After the recent Colorado massacre, we ALL want to reduce violence, but we’re divided about how to do it. Sociologists think that "greening" vacant lots may be associated with reductions in certain gun crimes (and it’s certainly easier than trying to get gun laws passed!)

Results of a recent study show that residents living near greened vacant lots feel safer than those near non-greened sites. Additionally, incidents of police-reported crimes may be reduced after greening.

Researcher Eugenia C. Garvin says, "Vacant lot greening changes the physical environment of a neighborhood from one that may promote crime and fear to one that may reduce crime and make people feel safer. Our theory is that transforming vacant lots from a space overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash to a clean and green space may make it difficult for people to hide illegal guns and conduct other illegal activities such as drug use in or near the space. Additionally, green space may encourage community cohesion."

Twenty one residents living near vacant lots were interviewed before and after the greening. Survey results show that residents living near the greened vacant lots felt significantly safer at the three-month follow-up visit compared to those near the control site. Additionally, the research team analyzed police reported crime data from three months before and three months after the greening. Total crime, as well as assaults with and without a gun, was less after the greening.

It’s an incredible transformation. Garvin says, "We know health can be affected by the environment of one’s neighborhood, but we know very little about what causes the impact."

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