Unveiling Urban Transformations: Cannabis and Gentrification

This week’s edition covers stories 
from July 6th to July 12th, 2023. Today’s issue is 975 words, a 7.5-minute read.

Isabella and Helene talk cannabis bill, commodification and gentrification, and the Confluence Studio on E Lake St. 

Buenos dias readers, 
It’s a good week to be part of the Twin Cities. 3 Minneapolis restaurants were named on the top 50 independent restaurants list: Young Joni, Spoon and Stable, and Red Rabbit. Also, Minneapolis is the most bikeable city in the United States, according to PeopleForBike’s 2023 rankings. This vibrant city offers both culinary delights and a bike friendly environment. 

If you’re seeking captivating entertainment, I recommend two intriguing options. First, on Amazon Prime, you can delve into the thought-provoking and magic-realistic comedy series called “I’m a Virgo,” created by Boots Riley, the mastermind behind “Sorry to Bother You.” This show promises to tickle your mind while delivering a unique blend of humor and surrealism.

On the other hand, if you prefer a cinematic experience, “Past Lives” is currently playing in theaters and distributed by A24. Directed by Celine Song, this film invites us to explore profound themes such as fate, the Korean concept of “in-yun,” and the weight of goodbyes. It offers an opportunity for introspection and contemplation, allowing us to evaluate our own emotions and perceptions.

Both of these recommendations present different facets of the emotional spectrum, ensuring a diverse and engaging viewing experience. Whether you choose the imaginative world of “I’m a Virgo” or the thought-provoking journey of “Past Lives,” you’re bound to find captivating entertainment that resonates with you.

– Isabella

Why You Should Skip Denver’s Green Mile? (2016) 📸 Altitude The Dispensary

With August 1st approaching, the Cannabis bill’s implementation looms, bringing with it the introduction of THC-infused products in shops. However, the bill’s significance extends beyond that, particularly regarding the decriminalization of marijuana. Expunging marijuana offenses is crucial for achieving social equity and preventing discrimination by landlords and employers based on past records. This aspect gains further depth when viewed through the lens of racial justice, as nonviolent possession misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors would be automatically expunged, according to MPR. This step marks a significant stride for Minnesotans, allowing outdated drug policies that unfairly target communities of color to fade away and offering the opportunity to live without the burden of punishment, unless they pose harm to others.

But let’s not just focus on the decriminalization of marijuana today, dear readers. I want to explore a broader issue surrounding the commodification of drugs. Take Denver’s “Green Mile,” for instance, an area on South Broadway filled with cannabis dispensaries. This concentration of dispensaries has sparked a conversation about how the commodification of substances like marijuana can contribute to gentrification (Van De Voorde, 2021).

Similar trends of gentrification have been observed with other “commodified vices” like the coca leaf, tobacco, and psychedelics. In a study titled “Contact High: The External Effects of Retail Marijuana Establishments on House Prices” (Conklin et al., 2020), it was discovered that homes within one-tenth of a mile from retail marijuana stores in Denver experienced an 8% increase in value compared to those located further away.

Before the advent of the “Green Mile,” South Broadway was a neighborhood of long-standing merchants, industrial complexes, and working-class shopping. However, the legalization and commercialization of marijuana have brought about displacement. The neon green cross symbol, recognized as a sign of pharmacies in other countries, now represents legal medical marijuana in the United States.

South Broadway, once known as “Antique Row” due to its longstanding merchants, has undergone a rebranding through the commodification of the district and the normalization of marijuana. This rebranding has attracted gentrifiers, typically middle- and upper-class individuals seeking an escape from societal expectations and the opportunity to cultivate unconventional lifestyles. Gentrifiers are often associated with a culture of consumerism, which, while beneficial to the local and state economy, incentivizes the process of (re)development.

However, this process reinforces “consumption-based gentrification,” while the state legitimizes mass consumption. There is much more to unpack on this topic, but we will delve into it in our future edition.

Looking ahead, it’s concerning to think that the Twin Cities could follow a similar path as the “Green Mile” and contribute to the gentrification of urban areas that have long been home to communities of color, working-class merchants, and others. As gentrifiers abandon the suburbs and transform these neighborhoods into “green” havens, we can’t help but wonder about the future consequences. Will more cannabis shops continue to emerge, resulting in escalating rents and property values in Southside and Northside Minneapolis? (more on that here)  What will happen to our local merchants, and could we witness a complete rebranding of these areas? It’s a troubling thought, and we should remain vigilant about the potential implications.

What do you think? Let us know at newprensa@newpublica.com

Duaba and Sam stand inside of the AMMU print shop 📸 Niko Georgiades | Unicorn Riot 

Good morning, readers. Helene here! 

recently learned about the Confluence Studio, an East Lake Studio for Community Design. Confluence, as described by the cofounders, is trying to be the “neighborhood’s communication department”. From their website, “The Studio’s practice is to resource the entire neighborhood with social tools (material and immaterial) so that public gatherings and our social landscape might allow us to take the conversation beyond basic needs and small differences, and towards a shifting and expanding terrain of power, democracy, and communal living.” Confluence has offered a newsstand on Chicago Ave. and Lake St., an Abolitionist magazine called TERMINAL and a print shop, with new projects beginning all the time. 

Their recent project, AMMU, or Autonomous Mobile Media Unit, houses industrial level printhouse materials and technology, all out of a shipping container. The shipping container was given to the Confluence cofounders, Duaba and Sam several years ago. The AMMU is parked in the Moon Palace Bookstore lot, just three blocks away from the ruins of the 3rd Precinct building that burned down several years ago. This location is intentional, the co-founders say. The print shop, while small, is equipped to make copies, print flyers, posters, and booklets. In the spirit of community and accessibility, most of the work that the AMMU does is done for free, as many of those who are seeking their services are using the printed materials for activism or community work, much in line with the mission of Confluence.

The co-founders are also invested in teaching people the technology in the print shop with the goal of moving the resources and knowledge around the neighborhood. The AMMU is designed for collaboration and furthering important community work in the East Lake St. Corridor and Minneapolis’s 9th Ward. Interested in learning more about Confluence? Check out their linktree here.

Remember to listen to our lovely collaborative playlist, NewMusica.

That’s all from us this week, readers! Enjoy your Thursday. 

Your writers, 

Isabella and Helene 

Hi, friend: Isabella and Helene here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day
and canoeing 
by night!  

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