Community greening efforts can improve urban ecological health, but what impacts do they have upon local residents’ environmental attitudes and actions. Research suggests that the success of urban tree planting and other improvements require the stewardship of local residents, particularly in the face of dwindling public investment in green spaces. This study looks at the notion that participation in urban greening projects may have as much to do with helping inner-city residents’ sense of community, connection to place, and empowerment, as improving ecological health.
The study involved an evaluative survey of participants in environmental stewardship projects in Boston. This pilot study asked a range of items related to participants’ environmental knowledge and changes in their environmental attitudes and behaviors after volunteering. The study results found an increase in participants’ willingness to engage in environmentally beneficial behaviors in their own yard, including planting or maintaining street trees; as well as increased sense of community. In addition, participants in these community-centered urban greening projects, which included street tree planting and community gardens, expressed a greater willingness to take action to address other community issues. The study provides insights for those engaged in increasing valuable urban green space while at the same time interested in the broader issues facing inner-city neighborhoods.