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SUSTAINABLE CHICAGO Spring 2014
was very well worth it because people were able to
understand the reality of the economy behind it. It’s
not just a question of demanding that somebody
shut something down, It’s a question of putting a
face to those people who are going to lose their
jobs.”
The garbage sorting operation is still open, and
still working with two shifts. Residents have noticed
decreases in the smell, especially at night and on
weekends, as well as in the rat
population. “When the envi-
ronmental movement started
in the 70’s, it seemed it was
set up more as a clash be-
tween the environment and
businesses,” said Renas. “And
now when we talk about sus-
tainability, it’s more about
working with private busi-
nesses and public agencies to
come together for a solution
that is environmentally sus-
tainable and we now include
people as a part of the envi-
ronment.”
In terms of redevelop-
ment, the community’s input
is pivotal,” said Renas. When
the mapping project wraps up
in two years, they may dis-
cover that the ideal brownfield
locations—those with merely
the perception of contamina-
tion—have already been
snatched up by private devel-
opment, leaving the properties
that are more difficult to rec-
tify. “In those situations we
have to turn to creative reuse,
looking again at private part-
nerships for redevelopment or
even looking at creative op-
tions on green reuse,” said
Renas. Early discussions on
how best to use some sites
have included sustainable in-
frastructure like rain gardens,
bioswales and permeable
pavement.
Ultimately, the map data
and community input will be
the two main vectors for the direction any redevel-
opment takes. If a prospective businesses is look-
ing to expand into the neighborhood, the map will
be an excellent tool to help them develop wisely. It
also can ensure that residents aren’t caught off
guard by, for example, a lightly regulated industrial
use that could blight the neighborhood. “We are
always so reactive as environmental justice folks,”
said Wasserman. “In this case we are trying to be
proactive.”
Continued from page 17