Greater Greater Washington

Transit


New streetcar brings gentrification fears to Lego City

Fifty years after they were first ripped out, streetcars returned to Lego City on Christmas Day. While they bring the promise of new jobs and increased mobility, fears of unwanted changes are building.


Photos by thecourtyard on Flickr.

"I know this is what you've been looking forward to," said Dan Reed's mom, newly-appointed director of the Lego City Department of Transportation, as the twenty-something graduate student assembled the bright blue tram. "Look at him playing with his toys."

The recently-opened Line 55, the first segment of a proposed citywide streetcar system, connects affluent Bricktown to Blocky Farm, a housing project in Southeast Lego City. Though they come every ten minutes, the seven-seat trolley is standing-room only throughout the day.

Nowhere are the effects of the new streetcar more evident than the Brick Street corridor, located near Lego City's main Public Transport Station. Since the trams started running Christmas Day, a skateboard shop, coffeehouse and gourmet pizzeria have opened.

Hip minifigures sip wine in sidewalk cafes as bright young toys on red bikes click by. Massive new condominiums built from Duplo blocks tower over the neighborhood's iconic, multi-colored rowhouses.

Ashley Lyman just moved to Brick Street and says her favorite part of the neighborhood is the activity. "I used to live in [suburban] Blockville and just sit in my big, pink house after dark," she says. "Here, there's always something happening! And I'm embarrassed to say it, but I hear [big box retailer] Blockmart is moving in and I can't wait."

Some established residents are frustrated by the changes, complaining that not every minifigure in Lego City benefits from them.

60-year-old Sarah Belk earned her nickname "the Mayor" for starting a neighborhood watch on Brick Street during the 1980's. "I've been a street sweeper, a doctor, and a pirate, but my taxes are so high, every brick I make goes right out the door again," she says. "What good is this new stuff for me? Lego City is trying to run us hard-working people out of here."

Henry Floyd, columnist for the Lego City Post and a resident of Brick Street, is opposed to the streetcar. He says the overhead arms and hands that power the tram ruins the area's "historic" viewsheds, but more importantly, that the entire project is a waste of money. "There are lots of ways to get around Lego City, but we can't all give them each their own lane," he says. "What's next? A lane for horses? For helicopters and boats and spaceships?"

"Kids in Lego City are being failed by our nonexistent public schools," he adds. "When is Dan's mom gonna buy him something useful, like a police station set?"

Some hope that minifigures on Brick Street will finally click the old and new together.

Local blogger Alex Block has lived there for five years, rehabbing old houses covered in childish crayon graffiti. "People like to focus on our differences," he says. "Some of us carry around giant phones. Some of us wear race car helmets. Some of us don't have eyebrows or noses. But we're all yellow and plastic on the inside."

A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

Comments

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These Legos probably cost as much as a small down payment for a house in a "gentrified" area of DC. Legos are incredibly expensive -- not sure if this irony was purposeful.

by Broke becuz of Legos on Dec 28, 2010 10:52 am • linkreport

I remember staying up late many a Christmas Eve putting together my brand new Lego sets and creating scenarios every bit as elaborate as this one (or at least they seemed elaborate to my 7-year-old self...). My parents still have my millions of Legos in the basement back home; I'll have to break them out the next time I'm there! Thanks for this!

by David T on Dec 28, 2010 10:56 am • linkreport

For a moment this space seemed to have crossed over with the Irregular Web Comic

Users of the Lego City red shared bikes are fortunate that the streetcars are trackless trolleys - no flangeways in the plastic pavement to snag bike tires. 

Personally I'm holding out for those dedicated equestrian, boat ("This gondola is about to turn") and spaceship ("186,000 miles/sec: not just a good idea, it's the law") lanes. 

by intermodal commuter on Dec 28, 2010 11:01 am • linkreport

"And this development is driving out all the quaint blocks that made Brick Street special," said Esmeralda Two-Plug, former owner of the Brick Street Cafe and Mattress Emporium. "Pretty soon it'll just be another Blockthesda."

by Matt on Dec 28, 2010 11:06 am • linkreport

Look no further for evidence that street cars and bikes are only used by white people! :-D

by Scoot on Dec 28, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

Poor taste. You could have done something similar without belittling the problem of gentrification.

by Peter Smith on Dec 28, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

I love it. Thanks.

by Trudy on Dec 28, 2010 11:52 am • linkreport

By the looks of things, the residents of Lego City have some fairly severe liver problems...

by andrew on Dec 28, 2010 11:58 am • linkreport

I loved it, too. Clever and well-written.

by Woodsider on Dec 28, 2010 1:13 pm • linkreport

Excellent post.

