Notes from Changing Demographics, Keeping Your Mission...
Changing Demographics, Keeping Your Mission (Notes provided by Lauren W.)
In this workshop we discussed how demographic and economic changes in our neighbourhoods are creating new challenges and opportunities for our shops and projects. Several participants reported that they are caught in processes of gentrification – the neighbourhoods our shops have been in for a long time are becoming wealthier, and in turn the property values (and rent) are climbing and our shops’ clientele is becoming wealthier. How do we maintain our vision in changing neighbourhoods?
How do we survive these shifts? Some suggestions included: - Alleviating our spaces altogether. What would it be like to do strictly mobile pop-up shops and programming? Could we partner with community centres, libraries, and neighbourhood houses to do this successfully? - Running cost-recovery programs that charge people with money more so that you can fund marginalized communities (ie: corporate events to fund school programs) - Reorganizing our spaces and safer spaces policies to accommodate, but not privilege, wealthy clientele - Do a feasibility study to see if you should expand, move, or open up a pop-up location elsewhere. - Join your local Business Improvement Association to meet the people who are driving gentrification, and then ruin their lives - Build alliances with other businesses and members of the neighbourhood to maintain neighbourhood identity - A question worth considering is whether we, as community bikes shops, are in fact driving gentrification. Young white people (who are the dominant majority in community bike shop settings) attract other young white people, so if our shops are in marginalized neighbourhoods we may in face be driving the gentrification that is squeezing us out. There are important questions here about if and how our shops are colonial spaces (colonial activism!), and how we can work with marginalized communities more appropriately. How do we avoid taking over their spaces and making them ours, while still providing needed services? Possible practices include conscientious hiring practices, or downsizing our spaces and doing more collaborative mobile pop-ups.