I've been invited to give a talk at the U of O Department of Sociology's weekly colloquium.
Talk Title: Cultivating sustainability capital: Urban agriculture and eco-gentrification in Portland and Vancouver
Abstract: For many activists and scholars throughout the Global North, urban agriculture (UA) is central to food justice struggles. As new gardens crop up at a furious pace, however, critics from within and outside academia have begun to question who UA serves, raising the alarm about UA’s contribution to gentrification and displacement. Drawing on an ongoing mixed-methods study of UA in Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia, I illustrate how capitalist valorization of UA occurs unevenly, mediated by land rent, municipal policy, race, class, and the growing predominance of an eco-habitus. Gardens ultimately become sustainability capital in a spatially and temporally variegated manner, undergirding a “sustainability fix” and related processes of eco-gentrification at city- and neighborhood-scales. At the same time, some UA activists are now linking their efforts to broader struggles for social justice; in some cases, their concerns over equity are actually filtering into municipal food and sustainability policies in new and potentially transformative ways.
Here's a link to the event:
If you're in Eugene, come join us!
Date/time: Monday April 17th, 12-1pm
Location: Prince Lucien Campbell Hall, Room 714, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
If you don't have institutional access to the journal, you can read the paper here for free or download a copy of the post-print here. The paper is built on a wider survey of UA organizations and businesses we conducted a couple of years ago when Mike was still a MURP student before heading to UBC (click here for the summary results of the overall survey).
A fantastic several days at the AAG meeting in Boston! Glad to see so many old friends and meet many new ones. I presented a work in progress entitled: "Critical reflexivity, contradictions, and an evolving politics of resourcefulness: Reflections on community-engagement when teaching about food justice” in a session called "Publics, Pedagogies, and Praxis: Engaged Research and Scholarship in Critical Geography" organized by Tracey Osborne at the University of Arizona and Joel Correia at Colorado, and moderated by Lucy Jarosz at Washington. Here's the abstract:
Reflecting on the five-year evolution of an undergraduate capstone course on urban agriculture and food systems, I examine the importance of critical reflexivity when engaging in a “politics of resourcefulness” (Derickson and Routledge 2015). My students and I collaborated with two quite different organizations over the course’s lifespan: a community-based gardening collective that operates more than a dozen gardens in a gentrifying part of Portland, Oregon, and a much larger, more conventional non-profit focused on constructing backyard gardens for low-income residents where many of those displaced by gentrification now live. I discuss the epistemological and pedagogical role of critical reflexivity – that of my students, community partners, and my own – in opening the door to better understanding of urban agriculture’s contradictions and more critical contributions to the food justice efforts of our community partners. Our successes, I argue, hinged on engaging explicitly with racism as it articulates through common approaches to community development, agrarian imaginaries, notions of healthy food, and ahistorical understandings of neighborhood change. I also observe how some of the challenges of heeding the call to “expose, propose, politicize” (Marcuse 2009) within the constraints of a ten-week term can be overcome by engaging with a single organization over several years.
Nathan McClintock is a geographer and professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University.