In the North End, community members agreed that the neighborhood culture could be summed up with one thing: people.
Across all engagement methods and all demographics, neighborhood culture in the North End was identified with the people who live and work in the neighborhood; and residents indicated that seeing and hearing their neighbors is what makes them feel at home. Whether it was seeing them walking on the street, or at community events and church, interacting with neighbors is what defined their sense of place for many North End residents.
What is not clear is how the definition of neighbors changed from group to group. Different social groups have their own set of community members, and it is not clear if community members felt the same sense of attraction to people from outside of their social group, despite living in close proximity to each other. Despite this, the majority of community members valued people and relationships as common bonds that hold their community together. This makes the possibility of building a stronger sense of solidarity and community as a whole neighborhood encouraging.
Another heavily valued characteristic was the diversity of the neighborhood, although what aspect of diversity was valued was unclear. These responses show that residents value differences as well as commonalities. There was also a common sense of frustration from many that certain aspects of the neighborhood - from businesses to public art - did not necessarily reflect the neighborhood’s diversity.
In terms of the physical and built environment of the neighborhood, many of the residents and business owners responded with similar sentiments regarding their sense of attachment to the North End. Residents enjoyed seeing mature trees, green space in the parks, and public art. They enjoyed seeing renovated and fixed up houses, and new businesses like The Wild Fig. They valued the playfulness and creativity of small art projects and Community Gardens.
Residents enjoyed the sounds of birds in the trees and the sounds of music coming from car stereos as they drove by. Residents enjoyed hearing the sound of children playing and neighbors talking as they walked on the streets. They enjoyed the sounds of dogs barking and leaves crunching, and the smells of fresh mowed grass, coffee, donuts frying, and flowers.
Residents felt frustrated by the poor state of infrastructure in the North End - from rapidly deteriorating curbs and sidewalks to boarded-up buildings. They indicated concern that the renovations occurring on housing would make them unaffordable to longtime residents. There was a distinct feeling of economic segregation that troubled residents on a property-by-property basis - rundown substandard housing next to expensive, beautiful housing. Tall privacy fences made residents feel as if they were not valued in their own communities.
Residents did not enjoy the sounds of construction on homes and the jackhammering/repair of streets. Almost all residents expressed displeasure at the traffic noise as cars drove by. One group of residents was even yelled at by a passing driver to get further away from the street, despite walking in the middle of the sidewalk. They did not enjoy the smell of trash and litter that accumulated on the street, pet waste left on the sidewalk, or the manure that they associated with urban farming. Individuals also did not like the smell of the ginkgo tree in Duncan Park.