Fertile Ground for Community: Inner-City Neighborhood Common Spaces

Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., Brunson, L.

Kuo, F. E., Sullivan, W. C., Coley, R. L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile Ground for Community: Inner‐City Neighborhood Common Spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26(6), 823-851.

Environmental Variables , Neighborhood Social Ties , Neighboring , Sense Of Community

Research suggests that the formation of neighborhood social ties (NSTs) may substantially depend on the informal social contact which occurs in neighbor- hood common spaces, and that in inner-city neighborhoods where common spaces are often barren no-man's lands, the presence of trees and grass supports common space use and informal social contact among neighbors. We found that for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to 18 architec- turally identical buildings, levels of vegetation in common spaces predict both use of common spaces and NSTs; further, use of common spaces mediated the relationship between vegetation and NSTS. In addition, vegetation and NSTs were significantly related to residents' senses of safety and adjustment. These findings suggest that the use and characteristics of common spaces may play a vital role in the natural growth of community, and that improving com- mon spaces may be an especially productive focus for community organizing efforts in inner-city neighborhoods.

Main finding
The use and characteristics of common spaces play a key role in the natural growth of community -- especially the presence of vegetation -- and common spaces may be an especially productive focus for community organizing.

Description of method used in the article

Of practical use

Organising categories

Field Observations Survey
Physical types
Geographic locations