Also, don't forget about the Bricktown residents who demand that the old, no longer utilized streetcar tracks stay along their brick paved road, yet protest when a modern street car system is proposed in their neighborhood.

by GGW Fan on Dec 28, 2010 1:45 pm • linkreport

Oh please god tell me that you have kids

by mch on Dec 28, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

@scoot-these aren't white people. They are decidedly yellow.

by Ah on Dec 28, 2010 1:52 pm • linkreport

Nice use of legos for this illustration of the absurdity of the anti-gentrification movement. I enjoyed legos as a kid, literally had tens of thousands of them and built cities and towns. Never thought to gentrify them, but then again, I did make sure to build crack houses, free clinics, liquor stores, abandoned buildings, crumbling schools, pot holed roads, corners for prostitutes, open air drug markets, dilapidated public housing, city run employment offices offering no jobs, half way houses, and liberrys with no books. Now that's the kind of city every lego person desires.

by traderdad37 on Dec 28, 2010 2:26 pm • linkreport

Highly enjoyable post.

I look forward to the first person with a horse up their ass to complain about it.

by JJJJJ on Dec 28, 2010 4:21 pm • linkreport

@JJJJ, I look forward to the first person with a horse up their ass to complain about it.

See Peter Smith's comment above. And I have to agree with Peter.

While I don't disagree that change happens, and it's not a bad thing if the values that make us 'us' don't get lost as a result of that change, to make light of the negative effects it invariable has on some members of our society is in really bad taste. Actually, it's worse than bad taste. It indicates an insensitivity to others' circumstances. Again, there's nothing wrong with replacing a crack house with a cafe (as in the examples Dan gives), but people negatively affected by change aren't lamenting that now, are they?

Like others here, I like the change I'm seeing in places like H Street NE, but that doesn't mean I think it's okay to make fun of the concerns of those who are being affected by it. Maybe they're just scared ... Maybe they have no use for high priced lattes but sure do miss the corner grocer who sold milk at half the price as Whole Foods does now.

Our discounting and making light of others' fears and concerns doesn't do much to help that change continue. It closes the lines of communications and can create backlash such as we saw in regards to Michelle Rhea. So, it's not only in bad taste, but counterproductive in many ways.

by Lance on Dec 28, 2010 4:48 pm • linkreport

Really? Peter Smith, Lance, really? You have such a profound lack of a sense of humor that any joke anyone makes on your magical special topic (here, gentrification) is "insensitive" and making light of it is "in bad taste" or somehow has a real effect on discourse?

In that case, all jokes with anything other than the most insipid and meaningless content must be banned. Alternatively, you could acquire enough social skills to take a g-d Lego joke in stride without breaking out in hives, you humorless twats. The WORST is that you have NO CONCEPT what a joke you have made of *yourselves.* YOU, my friends, are the Dean in the Revenge of the Nerds movies.

by WOV on Dec 28, 2010 5:52 pm • linkreport

@Lance -- This is smart humor, for sure. Your criticism is pretty flawed, though: the one reason you provide as doing harm to poorer residents is that they "sure do miss the corner grocer who sold milk at half the price as Whole Foods does now."

Have you shopped at a corner market lately? Their prices are far, far worse than even the highest-end grocery chain, and their selection far less healthy. Such businesses are often predatory, not some idealized mom-and-pop. Sure, a latte vendor may be *irrelevant* to some, but not harmful.

by Luke on Dec 28, 2010 6:24 pm • linkreport

@Luke, seriously, Lance has no idea what he's talking about.

Mom and pop tiny grocers survive by setting outrageous prices. The only reason milk would be half off is because it's expired.

by JJJJJ on Dec 28, 2010 7:41 pm • linkreport

I just watched the documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work." In one scene she absolutely destroys a heckler who is offended by one of her jokes. The joke is about Helen Keller and the heckler has a deaf child, so at first you think maybe Joan is cooked, but she just destroys the guy, tearing into him about how he doesn't understand what humor is for. She then follows up with some well-received 9/11 jokes.

