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Visual symbols of community culture in Thornton Park, Orlando, FL

Visual symbols of community culture in Thornton Park, Orlando, FL

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Published by Brian A. Salmons
Assignment for course "Principles and Strategies of Community Change", GPIDEA Community Development Master's Degree Program, Fall 2006.
Assignment for course "Principles and Strategies of Community Change", GPIDEA Community Development Master's Degree Program, Fall 2006.

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Published by: Brian A. Salmons on Mar 16, 2009
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06/17/2009

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Module III Assignment: "Visual symbols of community culture"
"Thornton Park Neighborhood": So reads a large sign at the neighborhood's main northernentrance, at a busy intersection. The sign indicates a sense of distinct place and encourages thisin the minds of residents and non-resident passers-by.
 
Flags: A few houses have American flags hanging from the flag poles mounted on the front porch.There are also some American flags hanging from public lamp posts. These indicate patriotismamong some members of the community. The fact that not all houses have flags indicate avaluation of the societal ideal of "freedom of expression" and voluntary participation in patrioticdisplays. In one part of the neighborhood, two houses that are side by side illustrate the diversity,and the acceptance of diversity, that exists in this neighborhood: one hangs an American flag, theother an American flag and a rainbow flag (commonly understood to represent "gay pride"). Thetwo flags are conscious symbols of community pride and taken together could be interpreted asan expression of cooperation in diversity. The house with hanging both flags can also representthe identification subcultures have with the dominant culture, an effort at softening the contrastwith the dominant culture, or it could also represent that person's identification with two cultureson equal terms (American patriotism and Gay Pride). However, they may also represent conflictwithin the community, the flags of one house being raised in defiance of the other's. The flagsmay be a local expression of the larger conflict within American society between politicalconservativism and the Gay Pride movement.
 
Fences: Many yards have small, white picket fences around them. These conjure up imagesassociated with the "American Dream", such as house with a white picket fence, and indicate thatcommunity residents "buy into" this aspect of American mythology. The fences also lend to apresentation of the neighborhood as a living manifestation of the American Dream, where themyth is a lived reality. The symbolic purpose of fences is more important than any utilitarianpurpose (e.g. keeping people off one's property), a point illustrated by one resident's yard thatcontains only a small, reduced-size fence "corner". This representation of a fence is clearlydecorative and serves no purpose except to lend an aesthetic which is borrowed from thesymbolism of the "white picket fence".

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