Research Portal

February 7, 2023

Seattle’s CHOP Guerrilla Garden as a “Thick” Space of Civil Resistance

Hou, J. (2023). Seattle’s CHOP Guerrilla Garden as a “Thick” Space of Civil Resistance. Local Environment, 28(2), 189–202.

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More than just everyday acts of appropriation, guerrilla gardens have appeared in a growing number of civic protests. During Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in 2020, a guerrilla garden was featured prominently within the six-block area taken over by protesters following a standoff with the Seattle Police. Through informal and semi-structured interviews with the garden leaders, volunteers, protesters, and neighbours who lived near the site, this study examines the garden's role and significance during the month-long protest. Findings suggested that the CHOP garden provided opportunities for social interactions among protesters as well as non-protesters. Through expanded engagement, the garden brought a wider range of individuals to the protest site. With its ability to engage broader participation, the garden helped mobilise additional human and material resources for the movement. Furthermore, the garden functioned as a place of learning that deepened the meanings and narrative of the movement. It also served as a place of refuge and relief during the tense occupation. Lastly, the social networks and relationships that emerged from the garden serve as a vehicle for sustaining the movement beyond the protest. As a place that facilitated these multilayered processes, these findings suggest that the CHOP Garden functioned as a “thick” space of civil resistance. The notion of thick space highlights the importance of specific spatial practices that can contribute significantly to the transformative outcomes of social movements.


Guerrilla garden; protest; civil resistance; thick space; CHOP