Is it just sustainability? The political-economy of urban sustainability, economic development and social justice
Skinner, Lara Renee
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Skinner, Lara Renee
Cities in the United States are increasingly challenged with sharpening inequalities, social exclusion and the effects of a swelling environmental footprint. In response, city officials, political interest groups and residents have seized the framework of urban sustainability to address these mounting social and environmental problems. However, the push for environmental and social sustainability often directly contradicts the push by influential urban business coalitions for cities to be more economically competitive with other locales. I explore the compatibility of urban sustainability and economic development through a case study of Eugene, Oregon's Sustainable Business Initiative, led by Mayor Kitty Piercy. In this Initiative, the interaction between the urban sustainability and economic development discourses calls into question current entrepreneurial strategies and opens the door to exploring the implications of integrating sustainability and social justice concepts with urban economic development policy. Labor-community-environmental coalitions, with a broad vision for sustainability and regional equity, present an alternative to traditional business coalitions' influence on economic development policy and provide a strategy for economic development based in wealth redistribution and environmental health.
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