From the Director's Desk

Fifty years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, transportation equity is still a crucial issue for communities of color across the country. While legal segregation of public transportation is a thing of the past, one only has to step onto any urban bus system to see that racial inequality is alive and well in the United States. The passing of Rosa Parks, a pioneer of transportation justice, reminds us of the distance we have traveled, and is a fitting occasion for a rededication to undertaking the hard journey toward justice.

Since Urban Habitat’s founding in 1989, transportation justice has been a driving force behind our mission to advance social, economic, and environmental justice in the San Francisco Bay Area. The region’s transportation system is the lifeline that connects people to their jobs, homes, schools, childcare, and other essential services. When broken, entire communities are denied access to the fundamental resources and opportunities that they need to survive. In all too many of our communities, poor access to transportation is the norm.

About This Issue

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As the new editor, I am pleased to add another volume to the nation’s only journal dedicated to the intersection of Race, Poverty, and the Environment. This issue, we seek to knit together an analysis of transportation equity that can help build the movement for civil rights and environmental justice. Featuring contributions from leading practitioners in the field and a cross-section of voices from the grassroots, it paints a picture of a transportation and land use system that harms urban quality of life; damages the planetary environment; promotes wars for resource domination; and supports racism and class-based segregation. Our current transportation system puts poor people, people of color, and the public at large at the receiving end of damaging resource extraction, pollution, and slow, dangerous transit.

The New Face of Agriculture

Alternative models to corporate agribusiness

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For thousands of years, small family farmers across the globe have grown food for their local communities, planting diverse crops in healthy soil, recycling organic matter, following nature’s rainfall patterns, and maintaining our rich biodiversity. Today, this agricultural system—which was built on knowledge accumulated and passed on from one farming generation to the next—faces both an environmental and moral crisis.

What’s called “modern industrial agriculture” is replacing family farms with corporate farms, and biodiversity with monocultures. This agricultural model is trading local food security for global commerce.

Engendering Global Justice: A Different Vision

What can ensure that globalization is a truly progressive force that allows us all to live in a world where, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, the winds of the world blow freely all about us, but we are not blown off our feet?

My answer is simple: women.

In my years of working at the Global Fund for Women, the largest grantmaking foundation in the world that focuses exclusively on advancing women’s rights internationally, I have had the privilege of hearing from thousands of women’s groups.   These groups work on such issues as the environment, health, education, water rights, inheritance rights, trafficking and early marriage. In their work they are fired by a very different imagination—a vision of a world that is not defined by brute force or military power. They are able to envision a world where conflicts are resolved using words instead of weapons. They are able to conceive of a world where a truly “free market” will decide that the value of a teacher or child care worker is reflected in a salary that shows how much society truly values children, education and community over profit margins. 


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