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

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Community Mobilization for Environmental Problems:


I became curious about the environment as a young child growing up in Western New York. I vividly remember new students entering our class in elementary school, first grade to be exact, and our teacher announcing, “Class, please welcome our new students. They are moving here from Love Canal.” “Love Canal?” I thought. “Where and what is that?” My first thought was of Love Canal as a carnival ride, similar to an old-fashioned tunnel of love. I imagined an amusement park just north of where I lived with games and fun rides. In Western New York, Love Canal took its place alongside other urban legends. A virtual ghost town of abandoned homes, it became a popular teenage hangout. It was known as the eerie neighborhood to the north. I became intrigued with figuring out the story of Love Canal when I was in middle school—even though it was known locally less as an environmental threat than as a place for general mischief and mystery. I soon realized that Love Canal was not an amusement park ride but instead had come to be known as the most infamous environmental disaster of its time. The struggle to resolve the issues at Love Canal was carnivalesque at times, though residents fought through the circus, and those who wanted to leave were eventually granted relocation.