Tag Archives: gentrification

Steal these ideas, Worcester!

From The Boston Globe.   – R. T.

12 ideas for making Boston more inclusive

Imagine a city where no one stands on the outside, where everyone has dignity and an equal chance. Doers and dreamers are hanging their hopes on efforts like these to make it so.

1) CREATE SPACES WHERE PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS CONVERGE

  • What does it take to sustain community in one of Boston’s most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods? ForSpontaneous Celebrations, a community arts center and coalition in Jamaica Plain, it requires a balance of spontaneity and intentionality: programming that is responsive while building tradition, leadership that reflects the neighborhood’s diversity, and a building whose look and feel actively resists the sweep of gentrification that has transformed the neighborhood.

  • It doesn’t hurt to have a history of activism, either. In the 1970s, the group’s founders helped initiate a movement that saved large swaths of Boston from being sliced literally in two, defeating the expansion of Interstate 95 and spawning a celebration, Wake Up the Earth, that has grown into a massive spring festival drawing some 10,000 people.

  • “From the beginning, the intention of Spontaneous Celebrations has been to use the language of the arts to build a community and celebrate what can be accomplished when people from all kinds of backgrounds come together,” says administrative director Marco Goldring. The organization’s second largest gathering, the Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade, rings the pond in a 4,000-person procession of light on two nights in October.

  • Over the years, the group’s building on Danforth Street has welcomed a wide range of programming from partners — samba and square dancing, social-justice training, dialogues on faith, stilt-walking lessons, martial arts classes, and more. Goldring describes the facility as a physical symbol of the center’s commitment to inclusiveness in the face of growing economic divides.

  • “We are a place that is designed to be comfortable for everybody, no matter how long or how short they’ve lived in JP and no matter how close to the edge they may be living.”

  • — Francie Latour …

  • To read entire story, CLICK HERE!

Great city story …

It’s happening in the Canal District. From a farmers market that refuses to accept SNAP, WIC cards, a farmers market that refuses to let low-income seniors buy bread with their senior citizen farmers markets coupons … to the people who work the market, attend the market. The same person of color in every publicity picture doesn’t hide the facts: gentrification purposely, purposefully  excludes poor people and people of color.  ….

From THE BOSTON GLOBE.  – R.T.

Gentrification: white people following white people

When we think of gentrification, we imagine swarms of young upper middle class white people moving into previously minority neighborhoods, bringing pour-over coffee and higher property tax bills in their wakes. It’s a controversial migration, not least because of the existing residents who are displaced, but it’s also seen as a welcome step away from the segregation that set in after the “white flight” of the 60s and 70s.

Now an inventive new study using Google Street View and an archive of 1990s videotapes has found that gentrification may involve less racial mixing than we assume—and in fact, may reinforce residential segregation. …

CLICK HERE to read entire piece.

Want to make sure farmers markets in the inner-city accept SNAP, WIC – are inclusive? Then …

rec

The cool, knowledgeable young folks at REC will be running a workshop at POLLINATE. Their topic? Making city farmers markets more inclusive, open to surrounding low-income families of or near the neighborhood. Making the trendy foody culture accessible to all! Here are some of REC’s food-justice heroes!

… attend POLLINATE

at Holy Cross college 

January 13

8:30 am to 4:30 pm

A ton of cool topics to be discussed, including how to counter gentrification of farmers markets in inner-city neighborhoods …

Registration closes on January 7

Reserve your spot today!

Join over 300 other enthusiastic farm to cafeteria advocates from the preschool, K-12, and college sectors for a full day of workshops, networking, cooking demonstrations, and fun. We will have over 20 different workshops including:

Farm to School Policy and Advocacy

Farm to School Curriculum Connections

Waste Reduction, Composting Organics, and School Gardens

Funding Farm to School Programs

Farm Based Education Initiatives – Urban and Rural Farm Field Trips

The conference will also include Farm to Cafeteria Regional Networking Sessions so that you can connect with others in your community who are involved in farm to cafeteria activities.

Learn from their best practices, share your own tips, and move forward together!

