Child pages
  • Etingoff Assignment 1

Kim Etingoff


Assignment 1: Project Ideas



1. Dorchester Food Hub background


As part of the Practical Visionaries Field Project team, I will be working with some of the Dudley Real Food Hub partner organizations. While the food hub is far in the future, we will be conducting background research on the Dudley neighborhood, including current food assets and challenges/limitations. As part of this research, GIS mapping could assist in visualizing some of those assets. A spatial analysis could identify and map out such things as grocery stores, gardens, corner stores, and public access fruit trees. A project could combine a mapping of the current assets in the community with projections for potential (i.e. vacant land available for community gardens).

To hone in on one example of food infrastructure, a question that could guide this project might be, “How many current food retail outlets exist in the Dudley neighborhood and where are they located?” A visualization of retail businesses such as grocery stores and corner stores could help the partner organizations include those businesses in the local community food planning process. A similar question that relies on a slightly different set of data could ask, “Where are there sources of fresh produce for sale?” in an attempt to locate healthy food and locations that could support neighborhood farmers.   



• Cornell University. (2010). Local Foodshed Mapping Tool for New York State . Retrieved from:

This tool produces maps of food sheds in New York State, defined as geographic areas that provide food for a population center.  The mapping tool is an example of a method to use spatial analysis to identify the potential food system assets of an area. It projects the potential of an area to create food, which would be useful in an analysis of Dudley’s potential for further food system development.


• Kremer, Peleg and Tracy L. DeLiberty. (2011). Local food practices and growing potential: Mapping the case of Philadelphia. Applied Geography , 31(4) , 1252–1261.

Food system issues are relatively new to the radar of city planners and policymakers. Practitioners and academics are only now developing tools to deal with analysis of food systems. This article applies GIS to the analysis of the food system in a particular urban locality, Philadelphia. The authors cover the rationale for using spatial analysis as part of food systems work, as well as the process of deciding on data and mapping an urban community’s food system, both of which could be applied to a local context in the Dudley neighborhood.




Data sources:


• The Practical Visionaries 2013 team mapped out backyard gardens in the Dudley neighborhood as part of their project. Their data and final map could be used as part of a wider GIS analysis.

• The Wallace Center Food Hub Map places existing food hubs in the United States.

• Cohen, Barbara, Margaret Andrews, and Linda Scott Kantor. (2002). Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service . Retrieved January 27, 2014, from

• ReferenceUSA database listings of Dudley neighborhood businesses



2. Suitability and prioritization of green space in the city of Somerville


Having lived in Somerville for over two years, the lack of green space is one of the most striking things I’ve found in an otherwise wonderful place to live. While I have access to a car that can get me around the area to green space elsewhere, others do not. The current inequitable distribution of green space leaves many people without the aesthetic, environmental, and health benefits its creates. This project would investigate to what extent Somerville has the capacity to develop more green space within its dense infrastructure. Furthermore, it would prioritize certain sites that would be most beneficial to develop first. Prioritization could be based on a number of factors, including the population’s current accessibility to green space (parks, trees), population density, pollution levels, and low canopy cover.

This project would ask, “How much unused open space is available within Somerville, and which parcels of that space are appropriate for open space development?” Somerville does not have vast amounts of undeveloped land, but there may be open space that is currently unused in brownfield or other form. However, not all available space would be suitable for green space, and factors such as pollution would need to be taken into consideration.

The project would also address the question, “Who currently has access to green space and who does not?” Cities have limited resources to pursue projects such as green space development. Instead, the city should consider prioritizing development in areas with people who have historically had restricted access to ensure equitable distribution. A baseline of current access would be needed to accurately prioritize further green space.



• Comber Alexis, Chris Brunsdon, and Edmund Green. (2008). Using a GIS-based network analysis to determine urban greenspace accessibility for different ethnic and religious groups. Landscape and Urban Planning, 86 , 103–114.

The authors explore not just the amount of green space in Leicester, England, but examine its distribution in relation to different ethnic and religious groups. GIS was used to analyze and quantify the groups’ access to green space. The paper further asks which areas in the city need to have enhanced green space provision, based on findings of inequitable access. Much of these ideas and methodology can be applied to a Somerville context.


• Morani, Arianna, et al. How to select the best tree planting locations to enhance air pollution removal in the MillionTreesNYC initiative. (2011). Environmental Pollution, 159 (5) , 1040–1047.

This paper prioritizes zones in New York City for planting trees, based on site-specific pollution levels, population density, and tree cover. Trees (and presumably other green space) contribute to environmental health in a larger region, but can also take up pollution in more confined locations. Although Somerville has an area much smaller than New York City, the same rationale can be used for a prioritization of green space in the city.


• Uy, Pham Duc and Nobukazu Nakagoshi. (2008). Application of land suitability analysis and landscape ecology to urban greenspace planning in Hanoi, Vietnam. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening , 7 , 25 ­ –40.

An example of land suitability analysis as applied to urban green space in Vietnam. The authors detail the criteria used for land suitability, and the method for applying criteria using GIS. This study also goes further and assesses the overall amount of city green space, recommending that the city increase land dedicated to green space and proposing spaces that can be used for this purpose. Similar conclusions may be made for Somerville after an analysis.


• Wu, Chunxia, Qingfu Xiao, and E. Gregory McPherson. (2008). A method for locating potential tree-planting sites in urban areas: A case study of Los Angeles, USA. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 7 . 65 ­ ­ –76.

This paper details a method for determining optimal sites for tree planting using GIS, which could be a component of urban green space in Somerville. Determinants include available space, minimum amounts of pervious surface, and distance from other established trees.


Data sources:


• The City of Somerville’s Comprehensive Public Tree Inventory

• MassGIS data layers of pervious surfaces, environmental justice populations, land use, parks, etc.