American Studies

Rachel Kovinky - Food Systems and American Communities

Following graduation, Rachel moved to Washington D.C. for the summer, where she interned for National Public Radio in their Event Sponsorship department. While she loved her time at NPR, Rachel knew that she wanted to end up back in the Bay Area. She has since accepted a full-time offer with the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a local nonprofit that champions and improves parks and public spaces across the City. Moving to San Francisco and working for the Parks Alliance has allowed Rachel to further pursue her passions for environmental equity, community engagement, and of course, parks. In the years to come, Rachel intends to pursue a Master’s degree in City Planning and continue working at the intersection of people, place and public good.

Area of Concentration Courses

City Planning 118AC - The Urban Community
City Planning 119 - Planning for Sustainability
Environmental Design 181-134 - Outdoor Recreation - University of Copenhagen
Geography 130 - Food and the Environment
Sociology C115 - Sociology of Health and Medicine
Sociology 139F - Selected Topics in Social Inequality: Social Problems of the Food Industry


From Potato Patches to Community Collectives: The Roots of Revitalization in Detroit

Since the late nineteenth century, Detroit has repeatedly relied on urban gardening programs, especially when faced with economic turmoil and sociopolitical tensions. Through isolating and examining several key time periods and their respective urban gardening programs, Rachel’s honors thesis argues that the city and its civic leaders turned to vacant-lot cultivation as a means of addressing larger structural issues, recognizing that there is something inherently powerful in the act of reclaiming vacant land and teaching people how to cultivate it. Further, she argues that this correlation between gardening, self-determination, and hope is ultimately what motivates Detroit’s predictable return to urban agriculture time and time again.

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