"Growing too fast:" Local stakeholders speak out about growth and its consequences for community well-being in the urban-rural interface

Christopher Slemp, Mae A. Davenport, Erin Seekamp, Joan M. Brehm, Jon E. Schoonover, Karl W.J. Williard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Urban growth and development patterns have been implicated in the loss of ecosystem functioning, increased economic burdens on communities, and impacts to residents' human health. However, the effects of growth and development on the functioning of social systems are less understood. In this paper we present the findings of an interpretive study investigating two primary questions: (1) How do diverse stakeholders living and working in the urban-rural interface describe and characterize change in their communities? and (2) What are stakeholders' perceptions of urban growth consequences in their communities? 30 key informant interviews were conducted with stakeholders in two communities within the Lower Kaskaskia River watershed, Illinois. Community stakeholders, including business representatives, agricultural producers, community decision-makers, educators and natural resource professionals living and working at the urban-rural interface, provided rich insider perspectives on urban growth and its consequences for quality of life in their communities. Qualitative data analysis uncovered both shared and contested characterizations of change in the communities, such as loss of farmland, a more vital community economy, the decay of a sense of community, and cultural conflict. The study has implications for resource professionals, community planners and local actors by identifying potential urban growth consequences on residents' sense of place and community identity and offering a framework for monitoring the sociocultural impacts of land use change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 30 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture , under Agreement No. 2007-51130-18403. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional funding for this project was provided by Southern Illinois University Carbondale . We would like to thank Elliot Brinkman, Emily Lord, Charnsmorn Hwang, Julia Friedmann, and Christine Yaeger for their assistance with data collection and analysis. We also extend gratitude to staff members at Southwestern Illinois Resources Conservation and Development and the project's 65 member Community Research Team for their collaboration in project design and implementation. Finally, we thank the study participants who took the time to share their insights with us.


  • Community capacity
  • Community well-being
  • Environmental planning
  • Sprawl
  • Urbanization


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