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Friday, April 6 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
FR3.30.14 Social Capital and Community Gardens: A Strategy to Combat Social and Environmental Injustices

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Community gardens are grassroots initiatives created to enhance urban neighborhood settings (Landman; 1993). They are expected to improve the overall appearance of neighborhoods, become community focal points, emulate the pride of neighborhood residents, and incite neighborhood change (Linn, 1999; Pottharst, 1995). This paper provides a review of literature on urban green space, specifically community gardens, and the production of social capital as a means to achieving social and environmental justice in racially marginalized and low-income areas in the United States. This project first aims to highlight the importance of social capital as a resource in the development and maintenance of urban community gardens. Second, how this social capital can then be used to ultimately achieve community efficacy and social/environmental justice. Through this review of existing literature on community gardens, I attempt to answer the following questions; (1) how do urban community gardens create social capital? And (2) how, or in what ways, is social capital and community gardens then used to achieve social/environmental justice goals? Much of the scholarship illustrates how urban community gardens can intentionally or unintentionally play a role in alleviating injustices such as poverty (Hanna &Oh; 2000) and environmental degradation for example. Missing from the extensive existing research on community gardens is the examination of social capital and social processes, which are crucial to the development and sustainability of urban community gardens, as being mechanisms for change. I find that by being at the heart of civic life and promoting local control and social capital aspects for active citizen participation, community gardens can be used as a strategy to combat social and environmental injustices in urban communities.

Shavaughn Lawson, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee

Friday April 6, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm EDT
Provincial Ballroom (2nd Floor)