Professor Andrew Maroko on Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification

Professor Andrew Maroko coauthored an article in the journal – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled Brownfields to Greenfields: Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification.

Abstract: Gentrification is a growing concern in many urban areas, due to the potential for displacement of lower-income and other vulnerable populations. This process can be accelerated when neighborhood “greening” projects are undertaken via governmental or private investor efforts, resulting in a  phenomenon termed environmental or “green” gentrification. Vacant land in lower-income areas is often improved by the existing community through the creation of community gardens, but this contributes to these greening efforts and paradoxically may spur gentrification and subsequent displacement of the gardens’ stewards and neighbors. “Is proximity to community gardens in less affluent neighborhoods associated with an increased likelihood of gentrification?” Using Brooklyn, New York as a case study, we examined this question using Geographic Information Systems and two spatial methods: a census block group proximity analysis, and a hot spot analysis, to determine the potential impact of proximity to community gardens in lower-income areas. The results of the analyses suggest that proximity to community gardens is associated with significant increases in per capita income over the five years study period, which is indicative of areas undergoing gentrification. This has implications for environmental justice because existing lower-income residents are likely to be displaced after their community is improved environmentally.

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