Have now had time to get a bit more perspective on the controversy we kicked off with our flyer last week. Thought you might appreciate hearing a bit more about how we’ve been affected by all the social media noise.
So, in no particular order, here’s a summary:
1. Increased sensitivity. I’m personally much more sensitive to the feelings of people who are scared of having to leave their homes. While I think that at least some of the fear is unwarranted (see this piece about surviving gentrification), losing your home is such a shocking possibility that I completely get why people got so upset.
2. My offer to publish pieces. While I had several strong emails come through from long-time BH residents and relative new-comers, no one was willing to have me publish the versions they sent. I am hopeful that one or two will consent once they’ve had some time to polish the grammar, etc. (not that we care about grammar – it was the thoughts and emotion I was looking to share).
3. My offer to help people at risk. So far, no one has come to me for advice about how to ensure their families are protected. I’m the enemy in some sense here, so I wasn’t expecting an out-pouring of calls. However, my offer was sincerely made and remains open: If you or someone you know is concerned about losing a home in Boyle Heights, get in touch. I can probably let you know whether you have anything to worry about and, if so, what you can do about it.
4. Threats / slander. We definitely got (more than?) our fair share of online abuse. I’m a big boy, so this doesn’t bother me too much. On the other hand, I felt pretty terrible that people were saying such awful things to Bana, the agent who created the flyer. One of the ironies of the situation is that Bana is (partly?) Palestinian, so she is (and always has been!) particularly sensitive about the notion of people having to move from their homes.
5. More business. As many people wrote in their emails to me, even bad press is good press. For us, the attention generated by our stupid little flyer has meant a large increase in inquiries from people interested in buying homes and apartment buildings in Boyle Heights. These inquiries are coming both from people who live in the neighborhood and elsewhere. We’ve done a lot of business in the neighborhood and are, at this point, pretty experienced at doing these kinds of deals, so I expect those people will end up being happy to work with us.
6. Media requests. Starting to get requests from media outlets to speak about gentrification. Not sure if I’m going to accept or not. I’m sort of disinclined to be the face of a very large / powerful societal trend that is affecting so many people negatively.