This article got me thinking. I’d like to share some of those thoughts here with my reaction—I invite discussion.
I am a vocal advocate for “gentrification without displacement.” I see no problem with creating a better neighborhood if lifelong residents can easily remain. Yet, could I actually be an active participant in displacement?
I chose Hampden not because it was up-and-coming, but because it had qualities I love and wanted in a community. The developing “hipster” scene feels to be quelling some of that, and I worry that my willingness to buy a higher-than-neighborhood-average priced home here in 2014 (combined with my support of said hipster establishments) only adds fuel to the fire.
Now, I had my eyes on Hampden long before there were beer halls, high-end restaurants, or the city’s “choicest liquor store.” I’ve loved almost everything about the neighborhood for over a decade. That being said, I do often complain about “old Hampden” — specifically, those of whom are racist.
So as I sit here and complain about the people I replace (and, again, sometimes feel no remorse when it’s replacing racists), and as I remain involved in improving the community through various means, I do nothing but watch as housing prices skyrocket and vacant homes flip and sell for MORE than my once-higher-than-average/but-now-probably-below-average priced home. Worse still, my worry is less about the people who’ve spent their entire lives in the community but can no longer afford it, and more about what I’m going to do when I need to grow my home and won’t be able to afford it. How shameful of me.
So, as I reflect, I’d say I’m a combination of all four types of gentrifiers:
- The Gentrifier Against Gentrification because, as I expressed, my ideal scenario is to invest without displacing.
- The Tiptoeing Gentrifier because I recognize my intrusion in the community and thus I tread lightly (though I am well aware of the strength of the existing fabric);.
- The Conqueror because I indeed am ashamed to be neighbors with racists and wish some would leave to make room for more open-minded and especially more minority residents (and at the same time, yes, I recognize the unlikeliness of seeing more minorities given the rapidly developing landscape of the community).
- The Curator because—even though I have ties to the neighborhood through my great grandfather and my mother-in-law—I have no immediate connection to the community or its quirks, yet I’m still quick to take the “keep Hampden weird” stance.
It’s important to recognize my role in gentrification with displacement, and it’s giving me the opportunity to consider what I can do to play a positive role.