In one of our recent workshops, the youth split into groups and did various activities that explored the idea of gentrification. At each station, there was a different activity and something different to be learned. One station was to listen to a radio interview- How it was conducted, how it ‘flowed,’ and how certain topics were introduced. Another station was to write a short piece about gentrification based off of a single poignant photograph. These stations all helped to inform us of the process known as Gentrification.
Imagine this scenario for a moment: A big, fantastic company decided to build a site in a neighborhood where the many of the workers are struggling to ‘stay afloat.’ Think about what would happen when a new store would be brought in, replacing the many that were already there. Many workers will be displaced because they don’t qualify for working at this new company location- For reasons such as language and other factors. This process leaves many people in that neighborhood without sufficient jobs and leaves them with very few options- One of them is moving to a new neighborhood. One the one hand, building this new store would bring revenue to the neighborhood, but on the other hand, the citizens of the town aren’t taking gaining anything. Because the store is bringing in profits, surrounding housing prices will increase because of something called, ‘market rate.’ The youth spoke of market rates in a different workshop.
Gentrification is a pretty large issue in Chinatown, but most people don’t realize it. In fact, this process is something that happens everywhere, yet people don’t really realize it. When building casinos or something extravagant, think about what happens to the workers of that neighborhood and how they might be affected.
-Eric Tao, Oak Terrace Youth