Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
If I Did It
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2014 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
As we passed a closed-up storefront, Leonard informed me of the type of restaurant it's turning into, and I allowed as to how that was fine, but I'd rather one of the transforming storefronts in our neighborhood turned into a feminist makerspace.
Leonard pointed out that what I really want is an Ethiopian restaurant. I do. MenuPages knows of no Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurants in Astoria.
But I immediately hit a snag with my fantasy: an Ethiopian restaurant in my neighborhood would potentially propel further gentrification. "How could I make it so that the Ethiopian restaurant is good and all, but doesn't attract even more yuppies like us to live here? How can I make it less appealing to people like us, but in a way that doesn't bother me?"
"How about an Only Sumanas sign?" Leonard suggested.
"But I don't want something de jure, just offputting de facto," I said.
"It's just a sign! It's decorative! It's historical."
"And it's heritage? Leonard are you doing a Confederate flag argument?"
"I kind of went in that direction, yeah."
We discussed some more tactics that would not work, and then Leonard gently suggested that I just accept that sometimes other people like the same things we like.
"But this is just a hypothetical fantasy restaurant! Can't I try to imagine a way that it wouldn't attract even more ..."
"Sumana, you're redlining the imaginary restaurant."
(And it was at this point that I asked for permission to blog.)