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Community Collective Action: A Case Study Documentary on Phoenix's Sky Harbor Neighborhood Association

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This project aims to provide a contextualized history of the Sky Harbor Neighborhood Association‟s community collective action efforts. The Sky Harbor Neighborhood (SHN) of East Phoenix is bounded on the West by 24th St., on the East by 32nd St.,

This project aims to provide a contextualized history of the Sky Harbor Neighborhood Association‟s community collective action efforts. The Sky Harbor Neighborhood (SHN) of East Phoenix is bounded on the West by 24th St., on the East by 32nd St., on the North by Roosevelt St., and the South by Washington Street. SHN is a majority Latino, low-income, working class community (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010) that faces a variety of challenges including low walkability due to inadequate pedestrian infrastructure, low tree coverage, and crime. East Van Buren St., which has a reputation for being one of Phoenix‟s red-light districts, splits the neighborhood in two. In addition, the SHN lacks some key amenities such as grocery stores and is partly considered a food desert by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA Economic Research Service, 2012).

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2012-12

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Quenching our thirst for future knowledge: participatory scenario construction and sustainable water governance in a desert city

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Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of

Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of Central Arizona. A sustainability transition is the local water system is necessary to overcome sustainability challenges and scenarios can be used to explore plausible and desirable futures to inform a transition, but this requires some methodological refinements. This dissertation refines scenario methodology to generate water governance scenarios for metropolitan Phoenix that: (i) feature enhanced stakeholder participation; (ii) incorporate normative values and preferences; (iii) focus on governance actors and their activities; and (iv) meet an expanded set of quality criteria. The first study in the dissertation analyzes and evaluates participatory climate change scenarios to provide recommendations for the construction and use of scenarios that advance climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. The second study proposes and tests a set of plausibility indications to substantiate or evaluate claims that scenarios and future projections could become reality, helping to establish the legitimacy of radically different or transformative scenarios among an extended peer community. The case study of water governance begins with the third study, which includes a current state analysis and sustainability appraisal of the Phoenix-area water system. This is followed by a fourth study which surveys Phoenix-area water decision-makers to better understand water-related preferences for use in scenario construction. The fifth and final study applies a multi-method approach to construct future scenarios of water governance in metropolitan Phoenix in 2030 using stakeholder preferences, among other normative frames, and testing systemic impacts with WaterSim 5.0, a dynamic simulation model of water in the region. The scenarios are boundary objects around which stakeholders can weigh tradeoffs, set priorities and reflect on impacts of water-related activities, broadening policy dialogues around water governance in central Arizona. Together the five studies advance transformational sustainability research by refining methods to engage stakeholders in crafting futures that define how individuals and institutions should operate in transformed and sustainable systems.

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2014

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Crafting sustainability visions: integrating visioning practice, research, and education

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Sustainability visioning (i.e. the construction of sustainable future states) is considered an important component of sustainability research, for instance, in transformational sustainability science or in planning for urban sustainability. Visioning frees sustainability research from the dominant focus on analyzing problem

Sustainability visioning (i.e. the construction of sustainable future states) is considered an important component of sustainability research, for instance, in transformational sustainability science or in planning for urban sustainability. Visioning frees sustainability research from the dominant focus on analyzing problem constellations and opens it towards positive contributions to social innovation and transformation. Calls are repeatedly made for visions that can guide us towards sustainable futures. Scattered across a broad range of fields (i.e. business, non-government organization, land-use management, natural resource management, sustainability science, urban and regional planning) are an abundance of visioning studies. However, among the few evaluative studies in the literature there are apparent deficits in both the research and practice of visioning that curtails our expectations and prospects of realizing process-based and product-derived outcomes. These deficits suggests that calls instead should focus on the development of applied and theoretical understanding of crafting sustainability visions, enhancing the rigor and robustness of visioning methodology, and on integrating practice, research, and education for collaborative sustainability visioning. From an analysis of prominent visioning and sustainability visioning studies in the literature, this dissertation articulates what is sustainability visioning and synthesizes a conceptual framework for criteria-based design and evaluation of sustainability visioning studies. While current visioning methodologies comply with some of these guidelines, none adhere to all of them. From this research, a novel sustainability visioning methodology is designed to address this gap to craft visions that are shared, systemic, principles-based, action-oriented, relevant, and creative (i.e. SPARC visioning methodology) and evaluated across all quality criteria. Empirical studies were conducted to test and apply the conceptual and methodological frameworks -- with an emphasis on enhancing the rigor and robustness in real world visioning processes for urban planning and teaching sustainability competencies. In-depth descriptions of the collaborative visioning studies demonstrate tangible outcomes for: (a) implementing the above sustainability visioning methodology, including evaluative procedures; (b) adopting meaningful interactive engagement procedures; (c) integrating advanced analytical modeling, sustainability appraisal, and creativity enhancing procedures; and (d) developing perspective and methodological capacity for long-range sustainability planning.

