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Convivial Greenstreets as Force and Context for Urban Sustainability
Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Urban and Rural Development
Abstract: This paper introduces the concept of convivial greenstreets and explores their potential contributions to sustainability and inclusive place making in the city. It begins with a focus on private-sector gardens and 'green' paraphernalia along the confines of the western European city street. I observe that particular kinds and intensities of gardens/gardening seem to be serving as both context for, and generator of, conviviality—a crucial trait of local civil society that seeks to advance a sustainability agenda. Next, through an interplay of observed phenomenon and broad reading of social science and planning literatures, I build a working definition that ties together notions of street-side gardening, interacting agents (e.g. resident-gardeners, merchant-gardeners, passersby, etc.), forms of conviviality, and spatial and physical contexts. With this in hand, an initial typology is constructed, with type examples drawn from my photo-inventory corpus. I discuss how streets that pass the intertwined tests of 'green-ness' and open-armed conviviality seem to express a range of positive forces, from idiosyncratic place attachment and personal expression to shared cultural pluralism and ecological activism as counterpoints to globalization. To prompt further social science inquiry I suggest that, beyond the provision of ecosystem services, convivial greenstreets may provide spatial and ontological contexts within which sustainability capital can accrue within the evolving city neighborhood. Lastly, several recommendations are offered as to how convivial greenstreets may be nurtured by policy makers and urban designers.
Keywords: Convivial greenstreets; street-side gardening; place; neighborhood; sustainability; relational ontology; policy; design