This section of the book explores the nature of social struggles that are faced by individuals who reside in urban settlements. Some of the key factors that have contributed to social strife of urban dwellers include forced displacement or transfer of populations, gentrification and urban renewal. Loisaida and the Mission district are both experiencing immense strife occasioned by challenges facing urban growth. The editors note that Latino territoriality has arisen due to urban displacement (Miyares and Airriess 345). The latter has proved to be defensive in regards to the prevailing cultural landscape. In addition, the Latino territory has demonstrated a lot of assertiveness in its political activities.
Large political coalitions have been fueled by the anti-displacement initiatives that are taking place in both regions. As a result, the cultural landscape has culminated into significant manifestations. The nature of community gardens and the various style of art adopted are clear indications that the cultural landscape is no longer the same. Besides, the widespread political activism has equally led into polarization of the urban communities. Moreover, gentrification is triggered by the low income areas that tend to attach great value towards ethnic preservation (Miyares and Airriess 346).
From the reading, it is evident that change is easily resisted whenever cultural aspects are highly regarded in society. However, it is pertinent to mention that the cultural landscape elements which are defensive may sometimes fail to thwart the political strategies adopted by elites in society.
Most of the above situations also demonstrate the aspect of gentrification. For example, a building is bought by a developer at a very cheap price. It is then modified, repaired and completely changed in order to impress the prospective buyers. Finally, the same building is sold at a higher market price. As already pointed out in the above section, the Loisaida/East Village region and the Mission District in San Francisco have experienced the same level of gentrification.
Nonetheless, gentrification may not necessarily spur the growth of a local economy. There are instances when business groups, community activists and the local government may distract the natural economic growth of a region especially if viable development strategies are not put in place. For example, activities that degrade the immediate environment are not beneficial to communities at all. The editors argue that economic development that result from gentrification can eventually lower crime rate and attract new business ventures. The latter may only be achieved if the expected growth is well planned in advance (Miyares and Airriess 349).
In regards to the movement of populations from poor to wealthier neighborhoods, it is vital to observe that such movements do not merely involve the extremely poor individuals in society. The economic landscape tends to vary a lot especially in regards to the distribution of income and revenue generation.
Urban landscapes can be interpreted in the best way if certain factors are critically analyzed. For instance, ethnic symbols, social spaces, commercial functions and built forms are vital factors that precisely interpret urban landscapes. To a large extent, we may argue that the urban shift in population is mainly driven by the economic interests of both the poor and wealthy communities. When property values skyrocket, the poor people are obviously compelled to seek other affordable areas. In this case, it negatively impacts the economic wellbeing of the few rich individuals. The local government authorities are also beneficiaries because the high property values attract higher taxes.
Miyares, Ines and Christopher, Airriess. Contemporary Ethnic Geographies in America. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007. Print.