Which Type of Gentrifier am I?

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:

  1. The Gentrifier Against Gentrification because, as I expressed, my ideal scenario is to invest without displacing.
  2. 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);.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

 

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The election season from hell: check your privilege

This post will be short. It’s a Facebook status I posted just now in response to a very brief exchange I had with a differently-abled friend of mine.

An old friend of mine–an incredibly brave and confident individual who just so happens to be differently-abled than I– just made an amazing point… just when I was leaning toward Jill Stein and voting for the candidate who most aligned with my personal ethics, and as I assured myself that even if Trump were elected I would have been confident that my morals had not been undermined by my vote, I was reminded that the ability to vote for a third party and even risk Trump winning was a testament to my own privilege. This election would have significant repercussions for people of different races, ethnicities, beliefs, genders, sexual preferences, and abilities, etc. As a white woman from a middle-class family, my personal life would likely have minimal direct adverse impacts in a Trump presidency; whereas my black, brown, LGBTQ, differently-abled, etc. friends have so much more to lose.

I want a third party candidate to win. I believe in a third party candidate. And while I think there is a hopeful glimmer of a chance that we can change the system now and elect a third party candidate in 2016, I am more confident with the odds of Hillary winning the election than I am with the odds of Jill winning. Will the system still need to change? Absolutely. Can we work toward changing the system with a democratic president? Absolutely.

Checking my privilege right now and thinking about what’s best for all my brothers and sisters.

Share // A Connected, Walkable City: Building for Urban Wildlife

Originally seen on Planetizen.com, this article by Steven Snell tugs on my heart strings. How can we create a humane (or, as the article refers to it, a human(e)) city? What does it mean to be a human(e) environment?

Read the article here: http://www.planetizen.com/node/87396?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-07212016

On Intersectionality.

Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. [Source: Geek Feminism Wiki]

The term is relatively new to me. The concept, however, I believe has been long ingrained within my core.

Humanist. Feminist. Environmentalist. Animal Rights Activist. LGBTQ (“SAGA”) Ally.

All of these doctrines are so fundamentally intertwined that they cannot entirely be removed from each other. Therefore, I strongly believe—as the intersectionality doctrine supports—that you cannot be one advocate  without also being an advocate for the others.

You cannot be a humanist, supporting equality and social justice, while at the same shop at big box retailers (some of which offer minimal or no services/benefits to their employees) to buy products manufactured via, at best, abysmal working conditions or, at worst, child/slave labor … so that you can have that cheap shirt. [Resource: Last Week Tonight]

You cannot be a feminist, and still support the artificial insemination of female cows, who are doomed to life of torture and without bodily autonomy, impregnated but never to become mothers, as their babies are then stolen from them almost immediately after birth … so that you can have that slice of cheese. [Reference: A Call to Feminists]

You cannot be an environmentalist, but at the same time support the industry which is the leading cause of environmental destruction and degradation, the depletion of precious resources, and the generation of pollution through greenhouse gas emissions … so that you can have that meatball sub. [Resource: Cowspiracy]

And you cannot be an animal rights advocate but support the destruction of rainforests and decimation of an entire ecosystem … so that you can eat that palm oil margarine. [Reference: Say No to Palm Oil]

Intersectionality is the belief that all of these movements are interrelated. That it is a moral imperative to practice the beliefs of all these doctrines, as they complement the tenets of the others. At one point in my life, I would advocate for one cause but, in the next breath (or bite of food) contradict my own morals. It took a great deal of research/soul-searching and contemplating before I came to understand, truly, the intersectionality of it all. In the past year, I’ve only just begun to familiarize myself, as I said, with the terminology. And as I am now able to assign a name to this concept, I’ve also been able to more clearly and comprehensively form arguments in support of each of the causes I hold very dear.

Recently, I’ve begun to write more often about my veganism on this blog, which began as an environmental blog. (I got a little heated in my last post.) I still very much feel that this blog is an environmentalist’s blog. And that is precisely why I have found it so significantly important to share these thoughts of mine. I am who I am because, deep down, my love for the environment and my love for animals (human animals included) has driven me to become the person that I am today. From my profession as an urban planner—which I have pursued in an attempt to protect what land and resources we have left on this planet—to my decision to live a vegan lifestyle, to reduce harm as much as possible to the living beings with which I share this planet. My environmentalism is what started to define me as the woman I am today. It opened my eyes to the struggles faced throughout the world. And I am thankful for that.

While I see the value in discussing all of these topics in one blog, I’ve been playing with the idea of having an alternate blog dedicated strictly to veganism and advocacy. I haven’t yet decided; I’d be interested to hear thoughts from some readers?

In the mean time, I encourage all to look into some of these fantastic resources on understanding intersectionality:

Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack! Podcast. Specifically Episode 009 Othering and Intersectionality but they have a series of different episodes which address this topic to some degree.

Washington Post Article: Intersectionality: A Primer.

Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.

Yes, Our Lives Are Intersectional: Reflections on the Secular Social Justice Conference.