Thursday, the issue of environmental justice continued with a new speaker. This time the speaker, Sarah E. Light specialized in environmental justice through law and policy. She was a practicing lawyer for about 10 years and interested in environmental justice was a case that she got about a company dumping chemicals in a river. Ever since then she has been involved in the field and now teaches two classes at UPenn.
Her lecture was about challenging assumptions about social justice. For example, when we think of who pollutes, we often think of private companies but often times it's not just them. Same goes with who makes policies that control pollution. We often think of the government but big chains like Walmart can set trends that are healthier for the world. An example is Wal-Mart switching to 100% sustainable fish. This makes fisheries become sustainable in order to be able to do business with Walmart.
She also talked about chance and how to fear factors into what issues people think are important. She made up a scenario for the class. We were going to die but we could choose between being killed by a shark and being killed by a coconut to the head. Most of the class said that they would rather be killed by a coconut. When asked why they said it was a way a safer way to die because they knew what was going to happen while with the shark they don’t know if they would bleed out or get eaten. Statistically, death by coconut is way more common than death by the shark but people are more likely to make a law about sharks because they are more feared. This can happen in more serious situations like making laws about pollution.
That afternoon we had another speaker. It was a CPC representative. He played a film about Chinatown and how they organized to save a church and a school when the city decided to put a highway right in the middle of their town. Much like Fence Line, it was going to divide families and the community they had worked so hard to form. Thankfully, Chinatown is a very close knit community that wants to conserve their culture so they organized the protest and they got a “chair in the big table”. They drew attention to their cause so that the city had no way of refusing them taking part in the decision making for the highway. They couldn’t stop the building of the highway completely but they made it smaller. This allowed them to save the church and school. The town has had many successes through organizing and is now working on nurturing the city through the building of a community center and creating more green spaces.
I found it very interesting how they were able to organize so many people to accomplish their goal. He said that it all came down to three things: communication, dedication, and a common end goal. To make sure the protest were actually organized they needed to communicate with all the people in the town. This created a smoother protest. Dedication is an overarching force that kept them going even if it seemed like they couldn't do it. lastly , a common end goal helped them have their visions set on a way to measure their success because a movement is not any good if they protest just for protesting.
All in all, it was a very good last day of speakers before we had to present our capstone projects to our groups. After class, I went to the library to work on the last things for my capstone project but I took a break to hang out with my small discussion group. Diamond, our TA took us to Lil’ Pop Shop to get delicious popsicles! I was thankful All in all, it was a very good last day of speakers before we had to present our capstone projects to our groups. After class, I went to the library to work on the last things for my capstone project but I took a break to hang out with my small discussion group. Diamond, our TA took us to Lil’ Pop Shop to get delicious popsicles! I was thankful for the break to destress.
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