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2013

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Participatory design of a comprehensive playground intervention manual for obesity mitigation in Phoenix, AZ

Description

In the past three decades alone, the United States has witnessed a dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity and overweight in adults and children. Efforts towards obesity mitigation and prevention have produced promising recommendations and researchers and practitioners alike

In the past three decades alone, the United States has witnessed a dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity and overweight in adults and children. Efforts towards obesity mitigation and prevention have produced promising recommendations and researchers and practitioners alike acknowledge that real solutions must match the complexity of the problem. Comprehensive approaches that target environmental, economic, socio-cultural, and knowledge-based factors that influence diet and physical activity are highly recommended. However, the literature yields little in the way of what such comprehensive obesity interventions actually entail and how they ought to be developed. In particular, there are knowledge gaps in how various stakeholder groups can bridge institutional barriers to collaborate in ways that maximize resources, build upon synergies, and avoid duplication of efforts; and how specific recommendations are actually implemented. This thesis aims to contribute to an emerging body of literature that fills this gap by presenting a practical case study on how to create a playground obesity intervention in the Gateway District of Phoenix, Arizona, in collaboration with researchers, health professionals, neighborhood residents, and city officials. The objectives were two-fold: 1. To outline concrete steps that will allow an organization to create a playground linked with healthy kids education program that aims to increase physical activity, perceptions of safety, and community cohesion; 2. To outline how diverse stakeholders can collaborate effectively to create such a cohesive, complex obesity intervention. A detailed, actionable intervention manual was drafted through semi-structured interviews, literature review, a survey, a stakeholder workshop, and an extended peer-review. The manual describes the sequence of actions necessary for creating an innovative playground that reinforces learning, encourages creative play, and increases physical activity. The sequence of actions was linked with existing local assets, stakeholder roles and responsibilities, costs, and potential barriers. This manual, as well as the process itself, can serve as a transferable model for helping organizations come together to build the capacity required in order to tackle complex health challenges.

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Date Created
2013

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A method for sustainability appraisal of urban visions

Description

Over the last two decades programs and mandates to encourage and foster sustainable urban development have arisen throughout the world, as cities have emerged as key opportunity sites for sustainable development due to the compactness and localization of services and

Over the last two decades programs and mandates to encourage and foster sustainable urban development have arisen throughout the world, as cities have emerged as key opportunity sites for sustainable development due to the compactness and localization of services and resources. In order to recognize this potential, scholars and practitioners have turned to the practice of visioning as a way to motivate actions and decision making toward a sustainable future. A "vision" is defined as desirable state in the future and scholars believe that the creation of a shared, motivational vision is the best starting point to catalyze positive and sustainable change. However, recent studies on city visions indicate that they do not offer substantive sustainability content, and methods or processes to evaluate the sustainability content of the resulting vision (sustainability appraisal or assessment) are often absent from the visioning process. Thus, this paper explores methods for sustainability appraisal and their potential contributions to (and in) visioning. The goal is to uncover the elements of a robust sustainability appraisal and integrate them into the visioning process. I propose an integrated sustainability appraisal procedure based on sustainability criteria, indicators, and targets as part of a visioning methodology that was developed by a team of researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) of which I was a part. I demonstrate the applicability of the appraisal method in a case study of visioning in Phoenix, Arizona. The proposed method allows for early and frequent consideration and evaluation of sustainability objectives for urban development throughout the visioning process and will result in more sustainability-oriented visions. Further, it can allow for better measurement and monitoring of progress towards sustainability goals, which can make the goals more tangible and lead to more accountability for making progress towards the development of more sustainable cities in the future.

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Date Created
2013

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Financing Sustainable Businesses: A Tool for Identifying Finance Options for Micro-Small Sustainable Food Enterprises in Arizona

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This thesis project was conducted to create a practical tool to help micro and small local food enterprises identify potential strategies and sources of finance. Currently, many of these enterprises are unable to obtain the financial capital needed to start-u

This thesis project was conducted to create a practical tool to help micro and small local food enterprises identify potential strategies and sources of finance. Currently, many of these enterprises are unable to obtain the financial capital needed to start-up or maintain operations.

