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On the history of sustainability in the Pac NW, Part 2

These four books, both by themselves and as representative of larger developments, signal that current and future scholarship about American environmentalism is not the craggy peaks surrounding the Yosemite Valley or the dense woods of the Bitterroot range, but the clean, manicured lawns of Levittown and the jumbled freeway interchanges of the Los Angeles basin.

The city has come of age. Andrew Hurley, Adam Rome, and David Stradling, among others, demonstrated that urban pollution, deindustrialization, and suburbanization were important factors in motivating activism and shaping the environmental debate.


  1. Section of the American Sociological Association?
  2. Serie: History of the Urban Environment!
  3. Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability: Inventing Ecotopia.

The books reviewed here build on these important foundations, but also push the field in new and important directions. Most importantly, they raise a number of issues concerning post—World War II American environ- mentalism that are best addressed with the tools, techniques, and approach of urban history. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, middle-class and elite city dwellers sought out areas for hunting, camping, and general recreation, seeing wide-open spaces as an antidote to the booming metropolis and the emasculating forces of modernity. Many who write about this process have explored the relationship between eastern urbanites and the western lands.

In Nature Next Door, Ellen Stroud keeps her eye on those mid-Atlantic city dwellers, but her gaze does not stray far, examining the connections between those cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Boston and the forests right in their backyards.

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Stroud begins with a question: Why did the American Northeast, from Pennsylvania to Maine, undergo a tremendous reforestation during the first half of the twentieth century? Beginning in the colonial era, forests in this region were devastated, as settlers tore up land for farms, ironmon- gers chopped down acres of trees for charcoal, and timber magnates clear-cut the rest. This is partly true, Stroud argues, but it is only a sliver of the story. She argues that rural depopulation was an important precondition for reforestation, but it was not the cause.


  • Dirty Girl Mary Ann?
  • Climate Change and Human Well-Being: Global Challenges and Opportunities (International and Cultural Psychology).
  • The Short End of the Stick and other Stories!
  • Viaggio nellanimo umano (Italian Edition);
  • A Bells Biography?
  • The Spinster Book.
  • Safe & Reliable Die Clamping.
  • Beginning in the late nineteenth century, northeastern urbanites realized that they wanted and needed their forests, so they worked assiduously, through local, state, and fed- eral government agencies and private education and conservation efforts, to bring them back. Although the reasons for reforestation overlap, Stroud crafts a unique narrative for each state, and, in the process, uses the case studies to emphasize local peculiarities, comparing strategies and missed opportunities.

    In Pennsylvania, the story revolves around water. Tapping into the emerging scientific consensus around the importance of protecting watersheds, they used their political and economic power to push for forest conservation. The state legislature created a forestry commission in and a water commission in , and tasked each with purchasing existing forest tracks and creating new ones from abandoned farm and timberland.

    New Hampshire lacked a booming metropolis, so less emphasis was placed on preserving trees to protect watersheds. But urbanites from cities like Boston and New York still shaped Granite State forest policy through another mechanism: tourism. In reality, there were conflicts among these groups, not just between them, and creative coalitions are what ultimately led to surprising results. But readers should not mistake its modest dimensions for shallow thinking. Stroud uses the stories of these four states to weave together a compelling narrative with a happy ending.

    But by artfully expressing the complexity, she con- cludes that this story offers no easy answers in a world increasingly interconnected. She shows how the Northeastern forests are part of a larger, urbanized, and interconnected region, and their revival depended on city people who understood that relationship. Cities do not just drain natural resources or act as an imperial exploiter.

    Rather they can generate stronger, more sustainable regions.

    The Environments of Seattle’s History – Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest

    The experience of the city, however, is front and center in Jeffrey C. In series of case studies on topics as diverse as the preservation of the Pike Place Market and conflicts over a decommissioned army base, Sanders argues that in Seattle residents, primarily countercultural and middle-class whites but also certain minority groups, crafted a vision for environmentalism that emphasized economic and social justice, and the equitable use of urban space.

    This vision was a type of sustainability rather than simply environmental reform. Sanders begins with the controversy over Pike Place Market. Slated for demolition as part of an early s urban renewal plan, historic preservationists and community advocates fought for almost a decade to save the market; it is now a major tourist destination. Sanders then discusses how low-income and community members developed a variety of environmental improvement projects as part of the Central Area Improvement Project CAMP , a late s neighborhood revitalization effort funded largely through the federal Model Cities program.

