Spatial injustices, especially the disproportionate exposure of disadvantaged communities to environmental risks, stem from an inability to appreciate the lived experience of risk and, instead, a reliance on technical frameworks for regulating it. We review Noddings’ ideas about the caring attitude, in particular, that of caring for and, to some degree, caring about, and apply this to the issue of knowing about the experience of vulnerability and crafting effective and affective responses to it. We apply this lens to the case study of Southeast Los Angeles, where a profusion of small sources of air toxics creates zones of inordinate risk, and ask: How should the state and community have responded in a more caring way? How could the teachers and schoolchildren, themselves, have been empowered to speak for themselves? We draw lessons from it that speak to how we can begin reforming the regulatory state.
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