Narratives of community garden education : bridging social capital, ecoliteracy, and civic leadership

Correa, Carly Kaleonahenahe Meka Na'au Pono Edith Veary
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
Ample evidence suggests that environmental problems, and their impacts to present and future generations, require our utmost attention. Education within schools and communities play critical roles in shaping the perceptions and relationships people have to their natural and social environments. However, few studies have examined the capacity of non-formal, community garden education in building sustainable communities. This case study explored the motivations, strategies, and capacities of civic leaders who had little financial capital, to organize people, knowledge, and resources for community and education transformation. Data for this study came from Kaiao Community Garden (KCG) and a network of affiliated organizations in Hilo, Hawaiʿi. Multiple qualitative methods were used in collecting perspectives from 60 participants across 11 programs and six stakeholder groups between late 2010 and late 2012. Reiterative coding and narrative analysis elucidated critical themes in establishing and sustaining community garden education, amidst rising challenges. Bridging forms of social capital proved significant in developing civic leadership, just as civic leadership created meaningful opportunities for bridging social capital. Within a garden context, these two themes played key roles in developing ecoliteracy, or the knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and interrelationships relevant to sustainability. Ecoliteracy also related back to social capital and civic leadership through experiential social learning, service-learning, and mentorship. Hence, this study advances a theory on the educational dimensions of holistic sustainability. Implications for practice include support for ecological service-learning opportunities that bridge students within schools, communities, and the natural world.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
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