SPOTLIGHT: SARAJEVO RUBBLE TO TRUMP TOWER
The pace of modern communication tells us that whatâ€™s here today is gone ... tonight. The potential worldwide virality of any piece of digitally circulated information comes with the caveat that everything is also potentially, and eternally, invisible. The tree falling in some proverbial unseen forest of the Internet. But history teaches us that ideas â€" good and bad â€" are bound to travel and cross-pollinate, fade and reappear. And, yes, some of it will last.
That brings us to Aleksandar Hemon, an accomplished 51-year-old Bosnian novelist â€¦ and Donald Trump. We get this story by way of another transplanted U.S.-based Balkan writer named Andrej Mrevlje, whose Yonder pieces are occasionally republished on Worldcrunch. Mrevlje recounts how the Sarajevo-born Hemon refused to sign a recent petition of American writers to try to ban Trump from the presidential election.
â€œHis message is universal,â€ Mrevlje writes of Hemon. â€œOnly a person who suffered that much, who saw his hometown reduced to ruins by bombs and shells, disinfected of all its smells and memories â€" only this kind of person can cherish democracy to the extreme of supporting Trumpâ€™s right to run for office. Hemon knows that exclusion leads to segregation, revenge, violence and destruction. Hemon is not an American patriot, and he is not a Trump fan, but he defends voting as the strongest tool of democracy. Once your homeland â€" your courtyard, your imaginarium â€" has been wiped out by savages, you will defend these institutions of democracy with your own claws. It happens after every war.â€ Hereâ€™s the full piece.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Final day of UK campaign ahead of tomorrowâ€™s â€œBrexitâ€ referendum on EU membership.
- Volkswagen holds stormy shareholders meeting, with investors questions expected to focus on emissions scandal.
- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addresses European Parliament. He could meet with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will take the floor tomorrow.
NORTH KOREA FIRES TWO MISSILES
North Korea test-fired two missiles from its eastern coast in the direction of Japan, a move that Tokyo said shows that the â€œthreat to Japan is intensifying.â€ The first launch is reported to have failed, which prompted the second one. China called for calm and restraint. Read more from Yonhap.
DEADLY LIGHTNING STRIKES IN INDIA
At least 79 people have been killed by lightning strikes in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, the BBC reports. Most of the victims are believed to be farmers.
â€" ON THIS DAY
Two iconic actresses (one in ruby slippers, the other wearing Prada) cross paths in todayâ€™s 57-second shot of History!
â€œWe are very close. I pray to God that He gives us strength to finish these accords, hopefully this very week,â€ Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday, ahead of peace talks with the FARC rebels in Cuba tomorrow that could bring the half-century conflict to an end.
Iranian daily Shargh is the latest to note the near desperate situation with the food shortage crisis in Venezuela. But after a decade of anti-U.S. alliance, there may be more to the cooling relations between Tehran and Caracas. Read our Extra! feature here.
BRAZIL OLYMPIC JAGUAR SHOT DEAD
A female jaguar used during an Olympic torch ceremony in the Amazon city of Manaus was killed after it escaped its handlers, O Globo reports. The organizing committee for Rio 2016 admitted its â€œmistake in permitting the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and unity, to be exhibited alongside a chained wild animal.â€ Read more from Reuters.
FEARING ZIKA, OLYMPIC GOLFER TO SKIP RIO
In yet another blow to the Rio Olympics, Rory McIlroy announced his withdrawal from the competition over Zika virus fears. â€œEven though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take,â€ the golfer said in a statement.