Point being, if you can't chuckle at this post, you should probably go out for some fresh air...

by Chumley on Dec 28, 2010 8:12 pm • linkreport

Okay, so what purpose is it serving here?

by Lance on Dec 28, 2010 9:59 pm • linkreport

Maybe to poke fun at ourselves? Those of us who care enough to read (at least) daily about transportation and land use decisions in greater washington? What some see as tacky because it makes light of a serious situation others see as humorous because it brings a fresh and light hearted approach to looking at some of the ways that we discuss things on here?

by Canaan on Dec 28, 2010 10:06 pm • linkreport

How many times; Lego is a collective noun. There is no such word as 'Legos'. One Lego brick, some Lego bricks, some Lego.

by numpty on Dec 29, 2010 5:01 am • linkreport

Yes, we should all take cues on humor from Lance who sees no problem making racist jokes about Gabe Klein looking like a Middle Eastern terrorist.

by Reid on Dec 29, 2010 7:38 am • linkreport

Somehow Lance pretending to be outraged by fake streetcars is very fitting.

by aaa on Dec 29, 2010 8:13 am • linkreport

i assumed Lance's criticism was about the insipid derisive-cheerleader comments.

by DB on Dec 29, 2010 8:20 am • linkreport

@Peter Smith -- "belittling"! I get it!

by aldos on Dec 29, 2010 8:29 am • linkreport

Seems as if people are suggesting that no one (lance especially) should be offended by what they see as "humor."

Makes me wonder why everyone was so bent out of shape over the New Yorker's Obama/Terrorist- Michelle/Black Militant satirical piece. Or how about the Magic Negro one.

Some found it funny. Some didn't.

by HogWash on Dec 29, 2010 11:00 am • linkreport

But will there be above or below ground wiring??

by concerned citizen on Dec 29, 2010 11:46 am • linkreport

@Peter Smith -- "belittling"! I get it!

i wish i was that clever.

i can't wait to see next week's installment -- 'Rape Fears At Lego High School'.

by Peter Smith on Dec 29, 2010 1:03 pm • linkreport

I'm with Lance and Peter.
This is in bad taste because the butt of the joke is the poor and powerless, who are being mocked as ignorant and resistant to what *we all know* is actually good for them (*connotes sarcasm). The New Yorker’s satire was making fun of the bigots, not the marginalized and stereotyped (Muslims and black people). Stuff White People Like is making fun of the racially privileged. That is the difference, the BIG difference.

Besides, obviously, you can be funny and insensitive or a jerk at the same time.

Although the loss of the corner store is not the real harm of gentrification for all of the reasons already highlighted, the real harm is much worse; it is the loss of your home. The poor are shoved out of gentrifying neighborhoods, which they can longer afford because either (a) they are renting and rent spikes when the neighborhood becomes desirable or (b) they own and can no longer afford the property taxes on their now valuable homes--which have often been owned by a family for generations. They get shoved out to the now suburbs where they are, again, without good mass transit. They should be worried.

by Micky on Dec 29, 2010 1:16 pm • linkreport

I sent early drafts out to the other GGW contributors asking for advice and what I heard is that the original version of this story was too mean-spirited. I wanted to be funny, and I think I succeeded without singling out an individual or group of people.

On a serious note, the displacement of low-income people from a community is not a good thing, but it's worth noting that any place where there's people is bound to experience some change, and it can either be a good change or a bad change. Having lived in the D.C. area my entire life (and now in a "gentrifying" neighborhood in Philadelphia), I honestly believe that things in the city are better now than they have been in a long time and there's no going back. The issue is how to ensure that everyone - rich or poor, white or black, D.C. or suburban resident - can benefit from these changes.

and @Peter, you might want to check out Block Structure Porn if you're interested in more (irreverent) Lego-based humor.

by dan reed! on Dec 29, 2010 1:24 pm • linkreport

Dan, you have way too much time on your hands...:o)

by Froggie on Dec 29, 2010 8:01 pm • linkreport

Awesome.

by tom veil on Dec 30, 2010 12:03 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith "Poor taste. You could have done something similar without belittling the problem of gentrification."

