Introduction | The Enlightenment
"Use this as a guide to improve the quality of your life…"
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“You can use this sound as a guide to improve the quality of your life… To take control of the circumstances surrounding your existence…”
Intro - Westside Gunn
As I sit in my apartment in West Philadelphia, I look out the window and see rowhomes and townhouses spanning towards the horizon. The weather is cool, as fall has officially begun, and my neighbors are still adjusting to daylight savings time.
My section of this City of Brotherly Love is uniquely diverse as my neighbors include an eclectic mix of Ivy League college students attending a top university, and across the street, my neighbors in subsidized housing are actively fighting the ongoing threat of displacement due to rapid gentrification. Just around the corner is a burgeoning Life Science district where technicians, inventors, and entrepreneurs work diligently to develop breakthrough technologies and medical treatments.
The funny thing about my little pocket of the city is that it reminds me of the TV show Portlandia. I’ve only been to Portland once, but I can assure you it owns its proclivity for weirdness…
In West Philly, we have a similarly diverse and eclectic mix of humans, pets, music, food, and of course, net worth. In fact, the further west you travel, the closer you get to what most consider “The Hood.”
Out West, the streets begin to narrow and buildings become more compact. The same beautiful humans live there, but their community is changing just the same; rowhomes are being renovated, rent is increasing, and a more affluent demographic is settling out west in search of a less chaotic city life. What were once corner stores and daycares are being replaced with university offices, as educational institutions see the value of investing in westward expansion.
Let me not be mistaken — I do believe that economic development is a good and necessary thing. The problem, however, becomes when community members get priced-out, displaced, and perpetually set back as they strive to improve their economic status.