My roommate, a first-year teacher at large Downtown high school, just returned from the Gentrification in LA event. Unlike 5000, she wasn’t “filled with dread” at the thought of watching a film by a high school student.
On the contrary, she was highly impressed by young Stephanie Cisneros’ documentary about an issue facing her community. My roommate attended to accompany a good friend, who is Stephanie’s history teacher at Downtown Magnet High School. Stephanie, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, became interested in gentrification about a year ago when the landlord threatened to double the rent for her family’s apartment. In response, she decided explore the reactions of other Echo Park residents and small business owners.
The 20 minute film, primarily in Spanish with English subtitles, was based on short interviews with half a dozen Latino immigrant residents and small business owners.
One of the problems the interviewees expressed is one we often hear when discussing gentrification: the increase in rents so that long-time business owners and residents are priced out.
Stephanie not only showed people who had been negatively affected by gentrification, but also showed resistance by residents. She interviewed low income and working class residents who had pooled resources together to form housing cooperatives. The objective of these cooperative is to buy property and remain in the neighborhood rather than be pushed out.
After the film a panel discussed possible solutions to gentrification. Currently the areas most afflicted with gentrification are Echo Park and Highland Park. My roommate, a native of Boyle Heights, admitted getting the shivers each time a panelist mentioned how the gentrification trend is moving to the real Eastside: Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.
We Chicanas and Chicanos say: we will not be moved.