The most important thing I feel I learned from doing this project for the semester is how to deal with a lack of proper research on a topic at hand. My perspective has not changed on the issue on how to properly combat the effects of gentrification, but rather my perspective on how to inform others on what gentrification has changed, there needs to be more in depth studies relating race, culture and minority status to the effects of gentrification. As a student and a citizen I think it’s important that we realize how race intertwines with Wicked issues like gentrification, we need to be wary of not only how we interact within a culture and how our presence in a culture effects it, but we need to be wary of whether or not the people in that community truly want us there. Being a good citizen is not “I will never move to an urban area” but rather its “If I do end up in an urban area I will integrate myself into the community the best I can”. I think the most valuable thing I learned from the entirety of this project is that we need more research into our topic and we need to think about the issue from every facet, including in the ways in which gentrification looks like a positive. However, the least valuable thing I learned from this experience is the fact that so many laws are made that supposedly help combat gentrification, but many of them fail due to loopholes. Laws which protect historic housing can be broken by paying a fine, things that are meant to protect the community are more likely to favor gentrifiers. I feel as if the most annoying thing I’ve done is learning about all the failed legislation, and then trying to talk about solutions when everything seems to fail. I understand fully that change takes time, but hearing about constant failure is never something that makes one want to work hard. Working with the group was kind of an issue for me mainly because we had an issue that was hard to define and highly contested, one of our first meetings consisted of us fully arguing about how gentrification affects communities. We were split on the way in which gentrification effected culture, and that in itself made it impossible to, as a group, define what gentrification is. In another meeting we had, the lack of research on how race affects gentrification made us argue whether or not we should use race as a part of our papers, and whether research was all we need to justify our ideas. I think that overall I learned how to work with a group better on an issue we do not all agree fully on, it allowed for me to engage in discussions in an academic setting that allowed for me to change my point of view or adjust my views. Overall this is one of the most fun assignments I’ve done, and I hope to be able to further work on combating gentrification in Detroit.
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