    Later chapters move toward topics that are more traditionally recognizable as environmental activism, including battles over open space, and community garden and farming efforts. Recent work reveals how urban residents used federal programs during the s to further a variety of social and economic justice goals.

    For Seattleites in the multira- cial Model Cities neighborhoods, improving housing meant not just new windows and other forms of rehabilitation but also trash pickup, rat eradication, and insect control. By pushing the boundaries of what is considered urban environmental activism, Sanders is providing a new model that scholars of other cities should follow. Similar efforts occurred in cities across the country dur- ing this period.

    His work- ing definition is that sustainability is a movement that attempts to reconcile environmental concerns with equity and economic justice. Considering that many of the actors in this story were concerned about issues that had significant social justice components—equal access to housing, Native American rights, food security—this aspect of the frame works. But Sanders pushes it too far. In particular, the introduction contains an extended discussion of the WTO protests in Seattle, which notably included both labor and environmental groups marching together against globalization.

    Sanders draws an implicit line between activism and organizing in late s and s Seattle and the WTO protests. This is unconvincing, and reveals some of the more unfor- tunate teleological tendencies within the history of environmentalism. The movement on display in Seattle in was the product of an intervening quarter century of national and international political, economic and social developments. Historians need to examine the concerns and organizing efforts of activists during this period, both in Seattle and across the country, on their own terms.

    The Official Blog of the Urban History Association

    Only then can we begin the process of reinterpreting how their ideas evolved in various local, national, and global contexts after the s. Sanders does this in parts, but his use of the sustainability frame is a distraction. As the field of urban environmental history has grown, one of the pri- mary methods is to explore environmental change in one city or region over a long period of time. Environmental history lends itself to long time scales, but too often this means that stories of activ- ism and reform are only one spot on the longer arc of a story. Focusing on Seattle for about twenty years allows Sanders to dig deep into one historical moment and raise issues that challenge con- ceptions of why cities are so important to the history of postwar environmentalism.

    The one part of the American metropolis that scholars readily accept as a contributor to the emergence of environmentalism after World War II has been the suburbs. Hays made this con- nection in , and in Bulldozer in the Countryside, Adam Rome showed that the suburbs were not just the place that environmentalists came from but the landscape they were con- cerned about.

    One aspect of Bulldozer that made it con- vincing was the national scope of the study.

    Download Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability Inventing Ecotopia Pittsburgh Hist Urban Envi

    Painting with a fifty-state brush let Rome pick and choose examples and actors that fit the palette of his larger story, but it also smoothed over the messy and complicating specifics of examining one city or suburb. Sellers solves this problem by building the book around case studies of suburbanization and environmental concern on Long Island and in Los Angeles. I have corrected the links—you should now be able to click through to the bio pages for each individual. The digital list has all the links I would have included. Like Liked by 1 person. And yes, I am not a Seattlite, then again, when you do a Metropolis of the Month the likelihood of the writer being from every city we cover is low.

    Thanks for checking us out! Hello Luci, Thanks for the heads up. Clearly written by someone who has never lived in Seattle and perhaps never visited. This town was founded on two things: the timber industry and the fishing industry. No mention of the huge Scandinavian presence; the Kings of Sweden and Norway are regular visitors. Just to correct you however, as the author, I can attest to have visited Seattle several times, totally dig it. Keep on keeping on! You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Highsmith, , Carol M.

    Washington Tilth Association

    The Danny Woo Community Garden, for example, is only 1. Not only does contact with nature contribute to overall physical and psychological health as discussed on the Health subpage , but it also helps to foster a sense of place within the community. What is a sense of place?

    It encompasses both the special characteristics of a place that make it unique, and the relationship between humans and the place in which they live. Amidst this urban monotony, the Danny Woo Community Garden gives people in the neighborhood something to identify with, and provides a landscape through which community members can form a relationship with the place they live. As noted by Leslie Morishita, many of the gardeners in the Danny Woo Community Garden were farmers, or had experience with farming, before immigrating to Seattle.

    The Garden allows the elders an opportunity not only to take up a new hobby but also to experience the joys of gardening and connecting with nature for perhaps the first time. Pittsburgh, PA: U of Pittsburgh, Greening Cities, Growing Communities.