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Introduction ACE as an environmental justice group has always struggled with its relationship with the more traditional or mainstream environmental and sustainability groups. We’ve played with them. “Clean Buses for Boston” was quite intentionally, on my part, an effort to reach out to more mainstream groups in coalition, to bond with them. . . . Frankly, we didn’t need them, but we were doing similar work. . . . The Boston Foundation stepped up and then the Public Welfare Foundation and everybody stepped up because what were we doing? We were bringing neighborhood environmental justice organizations together with mainstream environmental and sustainability organizations. —Bill Shutkin, co-founder, Alternatives for Community and Environment 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 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 health of the community, which have been shown to disproportionately affect people of color and low-income 1 neighborhoods. Sustainability, on the other hand, refers to meeting our needs today while not compromising the ability of those that follow to meet their needs. It emerged in large part from “top-down” international processes and committees, governmental structures, think tanks, and international nongovernmental organization (NGO) networks, although it is now, like environmental justice, at the grassroots level that muchneeded change is happening. Both concepts are highly contested and problematized, but they nevertheless have tremendous potential to effect long-lasting change on a variety of levels, from local to global. Environmental justice organizations emerged from grassroots activism in the civil rights movement. Whether these organizations are based on neighborhood, community, university, or region and whether they are staffed or unstaffed, they have expanded the dominant traditional1 environmental discourse, based around environmental stewardship, to include social justice and equity considerations. In doing this, they have redefined the term environment so that the dominant wilderness, greening , and natural resource focus now includes urban disinvestment, racism , homes, jobs, neighborhoods, and communities. The environment became discursively different; it became “where we live, where we work and where we play” (Alston 1991). The environmental justice movement has been, and continues to be, very effective at addressing the issues of poor people and people of color, who are disproportionately affected by environmental “bads” such as toxic facilities, poor transit, and increased air pollution and who have restricted access to environmental “goods” such as quality green and play spaces. At the same time, sustainable development and sustainable community advocates have mostly, but not exclusively, come from the traditional environmental movement2 and are generally professionally qualified , often in a cognate discipline. They are usually from a different social location from people in the environmental justice movement. Wary of interest-group pluralism, where individuals in groups become the principal actors in democratic politics, with its attendant problem of capture, or domination, by powerful interests, sustainability advocates promote the use of innovative deliberative and democratic processes. These so-called deliberative and inclusionary processes and procedures (DIPS) are being increasingly used in Europe, North America, and, more recently, Australia. DIPS include visioning, study circles, collaboration, consensus building and consensus conferencing, negotiation and conflict resolution, and 2 | Introduction citizen’s juries. The overall aim is to involve a broad cross-section of lay citizens in the development of shared values, consensus, and a vision of the common good. This deliberative focus is integral to the sustainable development and sustainable communities project (Renn et al. 1995; Dryzek 1990; Smith 2003). As a very general rule, DIPS differentiate sustainable development and sustainable communities organizations from much of the environmental justice movement in that sustainable community advocates tend, through deliberation, to be more proactive in saying what kind of communities we should be aiming for. Most but not all groups in the environmental justice movement are trapped in the traditional pluralistic decision-making processes, common in much environmental law, that make reaction the norm and proaction much more difficult. Indeed, much of the activity of the environmental justice movement, certainly the small neighborhood groups as distinct from the movement ’s professional3 not-for-profits...


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