This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
A landmark report conducted by University of Michigan environmental sociologist Dorceta Taylor in 2014 warned of the “arrogance” of white environmentalists when they introduce green initiatives to black and brown communities. One black environmental professional Taylor interviewed for the report, Elliot Payne, described experiences where green groups “presumed to know what’s best” for communities of color without including them in the decision-making and planning processes.
“I think a lot of the times it stems from the approach of oh we just go out and offer tree plantings or engaging in an outdoor activity, and if we just reach out to them they will come,” Payne told Taylor.
In fact, this is exactly what was happening in Detroit at the time that Taylor’s report came out. In 2014, the city was a few years deep into a campaign to reforest its streets after decades of neglecting to maintain its depleted tree canopy. A local environmental nonprofit called The Greening of Detroit was the city’s official partner for carryi... Read more