This assumes we all agree with the premise that gentrification is a "problem."

by ChrisW on Dec 30, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

This assumes we all agree with the premise that gentrification is a "problem."

i don't know that it's necessary that we _all_ agree, but yes, certainly, that is part of my point -- folks who don't view this post as being in poor taste may have one or of the following pov's:
1) they can't possibly see how anyone could take this post as offensive -- it's just a Lego post, etc.
2) they are unaware that gentrification is happening
3) they don't see gentrification as a problem
4) they see gentrification as doing more good than bad and therefore it's a self-justifying policy regardless of the fact that actual human beings are suffering
5) they see too much 'political correctness' in the world, and that means we occasionally have to punch hippies, gays, minorities, and the least privileged in the face
6) etc.

i've listened to the Phil Hendrie Show on the car radio and once or twice thought it was 'too much, too soon'. i've read hundreds of The Onion stories and actually felt 'ick' once or twice. it's not possible to be perfect, and people do study it, but a good rule of thumb is probably -- if your original version is 'too mean-spirited,' then maybe it might be worth looking at the underlying premise of your joke/humor -- or maybe it might be better to direct the brunt of your ridicule at the powerful instead of the powerless, as someone above mentioned.

Even if the title had been changed, it would have set a completely different tone. As we know from examining the headlines for major newspapers -- sometimes, the impact (or, non-impact) of a story is determined primarily by its headline, which is why staff writers don't get to author their own headlines. The headline could have easily been something more innocuous, like, "Streetcar Brings Big Changes to Legotown". I mean, the article wasn't even substantially about gentrification. If you're gonna make fun or poor and working-class people, at least have the common courtesy to do it right. A nearly-identical post on Dan's site uses the different title, "new streetcar brings controversy to lego city". Difference is night and day, imo.

And then the actual content of the faux-post has the 'working class' 'Sarah Belk' as a former doctor. Really? The folks being pushed out of neighborhoods are former doctors?

Nobody's gonna die from an off-color blog post, but the callousness or lack of sensitivity is what I see as problematic. ('problematical'? hate that word.) Some folks will say 'Gentrification is great, everyone's standard of living rises, the poor people have flat screen TVs and VCRs and blah blah blah' -- but anyone who's ever been poor knows that those things don't mean jack -- poor people want their dignity back -- they want jobs and access to jobs, and education, and they don't want to be forced out of their neighborhoods just when banks have stopped redlining, allowing some money to finally flow into the nabe, allowing general conditions to improve. So, what actually matters in the end is equality -- social equity -- not VCRs and flat screens. Start reducing/attacking some of the incredible wealth disparity that DC has achieved, and then have a run at poor and working-class people all you want -- i'll take that trade anytime.

@Dan - the link to from your GGW profile page to your blog is broken.

by Peter Smith on Dec 30, 2010 3:44 pm • linkreport

@Peter, you are assumming no one can both see the creativity in this post and be amused by it while simultaneously having real demonstrable compassion for people who may be negatively impacted by "gentrification" including themselves, family members, friends, neighbors and strangers.

"Blessed is he who can laugh at himself for he shall never cease to be amused."

by Tina on Dec 30, 2010 4:00 pm • linkreport

@Peter p.s. I am fairly certain many of the commenters/posters on this blog would agree with you that a social structure that has allowed a large widening of the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest over the last several decades is unsustainable and even an unjust system.

I do think that addressing that national, and even world-wide problem may be beyond the scope of this blog, which is aimed at shaping regional and local land use and transportation policy.

If there were more walk/bike-transit-available neighborhoods around then "gentrification" in walk/bike-transportation-available neighborhoods would be alleviated.

by Tina on Dec 30, 2010 4:27 pm • linkreport

@Peter, you are assumming no one can both see the creativity in this post and be amused by it while simultaneously having real demonstrable compassion for people who may be negatively impacted by "gentrification" including themselves, family members, friends, neighbors and strangers.

i'm not sure i agree, but i'd say that whatever creativity/humor the post contains, it was lost on me - i didn't get it - couldn't appreciate it - b/c all i could see was a popular urban planning blog, authored by some of the most affluent and highly-educated people in DC, making fun of working class and poor people. it doesn't necessarily mean that the people who enjoyed this post are evil, but it does probably mean they subscribe to one or more of the reasons-for-not-hating that i listed in my previous comment, and that's not good, imo.

contrast this post to something like the song 'Domestic Violence' by RZA (don't want to link -- it's too brutal). it uses creativity and shock value not to make light of a serious problem, but to raise awareness about the seriousness of that problem, to show its devastating effects, and to make crystal clear that the problem _is_ actually a problem -- one that should not be tolerated, ever.

I _can_ link to Living Colour -- Open Letter to a Landlord.

p.s. I am fairly certain many of the commenters/posters on this blog would agree with you that a social structure that has allowed a large widening of the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest over the last several decades is unsustainable and even an unjust system.

for the record, i think it _is_ sustainable (not talking about our collapsing environmental ecosystem). and, wealth inequality seems to be increasing faster in DC than elsewhere, so there is probably a local component at play.

