Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening

August 10, 2011

Course Description and Goals:

The block of courses is about doing something about the environmental issues we face – a task that, of course, will require research, analysis, organization, and writing, but that must also result in practical action.  The goals of the course are to encourage you to become an active citizen in your own educational process and our wider community; to learn about, analyze, critique, and apply some of the historical and contemporary interdisciplinary thinking regarding green urbanism and urban gardening to a particular community project; to immerse yourself in one local attempt to bring Cincinnati closer to its goals of being a greener city.


  1. Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America
  2. Rob Hopkins, The Transition Handbook
  3. Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities


Written assignments (5, 10 and 20%)—35% total

We will ask for written submissions on three occasions: 8/31, 10/7, and 11/16. Generally, you will be expected to integrate your classroom material and project experience into a coherent discussion about what you are learning. Each assignment will build on the ideas and questions raised in the previous one as well as on the cumulative course material. Thus, each assignment is worth more than the previous one.

Practical Engagement (30%)

In addition to the written assignments above, we will assess your learning at the engagement site through oral presentations. These will be group presentations (three of them) and they will draw on your individual written assignments for content. At the end of the syllabus is a list of the potential engagement sites. You will choose an engagement site by August 31 and will be expected to work 20 hours during the semester at the site on a particular project.

Participation (20%)

In addition to active participation in class, marked by insightful references about and questions arising from reading material and your practical engagement work, there will be two field trips. One will be to Enright Urban Eco-Village and Imago Earth Center, the other to Xavier’s community garden. There are three campus lectures that you are required to attend. The first is by Will Allen, an urban gardener on September 26, the second by architect and designer William McDonough on October 24 and the third by two leaders of the Transition Town USA movement on November 7. They are all Sundays at 7 pm. The last two will be held in the Schiff Family Conference Center. The first one will be in the Cintas Center arena.

Final Essay (15%)

This will be the final version of the ideas/questions/themes raised in your three writing assignments.

Class Schedule:

August 24 (JF): Introduction—Why this class?Readings: Mumford, Preface and Introduction; Martin V. Melosi, “The Place of the City in Environmental History,” Environmental History Review 17 (Spring 1993), 1-23; bits from Botkin; Register, Burgess, Zorbaugh

August 26 (KS): Introduction—Why this class?Readings: David Orr, Ecological Literacy ?; Wes Jackson, “Prologue” Becoming Native to this Place; Jason Peters, “Destined for Failure” Orion November/December 2008

August 31 (JF): Ecology of the CityReadings: Cronon, prophecy essay and wilderness essay; ***Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham, “First Impressions,” pp. 5-13 in Part One: Lenape Country and New Amsterdam to 1664 ***Garry Wills, “Chicago Underground,” The New York Review of Books (October 21, 1993), 15ff (review essay on Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis and other books) ***John Leonard, “California Screaming,” The Nation (October 5, 1998), 35-39 (review of Davis’ Ecology of Fear, with reference to Davis’ City of Quartz)Assignment #1: 500 words due, defining “the ecology of the city”:

Sept. 2 (JF):  The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “Protection and the Medieval Town” (59); Bookchin, Alexander

Sept. 7: What Does Green Urbanism look like in Cincinnati?Guest: Larry Falkin, Office of Environmental QualityReading: Climate Action Plan

Sept. 9 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “Court, Parade, and Capital” (69); Worster, Cronon

Sept. 14 (KS): Agriculture in History (look at STEP)Reading: Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, chs. 1-4

Sept. 16 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “The Insensate Industrial Town,” (80); Hurley, Noxious NY

Sept. 21 (KS): Agriculture in HistoryReading: Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, chs. 7 and 9; The Nation, Sept. 21 2009 issue; Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, introduction and “The Way We Live Now: 10-12-03; The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions of Obesity”

Sept. 23: Urban Gardening: Connections between Farming and Urban and Suburban GardeningGuest speakers: Peter Huttinger, Civic Garden Center; Melinda O’Briant, Turner Farm; Molly Robertshaw, NEXUS Community GardenReading: Christopher Grampp, From Yard to Garden, ch. 1; Gene Logsdon, “The Garden is the Proving Ground for the Farm” The Contrary Farmer

