New Article: What Does Chelsea Creek Do for You? A Relational Approach to Environmental Justice Communication

Historically, academic and government environmental justice (EJ) research and communication efforts have centered on quantifying, mapping, and visualizing the environmental harms faced by EJ communities (communities facing disproportionate levels of environmental harm). Unangax Education scholar Eve Tuck critiques such frameworks as “damage-centered” because they cast entire communities—predominantly low-income, BIPOC communities—as lacking or lesser. In this case study, we identify three core pitfalls of damage-centered research in government agency EJ projects—reification, obfuscation, and discretization—through our analysis of two important U.S. federal EJ data tools and related policies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s EJSCREEN, and the recently unveiled Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). We center our study on the depiction of the Chelsea Creek Region in Massachusetts. In response, we describe preliminary research on an alternative approach to communicating EJ issues based on a relational rather than damage-centered EJ framework that advances relationships as the fundamental unit of both analysis and redress—in this case the Greater Boston region’s relationship to and responsibility for ongoing environmental harms in the Chelsea Creek region. This research project was funded by JPB funs, find here the full article.