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For the past 15 years, San Francisco's Mission District has undergone phases of real estate gentrification that came with each new technology boom. With information technology being the latest impetus, San Francisco has, on the street corners of certain neighbourhoods, new condominium towers being built. With the construction of new condos come upper-middle class newcomers, who can afford the high rents. In the process, local businesses have closed their doors, families, people with disabilities and illnesses & art spaces are evicted, using the Ellis Act. The following poem was originally inspired by the first signs of real estate gentrification in Oakland, but could easily be applied to San Francisco's neighbourhoods right now. Before we step into action to save homes, the first step is awareness of their potential loss.
by Dee Allen.
Quick ecology lesson:
A species of animal or plant
From one ecosystem will transport
Themselves to another, thereby
Introducing themselves to it.
Upon entering their new habitat,
The introduced species will crowd out
Native inhabitants, in a competition over
Available resources, usually land.
Soon after the introduced species will
Extend their reach into other areas
And repeat the process, which
Places native species at risk.
In addition, the number of invaders
Multiply over time;
Then they become a permanent part of the ecosystem.
This lesson applies
To the inner city.
From suburban tracts visit its
Concrete canyons, valleys of steel & glass,
Its avenues, its barrios,
Epicentres of non-White culture;
Then flood them with their amassing numbers.
The working class & poverty class are
Driven out, homes emptied.
Cityslaves & bulldozers do the rest.
Arising from out of nowhere,
Shining new boxy Bauhaus rendition buildings
Affluence, soullessness & non-culture
Cover each street corner.
Monuments to smug, self-indulgent
The urban habitat is now a
City of the walking dead, for its
Heart has already been impaled,
Exsanguinated the moment the
Invasive species gained their collective foothold.
Meanwhile, streets are cleaner, walkable,
Safer as well-fed, well-dressed
Newcomers sip their wine, eat brie & wheat crackers,
Making themselves at home.