Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fighting Gentrification One Bite At A Time

I have mixed feelings about gentrification. It has been slowly spreading its webbed fingers throughout my neighborhood of Kreuzberg 61 for the past eight years or maybe longer. In some ways this is a good thing. I love that I can live in a totally urban area that is still safe and kid-friendly. I love that Bergmannstrasse has a shop that sells (almost exclusively) Japanese knives and that I can buy Corsican cheese and 47 different varieties of Spanish wine any day of the week except Sunday (besides in certain tourist areas, all shops in Berlin are still closed on Sundays.)

On the other hand, I hate all of the generically h
ip cafes that have opened up on Bergmannstrasse, cafes with mediocre coffee and no ambiance and yet they are always inevitably swarming with tourists and hipsters. I'm all for sustainable farming and fair trade, but do we honestly need three organic food stores within a three block radius of one another? Gentrification can definitely get out of hand, as it has in certain areas of Prenzlauerberg. I just hope it doesn't end up destroying all the charm and diversity in the neighborhood....


Still, I have to admit I was a little bit shocked when Pitbull Artikel Shop opened up last month on my street. A shop specializing in Pitbull accessories would seem normal in Neuk├Âlln or Wedding or Spandau, but here it seems pretty out of place. The shop doesn't seem to be fully operational yet. Right now they have the shutters down and thick bars in the front, presumably to protect all of their tough pooch things. Who knows? Maybe it's a drug front, albeit a strange one because I would think they would prefer to choose something wouldn't so obviously stick out. Still, overall you do have to admire their chutzpah for trying hard to fight gentrification one bite at a time....

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