Approved by Arboretum Board on September 19th, 2022

Mount Pisgah Arboretum’s Commitment to Environmental Justice

Mount Pisgah Arboretum is committed to environmental justice in its educational mission and land stewardship. This commitment recognizes that we live in a time of environmental crisis and that the effects of this crisis have and continue to fall most heavily on vulnerable and marginalized citizens and communities. This means that environmental education and practice, the stewardship of arboretum land, and access to the healing benefits of being in nature must actively give voice to and work on behalf of our whole community. 

A Quick Video Introduction to Environmental Justice

Grist. “What Do Racism and Poverty Have to Do with Pollution and Climate Change?”

Resources for Environmental Education and Environmental Justice

“Celebrating Black Environmental Justice Heroes at EcoRise.” EcoRise (blog).

Oregon Environmental Literacy Program.

Vergou, Asimina, and Julia Willison. “Relating Social Inclusion and Environmental Issues in Botanic Gardens.” Environmental Education Research 22, no. 1 (2016): 21–42.

National Wildlife Federation. “Earth Tomorrow.” Environmental Justice Youth Leadership Program.

“Amah Mutsun Relearning Program.” University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum.

Teaching and Learning Environmental Justice: Curriculum Resources.

Holden Forests & Gardens. “The Black Botanical Legacy: Teaching Resources.”

Bolivar, Sarah. “More Kids in the Woods:  Morris Arboretum as Outdoor Laboratory.”

A Closer Look at Environmental Justice

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency: Environmental Justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.

Fair treatment means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

Meaningful involvement means:

  • People have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;
  • The public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision;
  • Community concerns will be considered in the decision-making process; and
  • Decision makers will seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected.

Some Quick Written Overviews:

Environmental Justice Principles. In 1991, the People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. brought together more than 300 Black, Latino, Asian and Native American activists from all 50 states and throughout the Americas. The three-day summit was not about responding to the environmental movement, but rather reaffirming the connection of people of color to the land, and our understanding that environmental issues are linked to economic, racial and social justice. This statement of principles was adopted by the summit on October 27th, 1991.

“The Environmental Justice Movement,” Renee Skelton and Vernice Miller. National Resource Defense Council, 2016. 7-minute read.

Environmental Justice for Kids: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Statements on Environmental and Social Justice from Other Arboretums and Gardens

Dunne, Niall. “Statement on Racial and Social Justice.” Arboretum Foundation (blog), June 13, 2020.

“Equity and Justice: Conversations with Staff Resources,” University of Washington Botanic Gardens.

“Mission,” The Botanic Garden of Smith College.

Some organizations/websites with information and/or policy activism

EPA: United States Environmental Protection Agency: Environmental Justice.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: Environmental Justice.

NAACP. “NAACP | Just Energy Policies & Practices.”

NAACP. “NAACP | Environmental & Climate Justice Resources.”

Eugene/Springfield NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee.

OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon: Building power for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights in our communities.

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation:

Digging in a bit more:

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Not in My Backyard: “Chapter 2: What Is Environmental Justice?” 2002. 30 minutes read. Full report here:

Pellow, David N. “TOWARD A CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE STUDIES: Black Lives Matter as an Environmental Justice Challenge.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 13, no. 2 (ed 2016): 221–36. 30 minute read.

Bond, Sarah. “How to Define COVID-19 as an Environmental Justice Problem.” US Environmental Policy (blog), March 22, 2021.

Reading lists to go deeper and broader.

“16 Essential Books About Environmental Justice, Racism and Activism • The Revelator.” The Revelator (blog), June 16, 2020.

Social Justice Books. “Environment / Climate Justice.” Accessed June 30, 2020. Including books for primary and middle school children.

Environmental Justice Reading List | Environmental Law Institute,” March 19, 2012.

A fun read— Pope Francis explains the connection between the environment and social justice: Francis, Pope. Laudato Si — On Care for Our Common Home. Our Sunday Visitor, 2015.

-Prepared By Carl Bybee, Arboretum Board Member