Loving your neighborhood to death
There is a good little video over on the NY Times website about the community of Bushwick, 30 years after the New York City black out and the mass looting and fires that happened in that neighborhood. It also takes a look at Bushwick today and the gentrification that’s creeping into this low income community.
Last time I was in New York I had to go to a studio visit in Bushwick and everybody in Manhattan was like, “Why do you want to go to Bushwick? There’s nothing there.” And Sure enough I came out of the subway to old crumbling brick buildings, empty lots surrounded by sheet metal and barbed wire, toughs hanging out at the corner and I thought, this is the real New York, this is like Welcome Back Cotter, this is Barney Miller. I loved it.
After my meeting I went to get a coffee at a new coffee place in an otherwise deserted block, and waiting in line I got talking to a guy who’s a reporter from the New York Times doing a story about Bushwick as the hot new neighborhood. And I’m thinking it’s already over. I’m here, you’re here and this is the beginning of the end for this neighborhood.
What do you do, when rents are so high that you move to these otherwise ignored neighborhoods, and just by moving there you become part of it’s downfall? By trying to take advantage of cheap real estate you make it unaffordable for the people who live there in the first place?
This is not just a New York problem. It’s an everywhere problem. Sometimes even in smaller towns. As artists, musicians, designers etc we usually try to distance ourselves from the whole gentrification issue. We always play victim. It’s always someone else who’s gentrifying, but we are part of the problem. We are the first gentrifiers.