Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gentrification: A shameless plug

Opening screen of Nat's niece's documentary on gentrification.

As Plainfield
pursues development, most of the activity has been around residential construction and raises the issue of gentrification. Though the city's Transit Village designation is supposed to mean mixed use development, the two largest projects to date -- both on South 'Avenue -- have been residential only.

The obvious hope of these developers is to attract new residents, with higher incomes to fill the upscale apartments. As an engine, that can drive gentrification, which I find concerning.

New York has become so expensive that only the very well to do can afford Manhattan. A niece who is in college in the city shares a 2-bedroom apartment in Bed-Stuy with two roommates -- the rent is $3,500 a month.

And New York is not alone. My partner Nat's brother and family long ago settled in Toronto, Canada, where his job took him. Toronto is another city with gentrification in full swing. Nat's niece, Katrina, is a student in film studies at Ryerson University -- roughly equivalent to Rutgers in size and scope -- located in downtown Toronto.

Now word comes that she is the director of a documentary on gentrification in Toronto's Parkdale neighborhood -- hence the 'shameless plug' of this post's title.

She and her colleagues have formed Bellboy Pictures to produce and distribute the film (much of which has already been shot) and are using to raise the (meager) $2,500C they estimate they need to finish production.

According to Bellboy's pitch, they have a unique perspective on gentrification --
We’ve found that much of the attention paid to gentrification has come from a detached, academic lens. Instead, This House is Not a Home hopes to create an intimate and cinematic portrait of Parkdale, focusing on the human condition and vividly capturing the stories and memories of our subjects. Rather than using formal interviewing techniques, the documentary will allow its subjects to share in an intimate and conversational tone. The film will follow the day-to-day connections, the stories, and experiences of the people in the Parkdale community.
Take moment to check out their pitch and the trailer here. The campaign is similar to a Kickstarter campaign -- asking for pledges of support from many people at many different levels within a stated time period.

Maybe some Plainfield Today reader(s) will also have concerns about gentrification and this project will resonate with them.

If so, the shameless plug will help these deserving students deliver a documentary on the issue with a unique perspective. And we can get it screened right here in the Queen City to promote our own discussion on the topic.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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RSCohen said...

Gentrification should be Plainfield's worst problem.

Anonymous said...

Before I begin to worry about the negative consequences of gentrification in Plainfield, I would like to see the vast inventory of pending foreclosures reduced from its present level, which rivals Cleveland's. I would like to see the beautiful 19th Century architecture of our downtown enhanced with shopping and entertainment activities that will transform it from someplace to be avoided to someplace to be proud of, as can be found in similar surroundings in Brooklyn or Hoboken. I would like to see the gorgeous mansions on West 8Street, which by some miracle escaped the wrecking ball, fully restored. I would like to see empty factories throughout the city repurposed as housing for artists and actors. Finally, I would not be unhappy if my house and those houses around me recovered at least some of the value lost in the Great Recession, as has happened in surrounding towns. There will always be a need for affordable housing and displacement of the poor, but at this point, in a state where housing is among some of the country's most Plainfield, relatively speaking, is one of the more affordable, and I think it will stay that way for some time to come.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to have sold my house, at a staggering loss, and moved back to Manhattan.