Book: This is Our Land

“This is Our Land”: Grassroots Environmentalism in the Late-Twentieth Century (Rutgers University Press, 2015)


“This is Our Land”: Grassroots Environmental Activism in the Late-Twentieth Century examines the role of community-based environmental organizations in the national environmental movement and civil society between 1970 and 2000. Through the use of three case studies—one in rural Montana during the 1970s, one in urban Arizona during the 1980s, and one in Appalachian Tennessee during the 1990s—it demonstrates how everyday people understood threats to air, water, land, and public health in terms of justice and fairness and how activists typically sought democratic solutions to these problems.  In addition, it shows how citizen activists, the groups they formed, and the solutions they sought, changed in relation to evolving political, social, and legal contexts during the last decades of the twentieth century.  Further, it reveals how activists learned to understand their local issues in relation to national and global economic, political, and ecological systems.  In short, the This is Our Land illustrates how grassroots citizens shaped environmental policy at every level—local, state, and national—between 1970 and 2000 and how their activism helped advance justice and democratic institutions in American civil society.  Especially pertinent in the current dialogue about sustainability and the recent revival of citizen-based activism on climate change, This is Our Land teaches valuable lessons about how citizens solve complex natural resource and public health problems in a democratic society, bridges the historiography of American environmentalism and the environmental justice movement, and expands our understanding of the role of environmentalism in recent American history. Click here for more information from Rutgers University Press.


“A terrific piece of work, Ferguson’s book seamlessly blends narrative and analysis in a lively writing style, and shows the ways that we can collect, organize, and make sense of critical moments from our recent environmental past. A must-read for scholars of American environmentalism.” –Michael Egan, author of Barry Commoner and the Science of Survival

This Is Our Land is a worthy contribution to the literature on environmental activism. The writing style and case studies would make it an exceptionally strong resource for undergraduate courses on environmental activism, grassroots organizing, or local environmental politics” –Robert Gioielli, Environmental History

“An excellent resource for students learning about the development of environmental activism…Highly recommended.” —CHOICE

“The book is well organized…its size and scope make it a useful text, particularly for environmental studies and political science courses…Ferguson’s writing enlivens the book, even while delving into technical issues.” —The Journal of American History

“Cody Ferguson’s This Is Our Land makes an important contribution to environmental history by reminding us of the significance of local struggles and movements.” —The American Historical Review

 “Ferguson elegantly weaves together the histories of citizens’ environmental organizations from across the country. Moving seamlessly between regions and policy levels, This is Our Land mirrors the experiences of the organizers in Ferguson’s case studies as they sought to build collective power by elevating local concerns onto national and global stages.” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“Cody Ferguson effectively shows us how three grassroots environmental groups from the Northern Plains to the Southwest and the Cumberland Mountains, are emblematic of the hundreds of groups seeking democratic change, if not radical environmental transformation.” –Robert Gottlieb, author of Forcing the Spring and Environmentalism Unbound