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