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Community Mobilization for Environmental Problems: How a Grassroots Organization For ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Community Mobilization for Environmental Problems:


Hickory Woods

An Introduction to a Community Environmental Issue

There once was a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.… Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change.

(Carson, 1962, p. 1)

Rachel Carson’s 1962 warning in Silent Spring was eerily truthful; she described the blight of chemical contamination that seeped into the air, water, soil, and consciousness of American society. Carson’s sounding the alarm, of course, did not mark the emergence of environmental problems but instead marked society’s recognition of them as serious health and justice issues. Mobilization, political legislation, and cultural changes came to be informed by the realities that the natural environment was in fact changing.

I remember my first reaction to hearing about the South Buffalo community Hickory Woods. A sinking feeling settled in my stomach as I listened to residents discussing their worries and health concerns about the toxic contamination discovered in their neighborhood. I was watching the local television news and had heard about the recent efforts