Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Help - my neighborhood is changing!- The Rise of Real Estate and the Decline of the Industrial City - Part 2

A commentor on my previous post mentioned that gentrification problems were not just confined to cities. Noel Perrin wrote an essay called "The Rural Immigration Law" (reprinted in his collection Best Person Rural) about this very problem. He describes a hypothetical couple named Don and Sue who move to a small New Hampshire village where previously they and their children had spent weekends in their summer house. After a short period of time:

"But there are some problems. The first one Sue is conscious of is the school. It's just not very good. It's clear to Sue almost immediately that the town desperately needs a new school building -and also modern playground equipment, new school buses, more and better art instruction at the high school, a different principal. ...only about 40 percent of the kids who graduate from that high school go on to any form of college. The rest do native things, like becoming farmers and mechanics, and joining the Air Force.

Pretty soon Sue and Don join an informal group of newcomers in town who are working to upgrade education. All they want for starters is the new building (2.8 million dollars) and a majority of their kind on the school board." (p52.)

While Perrin aims his comments at rural gentrification, the same process takes place during gentrification in cities. While it is currently chic to raise chickens in the city and start rooftop farms, noisy uncullled roosters, the smell of unclean pens, and an future avian flu epidemic could lead to an eventual anti-farming backlash.

Oddly enough, one of the first anti-gentrification backlashes is coming from Greenpoint and Williamsburgh, which may stop issuing liquor licenses in an attempt to prevent those neighborhood from taken over by bars and drunken partiers (as opposed to crowing roosters and pooping hens):

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unless they are migrating to completely uninhabited territory, I think that people need to be mindful when they are moving into a new area that there is a culture that already exists there. One should think twice about forcing one's own norms and beliefs on that culture, unless there's a need to address some horrendous breach of morality. Forcing a rural community to finance expensive new construction and services seems harsh. I realize that one might argue they are doing people a favor by preparing them for the world of the future, but I don't think that should be done unilaterally. You can't expect to bring everything you had from an urban culture to a rural one, and vice-versa.