Greening Without Gentrification: Expanding Parks and Protecting Communities


EcoJustice RadioEcoJustice Radio talks with UCLA Prof Jon Christensen, who studies the threat of green gentrification around the country — parks and infrastructure improvements that increase rents and displace residents — and how cities respond to protect communities.

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Anacostia River, Washington DCCan cities build new parks in park-poor neighborhoods without displacing low-income residents? These projects aspire to provide green space in neighborhoods that historically have little to no access to parks, but they can also lead to increased housing and living costs — green gentrification. Some might even wonder whether such investments are a good idea, if they threaten to displace the very people they were intended to serve. Think of the iconic High Line in New York City or the 606 in Chicago, where abandoned rail tracks were transformed into linear elevated parks that are now flanked by multi-million-dollar condominiums. Can we improve upon or create new green spaces and still protect the existing communities?

Our guest, UCLA professor Jon Christensen has been studying the threat of green gentrification around the country — and how cities, agencies, nonprofits, and residents are responding with anti-displacement strategies applied where public spaces are added to historically disenfranchised neighborhoods.

Jon Christensen teaches and conducts multidisciplinary research at UCLA focusing on equity and the environment, strategic environmental communication, and journalism, media, and storytelling. He is an adjunct assistant professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Luskin Center for Innovation. He is also a producer of KCET’s award-winning “Earth Focus” documentary series. And he serves on the board of directors of the Liberty Hill Foundation in Los Angeles.

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Hosted by Jessica Aldridge
Engineer: Blake Quake Beats
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 119
Photo courtesy Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Washington DC

Updated 22 November 2021

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist and designer, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Partners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt