The Age comments that:
The festival’s publicity material… cites the loss of the Punters Club and the perilous state of pay-by-donation restaurant Lentil As Anything as threats to the diversity of the inner-city.
Hmmm. I am always amused at how ‘diversity’ in the inner city is deified. It’s such a bleeding heart do gooder concept. It’s so full of hypocrisy. NIMBYs love ‘diversity’ except when it comes in the form of people needing to use a public toilet, for example, and then suddenly access to Fitzroy is denied.
The Punter’s Club was a commercial business that closed due to commercial reasons; it was not a publicly owned social utility. Hippies can whinge about the failure of the commercial world to meet their artistic desires, but the commercial world simply doesn’t care.
The reason that Lentil as Anything is in a ‘perilous state’ is because of the incompetence of its managers. You can’t blame the commercial world for that, but hippies seem determined to refute common sense and personal responsibility. Whatever.
Will I be going to the ‘festival’? No. A few people hanging out in the Birmingham hotel does not a festival make. Though the workshop on reversing gentrification should be hilarious.
Step 1: buy lots of real estate from greedy suits to stop them from profiting from it. Step 2: rent property to unemployed whinging artists. Sounds like a great plan. But where is the money coming from?
Gentrification can happen in different ways, and it can be managed. But I don’t think it is possible for it to simply be stopped. Fortunately Marcus Westbury, also writing in the Age, has some more balanced and sensible things to say.
The same demographic pressures that drive behaviour hippies believe in, such as living in the inner city and using public transport instead of private cars, is driving gentrification in areas like Fitzroy.
The suits are starting to realise that commuting for an hour from their beige office to their beige home is a waste of their valuable time. They want to live closer to work. The age of oil is coming to an end, and the suburban flight enabled by petrol driven cars is being reversed.
The 50 year experiment that saw suburbia replace urban living as the preferred choice for the middle class is at an end. These massive social forces are changing the social mix in Fitzroy and there is nothing a bunch of whinging hippies can do about it.
If you want to remain in Fitzroy, the choice is simple. Stop whinging and start working. Sell out enough to earn enough money to afford living here, and appreciate the opportunities and experiences available to you. Or move out.