Environmental justice is rooted in the belief that all people, regardless of income or race, deserve the dignity of living in a clean, healthy and safe environment. This objective is advanced by providing communities an equitable and meaningful voice in ensuring the development of sustainable and healthy communities.
Across the country, low-income and minority communities suffer disproportionately from pollution and lack positive environmental resources. These communities also lack important community resources like reliable sources of healthy food, medical care and green spaces.
As a result, community members in neighborhoods affected by environmental injustice suffer a variety of public health crises – higher incidences of asthma, obesity, cancer, other diseases, as well as higher infant mortality and lower average life spans.
The Law Center works to promote the interests of community gardeners and urban farmers in marginalized Philadelphia neighborhoods. In 2011, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia launched the Garden Justice Legal Initiative (GJLI), with support from the Skadden Fellowship Foundation. The goal of the project is to provide pro bono legal support, policy research and advocacy, and community education and organizing to community gardeners and market farmers in the Philadelphia region.
Since 1979, we have taken on some of the region’s worst polluters, shutting down or drastically decreasing pollution from numerous trash incinerators, sewage treatment plants, and waste processing facilities in communities in Philadelphia, Camden, Chester, and across the state. In the 1990s, the Law Center was a leader in the burgeoning environmental justice movement, bringing historic litigation charging state environmental regulatory agencies with discriminatory permitting practices.
Today, by promoting urban agriculture and helping to reclaim vacant land, we aim to help vulnerable communities secure reliable sources of healthy food, revitalize their economies, and exercise greater control of their neighborhoods’ futures.