Gentrification Bus Tour of Logan Square Goes Underground After Organizer Receives ‘Violent’ Messages
LOGAN SQUARE — A gentrification bus tour of Logan Square and Avondale drew sharp criticism on social media last week, with some saying the $58 price tag excludes the very residents being displaced.
“It’s a way to make money off a really serious issue,” said Lynda Lopez, 26, who grew up on the Northwest Side and writes about gentrification issues for various local publications.
The tour, scheduled for April 7, will take people to some of the neighborhood’s most prominent landmarks and murals, plus overt symbols of gentrification like the MiCa Towers and the mental-health-clinic-turned-nightclub on Milwaukee Avenue. It will culminate at Metropolitan Brewing’s taproom, where tour-goers will be treated to beer samples, which are included in the price of admission.
“This tour is of particular relevance to neighborhood residents and creative-minded people who are seeking to better understand the large mechanisms at play in the gentrification of our neighborhoods,” the event website reads.
Amanda Scotese, director of Chicago Detours, said she launched the tour to help newcomers “see that things around them have a story behind them.”
“I want people who are more well-off to be more cognizant of their community and perhaps ponder their part in it,” she added.
Scotese said she also wants the tour to serve as a cautionary tale. She lived in Logan Square for a decade before moving to Avondale last April. It was all of the changes in Logan Square that ultimately drove her out of the neighborhood, she said.
“I believe in the value of affordable housing. I believe in responsible development. I’m wondering how can we take what happened in Logan Square and apply it to Avondale?” she asked.
But many people on social media said the tour was not only poorly executed, but also disregards the people who are being displaced.
“If this tour intended to open a dialogue, it would be accessible to all residents, not $58,” Lopez wrote on Twitter. “Can a real conversation happen about gentrification when few long-time residents of color/if any show up to this? That’s not open dialogue. Were any even involved in the planning?”
Lopez added that Scotese won’t accomplish her goal of challenging peoples’ perceptions about gentrification the way the tour is set up.
“You’re going to a brewery, you’re going to be drinking, you’re on a bus — it’s comfortable … But you need to be uncomfortable to confront some of the aspects of gentrification,” she said.
Scotese said she has been bombarded by messages far more aggressive than Lopez’s since she posted the tour on social media. Nearly a dozen people gave Scotese’s company a one-star rating on Facebook, a reaction she characterizes as unfair.
“This is a labor of love,” Scotese said of her tour company. “All I’m trying to do is create meaningful experiences for people who want to learn the places they visit and live in. It felt very violent to me to be getting that kind of aggression from people.”
Because of the negative comments, Scotese is planning to pull the tour off the public platform and offer private invites to stakeholders and members of the community instead. But that doesn’t mean the critics won, Scotese said.
“We’re still moving forward with the tour, and we’re going to do so in a way that’s engaging more perspectives within the community,” she said.