What do we mean when we talk about gentrification? Look closely at the history of any urban area and one is bound to find some demographic flux, yet there are elements of neighborhood change that are particularly problematic or harmful, namely the displacement of lower-income residents. Alongside the severe social costs, however, there may also be benefits to an influx of wealth.
Join us for an open discussion on the causes and effects of gentrification, as well as possible solutions: how can we, as citizens, neighbors, and consumers, ensure affordable housing and an equitable urban future?
Find more info and some suggested readings here. There will be pizza.
Date: Friday, April 24
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Place: Allbritton 311
Welcome to utopia! Er, sorta. Well, not really. Actually not at all. Like all the world, good old Wesleyan is plagued with many social ills. Some are more intractable than others, some more terrible than others. I am not here to pass judgment. I am here only to give you the quick run-down on
all most of the things people at Wes have been getting upset about of late. To avoid showing favoritism I put these in random order (literally). Please feel free to add/question/editorialize in the comments below.
This is the Wrath Update. First up:
At Wes, University Policy prohibits the use of chalk “on sidewalks or buildings.” For many students — though definitely not all — this constitutes a violation of the right to free speech and the battle over the chalking policy has raged fiercely for over a decade. On the 3rd of October 2002, then-President Doug Bennet ’59 put forth a moratorium on Wesleyan’s storied tradition of chalking, a moratorium which was theoretically temporary but was never lifted. In those days, you could spend an hour reading chalkings on the hundred-yard walk from PAC to what’s now Usdan. Chalking was primarily used as an empowerment medium for the queer community, but, of course, a few individuals took things a little too far. I do not need to get into the details; you go to Wesleyan so you can imagine it. We still occasionally witness hateful and hurtful public messages around campus.
Wesleyan-graduated artists seem to have been especially prolific recently – Gabriel Cohen ’82, currently residing in Brooklyn, has published three books in different genres in the past year: “Boombox”, a literary novel about gentrification in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill; “The Graving Dock”, a more commercial crime novel; and “Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: A Buddhist Path Through Divorce”, a chronicle of his messy divorce.
Mr. Cohen was born in Austin, Tex., and lived in Afghanistan and Rio de Janeiro as a boy, while his father helped train elementary schoolteachers, before settling in Washington. After attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut and stints in a rock band and at a weekly newspaper, Mr. Cohen moved to New York, taking day jobs to get by. (He has in recent years written occasionally for the City section of The New York Times.)
He wound up in Boerum Hill on Wyckoff Street, where today about the biggest threat on the sidewalk is having your foot run over by a baby stroller. But back in 1989 the block was more dangerous. “I’d hear gunshots at night,” he said outside his old apartment. “I got mugged on this block.”
He was writing a novel there in 1991 when what he called a “writer’s nightmare” began: a teenage neighbor bought a club-size public-address system and began blasting gangsta rap in the courtyard. “I tried talking to him and his mother,” Mr. Cohen said. “She told me, ‘This isn’t Westchester.’ ”
Probably not the kind of rude awakening imminent Wes grads might hope for if/when moving to Brooklyn… but you can dream!