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From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (Critical America (New York University Paperback)) [Paperback]

Luke W. Cole , Sheila R. Foster
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1, 2000 0814715370 978-0814715376 First Edition

When Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order on Environmental Justice in 1994, the phenomenon of environmental racism--the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards, particularly toxic waste dumps and polluting factories, on people of color and low-income communities--gained unprecedented recognition. Behind the President's signature, however, lies a remarkable tale of grassroots activism and political mobilization. Today, thousands of activists in hundreds of locales are fighting for their children, their communities, their quality of life, and their health.

From the Ground Up critically examines one of the fastest growing social movements in the United States, the movement for environmental justice. Tracing the movement's roots, Luke Cole and Sheila Foster combine long-time activism with powerful storytelling to provide gripping case studies of communities across the U.S--towns like Kettleman City, California; Chester, Pennsylvania; and Dilkon, Arizona--and their struggles against corporate polluters. The authors effectively use social, economic and legal analysis to illustrate the historical and contemporary causes for environmental racism. Environmental justice struggles, they demonstrate, transform individuals, communities, institutions and even the nation as a whole.

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From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (Critical America (New York University Paperback)) + Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago (Urban and Industrial Environments) + Environmentalism and Economic Justice: Two Chicano Struggles in the Southwest (Society, Environment, and Place)
Price for all three: $53.18

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Editorial Reviews


"From the Ground Up presents the history of the environmental justice movement in the best possible way: through the retelling of the individual stories of local communities that have transformed the nation's environmental laws. Both descriptive and reflective, the book is wonderfully evocative of the passions that have maintained the environmental justice movement and that underlie its enormous promise for social change."

-Richard Lazarus,Georgetown University Law School

"A thought-provoking analysis of how grassroots activism from people of color communities is transforming environmental politics. Such activism has brought an important infusion of energy and vision to the pursuit of environmental democracy."

-Charles Lee,principal author of Toxic Waste and Race in the United States

"A fresh and lively treatise on the struggles of ordinary people who are making extraordinary contributions to the environmental and economic justice movement."

-Robert D. Bullard,author ofDumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality

"Provides valuable and comprehensive analyses of the driving forces behind environmental injustices. Anyone wanting to know why an environmental justice movement has emerged in this country and what future direction it may take should read this book."

-Paul Mohai,author of Black Environmentalism and Environmental Racism: Reviewing the Evidence

"They assess the effectiveness of the organizing tactics employed, casting particular scrutiny on the courts as agents of social change...The authors have presented concrete examples, all the while making clear that there are no road maps for successful organizing."

-New York Law Journal,

About the Author

Luke Cole is director of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation's Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment.

Sheila Foster is Associate Professor at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden.

Product Details

  • Series: Critical America (New York University Paperback)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press; First Edition edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814715370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814715376
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Environmental Justice March 16, 2001
For those people who want a wide-ranging introduction to the environmental justice movement and its legal arm, this is the place to turn. Written by a movement lawyer activist and a legal academic, this book captures the social and legal evolution of the environmental justice movement in a way that highlights the work of the communities themselves. Vigorously written, the book would be worth the price just for the chapter on transformative politics and its comprehensive annotated bibliography. A must have.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enviromental justice and grassroots advocacy May 25, 2001
Anyone interested in community organizing, legal advocacy on behalf of community groups, and environmental justice work will benefit from this book's in-depth analysis of the struggles and achievements of neighborhood groups battling environmental injustice, and its valuable insights into community organizing strategies and the role of lawyers and the legal system in promoting social change. Although the authors fully acknowledge the prevalence of racism in our society and the lack of easy fixes to the problems faced by disadvantaged communities, they nevertheless convey an inspiring sense of idealism and optimism about the future possibilities for "the movement".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, educational, entertaining September 27, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this for an environmental psychology class and was quite glad that I chose this book from the list of options. It was not only informative but also an easy and entertaining read. If you are interested in environmental justice, this is a great introduction to the movement and also a great historical review.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly biased. March 16, 2013
By Shelby
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm all for getting angry at injustice-- count me in! But when authors do so with such bias and such poor writing skills, I find myself getting angry at the authors, not the real enemy. Further adding to the problem was the issue of the authors writing about themselves in the third person, using such adjectives as "creative," "witty," etc. Save it for the resume, please.

I understand that the issue of environmental justice is very heated, and why the authors only chose to tell their sides of the story. However, their language-- almost "he said she said" like, in a way-- turned me off so much that I struggled to read the chapters assigned for my class. I believe at one point they even referred to the other side as "evil." Fantastic, the other side probably is evil. However, writing such in a book that you want people to take seriously is really kind of strange.

A few Google searches would do a better job of illuminating the issues behind environmental justice.
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