Day 23 — The Sled

“This is the card of the self-made person. The spiritual life is inferred — light in darkness, divine influence on human energy, inspiration.”

I read an article about what is happening in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Actually, in the last few months I have read multiple articles. Basically, like many neighborhoods in cool cities, they are dealing with the challenges of gentrification. In reading about this particular area I saw a phrase I had not seen before but understood (artwashing). The idea is that things like murals, art galleries and other art projects lead to new development, displacement and all the negatives of gentrification. It is something I have been aware of and thought of long ago. I have seen it in parts of Toronto, East Harlem, Brooklyn, The Mission in SF, etc. It happens a lot.

And I struggle with it. Other than Toronto, I have been part of the gentrification wave in every place I have lived. When I moved to East Harlem it wasn’t so clear because of my skin color. In the Lower East Side I could be confused for a local and the same for Brooklyn, although now in Bed-Stuy I think it is clear I am not from here.

So how do I deal with it? The same way I deal with most things. Honor what exists, embrace the culture and live authentically. Cities change, people change, things change. This is a journey full of adapting. The only way I can deal with all those changes is by adapting as staying true to who and what I am. As long as I do that I think it is ok to enjoy local art, food, drink. I will never agree with displacement but I am guilty of enjoying the new taco stand in East Harlem, checking out the murals of Bushwick and renting in that new building in Bed-Stuy. It is complicated and I’m sorry.

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