Student Spotlight: Natacha Monestel Mora

Natacha Monestel Mora: UBC Sustainability Scholar

Natacha Monestel Mora, MA, doctoral candidate in HDLC, was recently named a Sustainability Scholar by the University of British Columbia. The Sustainability Scholars program matches UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners to work on applied research projects that advance sustainability across the region.

Natacha led a project for the City of Vancouver entitled, Research to understand the benefits of granting practices that support grassroots organizing. Natasha’s project aimed to understand how the City of Vancouver can better foster broader community well-being by supporting grassroots community organizing (GCO) practices, asking both: How does the City define GCO? And how can the Social Policy Grants team more systematically identify and connect with grassroots organizations in the City to support them better?

Based on this study’s findings, grassroots community organizing was defined as an activity through which organized groups establish horizontal relationships within their communities. In this way, GCOs foster spaces of learning and trust that facilitate: a) mutual support and service delivery, b) relationship building, c) processes of identification and cultural understanding, and d) advocacy and community empowerment.

A document analysis highlighted the City’s commitment to eliminating barriers for equity-seeking groups to access grants. However, granting procedures remain intimidating and time-consuming, especially for groups that are not legally registered as charities and experience volunteer burnout. The organizers also questioned the corporate-colonialist pathway toward formalization as the only way to access grants. Among other recommendations, they suggested establishing more public dialogues with their communities to include their voices in addressing these limitations.

Find more info about this instructing project at

Natacha will be presenting her results on September 29 2022, at the Conference RESEARCH TO ACTION: ADVANCING URBAN SUSTAINABILITY 2022