We will be holding a concurrent Buyer Tradeshow and Networking Session for Farmers and Distributors. This will be a great opportunity to make direct connections with farmers from your region and discuss local sourcing with distributors.

Registration closes on January 7th and is filling up quickly as we have a limit of 350 attendees. Register online today to secure your spot. Discounts are available for students.

CLICK HERE to register and for more information!

Massachusetts Farm to School

34 Main Street, Suite 10

Amherst, MA 01002

FOOD JUSTICE NOW!

From The Boston Globe: farmers markets and SNAP cards …

I’ve been meaning to post this BOSTON GLOBE editorial for weeks…   –    R.T.

EDITORIAL

Food stamps for fresh food: More produce, more benefits

THE SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal food stamp program, has often struggled with the “nutrition” part of its mandate. The problem is that fresh fruits and vegetables are often too expensive for low-income families to afford, especially if they have to rely on benefits for most of their groceries.

The latest farm bill, signed into law earlier this year, offers a simple, innovative solution. The legislation doubles the value of SNAP benefits when they are used to purchase produce bought at local grocery stores or farmers markets who agree to participate.

The program, called the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, provides $100 million over the next five years in grants to organizations that help make fruit and vegetables more affordable to SNAP recipients. The grant program is focused on encouraging people to buy more produce. …

CLICK HERE to read entire editorial!

Worcesterites should read this urban renewal story: Nashville on the rise …

Nice piece in The New York Times. Revitalizing a city is tricky business. Interesting quotes re: TIFs. The journalist and his concerns remind me of me! He’s saying what I’m saying: Let’s really, REALLY take care of the people already here, via great inner-city schools, etc.

– R. Tirella

From The New York Times:

Nashville’s Latest Big Hit Could Be the City Itself

A statue of Elvis Presley between souvenir shops in downtown Nashville. The music industry is, in many ways, the bedrock of the city's economy.

By KIM SEVERSON
Published: January 09, 2013

 

NASHVILLE – Portland knows the feeling. Austin had it once, too. So did Dallas. Even Las Vegas enjoyed a brief moment as the nation’s “it” city.

Now, it’s Nashville’s turn.

Here in a city once embarrassed by its Grand Ole Opry roots, a place that sat on the sidelines while its Southern sisters boomed economically, it is hard to find a resident who does not break into the goofy grin of the newly popular when the subject of Nashville’s status comes up.

Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat in his second term, is the head cheerleader.

“It’s good to be Nashville right now,” he said during a recent tour of his favorite civic sites, the biggest of which is a publicly financed gamble: a new $623 million downtown convention center complex that is the one of the most expensive public projects in Tennessee history.

The city remains traditionally Southern in its sensibility, but it has taken on the luster of the current. On a Venn diagram, the place where conservative Christians and hipsters overlap would be today’s Nashville.

Flush with young new residents and alive with immigrants, tourists and music, the city made its way to the top of all kinds of lists in 2012.

A Gallup poll ranked it in the top five regions for job growth. A national entrepreneurs’ group called it one of the best places to begin a technology start-up. Critics admire its growing food scene. GQ magazine declared it simply “Nowville.”

And then there is the television show.”Nashville,”a song-filled ABC drama about two warring country divas, had its premiere in October with nine million viewers. It appears to be doing for the city of 610,000 people what the prime-time soap opera”Dallas”did for that Texas city in the ’80s.

“You can’t buy that,” Mr. Dean said. “The city looks great in it.”

Different regions capture the nation’s fancy for different reasons. Sometimes, as with Silicon Valley, innovation and economic engines drive it. Other times, it’s a bold civic event, like the Olympics, or a cultural wave, like the way grunge music elevated Seattle.

Here in a fast-growing metropolitan region with more than 1.6 million people, the ingredients for Nashville’s rise are as much economic as they are cultural and, critics worry, could be as fleeting as its fame.

“People are too smug about how fortunate we are now,” said the Southern journalist John Egerton, 77, who has lived in Nashville since the 1970s. …

To read more, click on the link below:  – R. T.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=1013968

 

Worcester’s “better class of people” housing report

By Rosalie Tirella

We eagerly anticipate the housing study that the City of Worcester is about to share with the rest of us Woo-ites. As you may recall, 10 years ago a consulting group came in and studied Worcester (for a pretty penny) in all its gore/glory and made recommendations as to how we might improve our, um, image.

