Latino Urbanism

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This emerging approach to development responds to Latino lifestyles, cultural preferences and economic needs. Kevin Kellogg, Urban Laureate for the ASU Stardust Center for Sustainable Communities, and Teresa Brice, executive director for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Phoenix, discuss how it is shaping the urban landscape in the Valley and across the country.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm José Cárdenas. Latino urbanism, it's an approach to development and the effect of the Hispanic community on the environment around them. But how is it reshaping the landscape in the valley and across the country? With me to talk about this is Kevin Kellogg, urban laureate with the ASU Stardust Center for Sustainable Communities. Also here is Teresa Brice, executive director for LISC, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, in Phoenix. Thank you for joining us on."Horizonte." Kevin, I want to begin with a definition of Latino urbanism and I know it was a subject of a conference earlier this month and we'll have pictures depicting what that is or discussed at the conference as we talk. But tell us what it is and an explanation of the pictures we'll be seeing as we discuss this.

Kevin Kellogg: Well, Latino urbanism is a term used by urban planners and sociologists to describe the phenomenon of Mexican-American and Latino immigrants transforming and adapting to neighborhoods they've moved into in the western and southwestern United States.

José Cárdenas: We've got some pictures on the screen, religious symbols, and front yard type of things. Tell us generally what the pictures show.

Kevin Kellogg: Typically, you find, especially in Los Angeles and Phoenix and Albuquerque and San Antonio, the adaptation to the American bungalow neighborhood where front yards are fenced and the individuality of the family is expressed often with statuary and furniture and so forth-- backyards used as storage or utility space. This is a reversal of the ANGLO neighborhood, where the front yard is uniformed along a neighborhood.

José Cárdenas: The conference, I understand the term has been around a long time, this was the first of its kind in the country.

Kevin Kellogg: As far as I know, yes. It's been -- the term was coined by James Rojas, transportation planner in Los Angeles, an architect, one of the lead speakers at the conference. And this conference brought together about 20 architects and urban designers and social theorists to for the first time discuss different aspects of Latino urbanism, from urban planning, and architecture to sociology and politics.

José Cárdenas: You've been involved in housing in the valley for many man years and now with LISC. How does what you do with LISC interface what is going on in at the Stardust Center and the topic of Latino urbanism?

Teresa Brice: LISC job is to help residents transform their communities, especially low-income minority residents living in distressed neighborhoods. And we believe in creating sustainable neighborhoods starts was a sense of place. Because we're such a large place, 500 square mile, not a lot of neighborhoods have a strong sense of who they are and history and where they're going. LISC targets specific neighborhoods and bring resources to help the residents come together and reach a consensus about the vision for the future. We call is a quality of life plan and the residents themselves meet and discuss and come up with the priorities they need to make their community uniquely theirs and to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children in the future.
José Cárdenas: In the neighbors you're involved in, do you see manifestations of what Kevin was talking about in terms of Latino urbanism?

Teresa Brice: Very much so. We were working in Phoenix, one is Central City South, south of the downtown and the other. The Golden Gate Neighborhood in Maryvale. In both cases, the Latino community evolved into those neighborhoods. In Central City South, a predominantly African American neighborhood and over the last 30 years, the Latino community has gradually been become the majority culture there. And in the Golden Gate, they were displaced due to airport expansion and moved about 39th Avenue and McDowell and had to create a new home and these families have begun to carve out a sense of place and culture uniquely theirs. A lot of retail geared specifically to the Latino residents there and we see a lot of neighborhood cohesion as a result of common values and common cultural practices and we see communities working together to overcome that initial tension that may have existed when you have two very different cultures learning to merge together but because the Latino population is so dominant now in these neighborhoods, they definitely have a sense this is a Latino neighborhood. It is represented in the colors and represented in the languages and represented in the way the neighbors relate, helping each other out and being an extension of the familia in that that neighborhood.

José Cárdenas: Kevin, you see several different Latino cultures in play here. My sense is that Latino urbanism, the things you're talking about is stimulated at least in part by immigration. And some of the Latino neighborhoods that Teresa was talking about were long time, second and third generation Latino families. Is there a difference and is there a tension?

Kevin Kellogg: There's definitely a tension between families who have been around a long time and new immigrants whether they're new from Mexico or South America or whether they're Anglos moving into the neighborhood. There's a different kind of immigrant into a traditionally Hispanic neighborhood.

