Gentrify In Hell: Anti-Racist & Anti-Social Cleansing Banner!

GentrifyInHell

Flagstaff, AZ — (Sunday, October 29, 2017) Under the cover of darkness, while pre-halloween revelers were meandering through the cold streets of Flagstaff, some stealthy folx scaled the tower crane above the monstrous “Hub” development and dropped a massive banner depicting a KKK figure hanging and the words, “GENTRIFY IN HELL.”

This crane has been ominously hovering over our streets for long enough, so we figured it to be the ideal space to address how white supremacy & capitalism are driving forces of gentrification. But we also want to make sure this message goes beyond the impacts of the shitty Hub project that has been forced down our throats (by unrestrained greed at Northern Arizona University (NAU) & spineless politicians). We don’t really concern ourselves with “preserving the character of Flagstaff,” because we see Flagstaff as more than a “gentrifying” process in the larger historical context of genocide, land theft, and desecration of sacred places. Colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and hetero-patriarchy are the roots of Flagstaff and the US as a whole. We care about what’s happening to the poor, the unsheltered, the Indigenous, and other People of Color more than we do about “the character” of this little mountain settlement. While some may say this is a “criminal act,” what is truly criminal is how corporations, businesses, media outlets, and politicians/fascists, perpetuate and benefit from furthering dehumanization and the violations against poor, Indigenous, migrant, Black, and queer bodies every single day.

From the fascist attack on Maktoob to victim blaming Daily Sun articles and local ordinances that continue to dehumanize and criminalize the unsheltered community. From Snowbowl desecration of the sacred Peaks, to forced relocation on Black Mesa, to desecration of South Mountain by Loop 202, NAU, Arizona State University, & University of Arizona desecration of Mt. Graham, uranium mine desecration of Red Butte, to the ongoing Trump administration attacks on sacred indigenous lands and national monuments for the benefit of extractive industry, the intersections of these issues are intersections we must continue to fight like our lives depend on it, because they do.

Hanging from a tower crane is the only “platform” any fascist should have.

Read the original post here: https://www.rageandresist.org/2017/10/29/communique-gentrify-in-hell-banner-depicting-kkk-figure-hung-from-tower-crane-in-flagstaff/

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How Development Creep Works

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Protest at Lendlease Elephant & Castle showroom: “the ruins of the Heygate will come back to haunt you”

Lendlease is certainly not the only developer doing lucrative gentrification deals with city authorities. But not many manage to pull off such breathtaking schemes on opposite sides of the world at once. The Elephant & Castle (London) and Barangaroo (Sydney) developments are both textbook examples of ‘development creep’: in which an initially “public interest” project morphs over time into a private profit goldmine. Here we recap a few key features in both deals:

1) Win people over. This stage involves architects and consultants working with the local authority and carrying out public consultation, to draw up people-friendly proposals including improved public space, social housing and other amenities. Anyone objecting at this point can be made to look paranoid.

In Barangaroo: the original plan launched in 2005 featured over 50% public park including the whole shoreline, and no buildings over 92 metres.

In Elephant: the 2004 masterplan featured 1,200 “social rented” homes to replace the number on the Heygate Estate, as well as a new theatre, museum, library and secondary school.

2) Make gradual changes. Once the developer is appointed, the initial plan is changed to make more money. Changes can be introduced gradually, one ‘creeping’ step at a time. It is near impossible now to get rid of the developer.

In Barangaroo: there have been eight waves of proposed modifications, between them almost doubling the amount of saleable floorspace, dramatically reducing the public space, and adding three luxury residential towers and a skyscraper casino-hotel.

In Elephant: the actual Lendlease scheme now only has 74 social rented flats plus 500 at so-called “affordable” rents. The theatre, museum, library and school are forgotten – but there is a hipster “box park”.

3) Batter down the arguments. There are numerous ways changes can be justified, and whole teams of consultants may be employed writing lengthy reports to do so. For example, changes may be necessary for “financial viability”. Also, developers and authorities may back down on a few of the more outrageous proposals, which makes it seem like resisters have won concessions and developers are being reasonable.

