In this book, environmentalist and lawyer William Shutkin describes a new kind of environmental and social activism spreading across the nation, one that joins the pursuit of environmental quality with that of civic health and sustainable local economies. In the face of challenges posed by often corrosive market forces and widespread social disaffection, this civic environmentalism is creating nothing less than a new public discourse and dynamic social vision grounded in environmental action.
Shutkin points the way to vibrant, sustainable communities through four inspiring examples of civic environmentalism in action: the redevelopment of contaminated urban land for agriculture in inner-city Boston, mass-transit-based development and waterfront restoration in Oakland, protection of open space and conservation-based development in rural Colorado, and smart-growth and sustainability strategies in suburban New Jersey. The book's underlying message is that the nation's environmental health is a critical factor in its success as a vital democracy. Social health, democratic community, and environmentalism, Shutkin shows, are one.
From the author's preface:
"This book asserts that environmentalism is as much about protecting ordinary places as it is about preserving wilderness areas; as much about promoting civic engagement as it is about pursuing environmental litigation; and as much about implementing sound economic development strategies as it is about negotiating global climate change treaties. Ultimately, I believe, environmentalism is nothing less than about our conception of ourselves as a social and political community—what the bald eagle, our national symbol, really means."
About the Author
William Shutkin is President and CEO of the Orton Family Foundation and a Research Affiliate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.
"The Land That Could Be is a shining work that grasps with clarity andconviction the mutually reinforcing relationship between environmentaland social deterioration. Shutkin's work reveals how two hithertodistinct movements, social justice and environmental reform, aremerging in our inner cities and deracinated rural communities toreforge an America we have lost and long for."
—Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerceand coauthor of Natural Capitalism
"The Land That Could Be offers a road map—make that a trail guide—for thenext journey environmentalism needs to make. These stories are powerful;they get under your skin, and make you wonder what you could be doing inyour town."
—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
"An important and powerful statement."
—Mark Dowie, author of Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century
"William Shutkin offers a solid critique of the established environmental movement and suggests a positive way to integrate environmental and social issues. It is a powerfully important contribution to the debate about the future of environmentalism."
—Carl Anthony, Urban Habitat Program, San Francisco, and University of California, Berkeley