A Wider View of Social Justice
Your October feature oncontains some good first steps for designers who may be unfamiliar with the issue but leaves the most important topics in this area undiscussed. Providing healthy interior spaces and shared community amenities are a good start, but “social justice” generally refers to redressing the major inequities in society today, especially socio-economic disparity and discrimination against minority groups. The ongoing failure of our country to provide dignified housing, school facilities, and other basics of community life to all its residents is a major social justice issue with clear implications for the planners of physical facilities. The injustices exposed around hurricane Katrina and the foreclosure crisis gripping the country are only two manifestations of the major failures in social justice we continue to experience. To leave readers with the impression that social justice can be approached on the basis of design details without looking at the hard facts of inequality in our society does not give a realistic understanding of the issue. As green building evolves to address social justice, more of our practition-ers and more of our projects will have to address the un-sustainability of having our built environment and its planned development owned and controlled by a small, wealthy elite whose interests do not overlap with that of society as a whole. ...