Gentrify Your Own Self: The Hubby Edition

Please welcome guest blogger and my husband, Kevin Edward DuBose, who has some insight into this recent winter snowstorm and why it is becoming increasingly important to Gentrify Your Own Self! I expect he will be gracing us more with his blogging talent in the future. Without further ado, I would like to present Gentrify Your Own Self: The Hubby Edition.

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today


The snowpacalytic events of the past couple of days have motivated me to jump in on the Gentrify Your Own Self! movement and put in my two cents. I think the missus is on to something with her recent blog posts. Be warned, I am not the writer she is. However, like my better half, I am a trained city planner. And I too see something incredibly wrong with our American Dream. In fact, symptoms of the problem are being played out live and in color on CNN as I type this. Yes I am talking the weather but I am also talking about our lifestyles.

Poor Atlanta! They are the poster children of dysfunction today. And the rest of the country wonders how two inches of snow can shut down the Capital of the South. The Governor of Georgia is blaming the weatherman. The CNN anchorwoman is ‘tryna read’ the Mayor of Atlanta (Notice my quoting the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) there…) Ms. Anchorwoman should proceed with caution, because Mayor Kasim Reed don’t play (excuse the grammar please). His neighbor is Khandi Buress and she will send Momma Joyce and her aunties up there to tell her something. Meanwhile, in the midst of this madness, people are stuck on the highways and kids are disconnected from their families while they ride out the situation in their school lunchrooms.

Would we have this problem, if we truly had neighborhood schools like we used to? Let’s face it, the neighborhood school thing is dead. We keep sending our kids further and further away to school and we continue to move further away from the urban core. Back in the day, if a kid was stuck at the school or in route home, no problem. Momma or Daddy or someone would strap on the timberlands and hike up to the school. Problem solved. A snow day used to be a grand thing. We are getting out early? Cool! Let the cabbage patch dancing begin! Now we are terrified about our buses sliding off a rural road or children being stuck miles away from home.

So who is really to blame here? Well the problem is us. Yes you and me and everyone else trying to make the Joneses green with envy. My wife has discussed the HGTV house hunter mindset that is destroying our urban core. I won’t rehash that. But please note that our neighborhood busting ways are causing major problems with regard to urban services. Our kids don’t go to school within 2-3 miles anymore. We don’t have sidewalks (in most communities) any more. Thus, the simple task of getting kids home on a snowy day is a bigger challenge than it should be.

So what is the answer? How can we fix the problem? Urban schools are being closed by the dozens every year while new state-of-the-art schools are being built in the suburbs. Families who live in the urban areas drive by closed and abandoned schools to take their kids to whatever is left. Suburban kids have 45-minute bus rides to and from school. I feel like Dap on School Daze, as I scream “Waaaaake Uuuuuup!” people.

Unlike my wife, I am not suggesting that you consider the incredible cute cottages and Victorian houses in the old neighborhood as places to raise your family. Forget about those split level houses and 1950 ranchers that dot the neighborhoods around downtown. You don’t want to live where schools are in walking distance and sidewalks connect the commercial areas and parks. You deserve a big 5000 square foot house for you and little Fluffy the Poodle. You deserve that three car garage and double tray ceiling. Stay where you are. In fact, move even further away from the City. Meanwhile, I have got a fool proof plan to fix everything. Drum roll please! The way to fix the problem is real simple people (Why do I have to think of these things?) Here is the concept: Let’s put the schools inside of WalMart. I guarantee there is one of those close to everyone in the suburbs. And we can always get to Walmart. The road to Walmart is the best salted road in the entire neighborhood.

And as Ne Ne Leakes of RHOA would say after she makes her point, Boop!

Gentrify Your Own Self: We Got Our Work Cut Out For Us – Part 2

thIn Part 1 of We Got Our Work Cut Out For Us, I talked about how much I loved HGTV programs, particularly the shows where people are either buying or redesigning a house. I discussed how homebuyers who prefer downtown living want their cake and eat it too, which annoys me. However, that is nothing compared to how I feel when I watch buyers who are looking for a suburban homes. It’s these comments that really get to me because if the homebuyers who are looking to buy downtown want their cake and eat it too, these suburban searchers want the cake, the cookies, the candy, and the milk. But while we are on the subject of suburban living, please indulge my urban planning soapbox for just a moment. What we all don’t seem to realize is that the further away from the urban center we move, the more infrastructure is needed to accommodate the growth. The citizens of these edge cities and suburban areas demand new schools to be built way out to yonder in order to accommodate their children. Then there are the water and sewer wars between neighboring counties. The water issue is so bad that people are sneaking over the boundary lines with a bucket and a siphoning hose. Well, not really, but it is bad. Oh and how far do emergency services extend anyway? Are they blasting Public Enemy’s, 911 is a Joke out in the ‘burbs now? I don’t even want to mention the countless hours in traffic with the people traveling to work. Ever been stuck in Atlanta traffic?

“Sprawl” had been the buzzword when I was practicing planning. I’ve been out of the field for a while, so I don’t know if that continues to be a concern or has it ever been beyond those who practice urban planning and community development. So let’s get to the suburban comments that grate my nerves.

1) It’s dated – First of all, let me start by saying that there should be a clause in the HGTV contract that states that those two words have been used to death and to utter them again, will result in immediate cease filming. Second of all, if you purchase the house under your budget, you will have the money to update it. Third of all, in my opinion, older homes have the best bones. My favorites are the 70s split-level on streets with mature trees. if you insist on living in the ‘burbs, at least purchase a house that doesn’t blow over on a breezy day.

2) I can see my neighbors/no privacy – Oh the narcissism. Unless you come home from church to see a neighbor sitting square on your porch walk, I really don’t think this is a real issue. Normal people, emphasis on “normal,” are too involved with their own lives to care about what you are doing. And if they happen to wave, would that really be so terrible? Just wave back. So I suggest that you invest in some window treatments, shrubbery, and a fence if it bothers you that much. Because unless you move to the moon, chances are you are going to have neighbors. Sorry.

3) Not enough room to entertain – Translation: “If my house isn’t big enough, I can’t show it off to make my family and friends green with envy.” Anyway, I thought you wanted privacy…?

4) The yard is too small – Are you tilling the soil? Harvesting crops? How much land do you really need? I can certainly understand wanting a yard with enough room to throw the football around with the children (and the relator did show you one), but unless you’re raising Drew Brees, your yard really doesn’t need to be the size of the Superdome.

5) No character – Take thyself to the city. That is unless your definition of character is not my definition of character. To me, character is more than double-tray ceilings, ceiling fans, chair rails, and granite countertops with matching backsplash. While that’s a kind of character (Well, not the granite whatnot), but I am thinking more of carved detail in the wood, stain glass windows, archways, ceiling medallions – signatures in the home that tells me the era it was built.

I am sure there is more, but I can’t continue. I cannot help but to wonder if people come up with these statements on their own or is it society that says that resolving all of the issues mentioned in this post and the last post makes a dream home? Anyway, as long as people have these canned responses, it will be very difficult to convince people to return to their neighborhoods. Anyhow, that’s just me thinking out loud. Stay tuned for Part 3.