Geopolitics

U.S. Outrage Continues, Remembering Mandela, Color Of The Year

Thursday protests in Minneapolis over the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case.
Thursday protests in Minneapolis over the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case.
Worldcrunch

Friday, December 5, 2014

NEW CEASEFIRE ATTEMPT IN UKRAINE
The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels in eastern parts of the country agreed yesterday to a new ceasefire starting Dec. 9, under the terms of a deal reached three months ago in Minsk, AFP reports. Under the agreement, Kiev will begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the eastern frontline on Dec. 10. Previous failed attempts at peace suggest any truce is tenuous, especially around the strategically crucial Donetsk airport. More than 4,300 people are believed to have died since the conflict escalated 8 months ago.

OUTRAGE CONTINUES OVER POLICE TACTICS
Demonstrators in Minneapolis shut down the Northbound lanes of I-35W, as thousands of protesters poured out in cities across the country last night in a show of outrage over the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case. The consequences of the Staten Island grand jury's decision not to bring charges against 29-year-old officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July 17 death of 43-year-old African-American Eric Garner continue to be felt nationwide. The jury found no evidence of possible criminal activity in the death of Garner, who was placed in a chokehold, although he repeated "I can't breathe" — a phrase that has become a rallying cry for protesters.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration issued a report yesterday accusing the Cleveland Police Department of using excessive and deadly force against citizens in violation of their constitutional rights, the Washington Post reports.

NOT-SO-NEW TAIWAN CABINET NAMED
Despite suffering their worst defeat in years in last week’s regional and municipal elections, Taiwan’s ruling party reappointed a cabinet very similar to the one that resigned after the elections, Reuters reports.

VERBATIM

Cardinal George Pell, who is leading a thorough review of Vatican finances in the wake of a series of scandals says the Catholic Church's economic situation is in relatively stable, though in need of major reform.

AUSTRALIA PASSES CONTROVERSIAL MIGRANT LAW
The Australian Parliament approved a series of immigration reforms, including allowing temporary visas for asylum seekers, a controversial measure that allows refugees to live and work in Australia but doesn’t grant them permanent protection, newspaper The West Australian reports. Australia currently detains asylum seekers in offshore camps in conditions that have been widely criticized. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison promised to free 100 children detained on Christmas Island by Christmas day, a move supported by charity group Save the Children, though it expressed “deep concern” over other parts of the legislation that it said “ignores the plight of the hundreds of children who remain stuck in mandatory, offshore detention.” In a scathing article, The Guardian writes that the new laws make Morrison the country’s most powerful man, giving him “unchecked control over the lives of other people” and allowing him to “push any asylum seeker boat back into the sea and leave it there.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
For Renaud Laplanche, it all began with a credit card statement that seemed all wrong. Now, after helping to bring banking into the digital era, it's time for a major IPO for his San Francisco-based firm, Le Monde’s Jérome Marin reports. “Laplanche set his sights on becoming the middleman between private individuals with capital and those who needed money,” the journalist writes of the businessman who founded Lending Club. “‘He was determined to impose a new model at a time when almost nobody was talking about a sharing economy,’ recalls Loïc Le Meur, who invested in the company. ‘But he had this ability not to listen to anybody and to go into an environment that was not his.’”
Read the full article, Meet The Frenchman Behind Lending Club, The "Google Of Finance".

INDIANS BLINDED AFTER FREE SURGERIES
In the wake of botched sterilization operations and shocking reports of doctors’ practices, which led to the deaths of at least 15 women, India is waking up to a new health scandal. At least 15 people have lost their sight after undergoing free cataract surgery in the northern district of Punjab. According to The Indian Express, as many as 62 villagers underwent surgery at a camp set up by a medical charity, and there are fears that more in the group could have been left blinded.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


SOUTH AFRICA REMEMBERS MANDELA
One year after Nelson Mandela died, South Africa is honoring his memory today, remembering the legacy of its former leader with “services, blasting of vuvuzelas and a cricket match,” AFP writes. “Although Nelson Mandela is no longer physically with us, his legacy remains to guide us as we continue our journey into the third decade of our new society,” said former president F.W. de Klerk, who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with the anti-apartheid leader. South African newspaper Mail & Guardian reports that a growing number of people are getting Mandela tattoos to honor him.
For more on one of the great figures of the 20th century, check out our special Mandela dossier.

THAI KING CANCELS 87TH BIRTHDAY APPEARANCE
Thailand’s citizens celebrated the 87th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej after doctors advised the monarch to cancel a planned public appearance, The Bangkok Post reports. “I come and join the celebrations every year and don't ever want to miss them,” one of the thousands of well-wishers said. “I will come and join in until I die.” King Adulyadej is the world’s longest-reigning monarch, but there’s been growing concern about his health recently. According to the BBC, he hasn’t been seen in public since last month.

COLOR OF THE YEAR
The Pantone gods have spoken and elected Marsala — an earthy, reddish-amber color — as the 2015 Color of the Year.

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Society

The Food Truck, A Sign That The White And Wealthy Are Moving In

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.

Balboa Park Spring Fling Food Truck festival

San Diego Food Trucks via Facebook
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

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.

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

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?

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

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.The Conversation

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Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is a Professor of Geography and Director, Urban Studies and Food Studies Programs at San Diego State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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