I think this anecdote perfectly illustrates where my neighborhood is in the process of gentrification:

As on many city streets, we have a sidewalk in front of our house, and a stripe of dirt betwixt the sidewalk and the road. Some other streets in DC have flowers and pretty things in these “flower boxes” or “tree boxes” ( as in the picture above — that’s not my street). On our street, there are some tall, fairly attractive but incredibly stinky gecko trees. Other than that, we basically just have clay-like dirt, weeds, and people’s trash lining the sidewalk. Beautiful.

My neighbor B started a flower revolution in the spring. He took a shovel to that clay-like dirt and planted rows of impatiens and marigolds in front of his house. We did not think they would ever survive the poor conditions — bad soil, not a ton of sunlight, people tramping on them. We were all shocked when his flowers were still there a week later.

So, on Memorial Day, my next door neighbor and I also planted flowers — making it three houses in a row with flowers out front. B was very proud that he started the flower-power movement.

“Yes, I see how it is, you have to keep up with your neighbor now. Watch, I will show you how to water the flowers,” he bragged. (Read that in a very slight Madagascaran accent. lovely. I love B.)

Two months later, our flowers are still mostly alive, shockingly enough. People toss trash onto them, but there has not been a lot of noticable floral vandalism. Some neighbors across the street even joined the revolution in recent weeks, planting their own flowers.

So, you might say we are moving on up — fancy gentrifying street with flowers, eh? But wait.

One of my across-the-street neighbors reported that she has seen a man urinating on the flowers. Right there on the sidewalk, in the late afternoon after work.

So, THAT is where we are in my neighborhood. It’s the kind of place where people will plant flowers, and other people will pee on them in broad daylight.