Sept. 26 (Sunday): Will Allen, E/RS Lecture, 7 pm Cintas Center Arena

Sept. 27 (Monday): Lunch with Will Allen

Sept. 28 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “The Rise and Fall of Megalopolis” (76); Brechin, Platt

Sept. 30 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “The Regional Framework of Civilization” (47); Rome, Davis

Oct. 5 (KS): Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: The ConnectionsReadings: McKibben, “The Year of Eating Locally”, Deep Economy, ch. 2; Gene Logsdon, “A Horse-drawn Economy” and “My Wilderness” from At Nature’s Pace

Oct. 7: PresentationsWritten Assignment #2 due

Oct. 12: Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: The ConnectionsGuest speaker: Enright Ecovillage CSA (change of date!)


Oct. 19 (KS): Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical EngagementReading: : Mike Tidwell, “To really save the planet, stop going green” The Washington Post, Sunday December 6, 2009; “How Consumers Can Affect Climate Change” All Things Considered, December 8, 2009; “Environmentalist says ‘going green’ is a waste of time” NPR, December 8, 2009; Bill McKibben, “Multiplication Saves the Day” Orion November/December 2008; Rebecca Solnit, “The Most Radical Thing You Can Do” Orion November/December 2008; Franklin Kalinowski, “A Nation of Addicts” Orion July/August 2009; Derrick Jensen, “Forget Shorter Showers” Orion July/August 2009; Jerome Segal, Graceful Simplicity: The Philosophy and Politics of the Alternative American Dream, (pp to be determined)

Oct. 21 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “The Politics of Regional Development” (53); Jacobs, Seattle

Oct. 24 (Sunday): William McDonough lecture, 7pm, Schiff Family Conference Center

Oct. 26 (KS): Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical EngagementReading: Hopkins, Transition Handbook, part 1

Oct. 28: Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical EngagementField Trip: Enright Ecovillage and Imago

Nov. 2 (KS): Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical Engagement (TTs)Reading: Hopkins, Transition Handbook, part 2

Nov. 4: Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical Engagement (TTs)Guests: Transition town folks in CincinnatiReading: Hopkins, Transition Handbook, part 3

Nov. 7 (Sunday): Michael Brownlee and Karen Lanphear, Transition Town USA

Nov. 9: Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical Engagement (TTs)Guests: Michael Brownlee and Karen Lanphear, Transition Town USA

Nov. 11 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Mumford, “The Social Basis of the New Urban Order” (84); Warner, Merchant

Nov. 16: PresentationsWritten Assignment #3 due

Nov. 18 (JF): The Culture of CitiesReading: Spirn, Poole, Register, Duany and Plater-Zyberg, Kay, Calthrope

Nov. 23 (KS): Green Urbanism and Urban Gardening: Practical EngagementReading: www.urbanhomestead.orgVideo: Homegrown (


Nov. 30 (JF): Populism for the CitiesReading: Fairfield, Zukin, Jacobs (on ecology); Hedeen, Cincinnati Arch

Dec. 2: Presentation of Final Papers

Dec. 7: Presentation of Final Papers

Dec. 9: Presentation of Final PapersFinal Essay Due

Practical Engagement Sites

Transition Anderson (1 group)
Mission: local, earth-friendly living (Debbie’s words)
How to learn more: Transition 1.0 video; website (, newsletter

What would students do:

  • Attend Oct. and Dec TA public meetings (1st week), 7-9
  • Attend TA events during the fall (unscheduled so far)
  • Help get films/library events going at the library again
  • Communications strategy—marketing initiative and events
  • Assisting with monthly newsletter—200 people (to Transition Anderson/Greater Cincinnati)
  • Orientation with Debbie Weber on Fridays
  • Asset mapping
  • New park—Johnson Park

Hyde Park Farmers’ Market (1-2 groups)
Mission: To offer both organic and conventionally grown food, provide a growers’ only market,  help people connect to others in the neighborhood, enhance the quality of life and to celebrate local foods (taken from website).
How to learn more:

Constraints: Bulk of work will need to be completed by end of October
What students could do:
Group #1:
Survey: Is produce at farmers’ markets more expensive than at the supermarket?