I do think that addressing that national, and even world-wide problem may be beyond the scope of this blog, which is aimed at shaping regional and local land use and transportation policy.

if the scope of this blog includes land use and transportation policy, then it must, by definition, imo, include issues of equity/equality. it's almost impossible to think of a transportation or land use policy that does not directly impact social/economic equity, and vice-versa.

also, i think inequality is a local issue primarily. Of course it interacts with national/federal/international policies, but it's primarily a local issue. if DC decided it wanted to become a more-just enclave within the USA, it could do so, without the help of and/or in spite of the federal government. in fact, i'd argue they are doing just that in some areas, allowing poor and working-class people to walk and bike is hugely important, and DC has been doing great work in this regard, relatively-speaking. the overall signs/indicators/realities of wealth inequality still look bleak, but on some issues, DC is headed in the right direction.

further, the 'About' page states the following:

Greater Greater Washington is devoted to improving the vitality of Washington, DC and the walkable cities and neighborhoods in the Washington metropolitan area, such as Alexandria, Arlington, Bethesda, College Park, Rockville, Silver Spring, Tysons Corner, and others.
'Vitality' has something to do with land use and transportation, and vice-versa, but it ain't the whole story. For instance, can a place exhibit 'vitality' even with lots of violent crime, like NYC back in the day? I'd argue 'yes' -- but 'crime' is not strictly part of a land use/transportation agenda, so should GGW even bother talking about crime? Does it even matter here? Should it be allowed to matter here? Extend that discussion to one of the best indicators of crime -- wealth inequality. Then you have to talk about education, etc.

If there were more walk/bike-transit-available neighborhoods around then "gentrification" in walk/bike-transportation-available neighborhoods would be alleviated.

Don't know if this is true, but I'd argue that making places walk/bike/transit-available/friendly is a good thing, generally speaking. I do think that cars and cars-first/only policy helps create and then sustain inequality -- just not sure it really has anything to do with gentrification.

i think it's important to stand up and be counted -- that's why i objected in my first comment. so, when someone tries to dismiss GGW as a haven for upper-crust, neoliberal elites who like to make fun of poor people, i can honestly say, 'no, try again.'

i could care less about land use and transportation -- but i do care about freedom and fairness and justice -- so i have to care about land use and transportation.

by Peter Smith on Dec 30, 2010 5:16 pm • linkreport

The wealth and education disparities in this city -- across income, as well as race/ethnicity -- are a threat to the sustainability of the city.

However, from my perspective, this photo commentary is not about that issue (or more importantly, the solutions to the issue).

To me, the photo commentary simply lifts positions espoused by many different folks in the city and applies them to inanimate objects. This is a technique that has been used by therapists to get individuals to put rhetorical statements aside and talk openly and honestly about their fears and concerns, we could use more of that.

On the ever-increasing gap between those who have access to economic and educational opportunity and those who don't (which again does not appear to be the central theme of the photo commentary), this is a really challenging issue. And to address it, it seems like we need a pinch of humor and a generous helping of authentic dialogue about how our communities are changing. Kojo in Your Community is a great start (on dialogue point), and we could use more...

by AMHDC on Dec 31, 2010 3:23 pm • linkreport

Gentrification is probably a forgone conclusion but being callous about it doesn't make matter's any better. I noice that this blog has a lot of folk's trying to see who can make the slickest comments or who can sound the more clever than the next one, and you wonder why people of color resent you. You mofo's need to do some real soul searching and I mean in a hurry.

by Anothernative on Dec 31, 2010 11:24 pm • linkreport

@Anothernative: because gentrification only effects people of color? and because people making "slick" comments or "sound clever" are only white?

That's about the douchiest assertion I've heard all year (albeit the year's only about 10 hours old, but still).

by ChrisW on Jan 1, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

The poor are shoved out of gentrifying neighborhoods, which they can longer afford because either (a) they are renting and rent spikes when the neighborhood becomes desirable or (b) they own and can no longer afford the property taxes on their now valuable homes--which have often been owned by a family for generations.

At the risk of being inflammatory, the evidence shows this is so rare as to be pretty much non-existent, particularly in DC vis a vis the tax issue. That argument is a clear marker that the writer hasn't a clue what they're talking about.

The positive benefits of gentrification--both for the new *and* the old residents--dwarf the negatives.

