In a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder. The relationship between transportation and social mobility is stronger than that between mobility and several other factors, like crime, elementary-school test scores or the percentage of two-parent families in a community, said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the researchers on the study.... A separate report focusing on New York, from New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation, came to a similar conclusion. The study compared neighborhoods by accessibility to mass transit and the number of jobs within an hour’s commute. It found that residents of the areas least well served by mass transit relied on personal vehicles. Areas in the middle third—those with some, but insufficient, access to transportation—had the highest rates of unemployment and the lowest incomes, the study found.
I'll say it again: Shaking our fists at new apartment buildings, sneering at bros and woo girls, and slapping up snarky posters—and
our his snarky posters are way better than theirs—is emotionally gratifying, yes, and venting is good. We gotta vent. But venting isn't going to turn back the clock. It's not going to prevent new development, end gentrification (and bring back white flight), or stop the dislocation of poor people, young people, and artists.
Like I said in this post...
Care about the poor? Check out this story at Gawker. Poor and working class people are being forced out of urban centers and into the suburbs. It's happening here too. And it seems to me... and, again, forgive me for my apostasy... but it really does seem to me that trying to "save" historically poor neighborhoods, i.e. pretending that we can stop "gentrification," is a waste of time. It would be better idea to get out in front of changes that are already happening and will continue to happen no matter how many "Fuck You, Bros!" posters go up on light poles outside of the bars "they" stole from "us." (The same bars "we" stole from "them" back in the day.) Pushing to get rapid transit out into the suburbs—aka the new inner city—might actually help the people who are being forced out of the cities. Posters? Not so much.
And for the record: Yes, I own a home on Capitol Hill. I'm not going to get pushed out of the neighborhood. (But Gold's Gym is so overrun with straight boys these days that I'm pretty sure we're going to get pushed out of Seattle's "gay gym" pretty soon.) It's precisely because I give a shit about people who aren't lucky enough to own homes on Capitol Hill or in the Central District that I want to see more people out there pushing for the expansion of our (currently pathetic) rapid transit system. We can and should push for more affordable housing and for rezoning the city to allow for more multifamily dwellings. And yes to venting and communicating and expressing ourselves and making art and shaking our fists at the new apartment buildings.
But let's also make realistic demands—realistic, concrete, and achievable demands.
Demanding a halt to the macroeconomic forces that are reshaping/destroying the city isn't realistic or achievable. ("Stop moving, tectonic plates!") Pointing to the harm being done by those forces and demanding policies to mitigate those harms is realistic and achievable. If poor people and working people are being pushed out of the center of the city, we should organize and demand the construction of a transit system that makes it possible for people to quickly get where they need to go without having to own a car.