gentrification and intergroup tensions

colist at colist at
Sun Jun 22 18:38:55 CDT 2003

[ed:  Doug responds with some thoughts on the issue of 

From: "Doug Hess" <DHess at>

I wish could have seen this POV documentary. From what Randy 
said, it sounds like there could have been an easy answer to some 
of this by setting up interviews with people who fit in both of the 
groups isolated for the filming. Perhaps they tried and it didn't work. 
I think in Dupont Circle, where I live and work, which was an 
extremely run down neighborhood until the gay community began 
to "move in" in the 1970-80s, it would be interesting to see if the 
first homesteaders of the gentrification movement were even 
"gentry" themselves. Likely, many of them were also low-income 
renters who moved on to be home buyers (decades before homes 
in Dupont skyrocketed to over $400,000 and well beyond). No 
doubt some peole who would fit that profile now aren't able to move 
here either. 

Another thought: one friend's grandmother, who was never any 
where near wealthy, owns a house in Mt. Pleasant, DC, which has 
had its up and downs for decades. She owns it outright, and due to 
the gentrification around her, she is now sitting on a goldmine that 
will protect her well into old age, and/or could produce a nice 
grubsteak for her grandchildren. Isn't this what we want? 

>  From: Miriam Axel-Lute <miriam at>
> Gentrification... With a Twist
> It's a familiar story, at least on the surface: A neighborhood in 
> decline is "discovered" by people with money, who snap up 
> beautiful but run-down houses for a song, driving up prices and 
> displacing longtime residents of lesser means. But what happens 
> when the residents are working-class African-Americans - and the 
> gentrifiers are themselves an oppressed minority - for instance, the 
> gay community?  
> "Flag Wars," is a documentary by Linda Goode Bryant and Laura 
> Poitras that attempts to explore these tensions in the Olde Towne 
> section of Columbus, OH. In June PBS will broadcast the film as 
> part of the P.O.V. Diverse Voices Project (check your local listings 
> or, but it has already elicited a strong reaction in 
> Columbus, where "Flag Wars" had its premiere in March. Some 
> residents feel their neighbors and neighborhood were maligned.  
> Weeks before the film aired, P.O.V invited Shelterforce Editor 
> Harold Simon to moderate an online discussion about gentrification 
> and intergroup tension in general, "Beyond Gentrification: 
> Strategies for Community Change." You can read excerpts at 
> Shelterforce Online ( or 
> view the full discussion (and post your own comments) at 
> Participants in the roundtable were: Mtamanika Youngblood, senior 
> vice president for community impact at United Way of Metro-
> politan Atlanta and former executive director of the Historic District 
> Development Corp. in Atlanta; Radhika Fox, associate, PolicyLink, 
> Washington, DC; Brad Lander, executive director, Fifth Avenue 
> Committee, Brooklyn, NY; Theresa Singleton, research and 
> information director, Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC; 
> Joe Molinaro, manager, Smart Growth Programs of the National 
> Association of Realtors., Washington, DC; Jill Slater, planner, San 
> Francisco Planning Department.  
> **************************
> [ed:  this film was on our local PBS station this past Tuesday.  To 
> me, it is a horribly depressing example of the invisibility of class 
> privilege and how it deepens the divide between groups when 
> combined with other kinds of oppressions.  The gay community in 
> particular, with its advantaged class position, does not look good in 
> this film.  Sadly, however, I can imagine my students attributing 
> their lack of sensitivity to being gay rather than being middle class.  
> I hope others get a chance to view the film and we all get a chance 
> to discuss it.]
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