Friday, March 25, 2011

Gentrification is Like Ice Cream

The Washington Post reports that the Chocolate-ness of the famous Chocolate City is fading away. African-Americans have left the city and are onthe verge of loosing their Marjority status. ( I really thought Atlanta was the official "Chocolate City" by now.)
“The Parliament song ‘Chocolate City’ pinned a label on the city,” said poet E. Ethelbert Miller, a leading figure in Washington’s African American arts community. “Well, chocolate melts

Blame gentrification. Higher income individuals and their remodeled homes, increase property values, thus rent and property taxes. So working-class Washington D.C. residents of which are predominately African-American can no longer afford to live there. It reported that the Blacks are moving to the suburbs and the South. Neither of which is metro accessible so I find that very interesting.

Gentrification is like ice cream. I love the idea of eating in, the look of it, the taste of it. I love to see the row of once blighted but now beautifully rehabilitated houses in the inner city. I love the idea of a chic urban dwelling only steps away from work or the small-town girl's dream----a short metro/subway/train away. I can think of leaving my amazing chic dwelling to trot over to the farmers market for a pound of fresh tomatoes and then engage in an incredible conversation about the newest health care initiative on my way to the equally accessible city museum. Skinny chai latte in hand of course. I can almost taste it.

I like the sight of the chocolate swirls in rocky road ice cream the way I enjoy the sight of men chatting on the street. Or a trumpet player on the corner. Sidewalks and billboards. Urban boutiques and bookstores. I enjoy the idea of waking up to the city's heart beat. So my progression means the city's progression and likewise. Suburban life is like selling out, it's frozen yogurt. The Pinkberry kind.

But again, gentrification is like ice cream. If you eat too much you'll get fat. So while you are stuffing your face you should keep in mind the repercussions. We enjoy the taste of it, i.e. higher city revenues, the look of it. The idea, lower crime rates perhaps. But we can't take the pounds, the very people who keep the city alive can't afford it anymore. Though many respond with shrugged shoulders we must ask important practical questions. How is your construction worker going to get to work if he has to live 20 miles out of town? You do still want crown molding in that row home right? No, he can't just get a car.

Too much of a good thing is bad, no matter how beautiful and delicious.
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