An estimated 150 Kenyan soldiers were killed five months ago in an al-Shabaab ambush in El Adde, Somalia. A tragedy made all the more troubling by the fact that authorities in Nairobi are mysteriously mum about it, Bruno Meyerfeld reports for Le Monde: â€œ... none, or at least not very much of that, was talked about in Nairobi. The bodies were discreetly repatriated, often by night. Sure, there was a debate in parliament, but it took place behind closed doors. Speaking to the families of the victims, President Uhuru Kenyatta mechanically read a text condemning â€˜mankind's enemiesâ€™ and praising the â€˜brave Kenyan patriots.â€™ â€˜Kenya will move forward,â€™ he concluded. Time to move past El Adde, in other words. Everything's fine and calm in Nairobi.â€
Read the full article, The Terrorist Attack Kenya Doesnâ€™â€‹t Want You To Know About.
FRANCE BANS PLANNED DEMONSTRATION
French authorities have banned a demonstration against the controversial labor reform, planned for tomorrow, Le Monde reports. The decision, which is officially aimed at preventing the shows of violence that accompanied previous protests, has been denounced across the political spectrum. Trade union leaders said they would demonstrate anyway.
MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Laundry International â€" Montreal, 1994
Charlie Hebdo has seen the number of its subscribers fall from 180,000 at the beginning of 2016 to just 60,000, Libération reports, adding that the number however seems to have stabilized. Itâ€™s still six times more than before the January 2015 attack that killed 12 people.
â€" MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Post-Modern Baroque, The New "Paper" Museum Of Puebla â€" Clarin
- In France, The Sky Is Falling â€" Still â€" Rue Amelot, Essay
- Gay In Turkey, Facing Orlando And Istanbul Ban On LGBT Pride â€" Cumhuriyet
Oh the irony! Mark Zuckerberg apparently tapes his laptopâ€™s webcam and mic jack.
In San Diego, California, a researcher tracked how in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked dining options, when interesting eateries arrive the gentrification of white, affluent and college-educated people has begun.
SAN DIEGO — Everybody, it seems, welcomes the arrival of new restaurants, cafés, food trucks and farmers markets.
What could be the downside of fresh veggies, homemade empanadas and a pop-up restaurant specializing in banh mis?
But when they appear in unexpected places – think inner-city areas populated by immigrants – they're often the first salvo in a broader effort to rebrand and remake the community. As a result, these neighborhoods can quickly become unaffordable and unrecognizable to longtime residents.
An appetite for gentrification
I live in San Diego, where I teach courses on urban and food geographies and conduct research on the relationship between food and ethnicity in urban contexts.
In recent years, I started to notice a pattern playing out in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked food options. More ethnic restaurants, street vendors, community gardens and farmers markets were cropping up. These, in turn, spurred growing numbers of white, affluent and college-educated people to venture into areas they had long avoided.
This observation inspired me to write a book, titled The $16 Taco, about how food – including what's seen as "ethnic," "authentic" or "alternative" – often serves as a spearhead for gentrification.
Take City Heights, a large multi-ethnic San Diego neighborhood where successive waves of refugees from places as far away as Vietnam and Somalia have resettled. In 2016, a dusty vacant lot on the busiest boulevard was converted into an outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44. There, food vendors gather in semi-permanent stalls to sell pupusas, lechon (roasted pig), single-sourced cold-brewed coffee, cupcakes and tamarind raspado (crushed ice) to neighborhood residents, along with tourists and visitors from other parts of the city.
Informal street vendors are casualties.
A public-private partnership called the City Heights Community Development Corporation, together with several nonprofits, launched the initiative to increase "access to healthy and culturally appropriate food" and serve as "a business incubator for local micro-entrepreneurs," including immigrants and refugees who live in the neighborhood.
On paper, this all sounds great.
But just a few blocks outside the gates, informal street vendors – who have long sold goods such as fruit, tamales and ice cream to residents who can't easily access supermarkets – now face heightened harassment. They've become causalities in a citywide crackdown on sidewalk vending spurred by complaints from business owners and residents in more affluent areas.
This isn't just happening in San Diego. The same tensions have been playing out in rapidly gentrifying areas like Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, New York's Queens borough and East Austin, Texas.
