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Green Locally Unwanted Land Uses

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - GREENLULUS (Green Locally Unwanted Land Uses)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-11-30

This project examines the role played by the restoration and creation of environmental amenities in the redistribution of urban quality of life. In the first stage of GREENLULUS, the study a) developed a new method to quantify the racial and social impact of greening projects and to compare cities’ performance with each other; b) conducted a comprehensive spatial and quantitative analysis of neighborhood demographic, real estate, and environmental data; and c) applied the methodology on a unique ranking of cities. Second, GreenLULUs analyzed the response of private investors to the greening projects and identified the impact of new development projects proposed, approved, and implemented during or upon the completion of greening projects on the neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics. It also assessed the extent to which development projects seem to encourage and/or accelerate gentrification, as such projects have been shown to be signs of residents’ exclusion. Additionally, this study qualitatively analyzed cases of community mobilization developed in response to new environmental amenities, through fieldwork in 24 critical neighborhoods (24 cities) in Europe and North America. Last, this study is using qualitative methods to analyze the policies and measures that municipalities develop to address exclusion in “greening” neighborhoods. This groundbreaking longitudinal, systematic, in-depth, and large-scale project in the field of environmental justice is leading to a paradigm shift by arguing that the social and racial inequities present in sustainability projects make green amenities Locally Unwanted Land Uses (LULUs) for poor residents and people of color.
This first 18 months of GREENLULUS were dedicated to the recruitment and training of the postdoctoral and doctoral team members, including 6 courses offered on spatial methods (2), quantitative analysis, qualitative methods, urban development, and environmental justice. The team also developed the quantitative methodology for the analysis of the scope and magnitude of green gentrification in 40 cities; reviewed existing indices measuring urban equity and developed a strategy for the GREENLULUS fair greening index; selected an initial round of cities for which we identified demographic, real estate, development, and greening data, and analyzed green trajectories in 100 cities.

From month 18 to month 36 (end of May 2019), the GreenLuLus team dedicated extensive time and effort to clean up, organize, refine, and process the quantitative, green spatial, and real estate development datasets that we searched for and identified in the first 18 months of the project. This work was particularly extensive because it required the organization and categorization of this immense dataset in Excel, which we had received in many different languages, formats, files, and with different geographical boundaries. During these last 18 months, we developed our refined analysis strategy and modeling for the quantitative and spatial data and completed the full analysis of these different data sets for 29 cities, with an analysis conducted both at the individual city level and global level. We also conducted extensive field work in 24 cities in North America and Europe on community mobilization for equitable greening and on effective green equity policy and planning tools. This qualitative data has been fully transcribed, analyzed, and coded and is being written-up.

In terms of publications, the GreenLulus project team published a co-authored book in 2018 called Green trajectories: Municipal Trends and Strategies for Greening in Europe, Canada, and the United States (1990-2016). This book examines the urban greening policy trajectories of 50 cities in Europe, Canada and the United States over the last 25 years. Since the beginning of the project, we have also published more than 35 peer reviewed articles on the politics and discourses of urban greening, on trends of green gentrification and other racial and social impacts of new urban green infrastructure, on the political ecology of urban greening, on distributional and procedural injustices in green space planning and allocation, on inequities and insecurities in green urban adaptation planning, on gentrification and health, and on the health impacts of urban greening.

The team also wrote several reports for regional and international organizations (Diputació de Barcelona; Metropolis) on injustices in urban greening. It participated in local, regional, national, and international workshops and conferences on the topic and also such organized or co-organized such events where researchers shared the results of the project.

Last, these past 18 months also led to the development of video materials, including an interactive webdocumentary to both enrich the analysis and dissemination of our research and draw activist and policy conclusions that can be discussed and shared with a more ample scientific and non scientific community.
First, no quantitative study had been conducted to measure if greener cities are in reality less racially and socially equitable and to assess the reality of equity and displacement across cities. Before GreenLULUs, scholarship was mostly limited to the examination of demographic or real estate trends after specific site-based environmental remediation projects or to case studies of community resistance against fears of displacement.

In response, GREENLULUS has been conducting the first comprehensive, broad-scale study of cities in the the EU, US, and Canada of the scope and magnitude of green gentrification in cities using demographic, real estate, development, and green spatial data. We are able to compare cities based on their ability to remain or become more equitable as they become greener. Last, this research allows us to assess the extent to which new development projects seem to encourage and/or accelerate gentrification trends in the neighborhood. We are also complementing this quantitative analysis of real estate development trends with the first-ever larger scale study assessing the relationship between urban sustainability projects and private investors’ decisions and behavior through qualitative interviews.

Second, until GREENLULUS, little was known about how residents and EJ activists manage the tension between the fight for neighborhood environmental improvements and the risk of becoming displaced as neighborhoods become greener. In response, GreenLULUs team members have conducted qualitative field work in 24 neighborhoods/cities to analyze how activists develop effective strategies to address gentrification in order to balance their demands for environmental improvements to their neighborhood with resistance to the risks of displacement.

Last, new qualitative research has been needed to identify the anti-green gentrification policies, regulations, funding schemes, and participation mechanisms that municipalities put in place to address the conflicts that emerge from neighborhood greening projects and/or to address displacement and other social/racial threats.In response, the GREENLULUS team has conducted qualitative field work and analysis of field data and secondary data to identify the innovative and recent policies and measures that address gentrification, a much needed study in (environmental) gentrification research.