(This is Part 2 of the series.
If you would like to read Part 1 and haven't, you may find it at http://ezinearticles.
com) It makes no sense for us to place blame for gentrification entirely, or even primarily, at the feet of the "gentry.
"After all, this is America, and our economy is based on capitalistic, free-market theory.
Like someone told me recently, "This is the story of America - the world, for that matter.
'They' come in, take someone else's land and home or pay them less than it is worth, kick them out or move them to some lesser place, and fix it up for themselves or sell it for a big profit.
" Gentrification is nothing new - it's "Standard Operating Procedure" for people engaged in the business of making money.
There are some moral issues which should temper this behavior - but, as one guy told me, "it's legal - and this ain't heaven!" One primary thing Black people who love East Austin must immediately do in order to maintain its culture and historical identity is harness its resources by creating more Revenue Streams.
Revenue Streams are the pillar of economic development for both businesses and individuals.
When I say "Revenue Streams", I mean multiple and overlapping business avenues and ventures, and personal spending habits which earn money for those in a particular group or neighborhood - particularly all those personally involved.
This isn't a new or revolutionary concept - actually it's a very old, fundamental one.
Even if you know what I'm getting at, this short article can be for you a sort of reminder - even a "revelation" - of what Revenue Streams can mean for us as a people.
If we spent the same amount of time figuring out how WE can create ongoing Revenue Streams of our own, as we do trying to get so-called "deserved" monies from the governmental powers-that-be, we would collectively be in a much more progressive position, and much less at the mercy of others.
Positive Revenue Streams are not difficult to create, but there is accountability, responsibility, and ultimately some creativity involved.
The 3 simplest ways to create Revenue Streams for the neighborhood are to 1) earn money elsewhere and spend it in your own neighborhood, or with your own group, 2) develop ways to cause others who are not a part of your group to spend money in your neighborhood or with your group, and 3) do 1) and 2) over and over and over again! We actually have a great history, right here in Austin (and all over America!) of Black-owned, Black-operated neighborhood businesses buying and selling to the Black population.
The way I have heard it from several knowledgeable, elderly Blacks, before desegregation and busing gave us a "way out" and into the city-at-large (and more freedom to spend money there), most of the goods, services, and recreation purchased were purchased right in the neighborhood.
More money therefore stayed in the neighborhood, and its vitality was self-sustaining.
What was then done by law we should now do by choice.
If we can learn to do this again we will slow efforts at and effects of gentrification.
Economic strength reduces susceptibility to gentrification We should employ this concept business-to-business, too.
Keep reading, I've got a plan...
A NOVEL APPROACH...
NOT!! Hey, here is my great idea! Let's get together and pool our resources! We'll all help one of us succeed in business, then another, and another, and after 5 years of diligence, we'll all be successful.
Let's do it.
Ok, so you know this isn't MY great, new idea, huh?We actually see it happening every day.
Just not by Blacks...
Many other races do it well.
How do you think foreign people - who have NEVER been to America, CAN'T speak a lick of English, DON'T have any real money to speak of, BARELY got past immigration(legally or illegally) - come here and soon own darn near EVERY store in YOUR neighborhood where YOU have lived your whole life? How? They work hard, pool resources, and TRUSTED others in their group.
Truth be told, most "pool our resources" efforts on our part would probably be dashed before they began.
The killer question would be either, "who's gonna hold the money?" or "who gets to make it...
first?" The reason for this lack of trust for each other can, of course, be traced back to the Lynchian philosophy inculcated and embedded in our socio-psychology centuries ago - but we aren't going in to all that right now.
(email me for more info...
) But if we are to improve as a people, if we want to see East Austin revitalized, if we want to be stronger for our children, we must learn to trust each other - not blindly and not everyone - but trust some, nevertheless.
Maybe "pooling resources" is too big a jump.
Maybe it's another topic for another day.
However, creating business-to-business Revenue Streams is part of today's theme.
Spending money with each other for goods and services should be fundamental.
If we won't buy each other's products, how do we suppose anyone else will?Why do we sometimes have the "how you doing?" business network, the "ooh, look what she is wearing!" event, and the "they ain't gettin' theirs if I don't get mine, first" meeting.
Why won't more of us step up, reach out and spend some real money with some real Black businesses.
You may be surprised at the return revenue you create for yourself as a result.
If a business truly promotes East Austin (not just lip-service), if it is based in East Austin, and/or if the owners live in East Austin, then doing business with that business would help create Revenue Streams for...
you got it - East Austin.
I'm not going to mention any businesses or fully-funded establishments by name - I am not qualified to do that, nor is it my purpose...
but some could be, should be, spending more money with Black businesses than they have been.
These larger businesses and firms could catalyze a financial boon, which could help smaller businesses grow.
This growth, coupled with re-localized spending, would continue to infuse the community, keep local businesses in business, and enable more of them to resist the urge or remove the need to sell-out to the gentry or a speculator.
So much to say, so little room...
Let me end Part 2 by saying: East Austin is being encroached upon by "new" forces, whose presence will change the very nature of life in her neighborhoods.
There are pros and cons to this reality.
More money is coming to the area, but will you be there to share in it? Plan on it! The residents of East Austin, and those who love East Austin, must now pay closer attention.
Spend money with businesses that are trying to stay or help, create new businesses now, create events which bring in revenue and put the earnings back into the community.
Use some to fix up an elderly person's house - why wait for Habitat to do it? Create a gentrification "stop-line," and build up business from that street forward.
Copyright 2006Brian K BurnsAll Rights Reserved