Decade in Review: Dream vs Present

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I keep looking at my old 2003 post "My Dream of Shaw" trying to figure out what I could say to the person who wrote that entry ten years ago.

Is my block diverse? Is my neighborhood diverse? There was a question of diversity at the most recent BACA meeting directed towards the Mundo Verde representative. It seems that 7% of the staff of this very sought after charter school, is African-American. An attendee asked if that was enough diversity, so at the same time I can wonder does our neighborhood have enough diversity. But then what kind of diversity? Looking at the census tract that covers Truxton Circle, tract 46, we went from 92% black in 2000 to 65% black in 2010. This can be seen as a good thing because it means the neighborhood is no longer a segregated black neighborhood.  I've been glancing at academic papers about segregation, and they seem to agree that segregation is bad. However the authors of these things seem to want to desegregate white neighborhoods, with an influx of up and coming (they say poor, but let's be hopeful and positive) African Americans in order for the black newcomers to take advantage of job opportunities, better housing, better schools, and lower crime. No one seems to advocate for it going the other way around, whites desegregating a poorer black neighborhood to bring (eventually) job opportunities, better housing and lower crime. When it happens in the other direction, we call it gentrification.

It's diverse enough. It isn't Georgetown, nor does it look like the neighborhoods west of the Park. As long as there is the Co-op, and multi-generation families who bought their houses in the bad old 80s (or before) there will be some level of economic and racial diversity. Mom or grandma might own the house free and clear and may be in good health to live long enough to out last the young new couple who moved in. Then she may pass the property on to the kids or grandkids who live with her, and they might have 5 or more years of living there before deciding to cash out or getting moved out due to taxes or foreclosure or seizure by a non-resident relative who was smart enough to get mom to sign a will leaving it to them (it has been done!). When the bank or the IRS or the City or the smarter relative sells, as none seem interested in landlording, it won't be to a poor person.

Even landlords seem to have lost interest in Section 8s and renting to the poor. The evil landlord on my block lost interest in renting to crackheads a few years ago. Seriously you'd think she was advertizing on the back side of crack baggies. She does not invest in her property, but she has fixed it up juuuuust enough to rent to young people enjoying their crummy group house in the hood experience, as opposed to crack heads who don't seem to care about crap. Another landlord, who isn't evil, also decided to go with market rate over Section 8, because the Section 8 tenants were rough on the structure and tore the place up. Both landlords are black, renting to non-blacks.

I've digressed on the topic of diversity.

Crime, is better than it was before, but I still fear jinxing that so, no more on that topic.

In 2003 I wrote, "As far as businesses go, I dream of fewer liquor stores. A few places where I can walk to in 15-20 minutes from the house and grab a pastry, or sit down and eat, or buy a book." Well, books come in the mail or on-line in digital form, so scratch that. There are almost as many liquor stores as last time, just fewer places to buy 40 oz beer and MD 20/20 to go. Now in 2013, I can walk 10 minutes and get a pastry or baked good or cookies. In 2013, there are several places in walking distance to sit down and eat some food, with wait service. Well that part of the dream came true, and I also got things I didn't even dream about that I wanted, like the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market .

I could say to my 10 years younger self that the neighborhood becomes more attractive and less segregated and it will be a great place to live, sorry it is taking so long.

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