I’ve learned a lot while trying to understand gentrification and what it means for me, the MYNT and Bed-Stuy. Here is a compilation of my basic thoughts on the subject.
It’s big, not all bad and not totally unstoppable. I think of it less as a forest fire and more of a purification process (like silver, not ethnic cleansing). Yes, things will get more commercial, but much of the good Bed-Stuy-ness that exists will remain because people are so committed to preserving it. The things people don’t care about as much will be slowly starved and then forced out or eliminated. But some people seem to actually care about the bad parts of Bed-Stuy that most people find unattractive (see 13 on this otherwise rational list), so I have no idea what form progress will take.
Some people use gentrification as an excuse to be racist. It happens, but if you, yes you dear reader, consciously decide not to, then this will happen less. I have made every effort to avoid even an appearance of racism, but if I fail please don’t let me get away with it.
Where people choose to hang out seems to be decided by self segregation as much as anything else. Cafe Naico? Pretty much just us young-uns. The Hasidic Jews have their own school, community buildings, even their own language. It’s human nature, to seek those who look, act, speak and think like you do.
Another part of human nature? It’s really hard to understand other people even when they are speaking the same language. I’m sure that remark about ‘purification’ will be read out of context by someone; if it’s you, please read it again. Seriously. Check out this seemingly innocuous review of Tiny Cup and the ensuing reaction from the commenters on Bed-Stuy blog. Another instance is Choco Man, who noted that the MYNT has only been under construction for two years. In the Nice Lady on the Sidewalk‘s defense, she probably meant she had been monitoring the fate of the lot for that long and because I only paraphrased the exchange, something could have been lost there.
For more information, Lance Freeman from Columbia is probably the world’s foremost expert on gentrification in New York City. I suggest his book There goes the ‘hood’. I have only read the first chapter, but it has a lot of good information and is a nice primer on the big G.