I don't live in the neighborhood I grew up in--a neighborhood my parents still live in. The culture of the neighborhood changed. Most of my friends are no longer there. Relatives moved elsewhere. It's mostly working-class Latino families now. They're entering the middle-class, so living in a suburban house with a yard is highly attractive. The dynamic is similar to the one that occurred in DC. There's been an outflow of African Americans from the city as they joined the middle class and Jim Crow laws were repealed. It's only in some white-bread, undergraduate fantasy that any of this stuff could be considered a bad thing.

Should there be housing set-asides for working class folks in DC? I think you can make that case. Should DC residents do their part in supporting a portion of the region's poor and homeless? Of course. And we should continue to fund generous tax abatements for the poor and elderly--which we currently do.

But the wild tales of massive displacement of the poor in DC are on par with "Free Mumia" and the rest. If anything, we are a net importer of the very poor from the suburbs to the city because of our comparatively generous set of social services and amenities.

by oboe on Jan 4, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

@Anothernative:

You mofo's need to do some real soul searching and I mean in a hurry.

Hey! I'm a DC native too. Though I'm of the school of thought that holds anonymous threats of violence on a message board are generally unproductive.

I'm sure when The Revolution comes, I'll be ruing my lack of soul-searching though.

:P

by oboe on Jan 4, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

Oboe, I stand by my statement that displacement of poor and working-class families with gentrification is a serious issue:

http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/142/gentrification.html

There are strategies for limiting the negative effects, like rent control, property tax caps, and affordable housing efforts, and I'll admit that DC is better than many cities in many regards. But the success of these programs in mitigating the marginalization of poor families underscores the importance of taking displacement seriously. Gentrification does not have the same kinds of benefits for current residents as for those moving in. With regard to suburban migration in DC, in particular, I don't believe that working-class people are moving out to PG County because it's a nicer place to be than Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights.

by Micky on Jan 4, 2011 1:58 pm • linkreport

With regard to suburban migration in DC, in particular, I don't believe that working-class people are moving out to PG County because it's a nicer place to be than Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights.

I know this seems inconceivable to the types of 20-something, suburban-raised, college-educated types who make the biggest noise about the evils of gentrification, but *most* working-class families with a couple of kids would certainly rather have a single family house in Upper Marlboro or Clinton than a 900' rowhouse or apartment in Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights (or Petworth, etc...)

You may not believe it, but when given the choice, it probably runs about 20:1. The 2 bedroom 1 bathroom rowhouse across the street from me used to have a family with six kids living in it. Those kids have since grown up, and 5 of them are living in big houses in PG County. I see them around occasionally, and the idea that they'd rather be living in the old hood in a tiny house is laughable.

http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/62675/

The displacement thing is primarily a myth, but it's a useful cudgel that professional advocates (the NHI for instance!) use to beat folks with.

by oboe on Jan 4, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

One last thing: I think we often discount the importance of social institutions like churches, family, etc, etc... Middle class DC residents who were finally given the freedom to move to the suburbs--just as white residents did decades earlier--took a lot of things with them. They took churches, family, and other social supports. Many neighborhood commercial institutions moved out to the suburbs following their clientele.

You don't just see this with traditionally african american neighborhoods in the city. You can see this with the generational migration that took place suburb-to-suburb over the last couple of generations. Silver Spring was where whites moved to get out of the city. Then they moved to areas like Aspen Hill in Rockville. The kids that grew up in those neighborhoods have now moved to Gaithersburg and points west (or the city). The mix of commercial establishments followed them or went out of business.

Obviously, there's some displacement that happens, but very little of that is a pure function of economic leverage. The situation is immensely complicated, and when reduced to a caricature doesn't really get us anywhere.

by oboe on Jan 4, 2011 2:57 pm • linkreport

I guess you have my number, Oboe. I'm just a pampered, suburban-raised, naive-yet-over-educated, twenty-something. Or I am a former resident of Trinidad who had to move because the "nicer" it got on H-street, the less I was able to find an affordable two-bedroom apartment big enough for my growing family. But seriously, the snarking is not helpful.

Oh yeah, and affordable housing advocacy gropus are totally self-serving liars who will bludgeon us with research.

by Micky on Jan 4, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

@oboe, I'm assuming that the revolution you're referring to is the Mexican one cause, I never mentioned one nor was I alluding to one in saying what I said. When I mentioned soul searching you can rest assured it was no anonymous threat, I don't make them, I merely tried to point out a historical fact. Read your history native Washingtonian.

by Anothernative on Jan 4, 2011 9:02 pm • linkreport

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