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16 - Gowanus Canal and Public Policy

Community Well-Being at a Superfund Site

from Part III - Community Psychology in Action

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2021

Caroline S. Clauss-Ehlers
Long Island University, New York
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Using historical, ethnographic, and archival research, this chapter examines the intersection of environmental policies and community well-being through the lens of community psychology, particularly its attention to the entwinement of socioeconomic and environmental conditions. Focusing on the Gowanus community in Brooklyn, New York, which is midway through a federally mandated environmental cleanup as a Superfund site, we describe how advancing the collective well-being at the scale of the neighborhood can also entail challenging entrenched power structures that have supported systemic inequalities and working within a diverse group. The collective efforts of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group illustrate how chronic toxic environmental degradation can be addressed within an extended collaborative process. We conclude that while endeavoring to improve the surrounding physical environment, the Group’s efforts have also strengthened collaborative engagement across groups to foster community well-being and social justice.

The Cambridge Handbook of Community Psychology
Interdisciplinary and Contextual Perspectives
, pp. 331 - 343
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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