  1. price tomatoes (organic, function vs. Krogers vs. Whole Foods)
    1. depending on season, several farmers’ markets
  2. compared foods vs. market-bought
  3. would want to aggregate information, give to consumer, students could write articles about it
    1. Community Food Security Coalition
    2. Kellogg Foundation
  4. is farmer’s markets food a reasonable solution to food deserts

Group #2
Interview survey

  1. how often did you find out about it?
  2. how often do you come? What’s here that gets you to come?
  3. in front of Kroger—do you go?

For both groups:

  1. Mary Ida would be able to sit down with students to tell her story (w/o job—almost any time; w/job unknown)
  2. she can meet with you up to 3 times
  3. would you want them to go to a grower to pack up for market and then sell with them?


Civic Garden Center (2-3 groups)
Mission: The Civic Garden Center is a non-profit horticultural resource that enriches lives through education, community beautification and environmental stewardship (from website).
How to learn more: Website (
Constraints: bulk of hours before end of October
Students would work on:
Possible projects:

  1. Neighborhood Gardens with Peter Huttinger–CAT garden (at homeless facility for veteran’s (transient population), they help maintain the garden and use it in their kitchen and People’s Garden (OTR—McMicken, 30 years old)
  2. Children’s gardens with Karena Bullock—cleaning up beds, winterizing, cover crops, usually not planned activities
  3. Brand new garden (first year) in Walnut Hills (private owner, 4 lots, raised beds) coming out of Hunger Project
  4. Urban orchard project near Riverview East school (on Straiter Avenue) might be planting in the fall, big festival in the fall, outdoor ovens
  5. CGC Demonstration Vegetable Garden
  6. All groups: Flavors of Neighborhood Gardens, 100 people, late September, at CGC

Imago/Enright Ecovillage (3-4 groups)
Imago’s Mission: is to foster a deeper harmony with Earth by providing educational experiences, creating opportunities for discussion and community building, and conserving natural areas.
Enright Ecovillage Mission: Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage (ERUEV) is a community of people fostering a sustainable urban neighborhood that promotes social and economic well-being while contributing to the preservation of our planet. We are located in Price Hill, near downtown Cincinnati, Ohio; building a new way of life on the foundations of this beautiful historic area (affordable homes, the acres of forest that surround the ridge and a traditionally strong sense of community) to create a healthier, more sustainable neighborhood.
How to learn more:

What students could do:

  1. CSA—marketing, survey
  2. Bioneers Conference
  3. Earth Center—teaching for thousands of students
  4. Buying club—expanding membership
  5. Bike co-op (like Mobo) have a shed, know how to repair

Community and Political Power Syllabus

Gene Beaupre and Liz Blume
Course Objectives

  1. This course is really about sources and uses of power in civic or public life.
    1. What is common and what is different between political power (power exercised by an elected government (executive, legislative and administrative) and community-based power, i.e., power derived from  civic associations, formal and informal, intended to affect civic life?
    2. What is the interaction between political and civic power?
    3. The focus will be on local government and community – where decisions often seem to have a more proximate and immediate impact on our lives.
  2. Political Power will look at:
    1. What does it take to get elected to public office?
    2. What impact does the election process have on those holding public office?
    3. What are the formal and informal powers of elected officials, especially at the local level?
    4. What power do non-elected government officials have in influencing public policy?
    5. What influence, formal and informal, do citizens play, in the policy process?  (This will transition to an examination of civic action, citizen participation and organization and, community life.)
  3. Community Power will explore:
    1. How individuals and community-based groups participate in public life and policy making.
    2. How the power necessary to change (or maintain) community life is accumulated and exercised.   And, how political entities (elected officials, public administrators, public boards and commissions) and other source of power in the community (e.g., business and corporate interests, non-profit organizations, religious organizations and the media) may react to community power.
    3. What the field of community development brings to the table and how civic life is supported
    4. How to think about creating successful community change
    5. What’s the role of a “citizen” in public life

