There have been three fatal shootings in the “developing” neighborhood of Uptown in the last week.

Sun Times: 3rd man shot to death in Uptown
Tribune: Uptown neighbors wary after 3 slayings

This quote from the Trib story caught my attention:

“Quite frankly, I’m not surprised at all,” said Katharine Boyda of the Graceland Wilson Neighbors Association. “This has been brewing for months.”

As neighborhoods across Chicago change and poorer residents are priced out of homes and apartments, they come to Uptown, lately bringing gangs and drug dealers with them, Boyda said.

“This isn’t random violence,” she said. “It’s retaliation. It’s fighting for territory, and we’ve got to start recognizing it for what it is.”

When I read that, I think that “recognizing it for what it is” requires a thoughtful, intentional development plan that ensures that current residents have affordable housing, that locally owned businesses are supported and allowed to thrive rather than forced out by chains, that the wealthy white people who are moving in to the neighborhood be sensitive to the existing neighborhood culture rather than act as if there was no culture at all before they got there.

To me “recognizing it for what it is” means recognizing that there is an existing community–rather than assuming that because there’s no Starbucks, no Borders, and no white people, there is nothing there–and striving to be a part of that community, instead of “revitalizing” it until it meets the standard upper class, white, redevelopment norm.

I wonder if that’s what the Graceland Wilson Neighbors Association has in mind?

Advertisements