Sources and strategies of finance studied and ultimately included in the tool were Loans, Equity, Membership, Crowdfunding, and Grants. The tool designed was a matrix that takes into account various criteria of the business (e.g. business lifecycle, organizational structure, business performance) and generates a financial plan based on these criteria and how they align with the selected business strategies. After strategies are found, stakeholders can search through an institutional database created in conjunction with the matrix tool to find possible institutional providers of financing that relate to the strategy or strategies found.

The tool has shown promise in identifying sources of finance for micro and small local food enterprises in practical use with hypothetical business cases, however further practical use is necessary to provide further input and revise the tool as needed. Ultimately, the tool will likely become fully user-friendly and stakeholders will not need the assistance of another expert helping them to use it. Finally, despite the promise of the tool itself, the fundamental and underlying problem that many of these businesses face (lack of infrastructure and knowledge) still exists, and while this tool can also help capacity-building efforts towards both those seeking and those providing finance, an institutional attitude adjustment towards social and alternative enterprises is necessary in order to further simplify the process of obtaining finance.

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2020-05

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Populating and facilitating urban sustainability transition arenas

Description

Urban areas face a host of sustainability problems ranging from air and water quality, to housing affordability, and sprawl reducing returns on infrastructure investments, among many others. To address such challenges, cities have begun to envision generational sustainability transitions, and

Urban areas face a host of sustainability problems ranging from air and water quality, to housing affordability, and sprawl reducing returns on infrastructure investments, among many others. To address such challenges, cities have begun to envision generational sustainability transitions, and coalesce transition arenas in context to manage those transitions. Transition arenas coordinate the efforts of diverse stakeholders in a setting conducive to making evidence-based decisions that guide a transition forward. Though espoused and studied in the literature, transition arenas still require further research on the specifics of agent selection, arena setting, and decision-making facilitation. This dissertation has three related contributions related to transition arenas. First, it describes a process that took place within Phoenix that focused on identifying, recruiting, and building the capacity of potential transition agents for a transition arena. As part of this, a first draft suggestion of plausible steps to take for identifying, recruiting, and building a team of transition agents is proposed followed by a brief discussion on how this step-by-step process could be evaluated in subsequent work. Second, building on such engagement, this dissertation then offers criteria for transition agent selection based on a review of the literature that includes the setting in which a transition arena occurs, and strategies to support successful facilitation of decision-making in that setting. Third, those criteria are operationalized to evaluate the facilitation of a specific decision (draft of a new transportation plan) in a specific transition arena: the Citizens Committee for the future of Phoenix Transportation. The goal of this dissertation is to articulate a first-draft framework for guiding the development and scientific evaluation of transition arenas. Future work is required to empirically validate the framework in other real-world transition arenas. A feasible research agenda is provides to support this work.

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2015

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Toward sustainable anticipatory governance: analyzing and assessing nanotechnology innovation processes

Description

Cities around the globe struggle with socio-economic disparities, resource inefficiency, environmental contamination, and quality-of-life challenges. Technological innovation, as one prominent approach to problem solving, promises to address these challenges; yet, introducing new technologies, such as nanotechnology, into society and cities

Cities around the globe struggle with socio-economic disparities, resource inefficiency, environmental contamination, and quality-of-life challenges. Technological innovation, as one prominent approach to problem solving, promises to address these challenges; yet, introducing new technologies, such as nanotechnology, into society and cities has often resulted in negative consequences. Recent research has conceptually linked anticipatory governance and sustainability science: to understand the role of technology in complex problems our societies face; to anticipate negative consequences of technological innovation; and to promote long-term oriented and responsible governance of technologies. This dissertation advances this link conceptually and empirically, focusing on nanotechnology and urban sustainability challenges. The guiding question for this dissertation research is: How can nanotechnology be innovated and governed in responsible ways and with sustainable outcomes? The dissertation: analyzes the nanotechnology innovation process from an actor- and activities-oriented perspective (Chapter 2); assesses this innovation process from a comprehensive perspective on sustainable governance (Chapter 3); constructs a small set of future scenarios to consider future implications of different nanotechnology governance models (Chapter 4); and appraises the amenability of sustainability problems to nanotechnological interventions (Chapter 5). The four studies are based on data collected through literature review, document analysis, participant observation, interviews, workshops, and walking audits, as part of process analysis, scenario construction, and technology assessment. Research was conducted in collaboration with representatives from industry, government agencies, and civic organizations. The empirical parts of the four studies focus on Metropolitan Phoenix. Findings suggest that: predefined mandates and economic goals dominate the nanotechnology innovation process; normative responsibilities identified by risk governance, sustainability-oriented governance, and anticipatory governance are infrequently considered in the nanotechnology innovation process; different governance models will have major impacts on the role and effects of nanotechnology in cities in the future; and nanotechnologies, currently, do not effectively address the root causes of urban sustainability challenges and require complementary solution approaches. This dissertation contributes to the concepts of anticipatory governance and sustainability science on how to constructively guide nanotechnological innovation in order to harvest its positive potential and safeguard against negative consequences.

