There's a new song out by a band I've followed for a long long time. The song is called "Gold Rush" by Death Cab For Cutie. It's a song that deals with the ever changing landscape of the places we call home. Specifically the songwriter, Ben Gibbard, talks about how his home of Seattle, Washington has changed drastically over the course of the past 15 years. With the emergence of Amazon as a world power of commerce, and other tech magnates flocking to the Northwest, the city is rapidly gentrifying. Ok, ok, I tried to hold off on the dreaded "G" word as long as I could. But it's a real thing that's happening (for better or worse) in many of the places we call home.
Now that our haunts have taken flight
And been replaced with construction sites
Oh, how I feel like a stranger here
Searching for something that's disappeared
Thinking back on the city that he knew a decade ago and how much it's changed has caused the singer, community, and country to consider the effects of gentrification in their own home feeling like strangers in the streets they've lived in for their entire lives.
I can't help but feel a little connected and guilty listening to this song as I live in the biggest example of gentrification this country knows, Brooklyn, New York. My neighborhood of Williamsburg is the epicenter of gentrification in New York City. Historically a neighborhood of Hasidic, Italian, and Puerto Rican residents–the neighborhood now is almost completely white, relatively affluent, Millennials. Most of the old residents have long since left because of soaring rent prices and a loss of opportunity. It's equal parts interesting and saddening to walk through the streets seeing new high rise apartment buildings going up in a neighborhood dominated by low rise living. Looking around at the corner stores and local restaurants that may not be there in a year or two depending on the whims and desires of city officials and developers.
I'm not here to condemn the idea of gentrification, but more trying to work through my personal thoughts and feelings about the notion. I keep thinking of how different my neighborhood is today in 2018 as opposed to 1998. And it's hard to say which city or neighborhood will be next effected. When I think back to my hometown of Salt Lake City, where rent prices have stayed relatively low for a metropolitan city and massive development hasn't taken over, I tend to think that it's just a matter of time before Salt Lake turns into the next Brooklyn, Austin, or Seattle. With that comes with great opportunities, but it also comes with a sense of loss and rapid change that could leave all of it's current residents asking the same questions that Ben Gibbard is asking in "Gold Rush".
Until next time, friends
-Jordan & The Blue and White Collar team