Social Life and Residents

Student Residents | Families | Student and Non-Student Relations

“To be sure, a good city neighborhood can absorb newcomers into itself, both newcomers by choice and immigrants settling by expediency, and it can protect a reasonable amount of transient population too. But these increments or displacements have to be gradual. If self-government in the place is to work, underlying any float of population must be a continuity of people who have forged neighborhood networks. These networks are a city’s irreplaceable social capital. Whenever the capital is lost, from whatever cause, the income from it disappears, never to return until and unless new capital is slowly and chancily accumulated” (Jane Jacobs, 1961, The Life and Death of Great American Cities).

With potentially 70% of the population in their mid 20’s, students have become an integral part of Riverside/Normal City’s neighborhood identity. However, students lack of understanding of the neighborhood’s history has become increasingly frustrating to existing residents, causing them to feel nostalgic and view students negatively. Despite the negative views, students are contributing to the neighborhood through immersive learning projects and voicing their concerns, making their presence in the community a notable one.

Families add a very specific outlook and set of values to the neighborhood.  The prospect of thinking about what kind of environment parents want their children to grow up in and which activities they partake in informs us about neighborhood social life in the RNC. The interactions between families and the neighborhood influence the social capital that is gained in the community overall.

Relationships are a fundamental quality of any neighborhood. Understanding the ways residents interact, and build relationships with one another is imperative to understanding the neighborhood as a whole. Relationships among residents in the Riverside/Normal City neighborhood are unique in that they encompass both relationships between permanent residents, ranging from young couples with families to people of retirement age, as well as relationships between permanent residents and student residents. Both types of relationships add to the established neighborhood networks and transient population, as Jacobs has discussed.