Is it possible for a neighborhood to enjoy a delicious, artisanal cake pop -- and not brutally force out vulnerable, long-term residents at the same time? That's the seemingly intractable question at the heart of the "gentrification" debate.
Actually, it's not so intractable. Non-profit group Community Solutions has found the solution: Invest in a neighborhood's local makers and entrepreneurs, and allow thousands of cake pops to blossom.
In Brownsville, Brooklyn, a new community-led marketplace called MGB POPS at 425 Mother Gaston Boulevard is showcasing local talent like Venus Sutton, who owns Everything Sticks and More Catering.
“I grew up in East New York and when I was little, this red food truck came by every Friday night - we would look forward to it. Now, there is nothing. If you want a good cupcake shop, you have to go to Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn. Why not have something similar here? I want to have my own food truck that stays in this neighborhood so people can have access to interesting food again,” she said.
Sutton, who sells everything from chicken and waffles on a stick to cake pops, said she thinks this local marketplace will give residents hope and encourage them to follow their entrepreneurial passions.
Zoe Meyer has an online shop called Top 20 Tops that she hopes to turn into a brick and mortar store one day:
“There is so much excitement from people walking by the area,” she said. “There are whispers about how this is something you would find in SoHo and it’s right here in Brownsville! I am excited that something like this will exist in this neighborhood.”
It's just not that hard -- this supposed "gentrification dilemma." Banks won't lend to entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists won't invest in brick and mortar businesses that revitalize the local economy but don't "scale" into huge payoffs. We -- local and state government -- are going to have to invest in our home-grown entrepreneurs and even the playing field with the large chains that colonize our economies and extract value from our families.
In the meantime, check out MGM POPS in Brownsville on Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 8pm and Sundays from 12pm to 6pm now through December 28.