One of its conclusions: Worcester has enough low-income housing and needs more market-rate housing. Around town the idea was poo pooed and jokingly referred to as the “Worcester needs a better class of people” report. I was one of the many poo pooers. I felt the report was telling us to:

* eject poor Latinos, blacks, poor people in general, from our city to …

* lure more upper-middle class empty nesters with lots of time and money on their hands. (You know the type, BORING people in their early 60s/late 50s who have seen their kids graduate from college and leave home only to realize that living in their big (childless) house in the suburbs is a drag, besides being a tad lonely. So … to Worcester they must flock! To live and have fun (i. e. spend lots of their disposable income!). To eat and drink at our bistros! To watch plays in our playhouses! To do all the things that people with money want to do – but not at home in the suburbs.

Many of our city poo baas, lead by City Manager Mike O’Brien, feel this was/ is the way to bring money into our cash-strapped city to pay for … all our $100,000+ year city cops and our $100,000 a year city high school principals and our other grossly over paid “public servants.” And our city pension plan which pays these folks 80% of their salaries for the REST OF THEIR LIVES after they retire from the city at a very spry 62.

One way to save money (instead of sticking it to the city’s working poor): Why doesn’t the City of Worcester keep more of its money by raising the age which city workers can receive a pension? Raise it to 66/65 years. This move would save us millions of dollars! Another solution: What about hiring flag men and women instead of city cops to hover over Worcester construction sites/road work? The Worcester policemen do next to nothing at these sites! Every time I see one, he or she is on his/her personal cell phone – it looks glued to the side of his/her face! Most of the policeman I’ve watched seem totally uninterested in DOING THEIR JOB. So why keep giving them the LUCRATIVE work? Massachusetts is one of the two states in the country that still hires its cops to direct traffic at road work sites. Why can’t we be like the 48 other states in the union and hire flag men and women?! This move would CREATE JOBS and save the city a ton of money.

But no. We must treat the new housing report as some kind of talisman … the answer to the city’s need for millions of tax dollars to keep our bloated ship of City Government afloat.

So out with the CDCs and their apartments that rent for $650. In with the real estate developers who will charge market rate – about $900 for a 3-bedroom apartment.

Where do our poorer folks go?

Weston? Nahant?! Poorer folks come to cities because of the more affordable housing and all the support services they find here, in Lowell, Lawrence and … Boston. This is what America is! A country of immigrants bringing new ideas, new passions, new traditions to a new land where everything gets all mixed together and WONDERFUL things happen! Like jazz or the blues or Tin Pan Alley or Frank Capra movies! Why do we want to take the America out of Worcester?

I am all for making our neighborhoods more attractive, rehabbing foreclosed homes, etc but we are going to lose good people – people who have family and friends in Worcester. People whose kids attend Worcester public schools. People who may not have the money to own a car and count on the city buses to get them to work or supermarket, etc. People who have ideas, knowledge, passion, art … .

Witness the Canal District.

The Canal District is the new name for a once great urban, ethnic working class neighborhood, Green Island. Look at it today! With all its bars that cater to college kids looking to get laid/drink a lot, you wouldn’t have guessed that the neighborhood is loaded with a proud history, fine memories – or poor people. That’s because these days all the poor folks live conveniently across Kelley Square – on/off Millbury Street. Away from the “Canal District” part.

Is this the “better class of people” we want to move to Worcester? Boozy woozy young males with boners? We have pretty much gentrified one side of Kelley Square.

Before it all happened, I was watching my old neighborhood (I grew up in Green Island) transition to something more interesting … a Vietnamese neighborhood. Maybe Worcester’s version of Boston’s Chinatown. My mom and sister still lived in the neighborhood. My sister did some of her grocery shopping at a Vietnamese grocery store on Millbury Street. Green Street had – still has – a Vietnamese soup/noodle shop. Other Vietnamese stores were popping up on Green Street. My mom, who attended St. John’s Church on nearby Temple Street (off Green Street), told me the church had “hired” a Vietnamese priest because there were so many Vietnamese folks who attended Mass at St. John’s. The priest said the Mass in Vietnamese.

