As an organization that works closely with communities of all types, TEX is always interested in learning the latest strategies and theories regarding their development and structure. According to the authors of Urban Neighborhoods in a New Era: Revitalization Politics in the Postindustrial City, there has been a definitive shift in how communities organize. Back in the day, development used to be entirely up to the leadership of the city. If the city officials decided that they wanted to build a municipal building or shopping complex where your house was, you needed to find a new house.
Now, in the so-called “New Era,” revitalization politics are largely controlled by the people. Community groups are able to halt development projects, and gain benefits through mobilization, if they so choose. More than ever before, city leaders must focus on getting communities onboard before proceeding with development. The economic agenda has grown to account for community concerns, media campaigns are launched to direct public opinion, and even business leaders recognize the importance of this shift.
The book discusses case studies in six cities (five in the US), and touches on many pertinent issues such as gentrification and social mobility, making it a worthwhile read for community leaders in urban areas. However, it strangely ignores the political power of social class, race, and different generational groups (millennials are conspicuously absent). Regardless, it was an interesting and lively discussion, and one that provided important insight into the workings of the communities that TEX endeavors to serve. Understanding the context for decisions that city leaders must make is important for TEX, and for scientists working with these communities.