Duncan’s observation is on how the landscape of a property in Bedford Village relates with their resident status; furthermore, the relationship between the size of their properties and segregation within the community. He talks on how “the majority of the residents are upper-middle class and upper class white Anglo-Saxon Protestants”; he also describes the village as “an image of affluence and cultural homogeneity”. He portrays the village residents as people who do not like changes because they like their colonial look and they want to protect their heritage. They also have strict zoning codes because it is supposed to “preserve the rural atmosphere of the town”.
On Duncan’s observations he reveals four different landscapes: the village center, the tradesmen’s landscape, the alpha and beta landscapes. The village center landscape or area consists of the main business area and couple of churches. The tradesmen’s landscape could be described as an area with humble houses, quite streets and most of the residents are over 50 years old. There is interaction between neighbors since their houses close to each other. The alpha landscape is the oldest of them all; it has narrow, unpaved and crooked roads with picturesque ponds and miles of bridle paths. The street area is not used as communal play area for children and the distance between houses minimizes interaction between neighbors. On the beta landscape they have paved streets and their houses are newer reproductions of Old New England Colonial. His main focus seems to be the alpha and beta landscapes.
It is interesting how Duncan’s observations reveal a clear segregation between the residents of Bedford Village. The table that he provided on page 346 (Table II - Social Groups and Landscapes) shows a clear disproportion between the different social club members. For example, The Golf Club, 91.1% of the members are from the alpha landscape; on the other hand, 8.9% of the members are from the beta landscape. The percentage of Italians in the alpha landscape is 17.7% compared to an 82.3% in the beta landscape. Also religion groups are very different between the alpha and beta landscapes.
The alpha landscape residents describe their membership with Episcopal Church as an “inner circle”. The beta landscape residents are mainly Italian Catholics and they are regarded by the alpha people as laborers.
Duncan’s observations bring up the issue of status or class in this country and how generally the upper-class ends up alienating themselves from the lower classes. Upper-Class people tend to treat lower-class people like they do not belong and are not welcomed. Nearly all of the time upper-class people inherit their money and traditions from their families. So they would never experience or know many people from lower classes. The traditions play a mayor role on this issue of segregation, like in Bedford Village there area many towns in U.S. that are “obsessed” with their past and traditions and they would not accept any changes because of the fear of “betraying” their heritage. For example, The Village of Germantown, Wisconsin, they have a rich German heritage. A couple of months ago I drove by the village for the first time and it struck to see how a series of new buildings in a shopping center were built to resemble traditional frame work buildings from Germany. The problem was that since it was a commercial development the design looked like Disney/Hollywood fake little village. Seems to me, the village design/zoning board ended up designing the building in place of the architect.
Duncan’s readings as well as Bickford’s basically address the issue of segregation. Even though there are no political boundaries at Bedford Village, its residents make their own social and class boundaries. Residents would not welcome change or new people to their neighborhood or clubs. I think there is a “natural human” tendency of people from the same “kind” or class to separate themselves from the others. This way they create their own perspective in terms of what its right and what is not. Bickford explains how the gated communities are separating the community from the rest and making everybody else not welcome. Bickford’s suggestion of constructing a social space where people would intermingle and get to know each other is a great idea, now the problem is who is going convince these people to open their mind and forget about how they were raised?