Neighborhoods naturally change.. but when you see drastic, alarming changes that target and directly effect specific groups of people, almost always people of color and low income groups, that’s when you know gentrification is real. I live in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis, a small community made up of diverse populations and old homes. I talked to someone recently who has lived in the Whittier neighborhood since his childhood. He said when he was a kid, most of the houses in the neighborhood were owned by single families. Now, many are young renters like myself. I feel many of my neighbors are conscious of respecting our community and acknowledging the presence of minority and low income groups and their needs. I feel our landlords and developers interested in the neighborhood do not. We’ve begun to see large developments built in the neighborhood that do not fit in with the mission of inclusivity, diversity, and equality that I’ve learned to value and appreciate while living in the neighborhood. I think the potential changes to many Minneapolis neighborhoods including Whittier are dangerous to the well being and livelihood of a lot of people.
I created The House Project to honor the old, beautiful homes I bike and walk by daily. I go on bike rides around my neighborhood on nice days, snapping photos on my disposable camera of the houses that stand out to me or I feel encapsulate the aesthetic of Whittier’s streets. They are not necessarily beautiful in the sense of grandeur but more so in their livability and uniqueness, traits that seem to disappear the more modern housing becomes. After getting them developed, I cut out the little traits I love so much like intricate moldings and vibrantly colored window frames, and collage them together to create quirky mega-homes made up of these cut up photographs. Homes like the one I live in and those around me are in danger of being torn down and developed into large, boxy condo buildings that minimize the importance of affordable housing in Minneapolis neighborhoods. Maybe if we can appreciate these homes and through them, the people who have worked hard to pay to live in them and bring diversity of culture and voice, there can be a more forceful solidarity to keep them around for future generations.