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Beware: Gentrification

Tonight presidential candidates McCain and Obama town-halled at Columbia University. I came in late at the end of McCain’s turn, but I caught a curious sound bite that I thought might interest you.

Obama said at one point “I could afford [some of the apartments around Columbia University] [in 1980], I don’t think I can now.” You are not alone Bed-Stuy.

Gentrify caution tape on Myrtle Ave

There is a couplet in the alma mater of Texas A&M that goes “There’s a spirit can ne’er be told \ It’s the Spirit of Aggieland.” Times are a changing, people are moving in and out all the time, yet the spirit remains. Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of those distinguished places with such a spirit. Like Aggieland, this neighborhood is not just a place, it is its own ecosystem. That’s the sort of thing that shouldn’t change. That’s the sort of thing you want to keep.

But what is the essence of that spirit?

Is it the race of the neighborhood? Is it the class? Is it its religion?

None of the above, it is what you make it.

There’s still a lot of room for improvement for this neighborhood. Changes will come in fits and jumps not be fast enough for some, but too fast for others. Bed-Stuy will survive. You are not alone.

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