tendai chitewere

some of tendai's pictures

My research is in the interdisciplinary ethnographic study of sustainable communities. I am broadly interested in all forms of emerging green communities, including co-housing eco-villages, eco-cities, green cities, and transition towns. As a political ecologist, I explore the relationship between structures of power and the natural environment. Specifically, I'm interested in individual and neighborhood responses to social and environmental degradation and how these responses reflect lifestyle choices, social capital, and access to power. My work questions the compatibility between green consumption and capitalism, and examines ways to make equity and justice matter in the search for a sustainable way to live. As an applied environmental anthropologist, my work is grounded in ethnography with strong interest in mixed research design that supports participatory community-based research.


I have several current projects. I continue to critically examine green lifestyles and the emerging trend of consuming green commodities as a means to affect social and environmental change. This research builds on my ethnography of Eco-Village at Ithaca, where residents attempt to create a social and ecological sustainable community through green design and architecture, and establishing social rites and rituals. Building on this early work, I am particularly interested in the relationship between being green and being just, and merge political ecological theory with environmental justice activism.


The most recent research project in my Sustainable Communities Lab and Local Environments (SCALES) working group is an ethnography of urban agriculture in Oakland, California. Eating the Front Yard asks how growing food in the front and backyard might contribute to the sense of community and civic engagement. My students and I study the role that urban gardening has on neighborhood cohesion in Oakland, K-16 education in the East Bay, and campus sustainability at San Francisco State University; to understand this we use tools from political ecology and environmental justice to explore sustainable communities in diverse urban landscapes.

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