Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Do Neighborhoods Make You Sick?

A 2000 Rand Study thinks so:

It is also possible that a dynamic relationship exists between people and their environment through which neighborhood conditions and residents’ behavior influence each other. Over time, the deterioration of a neighborhood might cause families with means and traditional standards of behavior to leave the neighborhood or the city, and their departure then leads to the gradual disappearance of individuals who might serve as role models and work together for the common good. In the absence of counterbalancing forces, the norms of the street begin to prevail.

In addition, the lack of an association seen between collective efficacy and lower rates of premature death in highly deteriorated neighborhoods suggests that the physical stigma of poverty and the implied tolerance of deviant behaviors in areas marked by graffiti and boarded-up homes may in some cases overwhelm the ability of people to act cooperatively for the greater good.

Only institutions can respond. Libertarian impulses convince us to opt away from massive governmental interventions in slums on the order of ghetto clearance. Jane Jacobs has proven that massive capital intervention on the order of the recent eminent domain rulings changes a city space so quickly that families can't survive and local culture is annihilated rather than cured.

We need to start thinking creatively about other ways of seeding community.

Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone
July 2 CBS story : Eminent Domain Being Abused?


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