Did the city take the lead on this interesting urban seed that was sprouting roots? Did anyone offer any Vietnamese family or business any grants, federal loans? Probably not. Because the money guys/gals and connected folks hustled in and … took over.

Let’s talk about another Canal District option.

Eleven years ago, when I first began InCity Times, there was a fledgling gay scene on Water Street. Vibes, Rage Club, the Gay Pride Celebration – all on Water Street. I thought: COOL! This is gonna be great! I put some of the leaders on the cover of ICT and ran a cover story. We attended the gay pride celebrations and took photos galore. But what happened? The Canal Fest folks didn’t want the gay folks to piggyback their event onto Canal Fest. Irish Catholics got a little homophobic and basically turned a cool shoulder to good folks who should have been their brothers in arms. So … there went the gay flavor. Yes, there are still a few spots on Water Street that are gay venues but they are overwhelmend by the Irish frat boy contingent.

Was this the best way to go about reviving a WONDERFUL old industrial neighborhood like Green Island?

No.

But hey, the area brings in money for the city.

Do we need to further gentrify Worcester’s inner city neighborhoods, using the soon to be released housing report as “proof” that this move is a great idea?

Let’s try this instead – a great way to bring in money to the city and lift up the folks alreay in our urban core: Let’s do what New Bedford is doing and LURE LIGHT INDUSTRY TO OUR INNERCITY Neighborhoods. $12 or $14 an hour (full-time) jobs are better than $8 an hour (part-time) jobs at WalMart, CVS the Canal District restaurants and wherever else our working poor are toiling these days.

I grew up working poor – my mom raised her family on a minimum wage paycheck – and it was brutal, even though, back then, the minimum wage was tied more closely to the cost of living. Now?! Forget about it! You cannot work full time at a minimum wage job and support a family. Desperation sets in … .

SO… let’s revitalize our inner-city neighborhoods and help poorer families by bringing in LIGHT INDUSTRY/factory jobs. Let’s give these companies whatever they want, tax credits, brown field clean up help! You name it! Anything to get the underskilled working for good wages again (the way our factories did years ago).

By increasing the wages of the working poor, you make them less a strain on the system and give them more buying power. Power to buy stuff and goods in their inner city neighborhoods. That was what Green Island, Quinsig Village, Vernon Hill were all about in the 1930s and 1940s. These neighborhoods sprung up around Worcester’s mills and factories. The neighborhood stores catered to the neighborhood people.

This is the “class” of people I want to see in my neighborhoods. These people need $12/hour jobs. These folks don’t need to be told they are not the right class of people. They do not need to be not so subtly removed by City Manager Mike O’Brien and his cheerleaders, housing developers with their eye on the buck/game. Let’s not build inner-city monuments to the gargantuan egos of a few men who do not even live in the city or live part time in the urban core! Let’s build neighborhoods where our families can flourish!

The last people we need to make our medium-sized city sizzle is a bunch of rich old fucks. We need youth! and conflict! and alliances! and posses (but without the knives/guns). All the great art that has come out of America was born from people who were most definitely not of a “better class,” whether that be blues, jazz, rock n roll, tin pan alley, THE GREAT AMERICAN SONG BOOK. The sons and daughters of immigrants – poor Jews, Italians, blacks, Latinos have given America her American-ness. They were part of the lower classes, even the under class … and yet, the music Irving Berlin, the movies of Frank Capra, the sound of Frank Sinatra will live on forever.

Does a really great meal at a bistro = Frank Sinatra or “You’re a Grand Old Flag”?

Hardly.

Let’s keep our city a real AMERICAN city. Full of sweat, labor, dreams, desires, ambitions, traditons from countries all over the planet! Worcester needs to support/respect the people who are here/who want to come here. The city’s CDC’s do just that – respect inner-city folks, create places and spaces that Worcesterites can enjoy… and thrive in.

We don’t need a better class of people, Worcester. We need a better class of city leaders.