Concept of Environmental Gentrification

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Updated: Jun 21, 2022
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My First year of college I lived in the Lakeshore dorms. Hence the name, my dorm was located a hundred yards from the edge of the Lake Mendota. Around my dorm, I had ample availability to enjoy time outside. There was a large open field prepped for frisbee or soccer. A running path snaked along the edge of the lake with spots of nature space. For someone who struggles with generalized anxiety disordered, this was a special opportunity. I could escape the stress of school and decompress in nature.

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I could spend time away from the loud dorms to listen to the water and the trees. I could breath in the fresh air. I could find relaxation and silence. The second year of college I moved to an apartment into the city and, far away from where my old dorm resided. When I walked outside my apartment I was met with the sounds of bustling traffic and waves of people. I noticed it was not the same quiet lakeshore dorm. Although, being on a college campus I was fortunate to be able to walk half a mile to find that quieter lakeshore experience. At the same time, I saw how that affected me. I had to spend more time seeking out that nature space than before. Then a question arose “what is the mental health outcome for those that lack green spaces across the country?”

Urbanization is growing and growing throughout the world. The United Nations suggests approximately, “55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050,” (“68% of the world,” 2018). In this mass movement of people, it is important to take into consideration the effect city life has on mental health. People who live in urban environments lack access to quality green space which has a negative effect on their mental health. Therefore, we must increase the quality and number of green spaces in urban environments. Cities need to create policy that designates accessible green space for all the citizens of an urban area.

Green space does not have a set definition. An accessible green space can be described as, “places that are available for the general public to use free of charge and without time restrictions,” (Natural England, 2010). A green space must fit a certain standard to be useable and beneficial for a population. A good benchmark would be having a greenspace at least 2 hectares in size and approximately 300 meters from their residence, which would be 5 minutes walking distance (Natural England, 2010). Along with size constraints for a green space, there must be some consideration of the overall design of green space. Making sure the space is fitting in with quality standards and naturally fitting in with the area.

Having accessible green space proves to have many positive mental health benefits on people. Spending time in green spaces positivity impacts mental health. It is proven that, “Individuals have less mental distress, less anxiety and depression, greater wellbeing and healthier cortisol profiles when living in urban areas with more greenspace compared with less greenspace,” (Barton, 2017). The effect of just being around greenspace has a positive impact on mental health. Continually, being in a green space can promote physical activity which is a strss reviever and can have an impact on mental health. A study done in Scotland found that physical activity in natural environments is associated with a reduction in the risk of poor mental health to a greater extent than physical activity in other environments. Green spaces serve as a multitude of services and one being physical activity. Just having physical activity in a green space already improves mental health.

Some can argue that a green space does not just have positive effects. One can point out the statistics that green spaces can increase the number of, “accidental injuries,” and the, “risk of allergies,” in an urban population. It is obvious that these effects can occur when people are spending more time in nature. Continually, that these negative effects such as allergy and risk of injury can be eliminated by designing, and maintain the green space correctly (Lõhmus and Balbus 2015).

For me, I always seek out a green space to spend my time exercising, or relaxing. Running from my apartment my second year of college I run out a mile to seek out a certain park south of my dorm. There, I can enjoy running in the grass and through the trees and not worry about the distraction of traffic or people. Here I can enjoy the animals and greenery. My freshman year of college I would continually use the wonderful Picnic Point that was a natural preserve, overlooking the lake. Again, I was able to run on trails and escape the city.

I am fortunate to be on a college campus. Here I have ample access to green space. Having good quality green space for all types of socioeconomic classes is the extremely important if all urban citizens are going to benefit to mental health. It is found that the. “Socioeconomic inequality in mental well-being was 40% narrower,” among those who have good access to green space when compared to those will poor access to green space. (9) The discrepancy of mental health statistics can be subtracted by having good access to green space for all people.

One problem with the creation of green spaces is they could lead to the concept of environmental gentrification. This occurs when a new green space is put into an urban space and there is a influx in higher socioeconomic status residents (8). The properties surrounding the area becomes more attractive and drives up property price. This pushes out lower socioeconomic residents. The effect of environmental gentrification can be negated by policy that can be created by city planning.

It is important that as we create more green space in our urban environments in order for our population’s mental health to benefit from their positives. As we create these green spaces we need to take into consideration the effects it can have on different classes of our population. The cities need policy in order to stop any effects that can stop all people from having good access to a green space. This change does not happen through city planners. It is important that everyone educates others of the effects of green spaces.

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Concept Of Environmental Gentrification. (2022, Jun 21). Retrieved from