The Neighborhood Heritage and Sustainability Project:
Investigating Paths to Sustainability in Small Urban Neighborhoods

Within the Neighborhood Heritage and Sustainability Project, Dr. Siobhan Hart and Dr. George Homsy examine the challenges and potential of sustainability at the “hyper-local” level of a small neighborhood. The project centers on the North of Main neighborhood of Binghamton, New York, as a pilot, using local knowledge to address issues of the environment, social equity, and economic development.

The Neighborhood Heritage and Sustainability Project creates an alternative to typical sustainability initiatives that are top-down and technical. Instead, we find that diving into heritage discourses reveals deeper and more lasting solutions to challenges of community change and community cohesion. Through projects like Stories from North of Main and local community events, this neighborhood has begun to reclaim their identity. The North of Main Neighborhood becomes more than a footnote in the cultural heritage of Binghamton. It no longer epitomizes the city’s decline. The residents are rediscovering their vibrant area and complex social landscape.

This approach provides graduate students in Anthropology, Public Administration, and Sustainable Communities at Binghamton University with community-based research experience. The practical skills and knowledge gained through this project helps position students for the real-world challenges of public service management around issues of sustainability.

The ultimate goal of the Neighborhood Heritage and Sustainability Project is to build neighborhood capacity and to understand neighborhood change and sustainability, devising new ways of understanding and increasing neighborhood sustainability at higher levels of government and civic society.

Want to know more or get involved? Contact us for more information or to share your stories with us.