Posts Tagged ‘community organization’


April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I think that for an individual to fight for the rights of people that are unable to defend themselves, it takes a very compassionate, dedicated leader. Both Juan Parras and Hilton Kelly exemplify this type of extraordinary person. These individuals speak not only intelligently, but also with great poise and passion for people and their rights for a healthy environment. Both of these leaders take these issues to a personal level, because they live in these environmentally unjust areas.

It is difficult to imagine living in an area where it feels like there is no justice and that your voice to rights in unheard. For many of our students even viewing these low-income areas was a first. I was shocked by the size of the petrochemical factories in Port Arthur. These factories are beyond massive, and there are several packed in the city along the water.

In both Houston and Port Arthur economic development is crucial to the success of a community. Economic development indicates that there is relative strength of environmental regimes. For a grassroots movement to be successful there needs to be experiential, scientific and regulatory knowledge, and overall the co production of knowledge. It is inspiring for a student to view individuals playing a role in environmental activism, not only does it make you more aware of environmental justice, but makes you want to work for the good of the common man.



April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Justice is complex, multi-dimensional, and contested.  Whether one steps behind Rawl’s “veil of ignorance” or estimates costs and benefits with the utilitarian calculator, justice rises as an aspiration.  Another view of justice pivots on recognition.  That is, the act of seeing legitimacy in others’ claim, experience, or standing as the first step in addressing unequal distribution of social goods.  But even before that, there is another act necessary for recognition.  It is the act of bearing witness.  To witness is to see without power; testify without act. It is the simple, yet fundamental, step toward justice that we all have to take.  While I see injustice, I may not be in a position to change it.  But nonetheless, to witness offers a move ahead toward our aspirations.  Documentaries, poetry, photographs in some way or another bear witness.  Reflections on the photographs and comments from students after the field trip clearly demonstrate that we have moved one step closer to justice.

Juan Parras, TEJAS, 31 April 2011. (Photo Kristin McNabb)


Metal crushing facility in Magnolia community, Houston, 31 March 2011 (Photo: Brittany Sikorski)

Congratulations, Hilton Kelley, 2011 Goldman Prize Winner

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Congratulations, Hilton, for the 2011 Goldman Prize.  It was an honor to meet you and learn about your work towards environmental justice.  We look forward to working with you in future.

Goldman Prize Video

ABC Affiliate Houston (note: students in video from field trip!)

KUHF Report

The Washington Post (11 April 2011)

San Francisco Chronicle (11 April 2011)

Mediation on the Media

April 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Our class has investigated environmental justice and its multiple facets as a field of study, frame of social and political understanding, and as a social movement.  Several themes have emerged as we explore the history and documentation of environmental justice.  The media–its role as advocate and adversary– frequently appears in the EJ story.  In Sweet Crude, the media distorts, simplifies, and just simply misrepresents the Nigerian struggle for a clean environment  (and their fight against Shell’s collusion with authoritarian government at the hands of paramilitary thugs).  At times, environmental justice fights are “sexy.”   Yet, in Steve Lerner’s recent monograph Sacrifice Zones (2011) and other documentaries, the media offers a critical venue to change minds and perceptions of politicians and the public.  Woven into environmental justice struggles is recognition and claiming a voice; the media is a tool to carry that voice across space and time.   So, where is the line between voyeurism and reporting, or exploitation and representation?

Our visit to Port Arthur provided a glimpse into the relationship between the media and environmental justice advocates;  a television reporter and cameraman along with a major newspaper reporter recorded our visit.  Their presence poked a hole in our classroom “bubble,”  disrupted how we may have envisioned our field interaction with the community.  Some may have refrained from using cell phones for fear of being caught on texting on television. Others may have self censored questions being in the presence of the newsman.  Beyond this self-awarness, the media presence forced us to reflect on our own role as “toxic tourists.”  Are we just as voyeuristic, or the other side of the coin?  Does it depend upon how we conduct ourselves, or what we do with the information once we leave?

Cameraman, Hilton Kelley, and Student

A Radical Geography Community

The Channichthyidae

experiments in science

La Jicarita

An Online Magazine of Environmental Politics in New Mexico

The Trash Blog

Finding Away

Human-Environment Research Group

Geography @ Texas A&M University

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