Context matters: Influence of organizational, environmental, and social factors on civic environmental stewardship group intensity


Civic environmental stewardship groups actively take care of their local environment and are known to work in urban contexts. Research on the geographies of this urban environmental stewardship is young. Understanding where stewardship groups work and the associated organizational and neighborhood contexts advances the understanding of the environmental outcomes of stewardship efforts. We examine the organizational, socioeconomic, and environmental contexts associated with the number of stewardship groups at the Census block group and neighborhood scales for four diverse U.S. cities (Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; and Seattle, WA). We found relatively consistent and strong relationships with both average professionalization (staff and budget index) and diversity of groups’ focus and the number of groups’ activity areas in a block group or neighborhood, suggesting a potential density dependence effect. Overall, the number of stewardship groups correlates with social and environmental aspects at both scales across all cities, but variation across cities for specific variables indicates the need for further analyses to unpack why we observe these different patterns across cities. Strong relationships with organizational factors suggest future directions for stewardship research and that the organizational landscape may affect how many groups work in a place more than socioeconomic or environmental conditions.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Michelle L. Johnson
Erika Svendsen, U.S. Forest Service
Lindsay K. Campbell
Lynne M. Westphal
Michele Romolini, Loyola Marymount University
Ecology and Society