José Cárdenas: And the difference you see as a result of that immigrant stimulus as opposed to the long time -- they're both Latino urbanism - but different forms

Kevin Kellogg: For sure, the -- it's really a form of adaptation and that's the key facet of Latino urbanism that's consistent through all of the different various forms of Latino urbanism. Whether it's the residential or the commercial adaptation and typically, it's -- you know, there's different waves of immigration. Before World War 2, after and very recent and those different waves of immigration have found different kinds of existing urban fabric when they got here. Residential and commercial and so forth, they've adapted to according to their time. But they're all pretty consistent in terms of what they bring, the memories, mostly from South America and Mexico, in terms of the language, the food, music, and the kind of festivals and rituals and so forth that happen. So I think the major issue is on the assimilation, where families have been here for many generations and consider themselves completely American and aren't associating with their heritage in previous countries although their typical practices are still derived from that. Whereas, new cultures tend to speak only Spanish or more invested in practices from their native countries.

José Cárdenas: And you've seen that have that tension we're talking about now, in the efforts you've been involved in?

Teresa Brice: Absolutely. We can't ignore the fact in Arizona's culture today, there are dangers being associated with being Latino. Being identified as Latino and we've seen this in our neighborhood where's we have large percentages of undocumented families that have been participating in creating these quality of life plans and immediately after the passage of S.B. 1070, for example, these families were afraid to come out to public meetings and have their voice heard and when you try to create a vision for your neighborhood to have a significant portion of the residents unable to be heard, means the vision is not true, it's not authentic, they're afraid to be heard and the tension we see with new immigrants is that there's a certain association -- there's a certain characteristics we have of being called Latino and residents saying I'm afraid to be stigmatized because in the minds of so many, being Latino is the equivalent of being an immigrant.

José Cárdenas: How does that manifest themselves? Do you have the more established groups, and by that I mean, their roots, have been here longer, fo you find them rejecting the kinds of things that Kevin was talking about, that are associated with Latino urbanism, the activities in the front yard, the religious statuary.

Teresa Brice: We've seen established families who have been here for two or three generations. They have learned to adopt the culture of dominant culture. They understand you need to keep the yard neat and keep the clothes off the clotheslines and fences and yet the new immigrant families are still learning what the codes are and they're inadvertently making it uncomfortable for long time residents who say I don't want to be associated with those folks and they're afraid of being painted with the broad brush and we see the older residents say, I'm not like them. We may have the same culture, the same history and even share the same language but there's a strong difference between Latinos that have been assimilated and want to be associated with the dominant culture and those happy to say I'm Latino and proud of who I am.

José Cárdenas: Is it still Latino urbanism when you have groups who don't want to be identified with at least those aspects of what you call Latino urbanism?

Kevin Kellogg: Definitely and it's interesting, and you -- and you find now with younger people a mix of races or ethnicities, African American and so forth, that are blending into -- more into Latino neighborhoods and I think you find a lot more acceptance in younger generations and some cases it's more traditional families versus more modern families and how they they've assimilated and it's a pretty complex picture in terms of how people self-identify as Latino, whether they're conditioned on the outside or invested in American culture and so forth. Much of Latino urbanism in some neighborhood dollars very celebrated and you can find it in Tucson where the very traditional Spanish and Mexican-American architecture has been lovingly restored and emphasized --

José Cárdenas: We're talking about ANGLO families moving in because of their attraction to that.

Kevin Kellogg: Right, and Latino urbanism is a culture marker but also a legitimate kind of style statement for everyone.

José Cárdenas: When we discussed this off camera, you indicated it has given rise to tensions, because while you have families who appreciate the architectural style they don't appreciate the other things that come with Latino urbanism.

Kevin Kellogg: A lot of families all over the southwest are lively with the arts being celebrated, dancing and live music later into the evening, mixing of ages, older and younger and in -- more buttoned-down cultures that move in, they aren't used to that kind of neighborhood vitality and the way people solve their problems with each other is a little different too. Typical, I think Latino neighborhood would -- people will kind of and try to solve problems between each other whereas, some new immigrants that come in, the newest resident doesn't like the music and call the police which is by neighborhood standards isn't the way you would behave.

Teresa Brice: They want the aesthetic but the not the lifestyle.

José Cárdenas: How does the work that stardust is doing impact itself.

Teresa Brice: Stardust is helping with the built environment in neighborhoods, helping to revitalize the houses, retail, the way the fabric of the community works and LISC is helping to empower people to allow them to express their sense of self and strengthen the sense of place they have in their neighborhoods.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

Kevin Kellogg and Teresa Brice: Thank you.

Kevin Kellogg:Urban Laureate for the ASU Stardust Center for Sustainable Communities;Teresa Brice: Executive Director for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Phoenix;

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