Image & Identity
Image focuses upon perceptions of the neighborhood by non-residents: Main Street/downtown business owners, regional citizens, city employees and local officials, and residents of adjacent or nearby neighborhoods. Identity describes how residents view or feel about their own neighborhood; for example, whether they view it as safe, friendly, and attractive. It is not uncommon for the identity of a neighborhood to contradict its image in the region.
A neighborhood's image often will impact the perceived desirability of homes in the neighborhood and the level of investment in the area. Additionally, it can impact how residents feel about their own community over time, especially if the area receives a lot of media attention for criminal activity.
Identity is more closely tied to whether residents become engaged in their own community, whether they desire or plan to stay, and whether they invest in updates and repairs to their own properties. Just as image can affect neighborhood identity, identity can impact image over time, especially when property owners and residents view their neighborhood as a good place to live. Residents with a strong sense of neighborhood identity translate this vision into regular home maintenance, care in selecting tenants for rentals, sustenance of an active neighborhood association, and well attended neighborhood events.
A neighborhood that has a positive image will:
- Receive favorable press coverage.
- Attract new residents from within the region.
- Be viewed as an asset by Main Street/downtown businesses.
A neighborhood with a positive identity will:
- Be a desirable place for residents to stay.
- Have high resident participation in community groups/organizations.
- Have neighborhood pride, fostering friendliness and relationships among neighbors.
A neighborhood can improve its image and identity by:
- Using media and outreach to highlight revitalization successes, signaling positive changes in the neighborhood.
- Hosting events, such as street festivals, clean-up days, fundraisers, athletic events and fun runs, and children's events.
- Hosting awards programs for community activism, good home rehabilitation, or volunteer contributions, for example.
- Distributing neighborhood information through a website or newsletter.
- Seeking positive media coverage of neighborhood accomplishments.