Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
Date of Interview
This interviewee discusses the link between environmental justice and inequity, specifically in that disadvantaged communities do not have equal access to natural resources, green spaces, and a host of other amenities. The interviewee also states that a clean environment is foundational to environmental justice, since this ensures that clean air, water, etc., exists for the community. Moreover, good stewardship of the land fosters an understanding that we are all connected – humans and non-humans – and establishes the basis for just treatment. In general, this interviewee has a balanced concept of environmental justice that incorporates human and nature-based interests.
Aramori, Miae, "Miae Aramori Interview" (2013). Puget Sound Environmental Justice Interviews. 2.
Additional FilesAramori_Transcript.docx (23 kB)
Amelia Bischof: Please state your name and organization affiliation.
Miae Aramori: Ok. So my name is Miae Aramori and I’m with Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.
AB: What is environmental justice?
MA: Hmmm . . . my definition?
MA: Or the dictionary’s definition?
AB: Your definition.
MB: Ok. So for me that would mean that there is . . . that there is fairness and equity for all people and a healthy, clean, living environment.
AB: How does, or doesn’t environmental justice work in your community? What needs to change?
MA: Hmmm . . . so in this community I think it’s the same in a lot of different communities you have, you know, people who have access to resources and . . . and then you have people who don’t and I think that’s one of the things that we need to try and at least even it out and that those people that have access to the resources don’t get to be the only ones who live in healthy environments. That you know, are free of crime or free of . . . these kinds of things that can impact not just your physical well-being but also your mental well-being.
AB: What parts of environmental justice are important you? Why or why not?
MA: I think for me the most important part is that there’s equity and that equity applies to all people and that . . . you know, don’t have to do . . . that’s something that should be an expectation and a given. For people that they are able to have clean air, clean water, . . . healthy foods, that they’re able to send their children out to play, that they are able to you know, walk down their streets and not to have to worry about crime and safety and I don’t know. People might think I’m Pollyanna-ish about it or utopianist but I think that we all deserve that and . . . whether or not you want to partake of those things I think should be something that people have the choice to decide that access, that should be available to all people.
AB: How does concern for the environment fit with other environmental justice concerns? Such as sustainability, health, nature?
MA: When we don’t take into account the environment, well in the environment it is important in addressing . . . sustainability, you know if we don’t have . . . green spaces or places, where people can go outside and to walk and be in the nature breathing fresh air you know, being around clean water . . . you know we can see the effects, you know global warming, the effects of pollution on peoples you know health in regards to you know, we’re seeing more children who are . . . being diagnosed with asthma who are being diagnosed with . . . sensitivities to chemicals. I mean there’s lots of things . . . I think that relates to the individual person’s health but I think you can look at . . . just the general health of communities where there’s a lot of pollution and urban growth and things. Not to say that just because you’re in a rural setting means that you’re going to be healthier but . . . when I think we’re surrounded by a lot of manmade chemical type things and not connected to nature we do see those declines, but with regards to environmental justice I think that . . . one of the important things is if you don’t have concern for the land for the earth that we live on it makes it hard for people to be concerned about the person standing next to them and that’s an important component of caring about your neighbors about caring about people who are not necessarily directly related to you but they’re connected to you because they’re another human being on this planet and I think when we lose that connection with the environment we lose that connection with other people.
AB: In your opinion, how is environmental justice useful to you in addressing the issues in your community? How might others be able to help?
MA: Well I think one of the things is that environmental justice is a great way to engage people with a common goal. It’s also I think a great way to engage young people and I think that . . . a lot of times young people . . . maybe have a different focus . . . than a differing older generation, but it’s one way to connect generations because it’s a common thread, common goal. I think just by getting involved people, can get involved in different community groups getting involved in their neighborhoods getting involved by just you know speaking out when they see things that aren’t right. I think that a lot of us and a lot of people have gotten to the point where they see things that aren’t right and they don’t say anything either because they’re either busy with their own lives or they don’t or they’re fearful of repercussions and people need to . . . be more outspoken to at least. You don’t have to do it in a negative like threatening way but at least point things out, I mean don’t just accept things the way they are.
AB: Last question is just, is there anything else on this topic you would like to say?
MA: Well, let’s see one of the things that I’ve learned in this position is that things, there are certain things that I might take for granted like having sidewalks, having roads that are . . . kept in good shape and repaired and then having lighting, and so I can walk down the streets. I mean those are things that you can take for granted that they really impact the . . . feel of a community. When you have a community where it’s not safe to walk on the streets or it is, there’s no lighting so it gets dark so early, people can’t feel safe to go out and walk or to get exercise or to walk to the local grocery store and so then we’re really dependent on . . . cars . . . public transportation and those are things that not everybody has access to and I think those are the things you have to remember . . . that not every community has the same resources.