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Alternatives for Community and Environment In this chapter, I present an explanatory case study of the organization Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), based in Boston’s Roxbury district. ACE was chosen as the unit of analysis because I believe that it, like all the other representative programs or projects described in chapter 4 with a JSI of 3, is demonstrating certain aspects of the JSP in practice in urban America. Although ACE identifies itself firmly with the environmental justice movement (ACE 2002), it is my belief that in its ten years of operation, it has changed both organizationally and programmatically. Is ACE still an environmental justice organization, or is its practice now that of just sustainability, or is it both? In terms of programmatic change, which is my main focus, ACE seems to have changed in several ways. First, its programs have changed in scale, from predominantly local to more (metro Boston) regional. Second, its programs have shifted from predominantly single issue to more systemic. Third, its work is more coalition based, perhaps reflecting the complexity of systemic working and its reliance on wide-ranging skill sets, which can only be demonstrated by coalitions. Fourth, ACE’s repertoire of action, composed of “institutional tactics such as lobbying, litigation, and educational campaigns or expressive tactics such as protest , boycotts, and street theatre” (Carmin and Balser 2002:366), is far more complex and nuanced than it was in the early 1990s when the organization was formed. These are broad generalizations and, as became clear through the interviews, there are exceptions. While none of these four changes per se indicates adherence to the JSP over the EJP, I think that the direction of change implicit in them is consistent with increasing adherence to the JSP. 5 133 Research Method I chose a case-study approach because, following Yin (1994:13), “a case study is an empirical enquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.” I carried out the research between January and June 2004, following a structured research design and protocol. I was fortunate in that ACE was in both a reflective and prospective mood, 2004 being its ten-year anniversary . Data was gathered from as wide a range of sources as possible, such as contemporary documents (including ACE’s own Alternatives Press, program literature, reports, and scripts from a recent ten-yearanniversary video), archival records (including back issues of Alternatives Press, which it has produced since 1993, program literature, and reports), media texts (newspaper articles, op-eds), participant observation at Tuesday-morning staff meetings, and structured and semistructured interviews. Following Yin (1994), I used these multiple sources of evidence, the triangulation of these sources, and the continual review by the ACE staff of the evidence and of my text, propositions, and conclusions to help ensure construct validity. I maintained internal validity by pattern matching, which Campbell (1975) describes as using several pieces of information from the same case to relate to a theoretical proposition. External validity was not an issue, as I do not intend to generalize based on one case; rather, my intent is to illustrate how one organization, ACE, relates to the JSP. I ensured reliability by developing a structured research design and protocol and a database of information. In general, at staff meetings I took on the role of participant observer. In one meeting, however, I gained agreement on an ACE timeline (table 5.1), which, interestingly, the organization had never developed. I then used the technique of critical moment analysis to gain agreement on significant events in the organization’s history. Critical moment analysis is the identification of key points in an organization’s history, which are in effect “tipping points” in that organization’s programs, activism, and even paradigm. Critical moments can be internal (new staff, resources , ideas) or external (local political windows, presidential executive orders, conferences, books, ideas). Critical moments are revealed by use of archival information and staff ideas and are more fully probed by the use of interviews. 134 | Alternatives for Community and Environment 135 table 5.1 ACE Timeline 1993 February 1993 Echoing Green Foundation awards $100,000 social entrepreneur grant to ACE. August 1993 ACE begins first project, the Coalition Against the Asphalt Plant. 1994 January 1994 ACE coordinates with Hands Across the River Coalition to stop a waste incinerator in New Bedford. February 16, 1994 ACE incorporates as nonprofit in Massachusetts. August 1, 1994 ACE...


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