Graduation Date

Fall 2017

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Renee Byrd

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Noah Zerbe

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Jessica Urban

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environment and Community


The issue of gentrification is paramount to the viability of poor and at risk communities in Oakland. Literature on gentrification has historically focused on larger societal and economic movements, but little has been studied about the role planned green space and gardens play in the spatial transformation of the urban environment. In this case study of two gardens in West Oakland, I explore questions of community involvement in the gardens, the role of garden aesthetics in attracting development and new residents to the neighborhood, the unique relationship between the City government and the gardens, the larger symbolic significance of green space in contemporary urban society, and the use of urban gardens as sites of resistance against gentrification. Through interviews, participant observation, analysis of City planning documents, and a social constructivist, grounded theory approach to this qualitative case study, I find that while the two gardens are organized around different concepts of citizenship, resistance, and approaches to community resilience, they have both been used by the City in advancing its development plans, demonstrating the vulnerability of radical political and cultural movements to recuperation by capital and the state. However, the gardens and adjacent green spaces still serve as places of community and belonging for some residents, and at night are transformed into sites of resistance at night for houseless residents and sex workers. This has implications for the strategies of food justice and anti-gentrification organizations, and opens up the potential for future research into new tactics of resistance and community building as the onslaught of gentrification continues to displace marginalized residents in Oakland.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location