Power to the People, Fight Gentrification

5 04 2017

The piece below this image was originally published by me back in 2015 in response to a cover story written by Kinsee Morlan. Here is a link to her City Beat article, the headline of the original article has been changed from “power to the people” to “A Renaissance on Logan Ave” http://sdcitybeat.com/culture/features/renaissance-logan-avenue/

DSC01378After having read the piece in City Beat Magazine (People Power, Barrio Logan, July 22, 2015), I felt the need to write a response and hopefully stir people to think more critically about what is really happening on Logan Avenue.

I was born and raised in San Diego, and I’ve been around long enough to know gentrification when I see it. Plain and simple, what is happening on Logan Avenue is a phase in that process.

I think what confuses people about what is happening is that you have brown folks   involved in the process, some are calling this “gente-fication”. But color is just one thing that informs our judgments; we have to consider how class intersects with this as well.  Don’t get me wrong I’m in favor of the arts and Brown people moving forward, but we have to consider the cost of so called progress and who ultimately benefits from that “progress”.   We must reflect how our actions are contributing to a larger situation that is beyond our control unless we have a highly organized, militant and complex response to what is happening. It may seem cool now, but capital isn’t interested in community empowerment, it’s interested in dollars and how to maximize profit.

You may be reading this and thinking what a *#!?!* hater.  But before you dismiss read on.

The article in City Beat seems to go back and forth around this issue of gentrification, whether it’s happening or not and whether it’s good or bad. Some of the points made lack depth and a clear analysis.

As John Alvarado mentions in the piece, much of Logan Avenue was “overlooked by bigtime developers/investors who wanted to swoop up cheap land close to downtown”, apparently that is changing “it wasn’t until last year that a lot of properties were sold on and around the block”. Alvarado is actually confirming the process of gentrification is taking place. Alvarado represents the small business interest in the neighborhood (or in Marxist terms the petty bourgeoisie) as the Director of the Logan Avenue Business Association.

According to another source for the article, Juan Martinez, a broker for a real estate firm located in Bonita, argues several properties were just sold, but not to worry about gentrification, “at least not for now, because the developers seem to be a good fit for the neighborhood”.  What the hell?  Who are these developers and why does Juan Martinez get to decide what is a good fit for the neighborhood? Were community members at the table when he was meeting developers that were interested in buying?  I doubt it.

Another investor Sasha Favelukis just purchased two properties on the block and plans to open up studios and a restaurant, but claims it’s in the interest of artist. I’m sorry but investors don’t put down hard cash because they are worried about the art scene in Barrio

Logan, they spend money to make money, bottom line.  Based on a recent ad for property  on Logan Avenue commercial property prices have jumped to $2.10 per square foot. This is double the price in some areas of San Diego from just a few years ago.

I’m glad to see someone in the article made sense, probably because he’s already seen it happen. David White was pushed out of his artist studio in North Park and says, “it’ll be difficult to protect the street from the kind of development that raises rent and forces artists out”. He predicts rents will increase dramatically in the next few years. I think White is correct in his prediction. One space is already struggling to keep up and is looking for artist to help cover the cost by leasing space at $300 a month and has even resorted to gofundme.org to raise additional money. Without support from the city the art spaces will have a difficult time keeping up with the cost of operating without bringing in some kind of revenue. [update, this space “The Church” closed soon after this article was published and had to move to a smaller space across the street]

However, the writer Kinsee Morlan tries to end the article on an upbeat note and includes  the voice of an architect Hector Perez. Perez along with other architects bought nine lots in the area not including a design school down the street. They designed a creative building with an image of Cesar Chavez on the side. He admits that the “development sharks” are circling, but thinks that the community can salvage its cultural identity and isn’t too worried.  Well, if I owned property on the block I wouldn’t be too worried either, because any property I owned would only increase in value as the area becomes more gentrified.

Imagery and icons from the Chicano community can be easily appropriated to fit the needs of developers or business interest in general. (see Urban Outfitters for the latest examples)

You can call it what you want, but culture is controlled by those who own the wealth in society and as property values continue to rise, poor and working class Raza will get pushed out. According to the census, the white population in 92113 has jumped from 11.7% to 32.8 from 2000 to 2010.

When a wealthier population moves into an area they will want to see and experience things that make them feel comfortable based not just on income, but also race and social background. So it’s only a matter of time before brown working class residents and artist get pushed out. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. Perhaps this message will encourage the Raza that are there to think critically about what is happening and face the writing on the wall. If the community wants to save the Barrio than it has to implement guarantees that will protect the social, economic, cultural and political interest of the community that is quickly being displaced and the way to do this is through organization. More importantly these organizations must develop a clear analysis of their position in this process of gentrification or else they are just pawns in the development game.





