I’d like to call attention to this thorough piece by one of my absolute favorite thinkers in New Orleans: Rich Campanella, geographical historian and bike riding New Orleanian.
Gentrification is the opposite of community; it is the warning bugle call from those who used to wear armor and thunder into your town on horses, trampling the less fortunate and sticking their flag on your home. It’s war and those of us who want a city and not fake facades aren’t going quietly.
As you can see, my definition of gentrification is entirely negative and has to do with the imposition of new values and traditions on top of existing ones. It also is entirely tied to the commodity of place, and the dollar value rather than any other.
Love Rich’s analysis of N.O. gentrification in this piece (which sparked a very lively discussion for months around town) even though I don’t necessarily agree with his timeline. Gutter punks as the start of gentrification? I don’t think that group has anything to do with this topic) and then hipsters second? I’d say hipsters come much later in the game, maybe right after the gentry actually. The use of bourgeois bohemians is spot on (as is their attendance at the farmers market on Saturdays!), but where are the up and coming artists (who sometimes become the gentry by the next generation) or the gay urbanists or even the temporary natives who land in gentrifying spaces when they first come?