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Open AccessArticle

Growing Together: Community Coalescence and the Social Dimensions of Urban Sustainability

Department of Sociology, University of California—Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9680; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229680
Received: 15 September 2020 / Revised: 5 November 2020 / Accepted: 12 November 2020 / Published: 20 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospective Pathways to Architectural and Urban Sustainability)
Urban sustainability is most often measured using a series of social, economic, and ecological indicators. Assessment methods for urban sustainability typically factor in the ecological dimensions of greenspace, such as biodiversity maintenance, stormwater management, and/or air quality—yet indicator schemas that consider only the ecological dimensions largely overlook the social benefits of some types of urban greenspace, particularly community gardens and orchards. This article makes the case that the process of community formation and strengthening that occurs in shared growing spaces is an important element of urban sustainability in its own right. Based on 55 interviews of community garden advocates, policy-makers, and development professionals involved in urban agriculture planning, this article traces the widespread understanding among practitioners that shared growing spaces strengthen social as well as environmental sustainability, though the social benefits are often difficult to measure. The latter concern was most frequently expressed by urban agriculture advocates who, after involvement in the political process, perceived the need for such metrics in order to communicate persuasively with planners and policy makers. The social values of shared growing spaces, at once self-evident to garden advocates and difficult for them to demonstrate with quantitative data, may be theorized by drawing on insights from sociology: A truly sustainable city requires community coalescence among diverse citizens, and such community is fostered particularly well in shared growing spaces. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability assessment; social sustainability; urban agriculture; community gardens; urban ecology; community cohesion; social cohesion; social capital; collective efficacy sustainability assessment; social sustainability; urban agriculture; community gardens; urban ecology; community cohesion; social cohesion; social capital; collective efficacy
MDPI and ACS Style

Glennie, C. Growing Together: Community Coalescence and the Social Dimensions of Urban Sustainability. Sustainability 2020, 12, 9680. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229680

AMA Style

Glennie C. Growing Together: Community Coalescence and the Social Dimensions of Urban Sustainability. Sustainability. 2020; 12(22):9680. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229680

Chicago/Turabian Style

Glennie, Charlotte. 2020. "Growing Together: Community Coalescence and the Social Dimensions of Urban Sustainability" Sustainability 12, no. 22: 9680. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229680

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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