David Sucher from Seattle tweeted this one from Granola Shotgun by Johnny.
Listen up, Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford; this is the future talking.  Your problems may not be as bad as the decaying American ‘burbs, but cheaper rents and a building stock ready for conversion still apply.  Artists in strip malls!

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Future

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I have a peculiar theory about where the next generation of counter culture folks are going to set up shop. You know… artists, musicians, small scale entrepreneurs, gays, refugees, and whatever passes for the political and economic fringe in the future. When I look back at these locations from the past there’s a clear pattern. The two primary ingredients are 1) Cheap real estate and 2) A relatively unregulated environment. …

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Future 1
Future 2

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The above photos are from the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. Cheap. Mostly ignored by the authorities. These folks chose to live in bohemian surroundings for $400 a month – that’s $200 each – in order to have the freedom to do their own thing. There was no HOA. There were no NIMBYs. But Kensington is rapidly gentrifying and prices are rising as $300,000 condos and upscale brew pubs emerge. These guys have already moved out of Kensington in search of greener pastures. But it was great while it lasted. …
Here’s where I think the next Mecca of the creative class is most likely to emerge.

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Future 3

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This is the kind of rapidly declining suburban landscape that is in evidence all across North America. It isn’t leafy and tranquil like the better suburbs. The schools are crap. But it isn’t vibrant like the best urban locations either. This spot is too far from the city to easily access good jobs, but it’s just close enough to receive the undesirable overflows from the greater metroplex. …

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Future 4
Future 5

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It’s the Mid Century Modern version of restoring an old Victorian. Get enough of these clustered in one neighborhood and you might just start a revival. If not, you still have an affordable place to hang your hat and do your own thing. Pick a subculture. Mormons. Vietnamese. Retired school teachers. Urban permaculture gardeners. Whatever. The trick is to establish a critical mass of like minded individuals that support each others’ productive activities. You don’t want to be the only gay in the village.

Comments

  1. That’s one of David Ley’s insights, that artists are the shock troops of gentrification. Commercial Drive/Grandview is the current Vancouver example. Why not Newton, for example, for artists? Cheap, an edge, a bit of gunfire ….

  2. Which begs the question, when does the decline of Vancouver proper set in? I suppose the empty homes and vapid lifestyles of the rich and famous “culture” might be a sign it already has. Truly, you will find more arts and culture in Pittsburgh than Vancouver.

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