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September 26, 2023

Good Attracts Good: Study shows KIB’s AES Project GreenSpace sites reduce gun violence

By: Jeremy Kranowitz

This morning marked a significant moment in our journey at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB), as we proudly unveiled the promising results of a year-long study of our AES Indianapolis Project GreenSpace program. Together with Mayor Joe Hogsett and other community members, we gathered at our Shelton Heights GreenSpace to announce the exciting findings of the study. What we learned is, within a half-mile radius from locations where KIB worked with a community to create a greenspace, there was a statistically significant reduction – 12% – of gun violence.

Through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, researchers from the University of Michigan, alongside our dedicated team, delved into an analysis that yielded remarkable findings. The study scrutinized 34 of the 60 current sites where KIB transformed vacant lots into thriving community greenspaces, comparing them to 34 nearby areas that remained untouched. This in-depth exploration considered factors such as median household income, age demographics, transportation access, and social vulnerability. The revelation was extraordinary – a 12% reduction in gun violence emerged as a direct consequence of our efforts to construct greenspaces in collaboration with the local community.

In the Shelton Heights neighborhood on Indy’s west side, our community can see the transformative power of KIB’s GreenSpace program. For many years, an abandoned trailer park became a locus for illegal activities and violence. After a local resident was killed by a stray bullet while trying to fill a community refrigerator, the city acted and razed the entire property. KIB worked with the community to build a greenspace that includes a native prairie, a quarter-mile walking path, a permanent art installation, a shelter, and a place for kids to play. A neighborhood once marred by fear, where mothers refused to let their children outside to play, has now become a place for the entire community to enjoy.

These findings have profound implications not just for Indianapolis but for cities nationwide grappling with violent crime problems. The potential of greenspaces to mitigate gun violence opens new avenues for urban planning and community development. It underscores the importance of strategic investments in greenspaces to create safer environments for our residents.

As we move forward with these findings, KIB remains dedicated to uncovering the nuances of our greenspace program and their impact on the communities around them. Future research will explore whether various elements, such as murals or greenspace size, play a significant role in our mission to make neighborhood investments as powerful as possible. Together, we aim to foster vibrant communities where safety and beauty coexist, inspired by the transformative potential of greenspaces.

Categories: AES Indiana Project Greenspace, News & Features, Partners