Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: It's Gentrifying: Is the Sense of Place Lost Among Residents?

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 9:30 AM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lorita Daniels, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Economic development planners and policy makers have often focused on transforming residential communities into vibrant and thriving neighborhoods that meet the aesthetic and tangible needs of the residents, overlooking an equally important factor that already exists in these communities -- the intangible benefits valued by community residents that can transform the way a community bonds and functions.  The way a community functions or the way a resident bonds within the community is through place attachment or sense of place.  Although, the sense of place concept is rich in theory, it is a difficult concept to measure due to its elusiveness and due to the sense of place lying in the senses and the mind of the beholder.   Moreover, the sense of place concept varies by context that also makes it difficult to define and measure, making it hard to generalize to other areas.  The author of this current study suggests the importance of policy makers and urban planners to understand the emotional attachments that community residents have with their physical environment and to understand how a residents’ sense of place can change within a community undergoing change, such as the case with gentrifying communities.  To gain a more in-depth understanding and to further advance the sense of place theory in gentrifying communities, this qualitative study will examine the connection between the residents and their current community.  I will capture this sense of place concept through the narratives of the resident because they hold their subjective interpretation of their sense of place in the community or their loss of sense of place in the community.  Critical attention is needed in this area -- concerning a resident’s ability to remain connected to his or her environment to offset the potential negative gentrifying effects that may occur in communities that are thought to benefit from economic development. Capturing this concept through narratives will demonstrate the importance of knowing the sense of place among the residents before the process of community planning or development begins.