Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 8–20 | Cite as

Community-Initiated Urban Development: An Ecological Intervention

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

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. 

References

  1. 1.
    Hippocrates Medical Corpus: Airs, Water, Places 500 b.c. In: Lloyd GER, ed. Hippocratic Writings. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin; 1978.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Syme SL. Rethinking disease: where do we go from here? Ann Epidemiol. 1996;6(5):463–468.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Buzbee WW. Urban form, health and the law’s limits. Am J Public Health. 2003;93(9):1395–1398.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jackson RJ. The impact of the built environment on health: an emerging field. Am J Public Health. 2003;93(9):1382–1383.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Semenza JC. Building healthy cities: a focus on interventions. In: Vlahov D, Sandro G, eds. Handbook of Urban Health: Populations, Methods and Practice. New York, New York: Springer Science and Business Media; 2005:459–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Calthorp P, Fulton W. The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl. Washington District of Columbia: Island Press; 2001:39.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Putnam R. Bowling alone: america’s declining social capital. J Democr. 1995;6:65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bourdieu P. The forms of capital. In: Richardson J, ed. Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York, New York: Macmillan; 1986.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Coleman, J. Social capital in the creation of human capital. Am J of Sociol. 1988; 94(Suppl):S95–S120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Granovetter M. The strength of weak ties. Am J Sociol. 1973;78:1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Szreter S. The state of social capital: bringing back in power, politics and history. Theory Soc. 2002;31:573–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Altschuler A, Somkin CP, Adler NE. Local services and amenities, neighborhood social capital, and health. Soc Sci Med. 2004;59(6):1219–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Semenza JC. The intersection of urban planning, art, and public health: the Sunnyside Piazza. Am J Public Health. 2003;93(9):1439–1441.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Eng E, Parker E. Measuring community competence in the Mississippi Delta: the interface between program evaluation and empowerment. Health Educ Q. 1994;21(2):199–220.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Israel BA, Checkoway B, Schulz A, Zimmerman M. Health education and community empowerment: conceptualizing and measuring perceptions of individual, organizational, and community control. Health Educ Q. 1994;21(2):149–170.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wallerstein N. Powerlessness, empowerment, and health: implications for health promotion programs. Am J Health Promot. 1992;6(3):197–205.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Green LW, Kreuter MW. Applications in Communities. In: Health Program Planning. An Educational and Ecological Approach (4th ed.). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill; 2005:255–316.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Robertson A, Minkler M. New health promotion movement: a critical examination. Health Educ Q. 1994;21(3):295–312.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McKnight JL, Kretzmann JP. Mapping Community Capacity. In: M. Minkler ed. Community Organizing and Community Building for Health. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press; 2005:158–172.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Israel B, Schulz A, Parker E, Becker A. Review of community-based research: assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annu Rev Public Health. 1998;19:173–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Radloff LS. The CESD: a self-report depression scale for research on the general population. Appl Psychol Meas. 1977;1:385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ware JE, Snow KK, Kosinski M. SF-36 Health Survey: Manual and Interpretation Guide. Boston, Massachusetts: New England Medical Center; 1993.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Krishna A, Shrader E. Social capital assessment tool. Conference on Social Capital and Poverty Reduction, The World Bank, Washington DC; 1999.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Dalgard OS, Tambs K. Urban environment and mental health. A longitudinal study. Br J Psychiatry. 1997;171:530–536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Leventhal T, Brooks-Gunn J. Moving to opportunity: an experimental study of neighborhood effects on mental health. Am J Public Health. 2003;93(9):1576–1582.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Stiffman AR, Hadley-Ives E, Elze D, Johnson S, Dore P. Impact of environment on adolescent mental health and behavior: structural equation modeling. Am J Orthopsychiatr. 1999;69(1):73–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Black MM, Krishnakumar A. Children in low-income, urban settings. Interventions to promote mental health and well-being. Am Psychol. 1998;53(6):635–646.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Buka SL, Brennan RT, Rich-Edwards JW, Raudenbush SW, Earls F. Neighborhood support and the birth weight of urban infants. Am J Epidemiol. 2003;157(1):1–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Johnell K, Merlo J, Lynch J, Blennow G. Neighbourhood social participation and women’s use of anxiolytic-hypnotic drugs: a multilevel analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004;58(1):59–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Berkman LF, Glass T, Brissette I, Seeman TE. From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Soc Sci Med. 2000;51(6):843–857.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kawachi I, Berkman LF. Social ties and mental health. J Urban Health. 2001;78(3):458–467.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ziersch AM, Baum FE, Macdougall C, Putland C. Neighbourhood life and social capital: the implications for health. Soc Sci Med. 2005;60(1):71–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Veenstra G. Location, location, location: contextual and compositional health effects of social capital in British Columbia, Canada. Soc Sci Med. 2005;60(9):2059–2071.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Veenstra G, Luginaah I, Wakefield S, Birch S, Eyles J, Elliott S. Who you know, where you live: social capital, neighbourhood and health. Soc Sci Med. 2005;60(12):2799–2818.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Aneshensel CS, Sucoff CA. The neighborhood context of adolescent mental health. J Health Soc Behav. 1996;37(4):293–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Latkin CA, Curry AD. Stressful neighborhoods and depression: a prospective study of the impact of neighborhood disorder. J Health Soc Behav. 2003;4(1):34–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Balfour JL, Kaplan GA. Neighborhood environment and loss of physical function in older adults: evidence from the Alameda County Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002;155(6):507–515.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kingsley GT. Housing, health, and the neighborhood context. Am J Prev Med. 2003;24(3 Suppl):6–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Sampson RJ, Morenoff J, Earls F. Beyond social capital: spatial dynamics of collective efficacy for children. Am Sociol Rev. 1999;64:633–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Wallace R. Urban desertification, public health and public order: ‘planned shrinkage’, violent death, substance abuse and AIDS in the Bronx. Soc Sci Med. 1990;31(7):801–813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Cook TD, Campbell DT. Quasi-experimentation: Design & Analysis Issues for Field Settings. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, Co.; 1979:207–233.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Macintyre S, Ellaway A. Neighborhoods and health: an Overview. In: Kawachi I, Berkman LF, eds. Neighborhood and Health. New York, New York: Oxford University Press; 2003:20–42.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Larsen K, Merlo J. Appropriate assessment of neighborhood effects on individual health: integrating random and fixed effects in multilevel logistic regression. Am J Epidemiol. 2005;161:81–88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Semenza JC, Krishnasamy PV. Design of a health-promoting neighborhood intervention. Health Promotion Practice. Prepublished; http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1524839906289585.

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

Personalised recommendations