East-of-River locals, old and new, crammed into a forum on urban renewal, hosted by R.E.E.L. (River East Emerging Leaders) at Department of Employment Services Headquarters, on Tuesday night.
In another 'Don't be afraid of gentrification' forum, civic officials and River East newcomers (some, REEL members) butted heads with long-standing Southeast residents. Engaged and enraged, locals demanded information about upcoming development, east of Big Annie, ..and refused to be condescended to. In the face of overwhelming skepticism, questioning their loyalty to old-time residents, REEL took the progressive route, inviting all River Easters to join the organization and become a part of seeking solutions to decades-old OLD problems, ..instead of blocking progress.
"[REEL and DC officials] not being real with us," a middle-aged resident confided in me, last Tuesday. "They talking about how all this development's supposed to improve everything, down the road--so, they already got a plan, ..right? If you asking somebody how they feel about something you already decided, you're not being for real."
A lot of constructive anger in that room. Thankfully, less condescension than I anticipated.