chapter  10
21 Pages

Can the Just City be built from below? Brownfields, planning, and power in the South Bronx

ByJustin Steil, James Connolly

Writings on the Just City have advanced theoretical and philosophical justifications for a redefinition of planning priorities, but have not yet examined in detail issues of institutional structure. Governance of brownfield redevelopment in the United States provides one example where active institutional experimentation has in some cases been shaped by explicit articulations of justice. This chapter examines such an effort through a case study of a coalition of grassroots environmental justice organizations in New York City’s South Bronx that have been working to reconfigure organizational relations in their neighborhoods for roughly a decade. While the analysis of the Bronx groups’ experiences cannot be fully developed here, this chapter focuses on the environmental justice organizations’ efforts to establish a counterinstitutional position within an existing organizational field of real estate development as a foundation for producing a functional heterarchic (multi-lateral) governance structure. Their experiences demonstrate that an examination of efforts to realize just outcomes in urban development processes cannot be separated from the analysis of institutional structure.