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2013

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Constructing sustainability: a study of emerging scientific research trajectories

Description

The greatest challenge facing humanity in the twenty-first century is our ability to reconcile the capacity of natural systems to support continued improvement in human welfare around the globe. Over the last decade, the scientific community has attempted to formulate

The greatest challenge facing humanity in the twenty-first century is our ability to reconcile the capacity of natural systems to support continued improvement in human welfare around the globe. Over the last decade, the scientific community has attempted to formulate research agendas in response to what they view as the problems of sustainability. Perhaps the most prominent and wide-ranging of these efforts has been sustainability science, an interdisciplinary, problem-driven field that seeks to address fundamental questions on human-environment interactions. This project examines how sustainability scientists grapple with and bound the deeply social, political and normative dimensions of both characterizing and pursuing sustainability. Based on in-depth interviews with leading researchers and a content analysis of the relevant literature, this project first addresses three core questions: (1) how sustainability scientists define and bound sustainability; (2) how and why various research agendas are being constructed to address these notions of sustainability; (3) and how scientists see their research contributing to societal efforts to move towards sustainability. Based on these results, the project explores the tensions between scientific efforts to study and inform sustainability and social action. It discusses the implications of transforming sustainability into the subject of scientific analysis with a focus on the power of science to constrain discourse and the institutional and epistemological contexts that link knowledge to societal outcomes. Following this analysis, sustainability science is repositioned, borrowing Herbert Simon's concept, as a "science of design." Sustainability science has thus far been too focused on understanding the "problem-space"--addressing fundamental questions about coupled human-natural systems. A new set objectives and design principles are proposed that would move the field toward a more solutions-oriented approach and the enrichment of public reasoning and deliberation. Four new research streams that would situate sustainability science as a science of design are then discussed: creating desirable futures, socio-technical change, sustainability values, and social learning. The results serve as a foundation for a sustainability science that is evaluated on its ability to frame sustainability problems and solutions in ways that make them amenable to democratic and pragmatic social action.

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Date Created
2011

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Discovering pathways to sustainability: small communities in transition

Description

Driven by concern over environmental, economic and social problems, small, place based communities are engaging in processes of transition to become more sustainable. These communities may be viewed as innovative front runners of a transition to a more sustainable society

Driven by concern over environmental, economic and social problems, small, place based communities are engaging in processes of transition to become more sustainable. These communities may be viewed as innovative front runners of a transition to a more sustainable society in general, each one, an experiment in social transformation. These experiments present learning opportunities to build robust theories of community transition and to create specific, actionable knowledge to improve, replicate, and accelerate transitions in real communities. Yet to date, there is very little empirical research into the community transition phenomenon. This thesis empirically develops an analytical framework and method for the purpose of researching community transition processes, the ultimate goal of which is to arrive at a practice of evidence based transitions. A multiple case study approach was used to investigate three community transitions while simultaneously developing the framework and method in an iterative fashion. The case studies selected were Ashton Hayes, a small English village, BedZED, an urban housing complex in London, and Forres, a small Scottish town. Each community was visited and data collected by interview and document analysis. The research design brings together elements of process tracing, transformative planning and governance, sustainability assessment, transition path analysis and transition management within a multiple case study envelope. While some preliminary insights are gained into community transitions based on the three cases the main contribution of this thesis is in the creation of the research framework and method. The general framework and method developed has potential for standardizing and synthesizing research of community transition processes leading to both theoretical and practical knowledge that allows sustainability transition to be approached with confidence and not just hope.

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2011