Category: Citizen Empowerment

Environmental Justice 101

Environmental Justice 101

Hello, again!

As I’m sure you know, our environment is not always maintained as well as it should be (or if you don’t, welcome to reality). There are many environmental impacts that affect us in our every day lives, which put our health at risk. I’m hoping, since you are taking the time to read this blog, you know that we should, and must, be more conscience of these impacts and make efforts to improve them. However, did you know these risks are unequally shared across race and class? Some of you may be asking yourselves now, “What do you mean, unequally shared?” or “What does race or class have to do with anything”. These are the questions I hope to answer for you. I also hope to give you a better understanding of the injustices that often get looked over and are not always brought to light by the media and/or politicians (which, face it, that’s where most of us get our news whether we like it or not).

Environmental Justice:

  • Things like hazardous plants, pollution, and contamination are disproportionately located in black and poor communities.
  • This spawned an area of research and social movement aimed at addressing these inequities: Environmental Justice.
  • It advocates that all people and communities, regardless of their race or class status, are entitled to a healthy environment, as well as equal protection of environmental laws and regulations.
  • Click here for the 17 guiding principles of environmental justice!
  • There are two main debates with environmental justice: race vs. class and the chicken and the egg.

“Race vs. Class Debate”

  • Debates whether race or class is a better predictor of “environmental bads”.
  • Answering this debate is complicated because race and class connected.
  • Poor racially concentrated communities are the best predictors.
  • This occurs wherever people have the least amount of power, called “the path of least resistance”.
  • Occurs in poor black communities, as well as poor white communities.
  • This rarely occurs in rich white communities.

“The Chicken and The Egg”

  • Debates whether the “environmental bad” or the people came first into a community.
  • This assumes only one form of discrimination: the environmental bad moving in.
  • If people move into a contaminated community, it is discrimination too because those of a lower socioeconomic status are often forced into them.
  • NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) is the act of rich white folks opposing environmental bads.
  • NIMBY acts concentrate these into marginalized communities!

I can’t stress to you enough how difficult it is for me to provide an introduction of environmental justice, alongside the two debates, in such a short blog! There are so many components to environmental justice that warrant their own blogs! In the coming months I plan on discussing many of these with you because it is a highly important topic to discuss, as well as a crucial component to environmentalism. In the mean time, I encourage each and every one of you to think about something in a community that negatively impacts the environment (power plant, factory etc.) around you. Then, ask yourself, where are these located?

Until next time!

Adam

 

 

 

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The Power of Empowerment

The Power of Empowerment

By Gabe Duverge

Editor’s note: As Friends of Limestone begins it’s journey, we will be outlining each of the four pillars of our work as well as our focus issues. This is the third part of our four part series on our work. Part one on preservation and confirmation can be found here, and part two on education here

Tucked behind tennis courts and across a street from the Louisville Zoo is a sizable forest. Walking through the trails that cross the area, you should eventually get to the Louisville Nature Center. A modest facility that houses the volunteers and staff who steward the forest, officially known as the Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve.

Whenever I think about empowerment I always think about the Louisville Nature Center. As a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, I found myself at the center often. I can remember weekends spent walking the trails, and never wanting to leave their fantastically cool bird blind. The lessons I learned there helped instill an appreciation for the outdoors that I try to uphold across my life.

The LNC was excellent at not only teaching me how important our surrounding outdoor areas are, but how important it was for me to take care of them. Half of my trips to the center were to pick up trash, and take care of the trails in the forest. I even helped my best friend build benches in the reserve as a high school student, benches which remain there to this day.

My times at the center helped me understand early that every single one of us has a part to play in keeping the nature around us enjoyable. Whether it’s a day picking up small trash or just simply recycling, we all have a part to play.

The same thing goes for our work in Friends of Limestone. If we want Kentucky to be the community we desire it to be, we have to empower each other to get it done. Each of us has to contribute to make the greater whole better.

The term “commonwealth” literally means “a community founded for the common good.” That common good is not possible without each of us doing our part.

Our goal for Friends of Limestone is to not only instill that into others, but also to give citizens the tools to actually make a difference. We want to help you find battles worth fighting, and help you win. We hope you’ll join us.