Many view urban greening as a universal good, meaning it benefits all urban residents. Why then should we care about equity issues in Green Infrastructure planning?
In the United States, histories and current practices of urban greening intersect with deep-seated social and environmental injustices inseparable from structural inequality and oppression. While overarching, these forces manifest differently in each city we examined.
As our project progressed, long-standing calls for justice around the United States became louder and louder. Intersecting crises of police violence, climate change, and Covid-19 have brought attention to the deep injustices shaping U.S. cities. With this crisis comes the opportunity to advance the social discourse around the relationship between urban greening and long standing injustices, to bolster social movements, and to build new institutions capable of addressing these long standing harms.
This page provides an overview of major forces shaping urban inequality, how they relate to our research process, and select materials and thinkers influential in shaping our project. We hope these prompts and resources invite more critical language and reflection on processes that have led to the current distribution and functions of green space within cities.
Urban greening is always being practiced on Indigenous lands. How have settler logics and practices of nature as a resource to be consumed or disciplined justified the destruction of important ecological resources over time, creating the context for bringing nature back into cities?
- Indigenizing Restoration: Indigenous Lands before Urban Parks
- Promoting Social and Environmental Justice to Support Indigenous Partnerships in Urban Ecosystem Restoration
- Decolonization is Not a Metaphor
- Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition
- Architecture on Colonized Land
- By Eminent Domain or Some Other Name: A Tribal Perspective on Taking Land
- The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock
- Our History is the Future
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
- The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism
- Defending Mother Earth: Native American Perspectives on Environmental Justice
US cities are often intensely segregated, at both the neighborhood and metropolitan levels. These patterns have been directly influenced by municipal policies and expenditures on various ‘public goods.’ How have historical and ongoing practices of racist segregation that stratify wealth and property ownership in urban environments created uneven distribution and management of vegetation, air and water quality, microclimate, soils, and the built environment?
- The Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences of Systemic Racism in Urban Environments
- Eco-Apartheid Is Real
- Unequal Impact: The Deep Links Between Racism and Climate Change
- Residential Housing Segregation and Urban Tree Canopy in 37 US Cities
- The Color Of Law: A Forgotten History of How Government Policies Segregated America
- Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea
- A Colony In a Nation
- The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America
- Race, Space, and the Law
- An Ecology of Segregation
- Manufacturing Decline: How Racism and the Conservative Movement Crush the American Rust Belt
- Segregation By Design: Local Politics and Inequalities in American Cities
Cities have overseen highly unjust and disproportionate impacts of many notable green infrastructure projects that are seen as models. How has urban renewal and other forms of land clearance through eminent domain and uneven housing markets affected urban landscape and produced greenspaces with complicated histories and presents? How have formal programs of nature conservation and ecological restoration dispossessed diverse communities of their means of livelihood and access to customary resources?
- The Story of Seneca Village
- The Philadelphia Urban Renewal Project
- St. Louis Parks & Memorial Plaza
- How to Prevent City Climate Action from Becoming “Green Gentrification”
- Why Green “Climate Gentrification” Threatens Poor and Vulnerable Populations
- The Battle of Fort Reno
- Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks
- The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America
The proactive creation of greenways and blueways to mitigate the impacts of hazards and climate change have a complicated history in the United States. How have ongoing land clearance and greenway production programs been critiqued for creating further inequities, even when equity is explicitly stated as a goal? How does the uneven protection of environmental hazards provided by green infrastructure intersect with ongoing inequalities in exposure to toxic chemical hazards in US cities? What strategies exist to address climate and environmental justice simultaneously?
The creation of urban greenways and blueways has produced landscapes of differential access, even when the infrastructure sites are not explicitly segregated. How have planners intervened in green spaces in ways that cause disparate access for people of color, poor people, disabled people, and LGBTQ people? How do power differentials between state agencies, institutions, and ‘common’ people shape urban futures and possibilities?
- The City Is not Innocent: Homelessness and the Value of Urban Parks
- Governing Sexuality and Park Space: Acts of Regulation in Vancouver, BC
- Woodland Spaces and Edges: Their Impact on Perception of Safety and Preference
- “Enticing” but Not Necessarily a “Space Designed for Me”: Experiences of Urban Park Use by Older Adults with Disability
- New Urban Worlds: Inhabiting Dissonant Times
- Examining Privilege and Power in US Urban Parks During the Double Crises of Antiblack Racism and Covid-19
How have urban green spaces and infrastructures functioned as sites of recreation, resistance, and reclamation for people of color, poor people, women, and LGBTQ people? How have histories of oppression and exclusion contributed to ideas that marginalized groups do not desire these spaces?