I tend to employ a definition more often used by those in the environmental justice movement–that the environment is the space in which we live, work, and play. It includes our parks and schools, shops and workplaces, our homes and backyards. Environmentalism includes the health effects of children living by freeways, the planning of a new sub-division in a city, the vegetables grown in the yard of a rural or urban home. Without understanding our environment as something in which we are a part, the chasm between “people” and “place,” “society” and “environment,” will continue to loom large.
I would like to argue that such a dichotomy is not, and must not be true; and that privileging the land over people, or vice versa, is not a “sustainable” behaviour. Yet all too often, it appears that one side of the equation is left out, depending on what sphere of influence one happens to travel within. Social justice is often a forgotten cast-off in the environmental sphere, while environmental impacts become minimized by those privileging a social lens. Each side believes they are justified.
By: Darlene Seto