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What Can Urban Gardening Really Do About Gentrification? A Case-Study of Three San Francisco Community Gardens

Abstract : San Francisco is known for its small acreage and high population density. Due to its attractiveness, the city has been subjected to a housing shortage, skyrocketing real-estate rates, and a steady process of gentrification over the past 20 years in particular. Access to public spaces and deliberation, negotiation, and conflicts over the proper uses and appearance of such spaces is one aspect of the visible, contested transformation of San Francisco. Whether and how urban territories are appropriated or embellished can be rather contentious, for beautification may enhance the attractiveness of otherwise disreputable neighborhoods. Traditionally working-class, ethnic- and racial-minority areas are thus regarded nowadays as a new frontier of middle- to upper-middle-class, mainly white residential expansion. Organized and informal garden projects are interventions in public spaces that improve the quality of residents’ lives and hence raise the question whether they heighten the gentrifying transformation of such neighborhoods, or whether they may support inhabitants’ resistance to being pushed out. This question is especially crucial since the municipal government is a strong proponent of urban greening and the City of San Francisco has a rather ambivalent attitude when it comes to balancing poor people’s socioeconomic rights with the tax revenue generated by urban development and the resulting influx of households in the upper income bracket. This contribution examines three significantly different garden projects in San Francisco. What in a garden project makes it lean toward the empowerment of a neighborhood’s current residents, or toward their displacement? Or does this question simply make sense at all? Can urban gardening have any impact whatsoever on such large-scale socioeconomic phenomena as the city’s changing demographics? Are garden projects even intended to address gentrification and the changing face of the city? And if so, are they somehow effective, simply pointless, or can they actually be detrimental and counterproductive?
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Contributor : Guillaume Marche Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, May 13, 2018 - 4:11:57 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 29, 2022 - 2:21:15 PM

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Guillaume Marche. What Can Urban Gardening Really Do About Gentrification? A Case-Study of Three San Francisco Community Gardens. European journal of American studies, European Association for American Studies, 2015, 10 (3), ⟨10.4000/ejas.11316⟩. ⟨hal-01790638⟩



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