What should we do about gentrification?

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Alan Watts, The Wisdom Of Insecurity (p69-75)

"The question "What shall we do about it?" is only asked by those who do not understand the problem. If a problem can be solved at all, to understand it and to know what to do about it are the same thing. On the other hand, doing something about a problem which you do not understand is like trying to clear away darkness by thrusting it aside with your hands. When light is brought, the darkness vanishes at once.

This applies particularly to the problem now before us. How are we to heal the split between "I" and  "me", the brain and the body, man and nature, and bring all the vicious circles which it produces to an end? How are we to experience life as something other than a honey trap in which we are the struggling flies? How are we to find security and peace of mind in a world whose very nature is insecurity, impermanence, and unceasing change? All these questions demand a method and a course of action. At the same time, all of them show that the problem has not been understood. We do not need action yet. We need more light."

 

Reading this text the other day made me think of our film, Even the Walls. After describing the context of the film, we often hear the question: What should we do about gentrification?

Some argue that gentrification is bringing safety and stability to blighted areas. Others argue that blight is just an excuse to tear down neighborhoods rich in history but poor in development dollars. 

More understanding is necessary, and we chose to start with what's disappearing first: community networks in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. We wanted to inspire more questioning, more thinking, more critical intrigue. Why are neighborhoods important? What is community? Who gets to live in the city? Who gets to decide what the cityscape looks like? 

What should we do about gentrification? Our film doesn't pretend to answer this question. It does, however, try to bring light to one community in Seattle, Washington, currently changing due to the pressure of the frenzied rush of people and money to the urban core. It brings light to the residents' attachment to an imperfect place. It brings light to the power of community connections, and the meaning of home. It makes us miss, appreciate or wish that we had those connections. 

Do you feel connected to your community? Are you experiencing gentrification? What does home mean to you?