Green infrastructure (GI) – or spaces with permeable surfaces dominated by vegetation – has been shown to have numerous positive community benefits. Some local city governments in the United States have realised the benefits of GI, and along with neighbourhood associations and NGOs have launched special programs to promote GI development. However, adoption of such infrastructure in Tucson, Arizona, has not been spatially uniform. Most notably, low-income communities within the poorer, south side of the city have not benefited from these types of investments and this has become a palpable social and environmental justice issue.
Scientists from the University of Arizona (UA), Andrea Gerlak and Adriana Zuniga, in partnership with Catlow Shipek from the Watershed Management Group were recently awarded funding from the UA Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice to better address equity and justice issues around GI and urban connectivity in Tucson.
Through a community-university partnership, this project will pilot and model a participatory, iterative stakeholder engagement process to engage community members – from project conception through implementation. Designed as part of a pilot project, these efforts can serve adjacent neighborhoods that can learn from this process, interact with each other, connect with different organisations, and enhance their sense of community.