Change is a prevalent aspect of urban life. It can be positive or negative and those opinions will vary from person to person. Something one group may feel is positive could in turn have a damaging affect on another. Such changes are urbanism, gentrification, urban redevelopment, and in the past (which still has an impact today), redlining. Urbanism is complex traits that make up the characteristics of urban spaces. Such as, it’s fast pace, short and inconvenient interactions and the size of the city. The negative affects of urbanism are the creations of subcultures, and a loss of morals and values. Gentrification, by Urban Dictionaries standard is, “When “urban renewal” of lower class neighborhoods with condos attracts yuppie tenants, driving up rents and driving out long time, lower income residents. It often begins with influxes of local artists looking for a cheap place to live, giving the neighborhood a bohemian flair. This hip reputation attracts yuppies who want to live in such an atmosphere, driving out the lower income artists and lower income residents, often ethnic/racial minorities, changing the social character of the neighborhood. It also involves the “yuppification” of local businesses; shops catering to yuppie tastes like sushi restaurants, Starbucks, etc… come to replace local businesses displaced by higher rents”. In this hilarious definition it brings up my last point, urban renewal or redevelopment; the rehabilitation of city areas by renovating or replacing dilapidated buildings with new housing, public buildings, parks, roadways, industrial areas, etc., often in accordance with comprehensive plans. (Dictionary.com).
“How would you describe the changes in Atlantic City and County over the past year?” my group and I asked Kaleem Shabazz in an interview on March 30th at Stockton University. Councilman Shabazz is an Elected Official, a Chairman of Planning and Development, along with other small roles throughout the community. He is very involved, a representative for the people and passionate about positive change. “It’s the best of times and the worst of times”, Shabazz responded to our complex question. He explained the bad things that have happened are the foreclosures of houses and casinos and their impact throughout the County, which lead to a financial downfall of the city. The economy needs hope and jobs for the residents. The drug use it an epidemic that results in arrests, crime, a need for social services and an unsafe feeling throughout the city. Public education and public transportation need to be updated as well. As for the good changes, Councilman Shabazz said Stockton coming will increase development, services and housing. The Hard Rock Casino bought the Taj Mahal and hopes to have it running by summer of 2018. Browns Park used to be a place that was involved in drugs and crime, however they are now renovating it. They are reopening on Memorial Day and hoping it will bring the community together for safe and fun events. Councilman Shabazz said, “I believe people are basically good”. He explained that he does not think that the state wants Atlantic City to fail as many feel after the Take Over Bill was passed. The Take Over Bill allows the state to assume power over Atlantic City for 5 years. Many think this is not fair or just, the decisions of the city should be made by the city. However, despite others negative emotions, Councilman Shabazz has a positive outlook, “The future of Atlantic City is bright”. He believes that Stockton will bring development, jobs and opportunity for all ages. Stockton will diversify the economy and bring new entertainment and expansion. Councilman Shabazz has power in the city with his various roles and connections. Stockton’s students, faculty and staff have the same power. How will we decide to use it? We have the chance to create positive change if we are focused on the betterment of the city and education for all. Power and change are a great combination when used for good. Let us be aware of the impact we are making and as Councilman Shabazz said, make the future of Atlantic City brighter.