(un)Just Sustainabilities online Exhibit

This online exhibit for Professor Heather Bedi’s Environmental and Social Justice class allows Dickinson College students to reflect on environmental injustices and demographic trends in their neighborhood, town, city, or state. In defining just sustainabilities, Agyeman et al. (2003) argue that social and economic inequalities across place exacerbate environmental injustices. They advocate for human equality to be central in sustainability efforts. Students explore (un) just sustainabilities in their place through a paper and a publicly exhibited zero-waste visual or audio project.

Housing Segregation on Long Island: Invisible Walls

Historically Long Island was one of first suburban places in America. In the decades following World War II the island’s population began to flourish. As home prices increased in the suburbs, downtown and urban areas became more highly populated, impoverished and racially segregated. As home prices rose and the suburbs gentrified, the previous residents were pushed out. Now, Long Island is a highly populated place however diversity and equal access to housing is not equal across the island. There are invisible walls built around each town, keeping each town racially segregated. The map represents the southern portion of Nassau county. It illustrates the percent of minority population in each town and overlays realtor home showing patterns from a Newsday study. Newsday studied what areas potential home buyers are shown by sending actors as potential homebuyers to practicing realtors. They found that realtors grouped buyers together based on their ethnicity and race while also steering them to buy homes in certain towns because of their race. Housing segregation on Long Island is a clear example of the inequalities that come about when urban places began to empty and suburbs started to gentrify. The injustices of housing segregation directly impacts the sustainable development of a place through health and education of individuals. Racially segregated towns often end up with vastly different resources and wealth which affects the quality of the school district and what businesses thrive. A just, sustainable development for the future, goes beyond the “green movement” focusing on the current or intra-generational inequality and injustices that live in our society today. Housing segregation is an injustice that hinders the creation of just sustainable future for everyone.

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