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A colourful way to fight gentrification is catching on in Sydney

Gentrification has become one of the major issues of our time. More than ever, major urban centres hold the most economic opportunities for people, but at the same time they have become increasingly inaccessible to many, thanks to rising rents.

While it’s possible to debate endlessly about whose feet to lay the blame at — whether it’s affluent hipsters, greedy developers, or just an inevitable process driven by inexorable economic forces — one thing’s for sure: the people who are hurt the most by urban gentrification are those who are already economically disadvantaged.

One of the frustrating things for people who are watching their neighbourhood change around them is that they feel largely invisible. As their neighbourhood shops are shuttered due to rising rents, and replaced by hipster cafes and cocktail bars, the new fashionable residents might not even sense the distress of those who are having the rug pulled out from under them.

And as gentrification continues to hit Sydney, residents of the city’s Waterloo Estate have decided to do something about it, working together to make themselves more visible in their changing neighbourhood.

Literally more visible: they are using a light-based art project to light up the otherwise drab exterior of their building, forcing people to take notice.

And it’s getting attention.

The overall aim of the campaign is to put pressure on the New South Wales government, which has plans for redevelopment of the area around the estate.

Under the hashtag #WeLiveHere2017, awareness is being raised online about the resistance movement. So if you’re in Sydney, why not get involved? Go out and meet the people of Waterloo Estate, and find out why they are concerned about being forced out of their homes.

#Repost @matt_levinson (@get_repost) ・・・ ❤️💙💛 #welivehere2017 #artandabout #communityartproject #cityofsydney #publichousing #publicart

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You can read about some of the residents’ stories on Instagram. Here are just a few of them:

Wazza: "My names Wazza Ive been living here for 8 years to almost to the day. My hips are fucked so I can’t do what I’m qualified to do anymore, so I’ve been doing art. This is all of my art in here. My favourite artist is Salvador Dali. . I keep on experimenting with different styles, but haven’t quite found one that’s fit yet. I’d like to paint really big, but there isn’t enough space in here. I was putting some of it on the boards in the elevators for awhile… This is a place to live. If they move me out of here I would like to go to Darwin. I guess the Government will just go and do what they are going to do. I like the lights. At least someone is trying to help." Pic by @nicwalker101 #welivehere2017 #artandabout #cityofsydney #redfernlyf #redfernnow #waterloo #humansofwaterloo #redfern #sydneynight #sydneylocal #sydneyurban #sydney #art #communityartproject #lights #lightson #lighting #lightitup #creatensw #peopleofwaterloo #people #socialhousing #publichousing #publicart

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"Hi My name is Fiona Mangold, I'm 88 years old. I've been living here in this building for the last 18 years. I came from Scotland originally and have been here in Sydney since 1949. I fell in love with the place and stayed. I'm very happy here…….I know many people in the buildings and the businesses around here. But if I have to go I'm sure I'll enjoy it wherever I go. I'm sure I'll meet many more lovely people there as I have here. I love the lights I'd love to see more of them, I think its a splendid idea and way of letting people know what's going on in the area." Pic by @nicwalker101 #welivehere2017 #artandabout #cityofsydney #redfernlyf #redfernnow #waterloo #humansofwaterloo #redfern #sydneynight #sydneylocal #sydneyurban #sydney #art #communityartproject #lights #lightson #lighting #lightitup #creatensw #peopleofwaterloo #people #socialhousing #publichousing #publicart

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"My name is Edward Grant I'm 73 I've lived in Matavi here for 9 years….it takes an act of God to get a double bedsit in one of these apartments. I've been in Australia 30 years I'm from Manhatten, New York. Fate and Destiny bought me to Australia, where all the right people were here waiting for me and convinced me to stay. Back in the day I was a model. One of the six black men modeling for the Ford Agency in the 70s – there were 60 white men. I've always loved interior design I've done what I can with the space I have. It's home for me. This is not the Sydney I knew 30 years ago. Now the dog house costs $1,000,000. There is nothing for the regular man. I'm on dialysis 3 days a week I've got my doctors and nurses I trust and that care for me here. I'm not worried. They'll will never shove me out to Campbelltown – They are going to have to carry me out in a black plastic bag when all is done and dusted." Pic by @nicwalker101 #welivehere2017 #artandabout #cityofsydney #redfernlyf #redfernnow #waterloo #humansofwaterloo #redfern #sydneynight #sydneylocal #sydneyurban #sydney #art #communityartproject #lights #lightson #lighting #lightitup #creatensw #peopleofwaterloo #people #socialhousing #publichousing #publicart

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