New Orleans Artists Take on Real Estate’s Loaded Terms

Next City is the best site to learn about truly innovative grassroots work happening in cities. I depend on it almost daily to bring me to new stories and its analysis too. This story, for example, is about something happening in my own city that I knew nothing about…

 

All these different auctions that are means of trying to inscribe monetary value to a property that has somehow failed,” says Imani Jacqueline Brown, a Blights Out co-founder who grew up in New Orleans. “First as shelter because no one is living in it, it’s not helping anyone. And has failed secondarily in its function as a financial instrument. The New Orleans that I know and that I grew up in values property and values neighborhoods not as an investment, not as an asset class for speculation, not as a starter home that you’ll then abandon and move onto something bigger and better and more prefab, but you value it for its ability as a social asset and cultural asset, as a cultural and community anchor…

….Blights Out found a third house, adjacent to Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar. Before the whole group could look at the property together, the city demolished it. Four years after starting their search, the collective is now trying to purchase the vacant lot where it once stood, plus another across the street. If the deal goes through, they’ll use the lots to create semipermanent outdoor structures for gathering spaces, perhaps eventually building a house from scratch. It’s not ideal, but they don’t see another option. “The window to get what we wanted is closing,” says Eversley….

 

How do you keep art from being complicit in gentrification? You make it completely uncommodifiable. You make it completely unpalatable to development. You make it so development won’t even want to associate with it, let alone co-opt it.

There’s no win. It’s a small win,” she concedes. “But ultimately the city is going to be gentrified. We’re just trying to stem the bleeding at this point.

New Orleans Artists Take on Real Estate’s Loaded Terms – Next City

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About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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