Envisioning Environmental Justice Futures: Highlights from the EJ PPN’s Virtual Workshop

by Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA, and Sarah Kwon, Affil. ASLA

Timeline screenshot
image: EJ PPN Living History Timeline

The Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (EJ PPN) held a virtual workshop in early April, facilitated by co-chairs Michelle Lin-Luse and Sarah Kwon. Our intentions were two-fold:

  1. to raise awareness of the history of the Environmental Justice Movement by lifting up the stories and organizing efforts by Black and brown communities fighting environmental racism, and
  2. create a space for community-building among environmental justice advocates within the landscape architectural community.

A Living History: An Interactive Timeline

After establishing the workshop space with a land acknowledgement, we introduced the participants to the history of the environmental justice movement through the EJ PPN Living History Timeline, an interactive, web-based timeline of the environmental justice movement that links our personal histories to the larger movement. This timeline is built from an open-source online tool designed by the Global Action Project, an organization that uses media-based organizing and popular education to connect personal histories to the larger ebbs and flows of social movements.

The EJ PPN Living History Timeline is an interactive timeline principally organized by key moments of environmental justice movement history, such as the events leading up to the adoption of the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice. Adjoining the EJ movement history is a timeline documenting the chronology of the formation of ASLA’s Environmental Justice PPN, its past programs, and ongoing initiatives to advance environmental justice within the field of landscape architecture.

image: EJ PPN Living History Timeline

During the workshop, we had small group sessions that gave space for participants to share their personal stories and “a-ha” moments to environmental justice. Each participant exchanged stories of a moment or event in time that was important to their personal connection with environmental justice, with each story individually featured on the Living History Timeline as a separate chronology.

Small group discussions were generative, including dialogues about how theory meets practice, particularly around attempts to center community input in design projects, yet falling short of overcoming the array of barriers facing immigrant communities to engage in political or planning processes. Participants also discussed the need for larger, comprehensive federal action, around land reform and transportation policy.

Envisioning New Futures

The concluding prompt of the small group sessions asked each group to reimagine the future and come up with one new event that would be important to add to the timeline of environmental justice. Though speculative, this prompt was a practice in re-imagining our collective future and reminds each of us of our individual agency to impact future outcomes.

To encourage popular education methods, we are sharing this workshop’s Facilitation Guide to invite you to organize a discussion within your own practice or network. Share your personal touch points to the environmental justice movement and visions of new futures with us and we will add your stories to the interactive timeline.

The Living History’s parallel display of multiple timelines visually demonstrates how our individual histories intersect and connect to collective efforts towards achieving environmental justice for all. We invite you to explore the Living History timeline by visiting https://bit.ly/EJPPN-timeline.

Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA, PLA, and Sarah Kwon, Affil. ASLA, are co-chairs of ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN).

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