Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies

Degree Program

Interdisciplinary Studies concentration in Sustainability, MA

Committee Chair

DeCaro, Daniel

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Heberle, Lauren

Committee Member

Heberle, Lauren

Committee Member

Kinahan, Kelly

Author's Keywords

state-reinforced self-governance; self-governance; community-managed open space; community gardens; Chicago; Louisville


As urban populations rise, small greenspaces, like gardens, are increasingly important to well-being of communities, and urban sustainability as a whole. However, past development, and current political and economic challenges encumber many cities in providing adequate greenspace. Cities like Chicago, IL and Louisville, KY have turned to the communities to manage greenspaces with help from partner organizations. This thesis examines these arrangements, and compares them in terms of several potential factors, (i.e. legal authority, responsibility, and support). Semi-structured interviews of important community greenspace stakeholders, and archival sources including original documents, news articles, and government reports, were used to understand the context of these cases. Results indicate that Chicago’s NeighborSpace program, a government-supported non-profit land trust, strongly exhibits the hypothesized factors. Whereas, Louisville’s reliance on the Jefferson County Cooperative Service, with insufficient authority or support, is less effective and does not empower communities. NeighborSpace may serve as a model for Louisville.