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Participation and capacity building in community visioning: NIMBYism and the politics of the rural-urban interface in Elk Grove, California

  • Author(s): Hiner, Colleen
  • Galt, Ryan
  • et al.

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The Rural Visioning Project, a community-based research project in Elk Grove, California, emerged from collaboration between two local community groups and researchers from the University of California, Davis. It is presented as "an exercise in community development," which lends insight into community processes, the meaning of "community" and perceptions of community action by participants and observers. The project provides an example of how participatory research can generate desired community change as well as valid, relevant data. Moreover, the substantive community development issues which emerged from the project have far-reaching impacts and relevance, informing wider conversations around the concept of a "public good," public participation, and capacity building, including how local communities can empower themselves to enact change of their own design rather than follow the status quo and the preferences of vested interests. Related to these issues, we discuss the NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) label and how it is mobilized by both sides in land use disputes to either bolster or demean public legitimacy. The Rural Visioning Project also offers valuable insight into some of the questions, implications, and complexities of the rural-urban interface, revealing divergent experiences of culture, identity and public decision-making.

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