwhelmed. The issue becomes so much larger and much more complex. How can all these issues be addressed in a timely manner so that momentum for the cause does not get lost?