““What New Connections does is phenomenal. I haven’t seen anything similar to it in the urban planning field. I wish there were more programs like it.”
With any urban planning project, I’m always asking questions like ‘What does equity in planning look like here? Who are city developers and city officials catering to, and why? Where are the residents in this? How can we merge basic and applied scholarship in the name of justice, equity, and healthy communities and cities?’
Erualdo González likes to ask questions. As an urban planning scholar, he does not query in a silo, but considers community health, race, ethnicity, equity, and social justice as critical components of his work. From his early days studying psychology to his current work focusing on how gentrification affects different segments of society, Erualdo is not only researching, but working with others to create healthier, more equitable communities.
Reclaiming Cities for the Most Marginalized Spaces and People
Erualdo’s research priorities have shifted over the years, but one thing has remained the same. As he puts it, “My research continues to focus on the most marginalized areas and populations in our country.”
Erualdo was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, by immigrant parents. The first in his family to receive a four-year college education, he double-majored in psychology and Chicano studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Through a dynamic professor who was involved in community-based evaluation, Erualdo began volunteering as a research assistant and collaborated with nonprofits and community organizers focused on health and public policy throughout California. The experience opened his eyes to the impact of empowerment evaluation, as well as the nuances involved in urban revitalization and social change efforts.
He went on to earn a master’s degree in social ecology and a PhD in urban and regional planning from the University of California, Irvine.
“In this country, we are experiencing many visions and revitalization projects that complicate definitions of just, equitable, and healthy cities,” Erualdo explains. “Redevelopment in many of our historically disinvested spaces, which typically include the working class and communities of color, is increasingly prioritizing more privileged segments of society. What, then, does it mean to work toward healthy communities and cities with these redevelopment trends?”
Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities
Erualdo’s latest work, Latino City: Urban Planning, Politics, and the Grassroots, explores how redevelopment is reshaping a majority Mexican and immigrant central city.
“New loft housing, new local businesses, and new green and open spaces might look nice, but we have to consider what these developments mean for the people who are displaced by gentrification, many of whom are already marginalized in the first place.”
Throughout his research agenda, Erualdo applies what he learned through community health evaluations in his early days of academia.
“Over the years, I’ve always made this multi-pronged connection in my work,” he says. “In urban planning, I’m constantly asking about the health of residents, and how that will be affected by redevelopment efforts like putting in a park, or building a new housing development.”
“I presented on my research at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Conference. Soon after, I was invited to put together this supplemental issue based on the conference and co-author the introduction. That was a big honor to me, and it wouldn’t have happened without New Connections.”
Building on New Connections
In addition to producing the Active Living Research Conference supplemental issue, Erualdo made other connections as part of his two-year New Connections grant. He describes them as “building blocks that boosted my confidence and helped me understand that my research was on track.” His New Connections-funded research examined a subset of data from a national evaluation looking at two nonprofits that sought to create healthy environments to combat obesity in Latino communities.
Since his grant, Erualdo has kept in touch with other scholars, especially those working in the intersection of built environment and health.
“What New Connections does is phenomenal. I haven’t seen anything similar to it in the urban planning field. I wish there were more programs like it.”
Title: Professor, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies; California State University, Fullerton
New Connections Year: 2011
New Connections Status: Past Grantee
- González, E. R. (2017). Latino City: Urban planning, politics, and the grassroots. New York, London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Series: Routledge Studies in Urbanism and the City. Retrieved from https://www.routledge.com/authors/i15629-erualdo-gonzlez
- Podcast interview: http://newbooksnetwork.com/latino-city-part-i-an-interview-with-dr-erualdo-gonzalez
- Lejano, R. P., & González, E. R. (2017). Sorting through differences: The problem of planning as reimagination. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 37(1), 5–17.
González, E. R., & Irazábal, C. (2015). Emerging issues in planning: Ethno-racial intersections. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 20(6), 600–10. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13549839.2015.1048975?journalCode=cloe20
- Pollak, K., González, E. R., Hager, E., & Sallis, J. (2014). The Active Living Research 2014 Conference: “Niche to norm.” Preventive Medicine, 69, Supplement 1, S1–4. Retrieved from http://activelivingresearch.org/sites/default/files/PrevMed2014_Pollack.Editorial.pdf
- González, E. R., Villanueva, S., & Grills, C. N. (2012). Communities creating healthy environments to combat obesity: Preliminary evaluation findings from two case studies. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 10, 88–98.