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todd hido

April 29, 2008

the san francisco branch of pbs, kqed, produced a short documentary on todd hido as part of the artist documentary series on spark (i should mention that i appreciate the latin derivation of their name qed). hido captures, in his photos of houses, the true quality of american residential development-eerie, monotonous depression.

 

the suburban plight

the us, since its inception, has persistently proved that it will make the same shortsighted mistakes when it comes to development (at the expense of environmental degradation and socioeconomic polarization) for the sake of the economy. the undeterred laissez faire philosophies in real estate, as in other markets, heed only the concerns within the scope of their myopic view-immediate profits. since 1945, these mistakes have materialized in the wasteful suburban developmental pattern fueled by us images of success-bringing the trends of white flight and environmental racism. recent years have turned these principles on their head in a quintessentially ironic, “oh shit, i really fucked up,” moment.

this moment has brought americans to consider more environmentally conscious housing situations, i.e., those that do not require commuting for upwards of 2 hours a day.

gentrification.

this phenomenon has hit seattle extremely hard as a result of seattle’s transition into a so-called “in” city coinciding with the rise in economic sucess of gentrification. 

 

cabrini-green

although, other cities may have it worse off due to relative rates of poverty. GOOD magazine profiles the story of cabrini-green, a chicago public housing project. richard daley, the mayor, is seeking to transition chicago into a progressive city. dealing with perceived problems of crime is one of the fronts on which his is attempting to do this, another being environmental conscientiousness. daley has adopted a new urbanist (a.k.a. neo traditionalist) policy of mixed-income zoning. this policy seeks to decrease crime rates by eliminating slums-spreading those below poverty rates throughout the city. this policy is being pursued by demolishing the projects and rebuilding mixed-income developments. good? unfortunately, all of those living in cabrini-green will not have a spot in the new development. demolishing this home to over 2000 residents completely disrupts the sense of community that has developed in its 50 years. further, many of the commercial establishments that low income residents of cabrini-green could afford will be replaced with starbucks, chili’s and quizno’s-alienating those same low-income residents.

 

tim harris

tim harris, executive director of the seattle street publication, real change, decries the local government’s complicity in gentrified development-allowing for the construction of several multi-million dollar complexes (safeco field + qwest field + benaroyal hall + sam + pacific place > $1 bill). this transformation, suburbanizing the city, is opposed by many, for obvious reasons. developers are building these complexes while simultaneously creating permanent housing, as opposed to the transitional shelters and job location programs that are needed to bring the homeless back into the workforce. this expensive cultural and commercial development has catalyzed the development of expensive downtown condos. about 8 are in construction downtown now.  they are attempting to create an anti-white flight. i fear an inevitable second, more pejorative, black flight.

so those of you with money, i suggest moving to the cd now to enjoy the property value appreciation. everyone else, get ready to enjoy the burbs because the second black flight is about to begin.

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