COTE - Environmental Justice

Session 1: Environmental Justice in the Chemical Age

In this seminar, we discuss the science behind and impact of toxic chemicals and exposures from the lens of environmental justice. Specifically, we discuss how toxic chemicals used in building materials can affect human and environmental health and why they have a disproportionate impact on children and low-income and BIPOC communities. We discuss the current regulatory framework and shed light on the existing protections (or lack thereof) for communities adjacent to where toxic chemicals are manufactured, used, and disposed of. Finally, we will share tools and resources available to practitioners to select healthier materials in affordable housing projects. More...

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Session 2: Acknowledging the Past, Envisioning the Future

Architects play a critical role designing communities. They strive to account for context and existing conditions. However, their work often overlooks the difficult history of the places they build on. Many of our fast growing communities face significant challenges of affordability, access, displacement, and equity. These conditions are oftentimes the product of a disadvantaged history brought about by redlining, disinvestment, segregation, neglect, and environmental injustice. These disenfranchised communities are prime targets for gentrification and displacement. The event will address the history of environmental justice struggles in Austin, legacies, and potential solutions. We will hear from a long time local social and environmental justice advocate with a national profile, Susana Almanza, who has lived environmental justice history in Austin. Our second speaker, Sara Bronin, is an architect/attorney with Texas roots, a national advocate of zoning reform, currently working to desegregate the state of Connecticut via progressive urban policy. More...

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Session 3: Environmental Justice in Texas

Texas' diverse population, weather, and major fossil fuel footprint have yielded significant environmental justice issues. While the fossil fuel industry has provided an economic boom for some, it has come at the cost of frontline communities and the greater environment. The recent winter storms and failure of the sector demonstrated a level of neglect not seen before. This session will address environmental justice issues faced at the state level and efforts to address them at the grassroots and broader levels.

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View the Slide Deck: El Paso vs. Newman 6
View the Slide Deck: Building Power to Win

Session 4: The Socioracial Perception of Architecture and the Built Environment - Meaning-Making in Gentrified Space
Co-hosted by COTE and NOMA Central Texas chapter.

This session presented the empirical research of Dr. Todd Brown in Harlem, Manhattan, New York. His study explored the role of environmental cues in the production of the various sociospatial imaginaries of the research participants within the context of gentrification. The built environment, at a variety of scales - from streetscapes to specific objects, is critically examined to investigate how individuals’ perceptions of space and place are influenced by particular architectures, urban design, environmental aesthetics and other sensory elements. The lecture engaged the concept of environmental perception through psychosocial, sociospatial and socioracial lenses while centering architecture and urban design as major physical components that often contribute to the (re)production of spaces that are racially and socially polarizing.

There is no recording available for this event.