Publication Date

Spring 5-20-2012

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Ken Williams

Abstract

The following study was conducted as an exploration of the community engagement practices of the Los Angeles based nonprofit organization, TreePeople. The intention of this study was to foster a deeper understanding about the theories and practice of the “outsider” TreePeople’s community engagement initiatives in the region of South Los Angeles, with particular emphasis on the communities of Compton, Inglewood, and historic South Central. I attempted to synthesize a collective narrative about the way TreePeople interacts with its constituents and community partners by drawing upon the experiences and perceptions of TreePeople staff, community partners, and community members. The individual experiences were shared specifically during five separate interviews and a seven-member focus group comprised of monolingual Spanish speaking women. Throughout the report I combined, the use of participatory observation and material discovery to supplement my exploration of the success, effects, and lessons learned by TreePeople’s community engagement practices. They have worked to operationally embody their belief that “positive change for Los Angeles comes from communities leading it.” I submitted that the basic tenets of going where invited, and being influenced by constituent and community partner feedback regarding the delivery and design of programs, contributed directly to the support and effectiveness of TreePeople and the benefit of the communities. However, I recommended that incorporating culturally appropriate means of engagement, opportunities for shared leadership, the engagement of local markets, among other practices, could result in greater impact and stronger communal partnerships.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | International and Intercultural Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Organizational Communication | Other American Studies | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Urban Studies and Planning