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maintaining community involvement - some research

  • Subject: [cg] maintaining community involvement - some research
  • From: A J Hinchley arp02ajh@sheffield.ac.uk
  • Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 13:01:20 +0100

Hi everyone.

I'm writing from England following the discovery of your fantastic list - we 
don't seem to have anything nearly as active in the UK so finding a bustling 
list was a huge thrill!

I 'm doing some research with a community organisation and Sheffield 
University on the long-term involvement of volunteers and participants in 
community-led open space projects (including community gardens). Over here the 
CG movement is not nearly as developed, but there are pockets of growing 
activity. When I got interested in this trend I found that loads of really 
valuable projects were suffering because they were unable to keep participants 
active after the initial construction phase.

I've been lucky enough to get funding for a three year PhD project, to explore 
changing patterns of involvement, and their relationship with patterns 
ofcommunity attachment. The work is based on a case study area (Heeley in 
Sheffield), but I'm really keen to get any thoughts or experiences on the 
subject from a wider area (and I couldn't get much wider than this list by the 
looks of it!).

It might be worth mentioning that one of the major differences between the 
cases in England and elsewhere seems to be that our sites rarely have a 
productive element to them. Growing crops is largely reserved for allotment 
sites, while community gardens concentrate on 'communal activities' or simply 
environmental improvement. It would be interesting to explore how this 
difference creates different challenges for retaining involvement.

I'm a firm believer in the benefits that community spaces can provide, but it 
seems to me that retaining community involvement in the longer term is a 
process that needs to be better understood to allow them to achieve their full 

I just thought I'd throw this in here, and if anyone has ANYTHING they'd like 
to share on, or around, the subject I'd be extremely interested to hear it.

Best wishes to everyone,

Andrew Hinchley

University of Sheffield/Heeley Development Trust
Sheffield, UK

(for a description of Heeley and its flagship community park project, which 
acted as a catalyst for many of the smaller projects locally which I will be 
studying, check this out....http://www.map21ltd.com/DTA/heeley/index.htm)

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