In all of these places, because "ethnic," "authentic" and "exotic" foods are seen as cultural assets, they've become magnets for development.
A call for food justice
Cities and neighborhoods have long sought to attract educated and affluent residents – people whom sociologist Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class." The thinking goes that these newcomers will spend their dollars and presumably contribute to economic growth and job creation.
Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure.
It's uncontroversial and has broad appeal. It taps into the American Dream and appeals to the multicultural values of many educated, wealthy foodies. Small food businesses, with their relatively low cost of entry, have been a cornerstone of ethnic entrepreneurship in American cities. And initiatives like farmers markets and street fairs don't require much in the way of public investment; instead, they rely on entrepreneurs and community-based organizations to do the heavy lifting.
In City Heights, the Community Development Corporation hosted its first annual City Heights Street Food Festival in 2019 to "get people together around table and food stalls to celebrate another year of community building." Other recent events have included African Restaurant Week, Dia de Los Muertos, New Year Lunar Festival, Soul Food Fest and Brazilian Carnival, all of which rely on food and drink to attract visitors and support local businesses.
Meanwhile, initiatives such as the New Roots Community Farm and the City Heights Farmers' Market have been launched by nonprofits with philanthropic support in the name of "food justice," with the goal of reducing racial disparities in access to healthy food and empowering residents – projects that are particularly appealing to highly educated people who value diversity and democracy.
Upending an existing foodscape
In media coverage of changing foodscapes in low-income neighborhoods like City Heights, you'll rarely find any complaints.
San Diego Magazine's neighborhood guide for City Heights, for example, emphasizes its "claim to authentic international eats, along with live music venues, craft beer, coffee, and outdoor fun." It recommends several ethnic restaurants and warns readers not to be fooled by appearances.
Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against the "urban food machine"
But that doesn't mean objections don't exist.
Many longtime residents and small-business owners – mostly people of color and immigrants – have, for decades, lived, worked and struggled to feed their families in these neighborhoods. To do so, they've run convenience stores, opened ethnic restaurants, sold food in parks and alleys and created spaces to grow their own food.
All represent strategies to meet community needs in a place mostly ignored by mainstream retailers.
So what happens when new competitors come to town?
Starting at a disadvantage
As I document in my book, these ethnic food businesses, because of a lack of financial and technical support, often struggle to compete with new enterprises that feature fresh façades, celebrity chefs, flashy marketing, bogus claims of authenticity and disproportionate media attention. Furthermore, following the arrival of more-affluent residents, existing ones find it increasingly difficult to stay.
My analysis of real estate ads for properties listed in City Heights and other gentrifying San Diego neighborhoods found that access to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and outdoor dining is a common selling point. The listings I studied from 2019 often enticed potential buyers with lines like "shop at the local farmers' market," "join food truck festivals" and "participate in community food drives!"
San Diego Magazine's home buyer guide for the same year identified City Heights as an "up-and-coming neighborhood," attributing its appeal to its diverse population and eclectic "culinary landscape," including several restaurants and Fair@44.
When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.
Going up against the urban food machine
Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against what I call the "urban food machine," a play on sociologist Harvey Molotch's "urban growth machine" – a term he coined more than 50 years ago to explain how cities were being shaped by a loose coalition of powerful elites who sought to profit off urban growth.
I argue that investors and developers use food as a tool for achieving the same ends.
When their work is done, what's left is a rather insipid and tasteless neighborhood, where foodscapes become more of a marketable mishmash of cultures than an ethnic enclave that's evolved organically to meet the needs of residents. The distinctions of time and place start to blur: An "ethnic food district" in San Diego looks no different than one in Chicago or Austin.
Meanwhile, the routines and rhythms of everyday life have changed so much that longtime residents no longer feel like they belong. Their stories and culture reduced to a selling point, they're forced to either recede to the shadows or leave altogether.
It's hard to see how that's a form of inclusion or empowerment.
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