Before taking this class, I was not 100% informed on what urban spaces were. Sure, I knew they were disadvantaged communities that needed help in certain areas.Yet, what I did not know is how many factors contribute to urban spaces in being what they are, how they became,and the aftermath. Urban spaces can bring people together or tear them apart due to some effects that can occur to space, such as gentrification and redevelopment. Though urban spaces can bring a negative connotation at times, my interviewee had a bright side about Atlantic City and how to help it get through this tough time. My interviewee, Allen, believed strongly in everyone using their voice and sticking up for their local communities. When asked what major players have a significant stake in Atlantic City, he replied that “Everyone needs to be involved…everyone is a key player. Residents and leaders.” Through this interview, I realized that we people, people of our community, have a strong say in our community, mostly because we live there. We cannot always expect our “leaders” to do what is right for our community if they do not understand the challenges themselves in the community. Allen brings up Stockton into one of his statements saying how we can help with our intellect, stating, “mind power is just as important as money power.” I hope we can match up to his trust in us, and the trust from others from the city.
Zukin (1995) wrote in her article, “People with economic and political power have the greatest opportunity to shape public culture by controlling the building of the city’s public space.” The topic of redevelopment in an urban space can cause tension because we never know how redevelopment will affect the end result of the city, such as the displacement of others and if the original community members are happy and content with the new development of their community. Allen, however, showed me that redevelopment can be a good thing if our goal as the people doing the redevelopment, is to help the community, not just gain money. Reflecting back to Allen’s statement, “Mind power is just as powerful as money power,” has me convinced that we do have a say in who enters our community and how they change it. It’s about having a voice and sticking up for something you are passionate about. We, as a country, wouldn’t have gotten as far as we have become without people saying their voices and ideas. Money does not solve everything. In this case, it can actually cause more problems for community members than solutions. We need to educate others on what our community needs and how to keep our community members intact together, even though their surroundings many be altered.This brings in our powerful concepts of environment and interactions. If we can work together and interact for positive and efficient redevelopment in the environment, we can help rebuild urban spaces for the better. Some people man be afraid of redevelopment because of selfish investors and the power of the people behind the big bucks, but I believe we can help build urban spaces while keeping the people who live there by being informed on the bad effects of redevelopment and gentrification and passing the word along for others to know in order to take a stand and make investors think twice about entering a community without the intentions o helping it. I overall had an enjoyable experience in this class. Taking what I learned in the books and applying and seeing it in the real word helped me see that what we learn is real and very much in our lives. I learned about myself in this course that I need to be more aware and involved in my community and the communities around me. I think many communities, if not all, have flaws and should be addressed right away before getting worse and affecting the town negatively and drastically, especially in my community. I originally did not realize how bad the condition of Atlantic City was, and being a close resident, that should have not been this case.This course has changed me in being more interested in the towns around me and how to better them for myself, and my community members.