community

Gentrify |ˈjentrəˌfī| (verb): renovate and improve so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

Gentrification describes the process of "urban renewal" in working class neighborhoods. Typically this begins with the construction of condos that attract young urban professional tenants (yuppies). Development and rennovation drive up rents and push out lower income residents.

Paradoxically, the process often begins with influxes of local artists looking for affordable places to live --  giving a neighborhood a "bohemian" aesthetic. This new character eventually attracts well-to-do residents who find the atmosphere desirable. The displacement of lower income artists and residents (often ethnic/racial minorities) is a direct result of this rapidly changing social character. 

Gentrification also involves an influx of upmarket local businesses and shops that cater to the tastes and lifestyles of affluent new inhabitants. Businesses like sushi resaturants, couture coffee bars, and high-end clothing boutiques come to replace local long-standing businesses displaced by higher rents.

I bring up this definition, not because I am anti-gentrification, but because I take issue with the limited options and lack of imagination present in the ongoing development of modern cities. Taking into account the desires and needs of only the most privileged population is not only deluded but unsustainable. Surely there is a way to grow and develop urban environments that allow for greater diversity (social, economic, and cultural) and that respect and preserve the history of a place. 

The pictures below capture scenes at the edges of Downtown Los Angeles. These are the environments that still reflect the grit, personality, problems, and history of a city in flux.

Creation & Community: Working with Teresa Flowers

Creation & Community: Working with Teresa Flowers

Several months ago I crossed paths with an artist by the name of Teresa Flowers. I knew nearly nothing about her except that she had just moved to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City and I was going to take some photos of her and her work for a magazine article. I had no idea I would be meeting someone whose artwork and attitude would inspire and motivate me to begin actualizing my own creative desires -- never mind becoming involved in hers too.  But that is exactly what happened. 

Read More