With Earth Day approaching, Urban Matters spotlights a new report, “Local Policies for Environmental Justice,” from the Tishman Environment and Design Center (TEDC) at The New School. It reviews a growing movement to enlist local governments in stopping and reversing environmental health and safety hazards in low-income areas and communities of color that the report also calls "environmental justice communities." We asked Dr. Ana Baptista, TEDC’s associate director and the report’s principal author, about it. 


By Kristen Lewis, Sarah Burd-Sharps, and Bruce Cory

The New York City Department of Health tracks and analyzes avoidable asthma hospitalization rates for adults—i.e., those that could have been prevented by quality outpatient care. A map of preventable asthma hospitalizations makes evident a connection between them and the amount of public housing in a neighborhood. Residents in neighborhoods with high rates of avoidable asthma hospitalizations and high concentrations of public housing— mainly in the South Bronx and central Brooklyn—are also more likely to report fair-to-poor housing conditions.


The terrifying message came via a robo-call on April 20.

“Pack your things. Your stay is not the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) responsibility anymore,” Andrea Tejeda, 26, recalls hearing on her cellphone. She was one of a dozen Puerto Rican families dislocated by last September’s devastating Hurricane Maria staying in a hotel on West 38th Street in Manhattan.


Are cities a curse on land, air, water and mineral resources, not to mention on animals, birds, plants and creatures of the sea – an insult to nature? Contrarily, are they the best alternative that humans have for protecting the natural environment and its many resources and ecologies? What can be done in the face of continued population growth and the unrelenting urbanization that together fuel consumption and deplete and degrade the material world?


I know that there’s no magic wand to make some of the Bronx's imperfections disappear. Still, there are moments of beauty and joy to be found in the place we call home.


When I was a child, the city of Newark, New Jersey was often the punchline of bad jokes about urban blight and decay. But to me it was home. And it shaped my understanding of what I would dedicate my life to pursuing: Environmental justice.


Urban Matters | Environmental Justice

℞ for the New York Region: How We Can Create a 'Culture of Health'(2016)

By Mandu Sen

When we talk about the wellbeing of a city or region, all too often we use economic data, such as income or employment statistics. Only rarely do we also take stock of our collective health. But there are many appropriate reasons why we ought to. 


Event | Environmental Justice

Parks Without Borders (2016)

NYC Parks, the Center for New York City Affairs, and the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School bring together thought leaders from a range of disciplines to explore the future of parks and public space.

Nature's Benefits - Climate Protection and Inspiration 

Jennifer Greenfeld, Nilda Mesa, Arturo Garcia-Costas, Timon McPhearson, David Seiter

Click here to see all videos from this event

Urban Matters | Environmental Justice

Edgy Explorations: The Transformative Effects of ‘Parks Without Borders’ (2016)

 By Mitchell J. Silver
In our densely populated city, people look to parks to serve many purposes. New Yorkers use parks as backyards and living rooms, public squares and nature preserves. However, New York’s public sphere has not always been designed for this multitude of uses, especially not around park edges. 


Urban Matters | Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice Takes Center Stage On Earth Day (2016

By Molly Johnson
Reports of water contaminated by lead, copper, and E. coli in Flint, Michigan dominated national headlines early this year, and became a focal point for outrage around the issue of environmental racism. Then in March, closer to home, reports surfaced of elevated levels of lead in the drinking water at public schools in Newark, New Jersey.

These stories are frightening and frustrating. Worse, they are not unique.


Urban Matters | Environmental Justice

The Hurricane Next Time: Sandy and Its Aftermath (2015)

By Bruce Cory and Alexander Bryden 
October 29th marks the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall on the mid-Atlantic coast. Sandy was the worst natural disaster in New York City’s recorded history. It killed 44 people; flooded more than 15 per cent of the city’s land mass, an area with more than 90,000 buildings; left nearly two million people without power; and massively disrupted such essential services as education, transportation, and health care. Sandy’s hardest blows fell on coastal communities, including low-income and working-class neighborhoods where, three years later, many residents are still rebuilding their homes and lives. 


Event | Environmental Justice

Hurricane Sandy + 3: Building Resilient Neighborhoods (2015)

What’s the post-storm state of social infrastructure in the areas where the storm hit hardest? Have government agencies and philanthropies seized – or missed – chances to strengthen grassroots groups in the storm’s aftermath? And how can the on-going post-Sandy recovery do more to help local residents increase the sum of opportunity, dignity, and hope in their neighborhoods?  

Klaus Jacob, special research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Onleilove Alston, executive director of Faith in New York; Hugh Hogan, executive director of the North Star Fund; Daniel Zarrilli, director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency; John Rudolph, executive producer of Feet in 2 Worlds

Event | Environmental Justice, Affordable Housing

NYCHA and the Hurricane: Public Housing Learns from Sandy (2013) 

The wrenching experience of thousands of New York's public housing residents following Hurricane Sandy revealed vulnerabilities of physical structures and human services. Volunteers, tenant associations, social service providers and NYCHA technicians all stepped in to do what they could through the worst of the aftermath. What did we learn? What about next time? What will a carefully planned and managed disaster response look like in New York City's low-lying, low-income neighborhoods?

John Rhea, chairman, New York City Housing Authority (NYHCA); Wally Bazemore, Red Hook community organizer; Jennifer Jones Austin, executive director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology, NYU and New Yorker contributor; Constantine Kontokosta, founding director, NYU Center for the Sustainable Built Environment; Andrew White, director, Center for New York City Affairs at The New School

Event | Environmental Justice

Cities Respond to Climate Change (2010)

As North American cities cope with the impacts of global warming and the economic crisis, leadership for meaningful long-term change remains elusive. Can government take charge of the climate change response despite intensifying political and economic constraints?

Stephen Heintz, President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund; David Owens, Staff Writer, the New Yorker; Mayor Gregor Robertson, City of Vancouver; Miquela Craytor, Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx; Francis J. Murray, President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)