First, smile, then roll up your sleeves and begin painting one wall at a time.
Over the last few days I have cleaned, painted, washed, scrubbed until sparkling and sweated it out with my Dad over town in the vacant two bedroom apartment that came up for rent this month. The apartment is beneath my maternal grandmother’s flat. Above that there is another rental flat.
About 20, maybe 25 years ago my folks purchased this building in the rundown core of the city and have been restoring it back to it’s original lustre ever since. Uptown Saint John is a mix of poverty and wealth at the moment. Streets can mark the change but more often than not, today you see people taking pride in their properties as the old, dilapidated structures are being deemed not safe for habitation and torn down or revitalized and repaired if possible.
Over the years I’ve migrated back to Saint John on numerous occassions to live. This time feels different. It feels good. It is grand. The city feels prosperous. It certainly is not the same as it was 15 years ago when I first moved away.
Many call this gentrification. I tend to agree. It is happening right now.
I had only read about gentrification and hadn’t ever had the experience of being (living) a part of it. The thing is this: if you arrive in a city after the bubble’s burst the cost of living is surely extravagant to say the least.
But if you are ever presented an opportunity to be a part of a region’s growth fueling positive cultural and economic iniatives, take it. It may never materialize in your’s or your children’s lifetime again.