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Father of Environmental Justice Movement Speaks at Drew

Dr. Bullard speaks at Drew University (2/24/10)

Dr. Bullard speaks at Drew University (2/24/10)

Dr. Robert D. Bullard, of Clark Atlanta University, the man known as “the father of the US environmental justice movement” spoke today at Drew University. Bullard pioneered mapping the relationships between race, income, and pollution.

It only took NJ DEP 35 years to apply Dr. Bullard’s mapping methodology in NJ – see: “DEP Discovers Discrimination – Dumps Environmental Justice Issue in Christie’s Lap” (and 30 to engage the issue in Camden).

Dr. Bullard’s talk was titled “Growing Smarter: achieving healthy and livable communities for all” .

Knowing of Dr. Bullard’s groundbreaking and politically powerful work, I gotta say I was initially disappointed by the title – it sounded like just another wonky technocratic presentation of the benefits of smart growth and land use planning.

But Bullard did not disappoint.

He spoke armed with science, facts, passion and humor to bluntly and clearly illustrate the savage racial and income inequalities in America and the disproportionate pollution and adverse health burdens borne by predominately black, poor, and/or minority communities.

Paterson, NJ - liquor open - public housing closed

Paterson, NJ – liquor open – public housing closed

Bullard had great photographs and slides to illustrate his data on everything from the lack of access to fresh vegetables at local grocery stores (despite a preponderance of liquor stores), lack of green space, limited recreational opportunities, and unhealthy schools and homes located right next to industrial pollution sources like chemical factories and power plants.

Citing a closed hospital in a black neighborhood in Atlanta, he said the message it sent to the community was “shut up and die“.

Bullard seamlessly integrated basic health prevention (diet and exercise) with spatial analysis of land use, transportation, energy, health, educational and environmental polices.

Bullard’s overarching theme was “we must put health at the center of our policies” – and that citizens and communities must organize to fight for sustainable, just, and healthy communities.

Invigorated and inspired, I’m off right now to operationalize some of Bullard’s ideas at a public hearing in Paterson on the DEP community air toxics study. (there was a prior closed door meeting, where DEP briefed the Mayor’s friends on Feb. 9)

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  1. February 25th, 2010 at 00:56 | #1

    I agree with everything Dr. Bullard professes except one thing. Liquor stores and bars do not stay in neighborhoods where there are no customers. Someone is buying the liquor or they would shut down and go elsewhere.

  1. August 5th, 2010 at 12:22 | #1
  2. October 28th, 2010 at 15:33 | #2
  3. November 30th, 2010 at 17:05 | #3
  4. March 26th, 2011 at 17:20 | #4
  5. May 5th, 2011 at 20:00 | #5
  6. June 4th, 2011 at 12:28 | #6
  7. March 14th, 2012 at 17:25 | #7
  8. July 26th, 2016 at 08:28 | #8
  9. August 16th, 2019 at 13:28 | #9
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