I’m going to Indianapolis in early July, mostly for Popcon (first fandom con in five years, it’s been too long) but also just to pootle around the city for a few days. I lived northeast of Indy for a year and a half but my primary experience of the city thus far has been through a car windshield, and I want to rectify that. So if you want to say I have Bad Opinions to my face, you know where to find me.
I’ve been to downtown (i.e. Circle Centre and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument) the IMA, and a few places up where the sprawl of Indy proper bleeds into Carmel and Noblesville, and on the agenda this visit (besides Popcon) is Broad Ripple (where I’m staying), Lockerbie Square, and Marott Park. Other suggestions of places to visit are welcome, provided they’re cheap (i.e. <$20), and although I can walk distances that would fell most men, I am otherwise completely at the mercy of IndyGo and its criminally early shutdown time.
I want to finish the LA crayon map before I leave.
I’ve complained about this before, but recent events mean I’m going to complain about this again.
Now, I want to make something abundantly clear before we continue: it’s obvious that we won’t not-build our way out of the housing crisis. Our cities need more houses, stat, and not building those houses guarantees (a) cities will remain prohibitively expensive for a lot of people and (b) that upper- and middle-class folks will continue invading and colonizing* lower-class neighborhoods.
In addition, the DSA statement’s characterization of YIMBYs as a movement is factually inaccurate. The claim is that YIMBYs as a whole are uninterested in housing for low-income folks, which, given how often I hear talk of dingbats, granny flats, subdividing large homes, and general “missing middle” housing, isn’t exactly representative of the people I follow, anyway.
<Jim Sterling shrimp voice>HOWEVER.</jssv>
That my immediate response to the DSA’s charge is essentially hashtag NotAllYIMBYs is still more evidence that YIMBYism has a severe PR problem that by and large they refuse to acknowledge even is a problem. It is perfectly reasonable for the San Francisco DSA to conclude that YIMBYism stands for “condos, condos everywhere” when the predominant strain of YIMBYism is, in fact, “condos, condos everywhere.” It is perfectly reasonable for renter/tenant/anti-gentrification advocates to see YIMBYs as the enemy when what they see of YIMBYism is stale talking points about supply and demand and average rent figures and how rent control is Bad. This doesn’t mean YIMBYism as a concept is wrong, but it does mean that they’re using the wrong arguments.
And these arguments aren’t just unappealing to people who actually live there and are worried about being able to keep living there. All the cities/metros I’m interested in moving to are hideously expensive, and I’m not particularly enthused about hearing I must either (a) wait thirty years for average rents to drop to where they’d be affordable for me, (b) move to some isolated car-dependent exurb (like, dude, what do you think I’m trying to escape?), or (c) both. These aren’t arguments for people. These are arguments for developers.
My point is this: if YIMBYs are serious about opposing displacement, then they’d stop badmouthing anti-displacement activism, stop yammering about average rent figures as though those terms mean anything to people,** and start advocating for policies that’d ensure that whatever goes in peoples’ back yards won’t render them homeless in a few months. I know serious anti-gentrification YIMBY arguments exist. I hear people making them. But they need to be at the movement’s forefront, like, yesterday.
A friend of mine and I are both fans of Stuart Ashen, a YouTuber who mostly reviews tchotchkes and bootlegs, but who occasionally does other stuff as well. We noticed that although this particular internet snarky man has the quantity of connections you’d expect from someone in his position, some of those connections lead to some pretty interesting places. For instance:
- He cameo’d on Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe.
- He made a movie starring Warwick “Ewok” Davis and Robert “Scrapheap Challenge” Llewellyn.
- Fellow YouTube person Harry Partridge is the son of Andy Partridge, the frontman of XTC.
This then led to the only half-joke that the center of the British entertainment universe is a pair of hands on a sofa in Norwich. Thus: the Six Degrees of Stuart Ashen.
The challenge is to connect a random, usually British, entertainment figure with Stuart Ashen using the fewest number of links. What qualifies as a link here, in case it wasn’t already obvious, is more flexible than in most games like this; a link can be made not just if they collaborated but if it can be reasonably assumed they ever talked shop in person. (Hence why Harry Partridge –> Andy Partridge counts as a step, for instance.) An example:
- One of the Goblin Corps in David Bowie’s Labyrinth was Warwick Davis.
- Warwick Davis was in Quest of the Game Child with Stuart Ashen.
- Therefore David Bowie has an Ashens number of 2.
Another, perhaps more representative:
- Tommy Wiseau made The Room with Greg Sestero.
- Greg Sestero was interviewed and performed in a skit written by Doug Walker.
- Doug Walker’s Channel Awesome video producer network once featured Stuart Ashen as a contributor.
- Therefore Tommy Wiseau has an Ashens number of 3.
This shouldn’t be taken completely seriously, but sometimes an aimless wander can send you to some interesting places.
*Words used with their military/political definition fixed clearly in mind, for the record.
**”But I don’t…” If you don’t, then you’re not part of the problem.