In Barangaroo: Lendlease’s first big shock was proposing a skyscraper hotel built into the bay itself, against public shoreline planes. They backed down on this plan after serious opposition resistance – before introducing the even bigger casino-hotel proposal, albeit away from the shoreline.

In Elephant: the viability assessment, released after a three year legal battle, showed affordable housing cuts were based on the “need” to give Lendlease a 25% profit on the deal.

4) Get the politicians on side. But ultimately, it’s not moaning residents who make the decisions, but their elected leaders. They can even change rules or grant special exemptions if necessary.

In Barangaroo: not only planning and affordable housing policies, but regulations on gambling, smoking and late night drinking, were changed or exempted for the Lendlease scheme.

In Elephant: Southwark council’s rules on 35% affordable housing were repeatedly overidden by council bodies, including allowing zero affordable housing in the “One The Elephant” tower which made Lendlease over £70 million profit.

5) Make friends in every party. The process takes years, and political power can change hands in the meantime, so clever developers may aim to win over politicians from different sides.

In Barangaroo: Australia’s Labour Party lost the New South Wales election in 2011, ceding control to the Liberal Party. Their leader Barry O’Farrell promised a review of the development, which called for some minor amendments but left the planning approvals unchanged. Bridie Jabour, writing in The Guardian, has documented how Lendlease’s casino-mogul partner James Packer of Crown Resorts has employed NSW Labour figures Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib as lobbyists, while appointing former Liberal senator Helen Coonan to the Crown board.

In Elephant: Lendlease was first selected by a Liberal Democrat council under leader Nick Stanton and deputy leader Kim Humphreys – both of whom have since got jobs as property development consultants. Then Labour leader Peter John slammed the deal as “little more than throwing Heygate residents out of their homes and building new luxury housing which they won’t be able to afford.” Then, a few months after Labour took over in 2010, John himself signed off on the Lendlease scheme. He has since faced investigation for accepting an undeclared gift from Lendlease.

Extracted from much longer Corporate Watch article. Read the full piece here: https://corporatewatch.org/lendlease-development-creeps/

Reclaim Holloway Prison!

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In north London the gloves are off in what is likely to be an historic and bloody fight for the future of a 10-acre plot of public land on the site of the former Holloway women’s prison.

In one corner of the ring is the Ministry of Justice and its property agents, GVA Bilfinger, who are preparing to sell the site to developers for maximum profit. In the opposing corner we have local people, battling to protect the site for affordable homes, public open spaces and a women’s building.

Usually this would be a classic David and Goliath encounter, with developers swooping in to build luxury apartments in gated developments.

However, this is no ordinary London borough. This is Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency and one in which the Labour-led Islington council is willing to take on headstrong developers. Speaking to a packed church hall at a community open day last weekend, Corbyn talked of the once in a generation opportunity offered by the Holloway prison site to alleviate the housing shortage in Islington, and create access to facilities and services for the community.

The Community Plan for Holloway project has established an active alliance of individuals and organisations working together to ensure that the needs of the local community are prioritised. Islington has shocking levels of poverty and deprivation and this might explain why there has been such an extraordinary level of local interest in the site.

Community Plan for Holloway received more than 900 survey responses from the public, local organisations and women in the criminal justice system. Sharing their hopes and concerns about the future development of the prison site, they have been clear that genuinely affordable housing is a key priority.

Despite this, the Ministry of Justice has refused to engage in constructive discussion with local campaigners.

GVA Bilfinger, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, has now stepped up the timetable for the sale of the site. Listing it online as “an exceptional development opportunity”, the deadline for bids is 15 November. The brochure boasts that the site has the potential to deliver a “significant residential development of perhaps over 1,000 apartments” – well in excess of the estimate of 400 to 880 homes outlined in a feasibility study commissioned by Islington council.

The GVA Bilfinger brochure makes no mention of public open green space, play space or a women’s building, as specified in the council’s draft planning document, which also has the support of London’s deputy mayor for housing, James Murray.

