Posts Tagged ‘Gentrification’

by Jamee Greer

I have to say that I’m not surprised by two things on the front front page of today’s Montana Kaimin –

1.) That the Babs Building on 4th Street SW is possibly turning into condominiums, and

2.) That the Kaimin broke this story.

The staff at The University of Montana’s student paper have really earned their fee increase this year, covering (and breaking stories) on everything from queer rights at UM to student renters displaced by gentrification.

I’m not going to offer much commentary on the possible conversion, other than to say it’s too bad to see yet another affordable housing option disappear in a city with a ridiculous vacancy rate – at least for rentals. First there was the Wilma (with its 25 units), then the Montaigne-slash-“Historic Penwell” (with it’s, I believe, 47 units), and now (maybe) the Babs – coming in at an additional 14 units.

Update: I was mistaken in saying the Montana Kaimin has “earned their fee increase this year” – while I knew that students voted against the fee increase (the only increase to fail the student ballot in ’07) – I was under the impression that the Board of Regents went against student wishes and funded the paper anyway.

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By Jamee Greer

(While many members of Missoula’s community enjoy the benefits of warm homes in the winter and luxuries like wireless internet access, we should remember that some others do not. Support Missoula’s homeless shelter, the Poverello. Donations can be made by clicking here, and those with spare time and tight budgets can volunteer by calling the Poverello’s Volunteer Coordinator, Frankie Feinstein, at 728-1809.)

I had no idea how popular this blog was until I made the original post. Between the fact that readership tripled on Monday and the almost two dozen people on campus who thanked me for writing the post, I’m still a little stunned.

I’m known for being sarcastic, but often only to get my point across—and usually regarding an injustice. When I sat down at the coffee shop last weekend to write this, I wanted to instigate discussion. I wanted folks to begin communicating about the ramifications we face, for better or worse, as our magnanimous city evolves.

Folks might say that’s idealistic, or that I’m just bitter over loosing my apartment to gentrification this fall. Truth be told, I’m a little of both. But I’d rather use that idealism and bitterness to focus my energy on social change in my twenties—rather than bottle it in until my seventies and regret that I hadn’t done something when I still could. My argument—and I assume the arguments of many others who commented on Missoula’s new social club—aren’t naïve or nostalgic. It’s a shared fear that the city we’ve embraced as home is changing and we’re at a precarious point where our voices, planning and politics will determine the future of Missoula.

Really what we have here is a fantastic social experiment in twenty-first century conversation, a community expressing their trepidations, frustrations and support for fellow Missoulians. We here at 4and20blackbirds thought it might be wise to do a follow up post and include clips of comments from the original entry for folks to use in furthering greater conversation.

“Let’s quit mourning the loss of Jays, go to a Poverello hosted Rock Raiser at the Badlander and move on with our lives.”

mediabee

“I helped run Jay’s for the last three years of it’s existence. Jay’s was a lot of things. It was extremely dirty and worn down but it was also an amazing place that helped form some of the best local acts to ever play in this town.”

Colin Hickey

“But now there are other venues that can take its place and offer so much more, like the Badlander. The beat goes on!”

Rebecca, moderator, 4and20blackbirds

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