Blogpost 3 – Consequences of Activism


The world as a whole can feel an awful, terrible place full of problems with no one that cares to fix them. We all know good people, perhaps you consider yourself ‘good’. Most people do want to see the world a better place. But good intention and idealistic actions do not always make the world a better place. In getting the government to clean up the Gowanus Canal, activists have caused real estate prices around the canal to go up, pushing the lower income community out.

In my video project, I want to explore how Gowanus is an example of activism gone wrong. In trying to fix a problem, another problem has been created. Those fighting to clean up the canal did not intend to invite luxury developers in and drive out small businesses, yet that is an outcome of their actions. Does this make them bad people or just an environmental movement that forgot about social justice too?


To address a solution, it is important to think about how the problem was created. In Gowanus, it was because during the 20th century, companies dumped harmful substances into the canal and because NYC sanitation designed the sewer to overflow into the canal. To think about a resources open to all to use and destroy, we can think about the idea of The Commons. In Bradoti’s Posthuman Glossary, Lindsay Grace Weber writes about The Commons as both physical and non-physical resources shared by all living things on that plante, which “points to the commons, or rather their privatization and destruction, as a key point in the development of modern capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism” (84). Weber concludes that “the commons is a drive towards a more ethical mode of being- in-common, one which acknowledges and affirms the inter connected, transversal relations of all living matter” (86). In environmental activism, it is very important to remember that all living things on the planet must survives off the same resources. As humans manipulate resources, they are destroying and creating things that affect how all life on earth works to survive. We must understand how the actions we fight for will affect everyone and everything to ensure we are not creating another problem.

In Bradoti’s Posthuman Glossary, Tobijn de Graauw and Elisa Fiore’s entry on “Green/Environmental Humanities” discusses the academic intersection of studying environmental science and the humanities in trying to fix human’s destruction of the earth. The authors write that “environmental humanities are particularly suited to address gender, racial and post colonial dimensions, and stress the entangled nature of social and environmental justice”  (186). Since human habits are the ones messing up the environment, we must study human life and human decision making to find a way for humans to live on earth without killing it. “The entanglement of the humanities and the sciences as well as a renewed ethico political practice of relationality and mutual entailment [are] the basis for producing systemic change and working towards sustainable futures” (Graauw and Fiore 186). In future environmental activism, it is very important to consider both the environmental and human impact of your actions to ensure that good internsion create a positive outcome for all.


Another part of the problem is that humans have a messed up relationship with the environment. The “Ecohorror” article in Bradoti’s Posthuman Glossary describes horror movies that deal with humans vs. an environmental factor, such as animals, but on a deeper level “ecohorror is a genre that deals with our fears and anxieties about the environment” (115). While “many of the modern creature features are campy and difficult to take seriously, but they nevertheless reflect real anxieties about the natural world and its existence outside of human control” (115). Humans do like to have complete control over everything in the world, causing fear when there is a natural element that they cannot control and exploit. Ecohorror helps us humans reflect on our relationship to nature, so that “perhaps we will have to acknowledge our interconnectedness with other beings” (117). The environment and humans are intertwines, even as we try to separate ourselves from it. We can look to ecohorror to think about why we are so scared of a natural world. Every time humans try to control nature, either exploiting or trying to undo mistakes, we are controlling nature and bending it to our will. Humans need to confront this subconscious belief that humans are meant to control nature.

Thus, in my film, I want to remind activists about the interconnection between the environment, humans and all other living things. As stated in “Ecocritisizm” in Bradoti’s Posthuman Glossary “What physically affects this world, affects all the activities happening in it, including our intellectual and cultural productions” (112). As humans use activism, we must remember that all of our actions affect both humans and the environment. We must look at consequences and outcomes to understand how everything in tangled together and there are no clear, straightforward solutions. Gowanus is an example of how something simple like cleaning up a polluted canal may seem great but actually causes more problems and hurts vulnerable people.

I hope that my film can convey this messiness. I am hoping to interview activists who have worked on this issue and a scholar who has studied this happening from inside the movement. The affect I want to create is the messiness and complexity of issues and the environment.

-Emma Samant


~ by emmasamant on March 31, 2019.