Building Unity Through Environmental Justice
Building unity requires numerous stakeholders acting together on distinct but interlocking
platforms to create positive social change. Environmental justice is one of these platforms, and is inseparable from the social justice we work toward every day. Improving the planet and building harmony go hand-in-hand.
The UNITY Lab’s LEED-Certified plans will address the educational and social justice challenges of environmental education in a unique, interactive way: the Harmony Garden Laboratory. This outdoor learning area, fusing technology with environmental curricula, will be an unprecedented resource for the exploring the interrelation of humans and their urban ecosystems. By empowering participants to rediscover their neighborhoods through urban ecology, youth and adults will be able to apply visionary but practical conservation tools to their lives, communities and our world. View plans of the Harmony Garden Lab.
When poor neighborhoods shoulder disproportionate burdens of pollution and poor health, is this a social issue or an environmental one? Past generations have been accustomed to think of social, economic, political and environmental issues as separate challenges to be tackled one at a time. Because our youth live in a more connected, global culture, they are more apt to recognize the dynamic, mutually constitutive relationships between these issues.
The Harmony Garden Lab recognizes that an economic intervention, for example, will have political, social, and environmental consequences. This perspective helps participants more appropriately weigh the consequences of their actions and make better choices to build a healthier, more harmonious world.
The Garden’s design is impressive. As an urban oasis between downtown and midtown Sacramento, the Lab will harbor a small ecosystem as its botanical garden and grounds draw songbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. In addition, a section of the garden devoted to native plants and native cultures will bring traditional uses back into focus, emphasizing their relevance to contemporary stewardship. The Garden will also feature an Urban Cascade, a Living Wall designed to help cool the UNITY Lab, Eco-Logical Change Alcoves that focus on practical, at-home interventions, and educational markers for tours and class trips. The addition of a recycled rainwater cistern enhances the UNITY Lab’s responsible design.
To take a tour of the UNITY Lab, click here.