Yuppies... bugger off!

I was in Berlin from Sunday to meet my grand uncle and grand aunt yesterday whom I haven’t seen in almost two decades. One of the ports of call of their Baltic Sea cruise was in Rostock and we decided a rendezvous in Berlin. For my overnight stay, I stayed at an acquaintance’s place in Charlottenburg, one of the ritzy boroughs of the city. No, I did not stay at Kempinski Hotel; I don’t want to be accosted of living on a champagne lifestyle with a beer budget in Germany.

Neukölln in Berlin is one of the quarters that is, according to this brewing discussion at Toytown Germany, succumbing to undergoing gentrification. The other borough of Prenzlauer Berg north of the city has undergone this phenomenon. Lacking any knowledge of any ‘fun’ things to do there, I personally have never been to the area during my sporadic visits to the city.

Neukölln is a gritty area mostly populated by Turkish immigrants. While imagining artist and yuppy types slowly trickle in, it led me to think whether in general, ethnicity is related to gentrification, i.e., has there been a case when non-Caucasians gentrified a largely Caucasian quarters. And I am distinguishing it from ‘white flight‘. Or is it always the case that income distribution is skewed favoring Caucasians, who consequently have the purchasing power to move into a ‘hood transforming into a hipper one, inadvertently driving out non-Caucasians who find it hard to cope with rising rent?

via Chris Abraham

photo via blogs.taz.de


Atmosphere industries is not making light of the gentrification issue when they made a game out of this urban phenomenon. Gentrification: The Game! follows a monopoly type of rules but played in a real neighborhood.

I have a few hang-ups with what determines the winner though, which is the amount of money that a team possesses by the end of the game. In reality, it is not all about economic gains for the locals that matters. A sense of place and community may still rank high up people’s (non-financial) needs. For sure a few thought and twist of the rules can accommodate this deficiency.

Here’s a short clip of the game while in play.

The game remains just that, a game. Yet it has a good potential for initiating dialogue and understanding of the issue. I’d like to real locals and developers playing out their own role in the game- and vice versa.

From thestar.com.

Even before the high-rise buildings will be completed, some parts of China’s urban landscape already look like a ghost-town as portrayed in this photo-essay. I am trying to imagine how life in this tower-ville will be like once the finishing strokes of the paint job is applied, and the middle-class start trickling in. The first visual affects of the tower-ville led me to ask whether the construction of the buildings considered ‘earthquake-proof’ measures? Digging deeper (no pun intended) into the situation, this instant city will also create instant consumption and demand for energy, economic opportunities and social amenities.

Most of the photos show the vertical magnificence of the buildings. What it doesn’t show is the massive area and the at which this kind of development is happening. Jump to this page of the New York Times to view the full slideshow.

What better way to breath life into a blog about cities than likening it to a growing and living organism? Thanks to Geoffrey West who got bored with theoretical physics, a couple of ecologists, and an obscure theory on scales by Max Kleiber.

Yes, you are just a minute cell in the city. The theory says that “the metabolic rate is equal to the mass of the animal raised to the 3/4 power”. In city terms, this means that a growing city becomes more efficient with the resources it consumes, such as gasoline and power. This explains why New York is considered a sustainable city.

To extend the city-organism analogy, cancer can also metastasise in the urban area in the form of crime (social cancer?), taken over to be part of a metropolitan (phagocytosis), or undergo reconstruction and development (regeneration).

SEED Magazine via YLOGANA

Photo via urban photo