Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Speaking Up and Speaking Out: Working for Social and Environmental Justice through Parks, Recreation, and Leisure

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Speaking Up and Speaking Out: Working for Social and Environmental Justice through Parks, Recreation, and Leisure

Article excerpt

Speaking Up and Speaking Out: Working for Social and Environmental Justice through Parks, Recreation, and Leisure edited by Karen Paisley and Daniel Dustln Sagamore Publishing LLC, 2011

This book should be part of every park, recreation, and leisure programme, and central in the continuing education of parks, recreation, and leisure (PRL) professionals. It's that important a topic, and that well created a book. Parks move- ments typically began in order to provide access to all strata in society. Now we face mounting social inequality. Addressing problems of social equity and envi- ronmental sustainability is key to high quality of life now and into the future. It is also, of course, a question of fairness. Reams of research have shown that environ- mental degradation is associated with social injustices and inequality. Speaking Up and Speaking Out superbly demonstrates how to and why to work "for social and environmental justice" in the parks, recreation, and leisure field. It is also the rare book that is accessible to all levels from undergraduate to seasoned professional.

Speaking Up and Speaking Out starts with personal accounts of emerging aware- ness of social inequality. Later sections move into practical yet well-researched accounts of justice and sustainability work in various types of PRL practice. The book is organized in three sections: "Know Thyself," "Those We Serve," and "Serv- ing without Othering." With this framework, the editors demonstrate that service can be imposition and reproduce injustice unless it is done carefully and with full knowledge of one's presumptions and the lived experience of recreation partici- pants.

Diane Samdahl's chapter illustrates most of these features. In "What Can 'American Beach' Teach Us?" Samdahl writes about the growth of a resort town that took over an historic African-American community on the Florida coast. "Un- til I accidently learned about American Beach, I had never paired the history of the recreation movement with the parallel history of enforced segregation that prevented a large segment of our population from accessing public parks and rec- reation facilities" (p. 83). The case is well explained and accompanied by Sam- dahl's honest appraisal of her lack of knowledge which she then uses to talk about privileged status as a white person. The chapter starts with race and ends with social class and a variety of dimensions of inequality are highlighted.

While appropriate for undergraduates, the book will also push long-time prac- titioners to new attention to social disadvantages and their personal and profes- sional involvement. The chapters sequence in such a way as to "scaffold" a learning process. Each chapter also ends with five or so questions for discussion in a class or that can serve professionals as checkpoints on their practice. Chapters often refer to other chapters, meaning the book comes across as a collective effort. Readers should be aware, however, that the book is entirely North American. "Race" features prominently in many chapters, although the U.S. and Canadian experiences on this topic are quite different. Other facets of social disadvantage, inequality, and environmental degradation are also featured throughout.

The chapters rarely point fingers; this is not a book that "guilt trips" readers. The authors take pains, as Samdahl did, to recount their own stories. Whether it is from the vantage of social privilege (such as an elite professor) or someone who has personally experienced racism, homophobia, or other discrimination, the personal accounts and scholarship are well integrated in accessible writing. Editors Dustin and Paisley are to be praised for their leadership in crafting such a well-modulated collection.

One of the chapters most often referred to by other contributors is Erin Sharpe's "Are You Awake Yet?" Sharpe details the conscientization process of learning about, internalizing, and acting on social differences, discriminations, and one's own place in the world. …

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