A gentrifier's guide to not ruining the neighborhood
September 24, 2015 at 2:00 am
Where Brooklyn at!? Where Brooklyn at!?
No, really, where is Brooklyn? Long gone are the days that Biggie and Jay-Z rapped about. Bodegas are being replaced with craft beer breweries and dog-sitting services. A newly built condo is the symbolic white flag of your neighborhood’s surrender. If you see a Starbucks, quite frankly, it’s time to start looking for new lodging because your rent is about to go up. Isn’t change good? In many cases yes, it is. But with gentrification the answer is an overwhelming no.
I get it, trust me I do. And I am sure you don’t want to be labeled. This is why I’ve created a guide for what to do if you happen to be a gentrifier.
Assimilate Don’t Dominate
Many of these communities have been operating on their own wavelength for decades — do not interrupt. It behooves you to do your homework before moving in. Is there a huge festival going on that you feel will disturb your quality of life? Do festivals of the like occur often? If so, reconsider moving into that particular neighborhood. Generations have lived in the area before you and it’s their home.
Be Respectful And Don’t Be This Guy
If you need clarity on who “This Guy” is, I’m talking about the one who wrote “F— This Guy” in the image below. Gentrification is already a sensitive subject for many, so it’s key for you to be respectful while the current inhabitants express their dismay.
One of the first signs of “neighborhood remodeling” is the rapid closings of local businesses. In order retain the original fabric of the community, shop in the local markets versus a bigwig like Whole Foods.
Talk To Your Neighbors
Unfortunately, your arrival is an indiction to your neighbors that they might not be able to afford to live in their home much longer. You might not know how to “fix” the problem of gentrification, but taking time to say a simple “good morning” goes a long way to soothe neighborhood tensions. Please, whatever you do, don’t describe any part of your new ‘hood as “sketchy.”
Leave The Cat In The Bodega Alone
Yes, it is weird, but the cat has more clout than you. It’s family. How would you feel if someone bothered your family member who just so happens to have four legs and fur?
Is there an easy fix for gentrification? That’s a tough question; it’s a national occurrence that happens in waves from time to time. If you take issue with closing businesses and less affordable options, participate in community board meetings — make your voice heard.
Lastly, if you made it all the way to the end to get an answer to “Where Brooklyn at!?” — it’s in Atlanta.
Is gentrification a hot button topic in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below.