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Javier Otero Peña presents, Residents’ feelings towards park renovations in low-income gentrifying neighborhoods: Latest findings of an ethnographic study in NYC

April 9, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

The PUBLIC SPACE RESEARCH GROUP welcomes, Javier Otero Peña presenting, Residents’ feelings towards park renovations in low-income gentrifying neighborhoods: Latest findings of an ethnographic study in NYC


Everyone deserves access to parks of quality. In an effort to make cities more just, local authorities in many cities around the world are investing in public spaces in neglected, low-income and highly dense neighborhoods. However, studies show that such investments may contribute to increasing land values and rents (Crompton, 2005), and as a paradoxical consequence, population in these areas shifts, and the low-income residents for whom the renovations were intended end up displaced to other areas of the city (Gould & Lewis, 2017). It is unclear whether this threat of displacement is known by residents, and whether the degree of gentrification in the area changes how residents perceive park renovations and investment in their neighborhoods. Do they welcome the changes or are they wary of improvements allegedly intended for them? This study is an ethnography of parks renovated in low-income gentrifying neighborhoods in New York City, from an urban environmental justice perspective. Using Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Procedures (Low et al., 2005), residents and users of four parks in minority-majority neighborhoods at different stages of gentrification were interviewed about their feelings towards renovations and neighborhood change itself, with an emphasis on procedural and interactional justice, and on identifying potential mixed feelings.


Javier Otero Peña is a PhD candidate in Environmental Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is also student advisor for the MS in Data Analysis and Visualization, and is a research associate of the Public Space Research Group and the Center for Systems and Community Design of the CUNY School of Public Health. His dissertation focuses on park use, park renovations and place attachment in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. Javier holds a Master in Environmental Policies and Sustainable Development from the Paris Catholic University, and taught a course on Sustainable Development in Latin America at the same institution. He also studied Urban Planning and Management in Venezuela, and Sustainable Urban Mobility at UNITAR. Javier has worked as a consultant for the United Nations Environment Programme on multiple occasions, specializing in Energy Efficiency, Climate Finance and Technology Transfer.

Twitter: @javo01  @thepsrg

Zoom Information: 

Apr 9, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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April 9, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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