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Why Brooklyn Will Never Be Totally Gentrified

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When it comes to a night out, have you ever tried to get 5 or 6 friends to agree on the same movie? How often do you all decide to split up into smaller groups, go see different flicks and catch up later? Brooklyn currently has 2.5 million residents. Let's say you can break those people up into 5 or 6 like-minded groups that are sharing a measly 97 square miles of this planet. Do you think you'll ever get them to agree on what the culture of that landmass should be?

This is why the idea of Brooklyn being completely gentrified is ridiculous. It would imply that 2.5 million people would agree to be part of one like-minded group that lives the same way, with the same kind of diets, entertainment and lifestyle. If Brooklyn is capable of drawing so many like-minded peoples and uniting them so tightly -- in a country that isn’t communist -- then more power to it. But, really, that shit is never going to happen. And that's why the whole idea of being "left behind" by gentrification posited in the NY Times is stupid.

In an article published earlier this month, the Times details how “against all odds, [Brooklyn] became an internationally recognized icon of cool.” It claims that some neighborhoods have been left behind in the process. While some citizens are grateful, the Times presents it as an issue of money. While some neighborhoods like Park Slope seem to get all they want, other neighborhoods like Sunset Park, which is still mostly inhabited by Asian and Hispanic immigrants, find it almost impossible to get attention from politicians. According to the Times, that and the gaps in income appear to be the biggest factors stopping Brooklyn for becoming one, giant homogeneous place.

The thing is, you will never get millions of people to agree on anything; not even the idea that high property values is better than section 8 housing. It may seem an obvious choice to people who read the NY Times or live in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights. But those are self-selected groups, which is a big reason that they all live together. No one should be confusing that for some kind of objective reality.

I’m not saying that I’d rather live in section 8 housing than a nice neighborhood with high property values. I like to complain about the pretentious neighbors when I visit my mom on 8th Street and PPW... but I’m much happier having them in the building than our old neighbors who performed Santeria rituals in the basement. I don’t pretend to understand why anyone would prefer that lifestyle over the one that exists in Park Slope today. I also don’t understand why people like Coldplay. That doesn’t change the fact that they do.

That is why not every neighborhood gets gentrified. Money and lifestyles are just the easiest differences to spot. But the real reason is because there are a lot of people in Brooklyn and that means a lot of points of views and a lot of groups. The idea of homogenizing that many people without an army to impose that homogenization, is ludicrous. Look at our neighbors across the East River. No matter how much money comes into Manhattan, it is still made up of many different neighborhoods, each with their own flavors, their own highlights and their own downfalls. Brooklyn is no different. That’s just not how we roll.

Ms. Avena, 35, said the greater availability of organic vegetables or sustainable, grass-fed beef in a place like Park Slope holds no appeal. “If they think it’s healthy, it’s fine with me,” she said. “But it’s not for me.”

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