Civic Ecology & Resilience

Full Title

Civic ecology practices: What role for self-organized community environmental stewardship in resilience to multiple stresses?


Civic ecology practices are community-based, environmental stewardship actions taken to enhance green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and human well-being in cities. Examples include tree planting in post-Katrina New Orleans, oyster reestablishment and dune restoration in New York City, community gardening in Detroit, village grove restoration in Korea, and natural area stewardship in the Cape Flats, South Africa. These practices often emerge in communities after a major disaster (e.g., Hurricane Sandy) or following long-term disinvestment and decline (e.g., Detroit). From a social-ecological systems perspective, they represent small-scale, self-organized efforts that address multiple stresses, including poverty, crime, flooding, pollution, and limited open space.

The goal of this workshop is to better understand such practices and the insights they provide in planning for future stresses related to climate change. The workshop will bring together ethnically-diverse community leaders engaged in civic ecology practices and academics from universities, NGOs, and government to address the following questions:

  • How do civic ecology practices emerge?
  • What role do these practices play in mitigation, adaptation, and transformation in communities facing multiple social-ecological stresses?
  • Given climate-associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, heat waves), what strategies can be used to expand the impacts of community-driven practices to foster social-ecological resilience and sustainability?

Three products will result from the workshop:

  1. An academic review article synthesizing the workshop discussions,
  2. A video of community leaders describing their “best practices,” and
  3. A book of case practice descriptions seen through the lens of various social-ecological conceptual frameworks.
Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Marianne Krasny, Cornell University
Keith Tidball, Cornell University
Aniruddha Abhyankar, Arroche Consulting
Dustin Alger, Higher Ground Sun Valley
Louise Chawla, University of Colorado
Dennis Chestnut, Groundwork Anacostia River
Zahra Golshani, Nature Cleaners
Lance Gunderson, Emory University
Robert Hughes, Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation
Rebecca Jordan, Rutgers University
Karim-Aly Kassam, Cornell University
Laurel Kearns, Drew University
Jennifer Klein, Lesley University
Veronica Kyle, Faith in Place
Caroline Lewis, CLEO Institute
Rosalba Lopez Ramirez, Kelly Street Community Garden
David Maddox, The Nature of Cities
Kellen Marshall-Gillespie, University of Illinois, Chicago
Anandi Premlall, Sustainable Queens (SustyQ)
Carrie Samis, Maryland Coastal Bays Program
Philip Silva, TreeKIT
Carmen Sirianni, Brandeis University
Traci Sooter, Drury University
Erika Svendsen, U.S. Forest Service
Arjen Wals, Wageningen University
Rebecca Witt, Greening of Detroit
Jill Wrigley, Peace Park