Course Methods

  1. There is no is no formal text required for the course.
  2. There will be specific, relatively short readings assigned.
  3. The primary method for learning how politic action happens is through analysis and guided discussion of a wide range of practical engagements.  This will require your complete commitment to non-classroom experiences, working with and observing political groups (campaign organizations, City Council actions, and the administration of public policy).
  4. Similarly, an understanding of community power is best learned by a combination of direct engagement with community-based initiatives and organizations accompanied by reflection, discussion and analysis of what you experience working in communities.  (Where and how, for instance, does community action become public policy?)
  5. You will most often work in teams (established in the Green Urbanism half of block) to do both political and community engagement.   Class time will be devoted to discussions of readings, in-depth analysis of practical experiences, as a forum for political and community practitioners to talk with us about what they do and what they have experienced,  team meetings as needed and, team presentations.
  6. You will be asked, in your established teams to develop a community change strategy based on an issue or topic you identify as part of your placement.  This will include developing a problem statement; creating an asset inventory and developing an action plan for positive change.  Each team will be required to present their findings and recommendations to the class.

Requirements and Expectations

  1. You are expected to commit mind, body and spirit to the political and community engagement that is the core of this course (and, a major part of the third “P” in PPP).  The nature of this work will likely be very different from anything you have done before, especially with the combination of political experiences and community-based work.  The non-classroom, team-based aspect of the course presents challenges (not the least of which is simply scheduling) and opportunities.  Most of what is achieved in the public sector cannot happen without multiple minds and hands, working in common, over a long period of time. The public sector is the world of team effort.  (See below for examples of students’ political and community engagement.)
  2. The advantage of the academic life is the opportunity to reflect with discipline and rigor on the experiences you have and to be assisted in that examination by peers, teachers and experts.  For us, this occurs, by and large, in the classroom.  Therefore, class attendance AND participation is crucial to the learning process for all of us.
  3. Finally, your experience, reflection and learning are most valuable to the public when you can effectively communicate in a wide range of public forums (written, small groups, public media opportunities and presentations).  That is what public advocates do.  This includes community-based forums (formal and informal), political activities such as campaigning and public policy advocacy, and formal presentations in class and other academic settings.
  4. This is an honors program offering honor-level challenges and requiring consistent, honors-level performance.  You will be graded on:
    • Your commitment to and execution of the experiential requirements of the course,
    • Your preparation and participation in class,
    • Your contribution to team assignments,
    • Your individual preparation and execution in formal presentations.
  5. Students will be evaluated on the content and timeliness of their assignments, the quality of their formal presentations, their consistent class participation and team work and the final assignment for the course.   Because nature and variety of what you do does not lend itself to a numerical score, students will be evaluated on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.

Several points about the operation of the course:

  1. At your placement you represent the University, this course and your colleagues.  No matter how varied the personalities and experiences are that you face in your placements, you are expected to conduct yourself with professionalism and to respect those you work with and encounter.  To do less will be reflected in your grade.
  2. We encourage open discussion in the classroom, including your experiences and observations from your placements.  Please remember that classroom discussion should be treated as confidential.  What is said in the classroom, stays in the classroom. Discretion is an important ingredient in building trust in the political world and in the community.
  3. Please note that, like Drs. Smythe and Fairfield, we take very seriously the policy on page 52 of the Xavier Catalog regarding standards of ethical behavior.
  4. As noted above, the political world and community is a dynamic, sometimes disorganized and often unpredictable enterprise.  The schedule we keep over the semester may need to be adjusted to match the political and public events that unfold over the next several weeks.

Examples of students’ political and community engagement:
The Community and Political course deployed student teams to work both sides of the 2010, highly contested race for the 1st Congressional District of Ohio.  In addition to campaign engagement, teams prepared sophisticated, well-researched campaign plans for their respective candidates that included voter analysis, strategy, messages and field operation. The syllabus is intended to be fairly loosely structured to allow for the changing opportunities that arise in any hard-fought political campaign.  After the election, the teams were guided by the former director of City Planning in field analysis of a variety of neighborhood.  The block courses give student a wide range of public engagement: civic, political and public administration.

School: Xavier University, OH
Professor: Dr. John Fairfield and Dr. Kathleen Smythe/Gene Beaupre and Liz Blume
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