Changing Gentrification January 2009


One of the dangerous tricks of gentrification is its ability to give you novelty lenses.  Where everything that is surrounding your pristine glass and stone palace is cute, neat, or old school; the Mittman’s Pharmacy on the corner looking very Maude like, or Jeffersonian – Welcome Back Cotter-esque.   Something about it novelized in a museum-like realness, that is until some time passes, and more new stuff comes, and the old begins to look decrepit, like the home of the eccentric neighbor in his post-partum existence.  The changing of the neighborhood cultural mix, the rise of real estate cost, and the opportunity to profit steam roll a conclave flat without the vocal opposition.  You see the novelty, it will eventually wear-off.

We’ve all heard the arguments before, yet our path goes on in reckless abandon; without real socio-economic knowledge of the unintended consequences, without ecological architectural accountability.  So how will this become, once again, a relevant cause – as progenitor of a review of ethics?  One way is to truly engender the rally cry of our newly elected president Barack Obama.  And a good thing too, because as it so goes in metropolis there is a good many of us who did vote democratic, or rather, for democracy.   What does it really mean to engender this idea of change and yes we can, and accountability; our very complicit-ness  is to see that big structures are only a part of our intended focus, that it is indeed individuals too who should act personally, looking inward on their day to day life.  We cannot change what is, because it has already happened, but we can change what will come tomorrow.  What will come tomorrow are more gentrifiers, and homeless individuals, out-priced individuals, and new perspectives will also come tomorrow. 

Making a change will challenge us, yes we can becomes a hard to swallow mantra when not accompanied by millions of others in unison.  Eight months from now, will you still have this refreshed perspective of America’s future, or will you again leave America’s future in the hands of a few men and women, or will you begin change with you, will you live by example, always have your conscious aware of your every action; will you begin to truly consider how every individual actions affects others before you buy, sell, create, and eat?  Will you remember that just because you work in the office or work or patronage the showroom, you wont forget or neglect your fellow human being who work in the factory?  We are all complicit and in numbers we can change things, we can do the unthinkable, we can elect a man of color whose father is of African descent to the presidency of the United States of America; together all things are possible, in numbers we can say enough is enough.  It will take a lot of hard work, not just signing petitions and voting, but also restructuring the system so that we don’t collapse on all of our luxurious goods that even the poorest of us seem to scheme with the provider to get it into their possession. Whether we are the seller or buyer, designer or builder, the banker or the secretary we are all complicit. 

When it comes to gentrification we can build eco-wise, stable and balanced communities, we just have to want it instead of being fed it.  We have to want change instead of being told to change.  As important as the role of president is this was merely a small step for our natural desire for change, the president is off in the distance and you can turn off the news, close-out the web page, or toss aside the magazine, but you can not escape yourself.

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