How Parks Gentrify Neighborhoods, And How To Stop It
Fast Co. Design
By Eric Jaffe
Photo: Celine Grouard
William W. Wurster Dean and Professor of City & Regional Planning, Jennifer Wolch, recently contributed to a Co. Design article about eco-gentrification and the “just green enough” intervention in urban spaces. Green design projects have a tendency to push low-income residents out of the community because of rising rents, but researchers say that it does not need to be that way. Jennifer Wolch advocates for a delicate balance of sustainability and equity through design.
"The question is: How do you improve access to parks and open space but not trigger this shift in property values and land uses that completely transform a community?" Wolch tells Co.Design.
“Just green enough” calls for designing around the community. The basic idea is that not every sustainable design project need be a market-driven concept that favors new residents to native populations. Instead of a grand waterfront plaza dotted with high-end boutiques and LEED-certified towers, a "just green enough" strategy might emphasize small-scale community gardens or basic environmental cleanup. If a bigger project does make sense, it should at least incorporate local input and protect local culture.