Good storytelling strengthens social movements
‘I have a blog, Myrtle Street Review, which is an attempt to communicate the beauty I see in my neighborhood. West Oakland is a kind of notorious neighborhood that has a reputation for high crime, poverty, and problems.
I moved here from Finland, and I consider myself to be very lucky to live in this diverse, vibrant, historic neighborhood. I have never had better neighbors and felt more community in my whole life.
So I created a blog to celebrate all the beauty and goodness I see, and all the stories that this inspires in me. I also make a print copy which I distribute from a box outside my apartment, with the idea that not everybody is on the internet or would find my blog even if they are. I hope that maybe I can share some of the beauty I experience with casual passers-by, neighboring high school students, and our local homeless people, too. All the paper copies usually get taken from the box, so someone is reading.
I think some of the middle-class people in my neighborhood moved here during the housing bubble and expected the poor people to get driven out by development, and to be able to make a chunk of money on their properties. I think they feel trapped and resentful, and can’t always see what learning and opportunity to grow is available to them here. real estate speculation is not why I’m here, though the cheap rent is part of the reason we chose to live in our current apartment. I think that the current multi-income, diverse state of the neighborhood actually opens possibilities for real development, for good things to come to those who are currently disenfranchised, and for more fortunate people to be able to see past their safe, harmless little enclave in society.
I am building community and relationships with the neighbors on my block, in an attempt to do my tiny little part. The blog is part of that, and so are neighborhood meetings, participating in air quality monitoring, throwing parties and organizing art happenings.
I can’t change the system, but I can make a difference in my immediate environment. So that’s what I am working on.’
Selected tag: Art
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Régine Debatty writes about the intersection between art, design and technology on her blog we-make-money-not-art.com.
She also contributes to various design and art magazines, curates art shows and lectures internationally.