Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 8–20

Community-Initiated Urban Development: An Ecological Intervention

  • Jan C. Semenza
  • Tanya L. March
  • Brian D. Bontempo
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11524-006-9124-8

Cite this article as:
Semenza, J.C., March, T.L. & Bontempo, B.D. J Urban Health (2007) 84: 8. doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9124-8

Abstract

Neglected urban environments have been linked to social isolation, depression, and other health problems. In Portland, OR in 2003, an intervention was implemented and evaluated in three neighborhoods with the objective of promoting community participation in urban renewal and engaging residents in the construction of attractive urban places. Municipal officials approved and permitted community-designed street murals, public benches, planter boxes, information kiosks with bulletin boards, trellises for hanging gardens, all positioned in the public right-of-way. Residents within a two-block radius of the three sites were systematically sampled and interviewed before (N = 325) and after (N = 349) the intervention, of which, 265 individuals completed both surveys of the panel study. After the intervention, multivariate results revealed improvements in mental health (p = 0.03), increased sense of community (p < 0.01), and an overall expansion of social capital (p = 0.04). Through community empowerment, participation, and collective action, the strategy successfully engaged residents in restoring neighborhoods, with direct benefits to community well-being.

Keywords

Community development Health promotion Neighborhood Social capital  Social networks Urban environment. 

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan C. Semenza
    • 1
    • 3
  • Tanya L. March
    • 1
  • Brian D. Bontempo
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Community HealthPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Mountain Measurement Inc.PortlandUSA
  3. 3.School of Community HealthPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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