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Welcome to the Environment section of CPN. In our essay on civic environmentalism, we provide a wide-ranging overview of civic innovation and grassroots action over the past thirty years, and the relevance of these for policy making. Our case studies examine many different kinds of innovation, including environmental dispute resolution, environmental justice, collaboration among federal agencies, industry and environmental groups, local civic partnerships, good neighbor agreements, participatory siting, democratic risk assessment, and environmental education.

Civic Perspectives

Civic Environmentalism 1995
This is a long essay that includes case studies, policy analysis, and an historicalperspective on social learning and capacity building from the late 1960s to the1990s. It can also be used as a course curriculum.
by Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland

Evaluation of Community-Based Environmental Protection Projects: Accomplishments and Lessons Learned (2003: 864K), by US EPA examines the general community-based strategy, its successes and persistent challenges, and provides 5 detailed case studies: San Miguel Watershed Initiative, North Charleston/Charleston Community-Based Environmental Protection Project, Eastward Ho! in South Florida, York (Pennsylvania) Community-Based Strategic Planning and Green Development, and St. Louis Abandoned Buildings Project.

Principles of Estuarine Habitat Restoration: Working Together to Restore America’s Estuaries. (1999: 216K pdf), by Restore America's Estuaries and Estuarine Research Foundation. These principles combine sound science, adaptive management, multistakeholder partnerships, and citizen engagement in all aspects of the restoration process,including design, implementation, and monitoring. Includes short case studies.

Advancing Environmental Justice through Pollution Prevention (2003: 1.3 MB pdf), by the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, an advisory committee to the U.S. EPA. This report examines various ways to achieve environmental justice through pollution prevention, and urges the adoption of multi-stakeholder collaborative models and increased participation and capacity building at the community and tribal levels.

Environmental Justice Collaborative Model (2002: 4.3 MB pdf), developed by the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice for the U.S. EPA. Composed of representatives of 11 federal agencies, this working group explores the collaborative model that has recently gained much ground in the EJ movement and in agency practice. The report includes case studies from a broad range of agencies and types of community partners.

Encouraging Sustainable Communities 1996
A report of a Wingspread conference convened around the question: "What actions will best advance the sustainable community agenda over the next 5-10 years?" A web-based discussion page allows a broader audience to continue the discussion begun at the conference and further exploration of the topics and actions covered in the report.

Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity and a Healthy Environment for the Future. 1996
Chapter on Strengthening Communities. by the President's Council on Sustainable Development.


Stories & Case Studies

Army Corps Districts Use Alternative Dispute Resolution. Faced with continual disputes among environmentalists, developers, communities, and industry, mid-level civil servants in the Jacksonville, Florida and Vicksburg, Louisiana districts took the initiative to develop a general permitting process that was innovative, even revolutionary for the Corps. Instead of acting as a technical evaluator, or as a proponent for a particular position, the Corps decided to act as a neutral facilitator of a consensus seeking process among all stakeholders. The results were striking in terms of preventing litigation and promoting collaboration. Additional case studies and agency-wide evaluation of public involvement programs. Case study plus.

Beyond NIMBY: Collaborative Approaches to Hazardous Waste Management. This case study shows how the Canadian province of Alberta addressed the "NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) Syndrome" in hazardous waste facility siting. In the 1980s the province used a variety of participatory forms to engage the public: educational meetings convened by officials, community plebiscites, intensive public meetings, and negotiation of compensation packages for the community hosting the hazardous waste management site, including resources that support the community's capacity to monitor the ongoing management of the facility. The case also analyses attempts to transplant this model to the United States, particularly in Minnesota. Case study plus.

Design for Environment Printing Project: Printing Trades Collaborate
to Reduce Toxics.
The Design for Environment Printing Project is a voluntary, cooperative effort between the printing industry and the EPA to build the capacity of printers themselves to make responsible and informed choices about how best to protect the environment of their communities and the health of their workers. Working collaboratively with EPA staff, printers have identified priorities, volunteered resources, tested new methods, and communicated cost- effective alternatives throughout the industry. They are thus making it easier, especially for smaller shops, to be environmentally responsible without putting themselves out of business or their workers out of jobs. Story and case study plus.

