Ben Baldwin examines case studies of land trust networks across the country and conducts a needs assessment for the Greater Boston CLT Network (GBCLTN) in his 2016 thesis Networked Community Land Trusts: An Analysis of Existing Models and Needs Assessment for the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network.
Ben was a 2015 Summer Tisch Fellow at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and was a member of the 2015 Field Projects team that partnered with the Greater Boston CLT Network. Ben currently works at Dudley Neighbors, Inc. (DNI) as Project & Operations Manager.
The thesis employs organizational and network theory as frameworks to examine existing models of land trust networks across the country. The research investigates how collaborative advantage can facilitate the ability to centralize activities, “scale up”, and optimize implementation and operations amongst network members. Although varying interpretations of the term “central server” exist, it is generally understood as an organization that acts as a hub for resources within a specific geographic area.
The paper explores three research questions:
- How have geographically associated CLTs formed interorganizational networks?
- How are CLTs and other community organizations in Greater Boston organizing to form an interorganizational network that best serves the needs of the communities they represent?
- How can GBCLTN grow and develop to best meet the needs of its members in the future?
Despite the potential benefits a network, Ben notes that the central server model was not successfully implemented in many of the case studies due to reasons such as the lack of CLT development experience and a lack of policy support. His thesis found that the central server model was not successfully implemented by many of the interorganizational networks.
The analysis found that factors such as geography, economic conditions, policy climate and the relative positions of member organizations affected the formation of an interorganizational network. The relative geographic confinement of the Greater Boston area may contribute to its potential to build stronger relationships and hence, more efficient implementation of projects.
Ben recommends that the Greater Boston CLT Network create a budget for its functions and secure funding to support it. This would also require the Network to determine a formal governance and staffing structure. Continued organizing and education to organize arout CLTs could facilitate resident input in the decision-making process. The paper concludes that a designated network mediator, broader education about CLTs, and government and funder buy-in would promote greater efficiency and efficacy for the Greater Boston CLT Network.