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The Spirit of Environmental Justice: Resurrection Hope in Urban America

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Using the resources of prophetic religion, and with special reference to the blighted city of Chester, Pennsylvania, I argue that lack of access to affordable, nutritious food is an environmental justice problem embedded within a host of other social and economic problems. A holistic analysis of the dysfunctional web that ties together seemingly disparate social pathologies can make sense of, and provide solutions for, the eco-crisis, including the food crisis, in urban communities today. I offer a case study of a grocery co-op in Chester as a successful experiment in sustainable food justice and participatory democracy that directly confronts the urban crisis, including the rising incidence of obesity and diabetes in under-resourced communities. By avoiding a carbon-intensive food regime, the Co-op is a living parable of how local food choices can undergird the health of consumers along with the bio-systems that support this and future generations of humans, animals, and plants. I conclude that the powers of resurrection hope and biblical justice are compelling resources for combatting the mean-spirited politics of greed and power that drive the downward cycle of American cities today.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religion, Swarthmore College, 500 College Ave, Swarthmore PA USA

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