An Open Letter on Gentrification…

In Richard Lloyd’s book, “Neo-Bohemia, Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City”, Lloyd talks about gentrification in Wicker Park, a town in Chicago that was taken over by an artsy group of people. He talked about what drew these people to the town, and how they changed it to make it “their own”. After reading this I couldn’t help but think what happened to the original inhabitants of the town. So in hopes of having a more creative blog post this week, I have decided to write an open letter on gentrification. In this fictional letter I will write about what I think it must feel like for families whose neighborhoods are being taken over and changed drastically.

Dear New Comers,

After the closing of ‘Tina’s Diner’ I decided to write this letter, to try to explain how gentrification is hurting our city. We know you think you are helping, by renovating and building houses, and by opening new business, but in all actuality you are not. The more you guys build and fix, the more our rent goes up, forcing us to move out and our local businesses to close down. ‘Tina’s Diner’ was a place that every one of all generations knew. My mom and her friends grew up on Tina’s food, I grew up on her food, and now no one in this neighborhood will be able to experience that again. As a kid I remember going to Tina’s with my friend, and her letting us all sit at the bar. She would never let us leave without eating desert, even if we couldn’t afford it. Tina loved to feed us and tell us stories about her childhood, her diner was like our second home. Some nights when my parents were out working late, I’d go there and she would help me with my homework and keep me company until my mom got off work. There are many other places in the town that are just as meaningful to my community, but soon they too will be gone like Tina’s. Our businesses cannot afford to be a part of this community you NOW call home, this community we have lived in all our lives. At first this was advertised as bringing diversity to our neighborhood, and helping us fill the unoccupied houses, but at this rate our town will be as diverse as it was before. This time with people wealthier people. Did you ever stop and think about what will happen to everyone that is being forced to leave? They were living life day-to-day comfortably, but now they may become homeless or are living in apartments that are filled past capacity. Affordable housing in our neighborhood has becoming non-existent as property prices begin to increase. Conflicts are now even stating to occur between the two very distinct socioeconomic classes, ultimately increasing our crime rate. Though you may not see an issue with the changes going on in the neighborhood, you are really taking away from the place we call home. While you guys claiming everything as your own, and change it to fit your need, our city is losing its identity. The culture throughout the community is quickly changing too, your hipster cafés and corky store fronts don’t represent what we’ve been working hard to portray our whole lives.

Sincerely,

Breanna Joachim

 

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