This is a local issue with national significance. (And we would add significance to those fighting for local parks in south Islington not to be cast into shadow by overscaled developments to their west in the case of both St Luke’s Gardens with the proposed Finsbury Leisure Centre redevelopment, and Fortune Street Park with Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen ghost home development which is replacing 110 social housing units with 99 luxury apartments; Islington and the neighbouring City to the south have the least green spaces in the UK, so while we need social housing on the Holloway prison site and against Central Street, rather than next to a heavily used park in the case of St Luke’s, we also need green space at Holloway).

Luxury development or homes for locals? The battle over Holloway prison by Rebecca Roberts (Coordinator, Community Plan for Holloway), Guardian, 6 October 2017.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/oct/06/holloway-prison-luxury-development-homes-locals

How the battle is still raging can be seen on the letters pages of the Islington local press: http://islingtontribune.com/article/holloway-prison-site-homes-profit-or-social-justice

Image: Sisters Uncut group occupy closed Holloway Prison Visitor’s Centre on 27 May 2017, to demand that the empty space be used to support local domestic violence survivors. A group of activists entered the building via an open window, as 150 rallied outside.

Moscow Art Rituals Against Overdevelopment

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In his project, Maxim Afanasyev examines the problem of modern urbanism and gentrification, paying special attention to Moscow’s local and municipal context. In a broader sense his practice can be referred to as municipalism. This is a locally oriented cultural tactic of activists, artists and small institutions, focused on a specific community of people in the city. Such work allows us to convert particular cases, individual lives of people and cultural microhistory into a global context through modern art. There is no universal global history, but the art can be a meeting point for multiple important narratives of everyday life that are not covered by official media and certainly not included in textbooks and mainstream sources. But history is made not only from above – it permeates the everyday life of specific individuals and communities, turning them into contemporaries in repetitive routines, rituals and political gestures.

The conflict between local communities and the power of the capital making use of corrupt developers, greedy businessmen and dishonest municipal workers serve as the centre of Afanasyev’s artistic practice. His work “Russian monolith, Yachichna does not sleep,” is based on the struggle of the Kotenlnicheskaya Embankment residents against the construction of an elite club house. Maxim Afanasyev personally participated in protests and documented rallies, meetings and petitions around this case. The contours of the conflict are ideological: the local community of residents tries to defend their own cultural memory before the leveling gesture of the development company. However, the protests did not lead to a definitive result. What is the role of the artist in processes of this kind? Can art take a particular role in this story which will be absorbed by new shocks and information storms tomorrow?

In this situation, the artist draws attention to the conflict, bringing to life the image of the pagan spirit Yachichna. Yachichna – or “Pustodomka” – is a mythological creature settling in uninhabited houses. If all rational methods of legitimate protest fail, art can draw attention to this case by recreating a fiction, a local myth that does not preserve the status quo, but has a critical potential. As Benjamin Buchloh repeatedly noted, art should become the last myth, abolishing the mythological as such. That is, the myth of art, in contrast to the myth of power, should not lull, but politically awaken, revealing the potential of the community.

Afanasyev is using a method of artistic investigation of the processes surrounding the real estate development that refers to the practices of Hans Haacke. The artist complements the archive with a strange video essay, where a group of anonymous people conducts rituals that evoke the spirit of the ancient Yachichna. Science fiction author China Mieville’s books about London that represented the city as a meeting point of different beliefs, technologies and cults can be considered the inspiration for the video essay. Contemporary Moscow is a place where rational shrewdness and an almost sci-fi faith in one’s own petty beliefs intertwine. Usually these myths support the orthodox and regulatory distribution of power, but the role of art as a fictitious process is to use these myths in a critical manner. Maxim Afanasyev creates a single narrative, in which the real and possible are redistributed in the logic of modern local protest.

Text by Boris Klyushnikov.

Additional info: The ritual enacted drew on the fact it took place in a neighbourhood that in medieval times was a centre for the craft pottery neighborhood. In Slavic myths and legends the ceramists were associated with dark powers and the potter played the role of wizard living between the worlds of the living and the dead. The emblem of the neighborhood reflects this and contains a potter.

