11.22.2013

Change is Constant

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Maw1n2tEq9U/SwLoAFVVevI/AAAAAAAAAH8/w8CFW0zcE-0/s1600/DSC_0107.JPGA dear friend of mine who used to live in Philadelphia is visiting us from his new home in the rural South.  Gone barely a year, he marveled at the new developments that had sprouted up in our neighborhood since he was last here.  To be sure, our neighborhood is popping.  But that's only part of the story.  The other part is that we are a typical big city in that change is constant.

Cities are dynamic.  For better or worse, there's a lot of churn: people move in and out, neighborhoods rise or fall, failing stores close and new ones open up, buildings get erected and torn down. Of course, there is good change and bad change, change we can lobby hard for and change we fight hard against.  But change is inevitable. 

It is through that lens that I digest stories like the one my friend recently sent me, about Chinatowns in Philadelphia and elsewhere being squeezed by gentrification and other forces.  I need to be a bit cagey about what I think on this issue in a public form like this blog - feel free to ask me directly "off the record" - but at the very least I can comfortably say that it is neither possible nor recommended to put a halt to the steady churn of urban change. 

People can have different opinions about what kind of change and how much, and I give wide berth to the full range of those opinions.  But one can no more capture a sandstorm in one's hands than bottle up the dynamism of our cities.  We may revel in it or find it maddeningly frustrating, but we who love cities come to accept this reality and concentrate on how best to harness, guide, and enjoy it. 
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