Solidarity with Standing Rock in San Diego

25 08 2016

support standing rock





Support for Lakota Nation, Defeat DAP

19 08 2016

Sorry for the short notice, but here is our local effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and support Native peoples and Mother Earth.

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Chicana/o Native Art Show

8 12 2015

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Petition to Save Sacred Burial Site

29 11 2015

https://www.change.org/p/michelle-julene-senior-planner-east-bay-regional-park-district-save-sacred-site-hear-the-call-mission-peaks-site-threatened





Thangs Taken 2015

29 11 2015

1024px-Tribal_Territories_Southern_New_EnglandWho Were the Indians at the First Thanksgiving?

I don’t think most people know what happened on that first thanksgiving, but hopefully this piece will help to give you a little background. I’m not saying you have to throw down your fork as you read this and walk out of your family’s Thanksgiving Day feast, but at least know a little about what actually happened on that day when the “Pilgrims” and “Indians” first sat down together, basically the whole reason why we have this day off in November.

First of all know that almost all of this story is a big myth and lie…!!! I hate to burst your little bubbles, but yes, most of what we know is just mythology to help cover up the story of genocide against Native people in this country.

When we give thanks today, we usually are giving thanks to God, for all of the blessings “he” has given us over the past year. This is a good thing, because we should all be thankful for what life has given us, be it good or bad.

However, if this day is about celebrating the bountiful harvest that the “Pilgrims” had and how they invited the Indians to share in that harvest, shouldn’t we know something about the “Indians” they sat down with? And shouldn’t we be giving them thanks?

When the so-called “Pilgrims” first arrived they eventually settled in an abandoned native village known as Patuxet. This village was abandoned because the Wamponoag people had been ravaged by a disease brought by earlier European explorers/traders. By the time the English Colonists from Plymouth, England arrived in 1621 the village was empty, except for perhaps a few corpses that had not been buried because there was no one left to bury them.   Seeing this as an opportunity and a blessing from God, the Puritans and other people aboard ship the Mayflower decided they would remain and call this village Plymouth, after the place they came from.

This colonial project would get off to a bad start with more than half of the colonist dying off from starvation and sickness. As they perished the Wamponoag and their leader Massasoit would debate as what to do about them. One of the Wamponoag who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery (Tesquantum aka Squanto) in England had escaped and made his way back to America. Squanto told his people the potential threat that the Natives faced from the Europeans after having seen their country. Massasoit decided to use Squanto as a translator since he had learned some English while a slave in England to negotiate an agreement between the English Colonists and the Wamponoag. After this peace treaty was agreed to the Wamponoag brought food like corn, squash, deer and other native foods to help the English survive. They had already helped by showing them how to grow their own food prior to this offering. This would have been the first Thanksgiving, but we don’t know the date that this took place and no one called it that back in the 1620s. Even the name Pilgrim was not used by the colonist at that time, that name along with Thanksgiving was given later by Americans in the 19th Century.

What perhaps is more shocking is what happens after the so-called first Thanksgiving. After many years of peaceful co-existence and trade between the Wampanoag people (people of the first light) and their chief Massasoit things would go very bad for the natives. Eventually, so many English colonists would arrive to Native America and demand more land that Native people would push back and refused to sell or trade any more land. They also banned all missionaries from operating in Native territory due to the cultural effects that Christianity was having on the natives. In addition the colonists no longer traded saw a need to trade with the Wampanoags as the beaver population had been wiped out and colonist began trading with others.

By this time Chief Massasoit had passed away making his son Metacomet the new Chief. Eventual a war would break out between the two peoples; Metacomet would encourage other people to join the Wamponoags in defeating the English. The Massachusett Nation (what the state of Massachusetts is named after today) and others would join him. Unfortunately, the natives would lose the war and Chief Metacomet would have his body dismembered with his head being placed at the center of Plymouth Colony (formerly Patuxet) to remind everyone English and Natives alike what the outcome of King Philips War was. (King Philip was the name given to Chief Metacomet by the English).

On this day let us the remember the Wampanoag, Massachusett, Narranganset, Pequot, Nipmuck and all native people that have resisted European colonization and continue this struggle today!!





No Sainthood for Padre Junipero Serra

24 09 2015

Watch video with Native California speaker Valentin Lopez on why the Catholic Church should not make Padre Junipero Serra a Saint.

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Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez and Valentin Carbajal, offer song in the four directions in 2012. Click image to see video interview with Chairman Lopez.