Monday, November 23, 2009

New Book on Environmental Justice By Dorceta Taylor

A new book from a University of Michigan professor explores how the centuries-old connections between racism and the environment in American cities.

"The Environment and the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s: Disorder, Inequality, and Social Change" was written by Dorceta Taylor, left, a professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and director of an institute studying the issue of environmental justice its modern context. Duke University Press plans to release the book this month.

"The Environment and the People in American Cities" provides a sweeping and detailed examination of the evolution of American cities from Colonial New York and Boston to recent urban planning and labor reform efforts, outlining the rise of problems like overcrowding, pollution, poverty and epidemics and connecting them to systemic environmental racism and other forms of environmental inequities.

In its coverage of race, class and gender inequalities, the book includes a dimension missing from other academic books on environmental history. Professor Taylor adds to current research on the subject by exploring the emergence of elite reformers, the framing of environmental problems and the responses to perceived breakdowns in social order. By focusing specifically on cities, she offers important clues to understanding the evolution of American environmental activism.

Beyond the contribution to historical literature on the subject, Professor Taylor connects her findings to current issues in environmental policy. The book grew out of an undergraduate class on environmental politics Professor Taylor taught more than a decade ago. After finding no books or articles examining race, class or gender and the environment in a historical context, she decided to write her own. The project eventually grew into two books.

While all-male expeditions and solitary males who retreat to the woods for months or years at a time are idealized in many environmental history accounts, the urban activists receive no such acclaim or glory," she said, noting that female, working class and ethnic minorities were active in environmental activism and affairs. "In the city, the classes, races and genders interacted with each other to create a kind of environmentalism that was very fluid and dynamic.

Throughout her analysis, she connects social and environmental conflicts of the past to those of the present. She describes the displacement of people of color for the production of natural open space for the white and wealthy; the close proximity between garbage and communities of color in early America; the "cozy" relationship between middle-class environmentalists and the business community; and resistance to environmental inequalities from residents of marginal communities.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Get Active. Go Green! The Benefits of Virtual Meetings

If you operate a small or home-based business and find yourself driving all over the city for meetings or workshops, you should consider attending virtually. While the idea is still new for some, for others, meeting online, over the phone, via Web cam, or chat room is more than just convenient, it's a new way of life! Not only are virtual meetings cost-effective, more importantly, they reduce your carbon footprint and you help save the planet!

In some cases, it is important to meet with someone face-to-face. If it's your first time meeting a client, meeting in person is necessary to establish a rapport with the person you'll be doing business with, and to gauge whether a trustworthy relationship can be established.

However, there is nothing you can accomplish meeting in person that you can't accomplish virtually. All you have to do is make sure you have a few pieces of necessary office equipment that you would need regardless to run an effective home-based or small business.

For example, if you prefer looking at the person or people you're meeting with, a Web cam might be necessary. Also, make sure you have a good phone with conferencing, hands-free and muting capabilities. For documents that might need your signature right away, a good scanner and/or fax machine will make it possible to give your written approval.

Next, you want to make sure you have good Internet connection and workspace, and be sure that files and other documents you might need are within your reach. Extras like a copier can help you execute and return documents more efficiently. Finally, you'll need the obvious, a desktop or laptop computer with the latest software to make your virtual meeting experience a breeze and a professional success!

In the end, you'll be able to add up all the gas, energy, time, money and Earth you'll save!

Get Active. Go Green! As part of our environmental responsibility, we make Earth Day last all year long! Do your part--visit often for green education and awareness. delmetria millener is the Texas director of the African American Environmentalist Association.