Publisher description for Deeper shades of green : the rise of blue-collar and minority environmentalism in America / Jim Schwab.


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Counter Deeper Shades of Green documents the convergence of two great American movements -- conservation and the struggle for social justice. Environmentalists, once faulted for ignoring minorities and the poor, are recognizing the need to find common ground. Poor communities of all colors, the worst targets of pollution and waste-dumping, are perceiving that environmental ills are part of their larger fight. Spurred to action out of concern for their families' health and safety, they are bringing new energy and focus to mainstream conservation.

As a blue-collar college student, author Jim Schwab worked summers in a Midwest chemical plant and saw its toxic effects on fellow workers. As an environmentalist and urban planner, he was troubled by the relative absence of poor and nonwhite people in the conservation constituency. All that began to change, he recounts, with the landmark Love Canal case, which transformed a shy housewife named Lois Gibbs (who has Contributed a foreword to this book) into a nationally known citizen activist and gave impetus to other neighborhood struggles.

In evocative, hard-hitting reportage, Schwab profiles eight minority and blue-collar communities that rose up against environmental injustice -- in an African-American suburb of Chicago, Louisiana's notorious "Cancer Alley," and an Ohio mill town, among others -- in the process forging unprecedented bonds with national environmental groups. He notes the special place of Native Americans in this web of newfound allies: America's first victims of social injustice, they have been among the strongest voices linking abuse of the land with abuse of human rights.

In a later chapter, Schwab examines how industrial America can clean up its act, spotlighting progressive businesses and utilities, anti-pollution technologies, and other practical solutions. But change starts with people power, and that is his real subject: "African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and blue-collar whites" joining together "in an environmental revival that is on the verge of shaking American politics at its roots."

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Green movement United States, Environmentalism United States, Environmental protection United States Case studies