Friday, April 18, 2008

We went out again and spoke to several business owners about what they are doing and their experience within the Alberta neighborhood. There was a man named Mark who was running a real estate company on the North side of Alberta between 16th and 17th. He said that he owned the whole block. It sounds like he bought a good deal of that property in 1995(?) and referred to it as a 'crack alley' back then. It sounds like he bought the property because it was really cheap and had no idea that Alberta was going to become one of the hottest neighborhoods in the country.

We spoke to another woman who stuck me, I can't remember her name but she was the owner of a dress shop named Tumbleweeds. We asked her to talk about her business and experiences within the neighborhood, and I think Graham was trying to be as non-controversial in his prompting as possible, but she immediately got on a soap box about gentrification. It seems that she has a lot of guilt about this issue as she was getting flustered and red in the face.

Later I was recounting the experience of the day to my roomate and we got into a discussion about the big "G" word. Here is what

gentrification means:


1.the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.

2. an instance of gentrifying; the condition of being gentrified.

It comes from the word 'gentry' which means a couple of different things. Well-born or well bred, belonging to a certain class, the class below nobility, land owning etc.,

Ultimately it is an issue of class, not of race. It's about rich people coming in and forcing poor people out and it's happening all over the city to all sorts of people. I think that because of this country's long tradition of racism and slavery that the issue of gentrification becomes most obvious when the rich people happen to be white and the poor people happen to be black.

I'm not trying to say that the race issue at hand in the area that we are working in should be disregarded, I just see the issue of gentrification as a little more complicated than black and white.

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