First Advisor

William Becker

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science


Science Teaching




Brownfield restoration, Free-choice learning, Public participation, Urban environment, Group decision making -- Case studies, Social participation, Environmental protection -- Citizen participation, Action research



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 105 p.) : ill. (chiefly col.)


Brownfield restoration and remediation is a growing concern across the United States. Brownfields are vacant or abandoned properties with real or perceived contamination. Successfully restoring these properties requires strong stakeholder collaboration, including the local community. The purpose of this study was to explore the complexities of creating a community garden on a residential brownfield site located in a low-income, high-minority neighborhood and to gain a better understanding of how a community based project develops and impacts individuals from the community. Specifically, the study investigated who chose to participate in the project, what motivated individuals to become involved and remain committed, and how individual's understanding of the project's risks and plans changed throughout his/her involvement. The case study followed 17 participants through the first year of the Emerson Street Garden, a brownfield restoration project in the King Neighborhood of northeast Portland, Oregon. Findings showed that individuals were attracted to different styles of outreach materials based on their own personality and preferences. The desire to improve the community was an important motivation for all the participants but personal motivation was not connected to knowledge retention. While the Emerson Working Group was successful at distributing knowledge to all its members, individual's flexibility to new ideas was critical for continued involvement in the working group. In conclusion, the study found that a "one-size-fits-all" method for engaging community members in urban restoration and renewal projects does not exist; however, there are best practices that can be applied to most situations. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.


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Portland State University. Center for Science Education

Persistent Identifier