In recent years, “gentrification” has infiltrated the everyday speech of urban residents struggling to stay in their communities in the face of rising rents. But gentrification is only one piece of a much longer history of displacement and policy-produced poverty in American cities. This history runs from slavery through Jim Crow, redlining, racial covenants, blockbusting, urban renewal, capital flights, planned shrinkage, the war on drugs, mass incarceration and serial displacement, and weaves a painful narrative of structural racism whose practices and consequences remain alive today.
In “Undesign the Redline,” designing the WE — a “social impact design studio” — illustrates this history in illuminating and sometimes painful detail. Currently on exhibit at the New York City offices of Enterprise Community Partners, this exhibit includes photography, maps, timelines and tools for community engagement, and puts present struggles for racial equality in historical perspective. Using housing policy as an anchor, Undesign the Redline makes it clear that segregation and persistent poverty are the natural outgrowth of a system that has explicitly divided people based on race. Continue reading Undesigning the Redline
By Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley
This article was originally featured at Yes! Magazine and adapted from Cities Building Community Wealth, a project of The Democracy Collaborative, for New Economy Week.
In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by.
An August 2015 study by The Century Foundation reported that—after a dramatic decline in concentrated poverty between 1990 and 2000—poverty has since reconcentrated. Nationwide, the number of people living in high-poverty ghettos and slums has nearly doubled since 2000. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development, which prioritize corporate subsidy after corporate subsidy over the needs of the local economy. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us.
Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone? Continue reading Bringing Neighborhoods Wealth — Not Gentrification
By Kafui Attoh
Roughly two years ago, I came across a really great book that I think deserves a plug: Yuppies Invade my House at Dinnertime: a tale of brunch, bombs and gentrification in an American City. Published in 1987 and edited by Joseph Barry and John Deravlany, the book offers a compelling look at Hoboken’s transformation in the late 1980s.
Most compelling is the book’s format. The book is little more than a collection of letters printed in the editorial page of The Hoboken Reporter. Written by locals, displaced “yorkies,” gentrifiers and the begrudgingly gentrified, the letters are impassioned, angry, spiteful, nostalgic, triumphant, cringe-inducing and often deeply amusing. More than anything, they give the reader a visceral sense of both the promise and the costs of the city’s so-called “renaissance.” Continue reading Yuppies Invade my House at Dinnertime: A Classic!
On March 24, 2015, 6:00-7:30pm, join the Murphy Institute for Facing Gentrification: Reclaiming Communities by Exercising Political Power.
Panelists will examine ways in which neighborhood residents can develop political influence and strategic alliances to enable them help shape affordable housing initiatives that will not end up displacing the very people they are meant to serve. Labor Studies graduate candidate and student panel co-organizer Tony Moran discusses the documentary “El Barrio Tours” by Andrew J. Padillo, one of the speakers at this event.
By Tony Moran
When I hear the name “El Barrio,” what comes to mind is community, camaraderie, food and the arts, a place where East Harlem and Puerto Rico merged and from this intersection, many notable greats. They include Latin legend musician Tito Puente, poet Julia de Burgos and singer Marc Anthony. “El Barrio” has been called home by many throughout its history; it prides itself of preserving that enriching identity of integration and resiliency.
El Barrio is also home to Andrew J. Padilla, a Puerto Rican filmmaker, photographer and activist born and raised in East Harlem. I first met Andrew on May 14, 2013, at the presentation of his documentary El Barrio Tours. In El Barrio Tours, Padilla highlights the economic duress that urban policies and gentrification have put on his community. This filmmaker has a passion for social justice, and his defense of the working class is ever-evident in his film. His film educated me about gentrification, and contextualized what many neighborhoods are going through. Continue reading Through the Lens of the Gentrified