This Boxing Gym Hit Back Against Gentrification
And shows why we can’t lose our grassroots.
“Gentrification is like a bully. It beats up on the familiar and beloved places of a neighbourhood, demanding they pay more than they can afford. If they don’t, it pushes them out. But not all bullies win. Sometimes the bullied fight back.”
So begins Paul Salvatori’s article in last week’s Globe and Mail about a crowdfunding campaign that helped save Canada’s oldest boxing gym – Sully’s in Toronto’s west end – from the rising rents caused by the area’s gentrification.
It’s a striking opening line, and – for those who like it when the world’s Davids fight back against the Corporate Goliaths –a reassuring read.
But of course, when big money gets involved, it’s not just neighbourhoods that are gentrified, or are ‘bullied’, or lose what made them special.
It’s seeing your favourite festival covered in sponsors’ logos. It’s the local restaurant that ends up becoming a homogenized, overpriced chain. It’s the social movement that’s woke-washed by corporations looking to improve their image.
It’s that moment when your parents start wearing the brand of jeans you used to love.
And some fear that the same is happening to the cannabis industry.
We’ve written before about the big brands looking to buy their way into the industry or cashing in on things like 420 on this side of the Atlantic. But even in the UK, where recreational legalization remains an aspiration, there are concerns that the big money men have seen a potentially lucrative market, and are looking make their presence felt.
And not in a good way. According to campaigners, not only are big businesses profiting from supplying medical marijuana to wealthy private patients (while those relying on public healthcare struggle to get the drug), they’re also trying to ensure that any future legal recreational market is skewed in their favour, including by convincing policymakers that homegrown cannabis is unsafe.
Of course, you can argue that, particularly as demand increases, the industry will need large producers if it’s to thrive and develop.
But we also need the ‘little guys’, the ones who – to paraphrase one of the UK campaigners –
“care about the people, not the profit.”
Money or old dope?