First Advisor

Carl Abbott

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Empowerment, Natural realm, Photo storytelling, Spatial image, Community gardens -- Oregon -- Portland, Place (Philosophy) -- Social aspects, Gardeners -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (xvii, 364 p.) : ill. (chiefly col.), maps (some col.)


The study examines social and physical connections and images that define the sense of place of three community gardens managed by the City of Portland. Most research on community gardens focuses on social group connections and their impact on community revitalization and empowerment. Few studies consider the impact of physical and social connections to community gardens from the perspective of individual gardeners in constructing their sense of place. No studies have yet examined the relationship between spatial images, space connections, and empowerment feelings related to community gardens. This study is intended to initiate a discussion on the empowerment experience of individual gardeners and their images associated with community gardens in the context of sense of place. Thirty gardeners participated in the study. The use of the narrative photo storytelling method applied through de Certeau's practice of everyday life and narrative city approach enabled gardeners to express in their own terms connections to space and experience of empowerment achieved through community gardening. The study proposes the concept of the Natural Realm as the context for sense of place of Portland Community gardens. Natural Realm deemphasizes the human-centric view of nature. Community gardeners most commonly experience empowerment by perceiving community gardens as sacred places where people feel well because they can grow healthy food, practice green domesticity, and learn from nature in a beautiful setting. The study applies Rocha's ladder of empowerment to examine the relevance of individual and group action in fulfilling empowerment goals in the context of sense of place. Gardeners accomplish most of their empowerment goals through solitary efforts to maximize pleasurable activities and increase personal efficacy and satisfaction by optimizing physical and social connections in community gardens.


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Persistent Identifier