February 23, 2018 - mh9868a

Research Problem Statement

A skyline view of Washington, DC from SM&W.

Today, big cities like New York and Los Angeles are on the forefront of Americans’ minds. They love fantasizing about moving to big cities and getting swept up in the exciting, fast-paced lifestyles. Also, many politicians tend to focus on big cities in order to improve the lives of the millions of people who live in those places. However, this focus on big cities often leaves small town America behind. In order to catch up with allure of big cities, many small towns are trying to improve and expand so they can become attractive more diverse generations. However, these significant changes are costly to those who already live in these towns. Therefore, I would like to ask, what does revitalization socially and economically mean for small towns? Specifically, I am investigating the recent efforts to revitalize the town of Salem, NH.

I am planning to conduct interpretivist research on the Tuscan Village revitalization efforts in Salem. Specifically, I am looking at community nostalgia, infrastructure changes, and generational divides within Salem to investigate the meaning of revitalization. That is, I want to look at the lack of nostalgia the community feels for the historic Rockingham Park horse racing venue that was torn down late last year. Also, I want to look at the infrastructure that will be changed in town because of new traffic accommodations for the Tuscan Village. Because the Tuscan Village is a massive new shopping complex, town officials are estimating a substantial increase in daily traffic on the already crowded Route 28 and the surrounding highway. Lastly, I want to investigate the generational divide in the reactions Salem community members have to details of the new Tuscan Village. To do this, I will use interviews, newspaper articles, and official Tuscan Village planning documents to find the meaning of small town revitalization in Salem.

The original Tuscan Kitchen restaurant opened by Joe Faro. The success of this restaurant prompted Faro to built the new Tuscan Village as an extension. Photo is from the Daily Lunch

The first resource I will use to generate data for my research is interviews I have already conducted with members of the Salem, NH community. While I was in Salem for winter break, I conducted interviews with members of town hall, adults in the community, and young people in the community. To generate data, I will listen to the recorded interviews and draw conclusions based on the answers the interview subjects gave to my questions. For example, I asked each person I interviewed what they thought about the infrastructure changes. Based on their answers I can derive information on the meaning these changes have for the community members of Salem. This is the source where the bulk of my research on generational divides will come from because of the generational differences between the interviewees. Also, these interviews will give me insight into what the people I interviewed think of the new conveniences and inconveniences the Tuscan Village will bring. That is, I can hear what the adult commuters in town think of infrastructure changes and the construction issues that will go along with that. Also, I will hear what community members across generations think about a new, healthier supermarket in town. That way, I can find out if healthier food is a good revitalization tool to get people to be interested in Salem. Basically, the interviews I conducted will offer insight into the minds of the citizens of Salem, NH.

The second resource I will use to generate data will be a discourse analysis on local New Hampshire newspaper archives. To do this, I have to contact Salem’s library to find out how I can access those old files. Ideally, I would like to find newspapers from the 1930s and 1940s during Rockingham Park’s heyday. I will also use papers from the 1980s when the park began to decline and papers from the early 2000s when the park ultimately closed. These newspapers will give me broad insight into the lack of nostalgia for Rockingham Park. Hopefully, using these newspaper articles I can find where the interest in the park starts to drop. Additionally, I want to use the newspapers to investigate the failed attempt to build a casino on Rockingham Park property. Basically, I want to know if the nostalgia for the park is what made horse race gambling okay yet casino gambling not okay for revitalization efforts in town.

Another resource I will use in my research on revitalization is the Tuscan Village planning papers. Online there are documents that show images of the proposed areas in the Village such as storefronts, townhomes, apartments, and entertainment spaces. These papers can help me understand what aspects of the Tuscan Village will be good social spaces for people of certain generations. For example, there will be a playground where parents can entertain their children, bars for adults to go to, and an IMAX movie theater for teenagers. The planning papers can also show me what stores are going into the complex that will attract certain age groups. For example, there is a new grocery store going in which will probably attract a lot of generations of customers. However, the rumored Ikea will probably only appeal to adults who own or rent property. Similarly, the movie theater will attract a large audience, but most of the appeal is for teenagers in the area. Additionally, these planning papers can offer insight into what the infrastructure changes that will be made in the surrounding area of the Village. That way, I can see what changes will have minimal effect on the community, and which changes will have a more substantial effect on the community. Overall, the planning papers for Tuscan Village will give me a more detailed idea of what the revitalization efforts in Salem, NH will look like.

For my research project, I am trying to find meaning in revitalization of small towns, particularly the town of Salem, NH. Specifically, I am looking at community nostalgia, infrastructure changes, and generational divides within Salem to investigate the meaning of the Tuscan Village revitalization project. In order to generate data on these topics I will use old newspaper archives, interviews, and Tuscan Village planning papers. Finally, I want to bring understanding and meaning to the forgotten small towns and their efforts to revitalize and stay relevant to their communities.

SIS Research Project city / interpretivist / research / smalltown /

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