Monday, September 22, 2008

A 4th Option

In Chicago, you only have three options for living.
1. Gentrified or gentrifying neighborhoods.( Lincoln Park, West Town, Humboldt Park, Pilsen)
2. Poor, deteriorating, isolated neighborhoods. ( Englewood, North Lawndale)
3. Safe, family friendlyneighborhoods , but defensive against neighborhood change( Dunning, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, Mt. Greenwood).

I would prefer a 4Th option. Can Chicago have neighborhoods that are mixed economically, socially, and racially, but not on the brink of gentrification? Can Chicago have a neighborhood that is defensive of change because it's heterogeneity is at stake?

I think it would take a generation of many small groups of young people, of all classes and races, that are committed to putting down roots. I'm talking about intentionally seeking out space in Chicago, not in an upcoming or trendy neighborhood, but in the most isolated, poor, and seemingly unliveable and abandoned places, to live, get involved, raise kids, marry your kids there, grow old, and die in the same house or apartment. This is not utopia, but a call to the challege of status quo of neighborhood segregation in Chicago and the greatest protest against the American Dream or any pressures of climbing the social ladder.

Some people call it gentrification with justice, I call it living intentionally. There are so many definitions of gentrification and without hard data in your hands to prove it, gentrification can only rely on symbols as a definition ( Starbucks, rich people, white people, new condos, too much change too fast). So early on, no matter what, there is going to be judgement about change in a neighborhood, but recognize that time builds trust, time builds community, time and purposeful living can build a 4th option for living in Chicago.

No comments: