This post was originally published by American Rivers. Reprinted with permission.
I have a confession: I didn’t used to “get” environmental justice. I admit that not as an inadequate apology to those of you who have lived with environmental injustice or dedicated your lives to fighting it, but instead as an invitation to others to join my journey toward greater understanding.
I have cared about the environment for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I explored Shenandoah National Park with my parents and brother. Since high school, my favorite pastimes have involved outdoor adventures. I still enjoy scaring my mom by picking up snakes (sorry mom!); I revel in the feeling of stretching out in a sleeping bag after a long day on a trail; I love teaching my kids to climb rocks and roll kayaks. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t seek some way to protect Earth’s magical biodiversity and majestic scenery from the threats of climate change and overdevelopment, and from humanity’s rapacious need to exploit all natural resources for personal gain.
But when I first heard about “environmental justice,” I thought the term described someone else’s …