Growing Social Capital? A Comparative Study of a Community Development Initiative in Cleveland, Ohio
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Using the case of a recently established community-based vineyard in Cleveland, Ohio, this research explores the extent to which grassroots, collaborative community development initiatives might have the capacity to improve conditions in persistently declining neighborhoods in the U.S. Drawing on numerous indicator variables from a variety of secondary data sources, descriptive and inferential statistical analyses are employed in a comparative study of “social capital” in three Cleveland neighborhoods: (1) Hough, which is where the vineyard was created in 2010; (2) Fairfax, a comparison neighborhood adjacent to Hough; and (3) Central, a second comparison neighborhood southeast of Hough. Change in surrogate variables of social capital are analyzed in Hough as well as the two comparison neighborhoods for the period 2005-2009 through the period 2011-2015. Because social capital is not well defined as an empirical measure, multiple indicators are drawn from existing literature and analyzed for reasons of validity and robustness. That is, by bringing together data from multiple sources and comparing Hough to two similar neighborhoods over time, the paper aims to create strong circumstantial evidence that community-based vineyards—and grassroots, community-based urban agricultural projects more generally—plausibly have value for improving conditions in neighborhoods with histories of urban decline.