Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gentrification Part 2

Ohh so you thought you caught me sleeping huh? Yes it is true I did not post a single entry yesterday. But today I will respond by posting two in a row. Bladowwww. That's right.

Here goes. So a little while back I wrote and entry about gentrification. Yesterday I attended a workshop presented by Evan Greer (the well known folk musician that my band is currently on tour with) and Seantel Chamberlain (My amazingly talented bandmate) The workshop was entitled: Queers, Communities, and Gentrification and was extremely informative and challenging. So in honor of their work today I will revisit the topic of gentrification. Last time I wrote on the subject, I posed four questions and today I'm going to try and answer them. So here goes:

1. Who is most responsible for gentrification left-leaning or right-leaning people?

I don't know. Quite frankly it is a poorly phrased question. Obviously there are many elements to gentrification, and the various elements represent a diversity of political perspectives. What I was really getting at is the second question.

2. Why are liberals and radicals involved in gentrification at all?

This is the key question. While developers may represent right wing interests as well as politicians in some cases. It is very rare that you will find a bunch of republicans moving into a poor, people of color neighborhood, displacing that group. Almost always the people that originally gentrify a community are liberals or radicals. The reason is simple, liberals or radicals or more likely to feel comfortable living among inner city people of color. The problem is the first wave of people make it more comfortable for the second wave. The second wave of people are less concerned with community, more concerned with property values and the process begins. Once gentrification starts to take hold, the developers, politicians, and police all work to facilitate the process, in many cases they have been working for this all along. Yet after all of these words, I still haven't answered the question. The answer is simple: Ignorance. Many of us are ignorant of the impact of our living choices. We don't realize how we could possibly be contributing to gentrification and therefore don't do anything to prevent it. Ultimately we can't claim to be opposed to gentrification and simultaneously actively assist in it's process, it's a contradiction.

3. What are legitimate responses to gentrification?

There is a whole gamut of responses to gentrification. If you want to know how my band, Broadcast Live, feels about it. Go to myspace and listen to the song, Boomerang Metropolis. The truth is there is a gamut of ways people to react to gentrification. Some people will punch other people in the face, that's a response. I'm not calling it a legitimate one put it is certainly "a" response. I think educational programs for the community, created by members of the community are helpful. Explain to people what gentrification is and how it is happening. An organized community is a powerful force and much more likely to prevent gentrification, than a disorganized one.

4. What kind of solutions can communities implement to curb gentrification?

One solution are Community Land Trusts. The basic objectives of a Community Land Trust according to Wikipedia are to:
* Gain control over local land use and reduce absentee ownership
* Provide affordable housing for lower income residents in the community
* Promote resident ownership and control of housing
* Keep housing affordable for future residents
* Capture the value of public investment for long-term community benefit
* Build a strong base for community action
Basically people from a community get together to raise money for a Not-Profit entity that can own property in a neighborhood. This helps prevent "real estate speculation" and mitigates gentrification. Awesome, now let's all go out and either a. create a local Community Owned Land Trust or b. donate some $$ to the already existing Community Owned Land Trust. We ready? Go team!!!

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