Dry Cleaning Industry Partners with EPA and Public Interest Groups to Reduce Toxics. The Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics at EPA is catalyzing a partnership with the dry cleaning industry and public interest groups to reduce the use of perchloroethylene in the 34,000 commercial shops that exist in neighborhoods and malls around the country. This partnership mobilizes assets within industry to identify alternative garment cleaning methods that are cost effective, enhance worker safety, and promote good neighbor relationships and customer support. Case study plus.

Fishbowl Planning on the Snoqualmie River. An ambitious model of citizen participation known as "fishbowl planning," developed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1970s, gives some indication of how various techniques can be innovatively combined to democratize a process hitherto dominated by bureaucratic interests in massive civil works construction and economic interests in development at the expense of environmental preservation. Case study plus.

Good Neighbor Agreements: A Tool for Environmental and Social Justice. Good Neighbor Agreements are a form of flexible, community-based environmental protection whose underlying philosophy is the mutual acknowledgment by a business and an independent community organization of the need to build a relationship responsive to the needs of each. Agreements are formally negotiated, though some remain voluntary and without legally binding language, while others are incorporated as a condition of formal permitting processes and can be legally enforced. Case study plus.

Microelectronics Industry Partners with EPA, Environmental and Public Interest Groups to Reduce Toxics. The production of printed wiring boards accounts for 79 percent of the energy used, 95 percent of the water used, and 95 percent of the hazardous waste associated with computer manufacturing. The potential for improvement in these areas led EPA's Design for the Environment Program to forge working partnerships the PWB industry, environmental and public interest groups, and others. The goals are to cultivate and expand existing partnerships, to foster more open and active participation on environmental issues confronting the industry, and to generate and disseminate information on viable pollution prevention alternatives so that the industry can begin to explore cleaner manufacturing methods. Case study plus.

Rockford LWV Educates Public for Groundwater Protection. The League of Women Voters of Rockford, Illinois confronted the community's large hazardous waste problem with an extensive groundwater education program that began in 1991. The League developed partnerships with a local medical college and television station, led luncheon discussions of their video in government agencies, businesses, and civic associations, and enlisted and trained volunteers in wellhead inspection. Many organizations have now made groundwater education an important part of their mission, and the county has revised its codes. Story.

Save the Bay Develops Civic Approach to Estuary Protection. Like most environmental organizations, Save the Bay has often found itself in legal and political confrontations with the EPA and local and state officials and employers. But it has defined its overall mission in terms of civic education and the collaborative development of creative alternatives for using the bay area in an environmentally responsible manner that is sensitive to continued economic growth. It has increasingly broadened its focus, working with local toxics groups, as well as with employers seeking to introduce more environmentally sound methods of production. Case study plus.

The Tacoma Smelter and EPA. In a famous dispute that deeply divided the community of Tacoma, Washington in the early 1980s over jobs and environmental health, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus decided to bring the hard choices and uncertainties over controlling arsenic emissions to the public. Regional EPA staff convened public workshops in which smelter workers, local residents, and environmentalists discussed their values and fears face-to-face. The process has helped to build community capacities for workforce retraining, more diversified economic growth, and environmental dispute resolution in subsequent years. Case study plus.

What We Have in Common is the Salmon. "The Mattole Restoration Council is a coalition of community groups, landowners, and individuals in the Mattole River watershed seeking to restore and sustain the healthy functioning of the watershed's natural systems, such as forests, fisheries, soils, flora and fauna. The council is founded on the idea that the people living here are the ones best suited to work toward these aims." This case study examines local efforts to preserve the Mattole River watershed area as well as the local ranching and forestry industries. Case study plus.