This week my group was at the Charlestown Navy Yard. We focused on environmental justice. Environmental Justice is the meaningful involvement of all people in the discussions on environmental laws, regardless of race, income, or background. It's about making sure everyone is at the table for these discussions, because we all are impacted by the outcomes. The Charlestown Navy Yard historically was an area in which many laborers and craftsmen would work on the two historic ships still there today, USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young. The Navy Yard's neighborhood has now shifted from housing laborers, to housing people of less labor-intensive jobs as a result of gentrification. Now it serves as a popular tourist destination and neighborhood, housing around 3,000 residents. Other tourist attractions include the Naval Museum and the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center, as well as Bunker Hill Monument. (This week was exceptionally hot, if you want to walk to Bunker Hill, be sure to do this on a cooler day).
Our group focused this week specifically on food inequality and the disparity between communities. Depending on the neighborhood a person lives in, they will have more or less access to healthy foods. Wealthier neighborhoods will have healthier, cheaper, and more of a variety of options in their grocery stores, farmers markets, and shops while neighborhoods that struggle economically will suffer from food deserts, or complete gaps in healthy food options. Food deserts are urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable or good quality food. Those communities who struggle are often isolated from healthy food options and are limited in where their food comes from, many businesses like fast food restaurants and corner stores pop-up in these communities as a result.
Environmental justice by definition is the right to equal resources and involvement of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, income or housing location. This could also pertain to healthcare, wellness, housing, transportation or access to healthy foods for people of all communities. When it comes to these conversations about our communities, all people in these communities should be “at the table” for these conversations. In Boston, segregation as it pertains to healthy food options is a major issue. Areas such as Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester are among the areas that suffer from food deserts. Instead of grocery stores such as Whole Foods, these areas are supplied with corner stores such as 7/11 and fast food restaurants such as Mcdonald’s, while areas like the Seaport have an abundance of healthy food options for every budget. These are issues that Boston, including all communities, need to address.
For now, be shore to tune in next week!
“EJ 2020 Priority Areas.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2 Aug. 2019, www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/ej-2020-priority-areas#community.