What is the beneficial version of gentrification?
August 6, 2016 6:09 PM   Subscribe

What is the beneficial version of gentrification?

When people talk about gentrification, it's generally about higher class people moving into a lower class area, then changing the characteristics of the area so lower class people can no longer afford to live there and need to move to still further lower class areas.

How would one such as myself who already lives in a lower class area, but now has some means to change the area, do so in a way that improves the area while also benefiting people who already live there and raising them up too?

One of my ideas for this is to purchase a building and refurbish it in ways that make it more green and selfsustainable, but also affordable to local families. I also want to have a business that is something of a hackerspace or other public space that is affordable and accessible and pays for itself or turns a small profit that would go back into the building. Could be anything, but I have a VA loan and some other things available that this would work well with.

I'm looking for any kind of idea or project that would accomplish this, not just building purchases, or conceptual terms to look for that are similar but also positive contrasts to gentrification.
posted by Evilspork to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think Jane Jacobs' concept of "unslumming" as outlined in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities might be what you're looking for.
posted by mskyle at 6:15 PM on August 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


"Development without displacement" is one phrase you might find useful in searching for resources.
posted by goggie at 6:18 PM on August 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Pride of ownership is important, a vested interest in your community. beware getting the government involved 'cause they just want more tax $$$$'s so all they care about is raising assessed property values.......I live in a changing community. I hope we don't ruin it. Look to Sarasota County Florida website they are in process of several "revitalization" plans. Start with ours: Nokomis Revitalization Plan. Gillespie area in city of sarasota another good example.....
posted by patnok at 6:21 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


What do the long-time residents of your neighborhood say they need? One of the many problems with gentrification here in New Orleans is that it skews the neighborhood toward the needs of tourists, not the long-time residents. You should talk to the people who have lived in your neighborhood a long time about their hopes for the neighborhood.
posted by BicycleFace at 6:22 PM on August 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


In addition to reading stuff by Jane Jacobs, I will recommend the book "The Tipping Point."

Jane Jacobs makes the point that eyes on the street is the key to safety. My experience is that being out and about encourages other people to be outside. I have seen this reduce crime in a neighborhood I lived in.
posted by Michele in California at 6:28 PM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Consider whether helping to create a limited-equity tenant-owned co-op in a currently uninhabited building might be helpful. It's a long process and a serious commitment, though.
posted by praemunire at 7:01 PM on August 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Displacement does not exclusively refer to the physical displacement of existing residents from a particular community. It can also take the form of what is sometimes called socio-cultural displacement. There are some articles written about this, but basically what it's referring to is when existing residents are able to stay in the neighbourhood, but the neighbourhood changes so much around them that they no longer feel like they belong.

So, for example, where a hackerspace could be a great addition to the neighbourhood. It's also super important to think about who usually uses hackerspaces (usually people who are well-educated and, in other ways, privileged-- at least that's the case of the hackerspace in my town). So what might you need to do to make the space *truly* accessible, and what this might involve (beyond simply making it affordable)

But like other people wrote above, I think more than anything, it's about seeing what community members want/need in their neighbourhood
posted by twill at 9:19 PM on August 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


...who usually uses hackerspaces (usually people who are well-educated and, in other ways, privileged)...

Yeah, that's one specific reason the hackerspace idea clicked, was that that's the set I come from but not the one I'm living in, and I wanted that kind of thing to have very wide access regardless of income or diversity differences.
posted by Evilspork at 9:45 PM on August 6, 2016




Following on from twill's mention of socio-cultural displacement, could you support some of the facilities that already exist in the area, rather than bringing in your own? There are likely charities, family centres, community halls etc. which people in the area already feel ownership of, and which are almost certainly desperate for resources. Trying to strengthen them to ensure their long-term future might be less gentrifying than whacking down a brand new facility.
posted by penguin pie at 4:49 AM on August 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


One thing I have heard of that really struck a chord in terms of a valuable community service is a center that helps people navigate all sorts of red tape associated with government programs, forms, etc. from immigration to legal etc. It's a wide swath and one that will likely rely heavily on volunteerism and pro bono folks but very much needed. Marginalized people can be cut off from so many goods and services and simple HELP that's out there, just for them, just because they are overwhelmed by the system. A settlement house for our times?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


My grandfather (a surgeon) got into real estate in Montreal, starting by buying small, pretty run-down apartment buildings and investing a LOT of money into improving them. In turn, while still relatively low-income, there was a significant increase in residents taking pride in their building, neighbourhood and community.

He was rewarded with more stable tenantship and over time, significant increase in property value. And was beloved by tenants. On Christmas Eve my brothers and I would be driven from building to building in a car stuffed with 5 lb bags of mandarin oranges and humbugs, each with a note of thanks and well-wishes. We would stealthily leave a bag of each at every door and when we got to the top floor, knock on every door on the way down. It's the little things.
posted by raider at 9:52 AM on August 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's one specific reason the hackerspace idea clicked, was that that's the set I come from but not the one I'm living in, and I wanted that kind of thing to have very wide access regardless of income or diversity differences.

I think this, though, goes back to the idea of socio-cultural displacement. I've seen lots of cases of very well-meaning people bringing "bougie" things (yoga studios, organic food stores, etc.) into lower-income neighborhoods with the idea of making them accessible to non-bougie people, when what often ends up happening is that these establishments act more as a vanguard for gentrification than anything else.

But if you're interested in something like a hacker space, what if you found a local nonprofit doing educational programs and partnered with them? Or alternatively, instead of jumping right to thinking about the end product, go back and think about what makes you interested in a hacker space, and find other people in the neighborhood interested in the same things, and worked with them to develop something. Maybe in that case the result wouldn't be a hacker spaces but, say, a group that helped local businesses improve their online presence (not a suggestion, just a for-example)?
posted by lunasol at 11:29 PM on August 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


...when what often ends up happening is that these establishments act more as a vanguard for gentrification than anything else.

Yeah, I intend to be very clear about targeting after school stuff, or groups/activities, school access, free tech classes, etc., not just 'being there' and letting just the affluent come in to me.

...helped local businesses improve their online presence (not a suggestion, just a for-example)?

That's a really great idea!
posted by Evilspork at 12:20 AM on August 9, 2016


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