Participants largely favored environmental action and believed environmentalism is important.

They suggested that their style and scale of living was more green and more desirable than large, dense urban areas.

The size of the urban area, sense of community, and connection to the land were central to their green imaginary.

Participants identified the community as the key driver of the change, emphasizing individualized and performative actions.


Contemporary mainstream accounts of sustainability in the United States increasingly emphasize the importance of large, dense urban areas and nature within the metropolis, a hybrid that brings the “green” into the urban. Here, we demonstrate that many people believe neither that such areas are greener nor that these are desirable places to live. Through brief photo elicitation interviews and a focus group, we examine the imaginary of “green city” in a politically conservative area. Our findings suggest residents do support environmentalism, and believe their local area embodies much of what it means to be “green”, including a strong sense of community, a lifestyle deeply connected to the local environment, and a desire to take part in sustainability initiatives. Big cities, in contrast, are imagined as both less green and less desirable places to live. We suggest that the dominant US American urban environmental imaginary remains alienating to many and reflect on the implications of these divergent imaginaries for environmental politics. Emphasizing the multiplicity of environmental imaginaries helps us to understand conservative areas not necessarily as anti-environmental but as articulating views that do not accord with dominant perspectives; this might also point us towards more diverse possibilities for sustainable futures.


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pp. 175-192
Launched on MUSE
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