Cultivating transformative change and sustainability in Nijmegen. A study of community gardens’ collective identities and their connection to societal transformation towards sustainability in four of Nijmegen’s community gardens.

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As the world is facing increasing threats due to global environmental change, the question is pressuring how to transform our societies to make them more sustainable. While governmental efforts to educate consumers have not been very effective so far, it is suggested that societal transformation should come from bottom-up and entails changes in identities. Through social innovation, grassroot initiatives are thought to present ideologically alternative solutions to unsustainable practices. In this ethnographic study, eleven gardeners of four community gardens located in Nijmegen have been interviewed and observed during gardening practices to gain insight to their collective identities and how these connect to societal transformation towards sustainability. The results show that the collective identities strengthen social cohesion and enhance sustainability on the neighbourhood level. However, they are also defined by power relations and exclusion as not any citizen is able to participate. Recommendations are made to reduce exclusion and strengthen collaboration between initiatives. Further scientific research should focus on other perspectives than the community gardeners’ to gain a more complete picture of the gardens’ transformative potentials.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen