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|Title: ||Rethinking the Role of Community Gardening in Localizing Post-Oil Suburbia: A Proposal for Willowdale Community Garden in Cherry Hill, NJ|
|Authors: ||Schlesinger, Andrew|
|Keywords: ||Cherry Hill, NJ|
local food systems
|Issue Date: ||29-May-2012|
|Abstract: ||Today, nearly half of American citizens live in suburban communities (U.S. Census, 2010). Over the last century, these communities have become dangerously dependent on a steady supply of fossil fuels for the continuation of their current food, energy, and transportation systems. While coal and natural gas supplies remain relatively high, natural resource experts agree that global oil supply will fall consistently in coming years. As oil supplies decrease, suburban communities that currently depend on petroleum will therefore have to adapt to live with a decreasing supply of this fossil fuel. Despite these projections, few communities are currently planning for life after oil.
This thesis reviews the growing movement of communities optimistically responding to the challenges presented by the peak oil scenario. These places that are transitioning to locally supporting community systems are demonstrating that in addition to increasing an area’s resilience against future petroleum challenges, local initiatives also increase the well-being of communities. The following thesis applies the concept of localizing community to the context of suburban townships. After reviewing the consumer trends and development intentions that led to the creation of suburban communities in America, it analyzes the crossroads of development patterns currently facing aging suburban places today. It suggests that for several short and long-term benefits, suburban communities should adopt efficient development patterns that cater to the pedestrians by creating forums for civic engagement. This shift in development approach will reverse a long suburban tradition of designing infrastructure around car-culture and oil dependency.
After establishing the argument for why suburban communities must begin thinking about transitioning away from oil, this thesis narrows its focus on envisioning a post-oil food system in my home suburban township, Cherry Hill, NJ. After presenting an analysis of Cherry Hill’s rich landscape and cultural narratives, it applies the solution-oriented approaches of transition town, permaculture, and place-based education to the context of Cherry Hill’s Willowdale neighborhood. Translating a global awareness of climate change and peak oil into local action, this thesis culminates with a proposal for Willowdale Community Garden. Combining private garden plots with a public permaculture learning landscapes, the design proposal for Willowdale Community Garden outlines the creation of a much-needed public garden space for the residents of Cherry Hill to experiment with food production. The implementation of this garden will also support the rediscovery of living well in the township’s suburban landscape. By doing so, it will compliment and fortify a greater sustainability movement already spreading throughout Cherry Hill Township.|
|Appears in Collections:||Environmental Studies Senior Theses|
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