Flag Wars

Flag Wars is an independent film documentary that took four years to accomplish. The film is concerned with the political and societal phenomenon going on at Olde Towne East Community in Columbus, Ohio. This phenomenon is called Gentrification. Gentrification is the coming of wealthier people in an economically stagnant urban district, which is said to cause increase in real property values and rents, and changes in the district character and culture. Although it has the benefits stated above, this phenomenon is often used negatively because it displaced the poor residents of the community by rich outsiders.

Flag Wars had succeeded in portraying the gentrification that is happening in the Olde Towne East. Its makers had included all the key people needed to clearly explain what gentrification is. They were Nina Masseria, Chief Baba Olugbala Shango Obadena, Linda Mitchell, Jim Yoder and Judge Richard Pfeiffer.

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Nina Masseria lives in the neighborhood of Olde Towne East for about 25 years. To get an income, she offers lands to prospect wealthy buyers. She is also actively participating in community matters. Chief Baba Olugbala Shango Obadena is a migrant from Nigeria but a life-long resident of Olde Town East. He is an artist and he operates an art gallery which he supports with his work as a union plumber. Baba had a court case and it took three years to resolve causing him $10,000. Together with Masseria, he also occupies positions in the community.

Linda Mitchell is also a life-long resident of the community but unable to preserve her house in good condition. Jim Yoder, on the other hand, is a respiratory therapist that had acquired a house needing renovation. Last key person is Judge Pfeiffer. He presides the community’s environmental court.

The story goes with the coming of rich outsiders mostly white and gay who had buy a property in the community. The old residents felt that they where being out of place by these rich outsiders because they were trying to take control of the community’s decision making concerns. The old and new residents had an argument about the renovation of the houses within the community. New residents favor the good aesthetic effect of the renovation but old residents view it as an assault on their heritage and a threat to hold on their homes.

Emotional and social changes had come together with the coming of the new residents. Racial discrimination, homophobia, and tensions between privilege and poverty had build up. Nina Masseria was glad they were coming because it means an additional income for her. And besides, this new residents would build or renovate houses therefore giving opportunities job opportunities to those not yet employed.

But though the new residents gave a wake on the sleeping economic activity of the area, some of the old residents, just like Chief Baba, had a bad impression on them. They taught that they were invading the place they had owned for almost their whole life, bringing in a different culture and foreign ideas. They felt they were oppressed so they file a court case.

People in the Olde East Ohio, Columbus are not the only one community facing gentrification. People from the rural and other urban place who had been successful in business or profession may decide to settle on a new environment. But constraints such us availability of current offered houses and lots together with their amounts would surely face them. And places that have residents that were not successful enough to hold their ancestral houses offer them a promising deal. The only problem is that they would meet people of different taste, of different culture, different ideology, and different priorities.

References:

“Flag Wars“. P.OV.

Retrieved June 14, 2007 from

            http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2003/flagwars/index.html

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