Suburban Nature and Environmentalism on Post WWII Long Island: Past as Prologue?
ABSTRACT: Long Island stood front and center in the post-WWII media and social science of the United States not so much because of its nature as because of its suburbanizing. Yet the spread of suburbs here did not just destroy nature. A more even-handedly ecological lens on Long Island's postwar suburb-making reveals how it stirred its own characteristic ecology, both domesticated and wild. And we learn much, as well, about how and why fore-running suburbs like Long Island served as birthplaces for a new politics of nature's defense. That modern environmentalism most closely associated with Rachel Carson had some of its most important roots among Long Island's suburbanites.
I will conclude my talk with some speculation on how Long Islanders can help lead the way toward a future, comparable transformation of the politics of nature's defense.
Christopher Sellers, a Professor of History at Stony Brook University, grew up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina but has lived on Long Island since 1994. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies as well as an M.D. and is the author of Crabgrass Crucible; Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America (2012), as well as books and articles on the history of environmental and industrial health.