After reading several articles regarding gentrification, walled and gated communities it was refreshing to meet someone who helped protect the rights of the original members of the neighborhood in the face of encroaching gentrification. I was able to meet Cecilia and her granddaughter Trinity thanks to some prior research by my teammates, Kamaili, Yolanda and Cristy. Gentrification is the idea of improving rundown, long ignored neighborhoods and communities. Though not a bad idea, it generally comes at a cost. That cost is the relocation of the original members of that neighborhood, or walling and gating them out. In Cecilia’s case they tried to put a block wall that would have shut her and her neighbors from a beautiful view of downtown Phoenix, which would have surely reduced the value of her home.
When the original developers of the new subdivision bought the land the people of the community made provisions to make sure there was to be no wall built that would block their view of downtown Phoenix. But a new developer took over and the wall “just appeared” as Cecilia put it. She was nice enough to spend a few minutes of her busy day to explain how she and her neighbors quickly took action through community and zoning committees to make sure that their rights and view were still protected. The wall had to come back down, which as I understand was not an inexpensive undertaking.
Cecilia took a while to warm up, but as she began telling us how she and her neighbors fought to have the wall torn down a smile quickly came to her face. The feeling of having accomplished something as a group or community is very rewarding, and the smile that came to Cecilia’s face is evidence that she enjoyed that feeling. This story of community togetherness is as important as it is rare. Gentrification comes at a cost, and that cost is generally met by the original members of the area chosen for gentrification in the form of relocation or being shut out of new services like parks and other normally common areas. This is why Cecilia’s story is as important as it is rare, because it shows that community togetherness can stand up to the onslaught of gentrification.
More Stories about Cecilia: Yolanda Sanchez, Kamaili Jones
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