There is a video of this time based work here: https://youtu.be/3O9TThezi2A

Taylor Wimpey Building Disasters: From The Denizen to Eternity!

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An online search will turn up a lot of unhappy Taylor Wimpey customers complaining about major building botches and serious snags in their newly constructed ‘homes’. There are even social media groups dedicated to the subject, and we’d urge ghost home investors who’ve bought off-plan into Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen project in Golden Lane to actually visit their buy to leave properties if they’re ever built, because they may well need to join these virtual protest communities. Having said that, we do realise that many investors aren’t very interested in the bricks and mortar they own; it’s said that 40% of those who purchased safe deposit boxes in the sky in The Heron AKA Milton Court, a short walk from Golden Lane, never picked up the keys for their apartments! Moving on, perhaps the Taylor Wimpey botch story to gain the most traction in in recent months is the driveway too small for a car, this one is from well outside London:

This is an actual parking space (see photo above) – even though the homeowners can’t physically get out of their car once in it.

A building cock-up at an estate in Great Barr has left a frustrated couple with this extremely tight driveway, that they simply cannot use.

Zena and Paul Jones first registered a complaint 145 days ago when they moved into their new home on the Fore Meadows estate and have since set up a Twitter account, showing how the drive is even a squeeze for their Ford Fiesta.

The couple claim that the £90,000 new-build disaster has made life a daily struggle as the couple are forced to park their car in the road right by a junction and cannot have visitors without having to ask neighbours’ to move their cars – just to fit a single car in.

Zena said the constant battle of trying to resolve the issue with developers, Taylor Wimpey was ‘frustrating and stressful’ and claimed they are no further forward months down the line.

She told the Mail: “It’s just as if we’re banging our heads up against a brick wall, everything they say to us is the same, ‘yes we’re looking into it’ ,’yes there’s a problem’ – I don’t think they know how to fix it.

“They’ve come out three times to it so far, two of the contractors and one from Taylor Wimpey and basically scratched their heads and walked a way. Nobody communicates with us.”

The couple claimed that when a site manager from Taylor Wimpey did speak with the couple, he admitted that the drive should have measured 2.4 metres instead of 2.2 metres.

“The response is they’re looking into it, won’t let us go any further than customer service, won’t let us go any higher so we can get some sense out of them.”

The couple have even measured other drives on the new build estate and found a parking space 110 inches wide – compared to their mere 86 inches – just next door.

Zena said: “The solution is to take away the wall at the side, but the problem is next door’s electric box is attached to the wall and goes down into the ground.”

The contractors arrived two weeks ago at the Great Barr home to dig up the wall, but said it couldn’t be done due to the the electrics not going down far enough.

“If they took down the top part of the wall, we could actually get a car on there.

“One of the guys when they were digging it up, said ‘I worked on this house when it was being built and I told them then the drive wasn’t wide enough.’ They must have just thought ‘oh well, no one will notice.’

Zena and Paul say they’ve not heard anything since the contractors came and added: “They’ve written to our next door neighbours to let them know they’ll be doing work, but not had the courtesy to let us know. It’s like playing with Billy Smart’s circus here.

“I just wish they’d talk to us. Nobody has the balls to come and talk to us.”

New home parking disaster – couple can’t even get out of car! The Great Barr couple are forced to park dangerously on the road due to a major error with their drive by Ashley Preece & Stephanie Balloo, Birmingham Mail, 15 August 2017.

Read the full story here: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/new-home-parking-disaster-couple-13478078

Paul and Zena Jones were savvy enough to start a social media campaign about the problem with their Taylor Wimpey new build; it was an absurd story with a good visual angle, so they gained lots of local coverage and the story was even reported by the BBC. After a lot of hard work the Jones’s were able to get the builder to fix the problem by knocking down a wall, but many of those purchasing new builds have less luck getting firms like Taylor Wimpey to resolve snags and botches. Buyer beware! Purchasing a Denizen luxury apartment will haunt you forever!

“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane