Practical Advice on Entering a Neighborhood


The process of gentrification continues to flood our American cities, bringing both good and bad. The question we are faced with is what can or should be done. I have written about some of the negative outcomes in “When the Reality Sets In.” Dannette Lambert, a community organizer and political consultant in Oakland, CA, states, “it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you agentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.” She gives some real practical advice to those gentrifying urban communities. These 20 ways to not be a gentrifier can be summarized in the following:

  • Engage your neighbors in conversation: Greet them, introduce yourself, and listen to them. You’re an outsider. Their stories and lessons can teach you so much.
  • Things that you perceive as problems may not be problems: Just because something is “different” in your neighborhood doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad.
  • Frequent local businesses that employ neighbors from neighborhood: Supporting these business is actually helping revitalize the neighborhood. In addition, conversations and listening can be immensely important for you. Most likely there are people in your neighborhood who have been working to revitalize long before you arrived. 
  • Add value: There’s a long history to your neighborhood when you move there. Make sure you don’t work to erase it, but instead add to this history as it is being written.

Fall in love with your new community, both for what it is and what it could be.”