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What kind of place is a neighbourhood?

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Most people use “place” and “space” to mean the same thing at times. For some researchers there is an important difference between these two words. “Space” could be any location of any size at any time. A “place” is like this, but it has one special difference.

Meaning.

Spaces are geographic locations you could forget about and never see again, and not really mind. Places are geographic locations you specifically remember because of the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feeling of it: you can discover a place with your senses. Places are where you do things with people you care about and where you know people. Places have value to you and to others around you. Places are where you like to go and might feel sad to leave. Simply, spaces are locations without meaning and places are locations with meaning.

The word neighborhood refers to a district or an area of a city. Sometime neighborhoods are divided up so the city can group people and deliver public services more easily. Sometimes a neighborhood has a special style of architecture or a special history that distinguishes it. When Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland talks about neighborhoods, we are really talking about places.

Instead of a neighborhood being one big space that shares a name, we like to think about neighborhoods as somewhere full of places. Places where people can be active and curious. Places where people feel they belong and are safe. Places where people can enjoy time with friends and family. These kinds of places come together to make a neighborhood a place.

Taylor Sawyer

PhD student in Urban Studies

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