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Title:Utilizing the non-profit sector to advance social and environmental justice
Author(s):Fernandez, Mariela
Director of Research:Shinew, Kim
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Shinew, Kim
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Stodolska, Monika; Dowling, Julie; Kral, Michael
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):environmental justice
leisure
Abstract:Local parks and recreation provisions have been instrumental in meeting residents’ recreational needs, increasing community engagement and social capital, promoting positive health outcomes, and improving property values. For residents of color and residents of lower-income households, community-based provisions offer affordable recreational opportunities. Despite the best intentions of municipal governments to provide affordable recreation and equal access to all residents, some research shows that some racially marginalized groups (e.g., Latinos, African Americans) may sometimes lack access to such publically-funded services. This is a social and environmental justice issue as lacking access to quality parks and recreation provisions has led to negative health outcomes as well as a decrease in quality of life and general well-being in communities of color. In effect, the purpose of this study was to examine how the non-profit sector can complement municipal government services in providing access to parks and recreation provisions by using the Chicago community of Little Village as a case-study. The study specifically examined the process the nonprofit group, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), utilized in addressing the lack of access to parks and recreation provisions in the Latino community of Little Village which, in 2010, ranked 76th out of 77 in Chicago neighborhoods in terms of access to green space. This study also examined how this process led to empowerment of Little Village Latino residents and ongoing projects. In order to address these questions, the study utilized the collection of documentation and archival information, participant observations, and participant interviews with 16 LVEJO stakeholders. Study findings indicated that LVEJO was able to address the lack of parks and recreation provisions through its unique organizational culture, which consisted of utilizing intentional programming that targeted social and environmental injustices, place-based practice and research, and flexible leadership. In addition to its organizational culture, LVEJO was able to implement four strategies in addressing social and environmental injustices, which included creating a shared knowledge-base of information, enabling community engagement using various tactics, empowering community residents, and establishing collaborative efforts. The campaigns against a coal power plant and a Unilever expansion demonstrated how these strategies were utilized in a flexible manner. LVEJO’s organizational culture and strategies utilized displayed how the nonprofit sector could be mobilized to advance social and environmental justice in the leisure field. Moreover, study findings had important implications for the leisure field. In regards to leisure scholars, the results stressed the importance of action research where researchers take an active and political role in addressing the structural inequalities affecting communities of color. Results further highlighted the importance of representation in racially marginalized communities and involving participants in the research process. In regards to leisure practitioners, the findings called attention toward engaging residents in community decision making. Youth development practitioners may also benefit from being intentional about targeting structural inequalities and including youth in the process. Accordingly, this study highlighted the importance of recreation, parks, and youth development projects, all sub fields of our discipline, in tackling social and environmental injustices in racially marginalized community.
Issue Date:2015-07-16
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/88291
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Mariela Fernandez
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201


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