I like this article on gentrification in DC. (“Gentrification in D.C.: How will we remember those displaced?” in the Washington Post). While ‘gentrification’ is a loaded word, the article is one of the more balanced I’ve read on the topic. It doesn’t instantly assume that the new people moving into these neighborhoods are bad. (Though almost as bad — it does assume that all new residents will be interested in “improving” the neighborhoods.) It instead just asks that people learn about their new surroundings, and try to find a way to coexist that benefits everyone. That’s kind of — you know — the definition of civilization. Otherwise, we’re just in a predator/prey situation. (Which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen that way quite often. Just that I agree with the author’s request.)
As someone currently trying to buy a house in a ‘transitional’ neighborhood, I’m very aware of all these tensions. I’ve actually lived much of my life in such places; more often being in the minority dispute being a white male. But I don’t choose a place solely on what it might become. I’m sitting on the porch of the hopefully-new house right now, watching kids playing together. Watching people talk with their neighbors. Listening to the wind in the trees, and the sound of the nearby city. I love all this, and certainly wouldn’t want to lose it. Starbucks and a hipster bar would certainly be no decent replacement.