Publication Details

Visual resource stewardship at the neighborhood scale: methods for assessing a vacant land reuse program

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Gobster, Paul ; Stewart, William P.; Rigolon, Alessandro ; van Riper, Carena J.; Williams, Douglas A.

Year Published

2018

Publication

In: Gobster, Paul H.; Smardon, Richard C., eds. Visual resource stewardship conference proceedings: landscape and seascape management in a time of change; 2017 November 7-9; Lemont, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-183.

Abstract

Visual assessments are usually conceived of and applied to large‐area landscapes such as national forests. Yet the visual resource is an important cultural ecosystem service at all scales of landscape, from small sites to regional and national scales. In urban landscapes, visual resource stewardship has been framed in ways that address parks, lawns, or yard artifacts, and has not specifically been linked to planning issues nor to a visible line of research. The neighborhood scale is particularly relevant to people's everyday perception and experience of cities, and the recent availability of high resolution aerial and street‐level imagery through sources such as Google has opened up new opportunities to measure landscape change and incorporate neighborhood scale visual assessments into urban research and planning activities. In this Visual Case Study we describe and illustrate how such imagery was used in combination with open‐source parcel data and coding protocols to identify visual signs of stewardship made by local residents to vacant lots purchased through the Chicago Large Lot Program. Mowing and weed removal and improvements such as gardens and fences express an aesthetic of care that can communicate personal and community values. We were particularly interested in assessing how these and other visual signs of condition and care changed as a function of residents’ participation in the program. In coding images of lots before and after the time of purchase we were able to document important aspects of landscape change at the lot and block levels. We discuss the utility of the approach in advancing visual resource stewardship goals in the urban landscape.

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Citation

Gobster, Paul H; Stewart, William P.; Rigolon, Alessandro; van Riper, Carena J.; Williams, Douglas A. 2018. Visual resource stewardship at the neighborhood scale: methods for assessing a vacant land reuse program. In: Gobster, Paul H.; Smardon, Richard C., eds. Visual resource stewardship conference proceedings: landscape and seascape management in a time of change; 2017 November 7-9; Lemont, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-183. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. https://doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-P-183-VCS-4.

Last updated on: December 20, 2018