When I asked Food Chain Radio’s intern producer Sara Rezaie about her university classes, she mentioned one called “Environmental Justice.”
“What is environmental justice?” I asked, thinking if there was justice there would likely be injustice as well, and thus a story or two.
“Environmental justice,” she said, “is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all the people in the development of the environment.”
When I asked Sara for an example of environmental injustice, she pointed to the local community garden and said, “That is injustice.” Having participated in the development of the Aptos Community Garden, I became instantly interested.
The Beach Flats Community Garden, like many community gardens, began as a vacant lot. Before the garden, the lot was used for drug dealing, illegal camping and all that goes with that kind of society. Over the years, the garden grew to symbolize, for those who lived in the community at least, culture, renewal and hope for the future.
In fact, the community garden was becoming so intrinsic to the community the corporation that owned the land realized that it could, perhaps, be losing that land. And so it took it back.
The corporation did not ask permission “from all the people” to take its land back. And thus the community felt that a great environmental injustice had been done to them.
This conflict between the owner of the land and those who live with the land leads us to ask...
Which should own the community’s garden: a private party or a public institution?
Food Chain Radio & Forums #1,056 (Tags: Monika Egerer, Sara Rezaie, environmental justice, environmental injustice, community gardens, property rights)