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Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:14 PM

Gentrification vs Devdumping

As a term for urban growing pains, my vote is for "development dumping" (or "devdumping" as some call it). Development dumping is more decisively the root of neighborhood displacement. The "luxury" high rises that are dumped on a community with little to no gentleness, and a lot of collusion with city governments to leverage tax abatements and changes in zoning laws to make room for the damn things. Developers literally force out renters through a range of terrible strategies, from instant eviction when the rent is late, to arson.

"Devdumping" is perfectly suited for what really happens, economically and politically, to certain neighborhoods. The term "gentrification", in contrast, is an oxymoron at best, but is actually quite insidious. (I really can't stand the term, it drives me bonkers). It has built within it two insidious forms of prejudice. One is that so-called "impoverished" groups aren't gentle or cultured. The problem may be that they are too gentle, too civilized, and are easily pushed aside by the true gentrifiers – large, wholesale developers. But another problem with "gentrification" as a term is that it implies a prejudice towards an entire class of underpaid worker – the artists and musicians whom we fantasize are the friends of princesses and billionaires, but in fact pull in far less than a plumber or retail employee. The creative classes are some of the lowest paid of the trades and professions. However, by shear pluck and DIY struggle, they have the nerve to transform their apartments, their parties and even their streets with next to no funding from banks or rich uncles. We often blame these struggling, but inspired, people for the "gentrification" of neighborhoods when in fact the rise in cost of living is not something 99% of the creative classes actually WANT, nor are they responsible for it. When neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are analyzed, it becomes clear that after a wave of hands-on activity stirs up the spirits and storefronts (such as what the Brooklyn Immersionists did on the weed-infested waterfront and in the abandoned factories in the 1990s), a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT crowd leverages tax abatements and rezoning to invade an area with stacks of "luxury" apartments. These "devdumpers" are neither creative nor gentle. If anything, they promote the term "gentrification" to buttress their crude luxury branding games. Devdumpers have no discourse, no sensibility, save for a knack to exploit. They are not gentle and some are downright Trumpian (especially the Trumps!). "Gentrification" is the worst possible term for what development dumpers actually do. So my vote is use "devdumper" or "monopoly capitalism" next time you're pissed off at the cost of living.

A number of articles (below) seem to flirt with a speck of understanding, but still miss these salient points. The creative community does not wish for, nor directly induce, a rise in the cost of living. They're renters, after all, not landowners. And the larger community we all-too-easily label a "ghetto" are rich in culture, inspiration and talent. Both groups are quite gentle (with the usual exceptions you find in any group) and neither – as renters or single unit homeowners– are responsible for shutting out the sun with tall buildings and a steep rise in rent.




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Reply Gentrification vs Devdumping (Original post)
DemocracyMouse Feb 2018 OP
Igel Feb 2018 #1
DemocracyMouse Feb 2018 #2

Response to DemocracyMouse (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 08:11 PM

1. There's no connection between "gentle" and "gentry".


Typically gentry are well-off people. Usually, not always, educated. That rings true in "gentrification." There's a whiff of "idle rich" in there that doesn't fit any more, since even the very rich are seldom all that idle these days, now that cotillions and tours of Europe are passe.

I've seen people try to make having artists and the "creative class" take over an area equivalent to "gentrification," but that always struck me as a ploy to say there's a class division that wasn't there. The division wasn't "poor people, typically but not always of color" versus "upper-middle and upper-class people, typically white", but there is a distinction and division, just not one that's based on a callous counting of $. Reducing everything to $ seems crude and insight-repudiating to me. While we need a word for this kind of displacement, I don't think "gentrification" is it; it's already too useful a term for those who dwell on class distinctions while lamenting the lack of extreme forms of social mobility.

This use of the term has always struck me as a crass extension of the original use of the word "gentrification", although there is a similarity at play: One group comes in and displaces another. Typically that "one group", in the case of the "creative folk" is mostly white, but certainly distinct in outlook and mannerisms from most of the surround hoi polloi. There's often a certain snobbery masked by interclass solidarity that's sometimes condescending, sometimes real, and sometimes poseurship.

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Response to Igel (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 08:52 PM

2. The term "development dumping" at least can cut through some of the fog

A French geographer has stated that the class and culture distinctions are less critical in regards to rises in the cost of living. Better to see whether the developers are circling. The real estate owners, in fact, come from every class. The artists who are all too often scapegoated (and mislabeled "hipsters" are usually renters and not in a practical position to raise rents. Many, in fact, will recycle a dubious industrial property and make it a home, only to be forced out by devdumpers.

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