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Nonprofits and park equity in Los Angeles: a promising way forward for environmental justice

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Disparities in park provision raise environmental and health justice concerns. With public agencies stepping back from providing environmental amenities in increasingly neoliberal urban regimes, nonprofits in the U.S. have assumed a prominent role in the parks and recreation sector. But very few studies have comprehensively assessed whether and how park nonprofits contribute to increasing or closing the equity gap in park provision. Focusing on Los Angeles, I analyze how park nonprofits operate and which demographic groups benefit from new and improved parks supported by nonprofits. Based on interviews with local practitioners and geospatial analyses, I find that nonprofits are leading a park equity movement in Los Angeles and helped address park disparities. To do so, nonprofits built diverse coalitions, leveraged complementary strengths, coalesced with public agencies, and helped generate public funds for parks. These findings show that equity-oriented nonprofits can successfully challenge the unjust outcomes of neoliberal governance.
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Keywords: Los Angeles; Urban green space; environmental justice; neoliberalism; nonprofits

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA

Publication date: August 9, 2019

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