Blog Post By Anne Gadwa Nicodemus

An excerpt from “Artists and Gentrification: Sticky Myths, Slippery Realities”, written by Anne Gadwa Nicodemus and published on (April 5, 2013):

It’s a new phenomenon for artists to have a place at the table of community development.

The scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal still shape what neighborhoods look like, who lives where, residents’ access to good education and employment, and what homes are worth. The fates of swaths of neighborhoods are out of residents’ hands; banks have foreclosed on large percentages of properties. Sketchy lending and a demand for mortgage backed securities means ownership is not vested with the people living there, but rather with countless remote and untraceable investors who own “toxic assets.” Cozy sweetheart deals between politicians and developers, forged in the name of economic development, are still common. When land-use decisions do include public participation, middle-class homeowners and whites are more apt to show up and speak up at meetings than low-income renters and people of color. Non-English speakers are often forced to rely on impromptu translators or aren’t even in the room because the announcement flyer wasn’t in their native tongue. These are the kinds of placemaking inequities we should challenge and change, instead of turning artists into scapegoats.

Nicodemus concludes with a series of thought-provoking questions and a call to action.

How do we grapple with these issues of agency, voice, and power? Change hinges on powerbrokers, the elites—sometimes merely in that they can obstruct it. How do we prevent their active involvement from silencing, or co-opting, artists and other vulnerable or marginalized populations? How do we make sure these interests are central to placemaking efforts?

Creative placemaking encompasses a broad array of practices, and as a field we need to drill down and examine initiatives that resulted in expanded opportunities for low-income communities, people of color, and artists against those that had undesired affects of displacement. How do different types of interventions correlate with outcomes? Is displacement just a by-product of generalized pressure and larger macro-forces in the economy?

I repudiate the notion that artists are the shock troops of gentrification. Artists are, however, on a different front line. They are looking hard at issues of their potential complicity in gentrification. They’re some of the most thoughtful voices grappling with questions of social equity in placemaking. Through nuanced practice, they’re “making the road by walking,” to quote Myles Horton. Instead of casting stones, our challenge as a field is to listen deeply and amplify these voices.

Click here to view original source and read full article.


3 responses to “Blog Post By Anne Gadwa Nicodemus

  1. Hi Danielle, this is Ian David Moss from Createquity. Thanks so much for finding and highlighting Anne’s piece for your readers. When posting about other people’s articles, it’s standard etiquette to publish only an excerpt of their work (three to four paragraphs is usually the max) rather than reposting the whole thing without permission. You’ll notice, for example, that that’s what Anne did with the post on that she was responding to. I welcome the dialogue you’re hoping to create on the piece, but would ask you to please follow these guidelines in doing so. (You can feel free to delete this comment afterwards if you like.) Thank you!

    • Hi Ian, I really appreciate your feedback. I am relatively new to the world of blogging and have often wondered about standards of best practice for situations like this. The guidelines you provided were very helpful and I have edited by post as you suggested. I will continue to follow this etiquette for future posts. I created my blog site to be a personal platform for research and reflection. As a component of my master’s research project, I use it as a space to aggregate data, resources and references; communicate with advisers and peers; and document my investigative process. I often assume that I have limited public readership, however, that is no reason I should not adhere to best practices. Thank you for setting me straight. I am an avid follower of Createquity and your work for Fractured Atlas. Cheers!

  2. Great – thanks so much! I found the post because WordPress notifies me when I have a “pingback” from another website. I always enjoy discovering new blogs focusing on topics that I’m interested in. Good luck with your master’s research!

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