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dairy mom
Senior Contributor


A term I had to google.  Anyway my MIL sent an article clipping from the Grand Rapids paper about an arson case down there.  Speculation is it might have something to do with "gentrification" of the area of Grand Rapids where it happened

I just cannot understand the minds of some people.  Of course it is hard to see your neighborhood change, but if the change is for the good why attack it?  Surely any homes that are being fixed up are homes that were vacant, not homes that someone was removed from so someone with more money could have the home.


My MIL sent the article because it referenced an ELF arson at Michigan State University that my son was periphally involved in. He was the one that discovered the fire.

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3 Replies

Yet another catchphrase...

...with a lot of loaded implications.  I grew up near Petersburg, VA, and remember my mother telling me, that the "ghetto" housing of my childhood era was the "best part of town" when she was young.  It was hard for my young eyes to see the beautiful architectural detail in the decay.

Maybe fifteen years later, in my late twenties/early thirties, the new elite of college professors and other young professionals "found" High Street, and started to restore the homes.  There were tons of federal $$ incentives then to do so, and that crowd knew how to access that system.  Low-income and indigent citizens mostly got moved into public housing projects...which we all know now to be a generally failed philosophy. 

This "gentrification" is resisted in many areas for this very reason...lower-income residents know the options they are have few and not very attractive.  This happens in commerical properties, too...look into Olde Towne petersburg adn you will see that the bowels of that small city got dolled up and pricey. 

Last time I drove through, I noticed that one of the old warehouse districts had some loft living development in an old shipping company's storage building.  This is a "new' trend that mimics the old pattern of largely uncontrolled development...commercial spots mingled with residential, or commercial on street level with apartments upstairs.  These changes are generally upscale, high-cost living arrangements, affordable to only a few. 

All I can say in response to your question is that "good" is in the eye of the beholder.  If you have lived in a neighborhood for years, scraping by in rundown buildings, and then someone comes in and prices you out of your home, then that is probably not "good" for you. 

You probably know families that grew up "over the store..."  I know I do.  Immigrant families often favor this type of arrangement, it seems.  They will move into commercial areas on their downward cycle, and are thought of a second- or third-tier users. 

I am something of a zoning/planning wonk, being on planning board here.  You might be surprised at the old buildings in your area's "downtown" that have old apartments upstairs.  They are everywhere here.  Some would be quite liveable today, with very little rennovation.  A lot of this return to mixed use is energy cost-driven. 

I'd like to hear more about your son's experience...I am slightly familiar with ALF (Animal Liberation Front), and their terrorist tactics, especially involving research labs that utilize animal subjects, but have never heard of ELF....

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dairy mom
Senior Contributor

Re: Yet another catchphrase...

Elf stands for Earth Liberation Front and they are an eco terroist group.  They have worked in conjunction with ALF.  One that comes to mind is when the poor little ranch mink were let go.  I'm sure those poor creatures did not last very long on their own in the wild.  I believe ELF has been most active against land development from coast to coast and use fire and bombing as their choice of attack.


Anyway in 1999 ELF set fires at MSU.  My son was attending the university,  As he was going into a building he saw someone he didn't know coming out and found the fire when he went in.  So several years later when they had built their case and arrested these nuts my son was called to testify before the Grand Jury.  He did not end up testifying at the trial though.


Grand Rapids was the venue for the ELF trial so that is probably why the reporter was familiar with them.  Also when they set the fires at State they also sent a letter promising further attacks.


This "terroist" group in Grand Rapids right now also sent a letter to the neighborhood board involved promising an increase in such things as muggings, burglary and kidnapping.   Accoriding to the article they call themselve "The Old Neighbors" and  demand a return to low-income housing and the flight of the current residents "back into the suburbs"

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Amazing... see someone speak of moving to the suburbs as a step down...when we were coming along, the cities turned into ghettos, and the suburbs were the escape route. 

I have seen this trend to re-developing the inner city areas, now that gasoline is so expensive, and people are being sold on the "walking neighborhood" being promoted. It's a very "green" concept.  You will see restaurants and other commerical shops and such set up in close and/or mixed proximity with housing,  

 Also, inner city development can result in a lot of historic restoration.  Again, another green dream, since you conserve all the embedded energy" in these structures.   It seems that whenever times get tough, people are even more attracted to older  buildings as some sort of symbol of stability, security and comfort. 

The pendulum swings both ways, eventually.  Those who leave an area come back, and those who have returned will leave again. 

Thanks for explaining the ELF thing.  I have always wondered who pays for these sorts of terrorists to support themselves and travel about to practice their activities.  Someone who "has more dollars than sense," I think!

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