The UK government has announced it will introduce a new tax on the sugary drinks industry. The idea is to tackle child obesity. Conservative governments don’t usually have much of a sweet tooth for raising taxes on anything, so they must have a pretty good reason for flirting with this sugar tax, right? That’s for you to decide, once you’ve got the facts inside you.
Cities all over the world are experiencing a new phenomenon – gentrification. Rents are rising in urban areas, forcing out families who have lived there for generations.
Because it could mean you can’t afford to live in the area you grew up in.
In cities around the world traditionally working class areas suddenly seem full of vintage shops and “hipster” craft ale pubs. More importantly, local residents are being forced out due to rent increases. This is all due to gentrification.
In London, activists protesting against the gentrification of the East End attacked the Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch, which charges £2.50 for a single bowl of breakfast-y goodness.
The protesters wrote online “we don’t want luxury flats that no-one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing…. we don’t want pop-up gin bars or brioche buns – we want a community.”
Gentrification is defined as “the buying and renovating of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighbourhoods by wealthier individuals”.
Yeah, because that sounds easy to understand. Not.
For those who don’t speak social geography: gentrification basically means wealthier people start moving into certain urban areas where housing is cheaper. This leads to a rise in rents and the cost of living which can sometimes mean people on a lower-income are forced out of the area.
The phrase was coined in 1964, by sociologist Ruth Glass who believed the gentrification process created “upper-class ghettos.”
“One by one, many of the working class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle-classes—upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages—two rooms up and two down—have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences …. Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.”
In London the 2012 Olympics brought at least £9 billion of investment to the east of the city in the form of new buildings and facilities.
Buildings once housing athletes have now been converted into flats – available to the public.
This renewal has spread with many companies, bars and restaurants popping up in the area. Areas like Shoreditch and Hackney are now seen as trendy areas to live.
However, some see the “renewal” of the East End as a bad thing. For example, half of the Olympic flats are supposed to be “affordable” yet as the Independent reports, not everyone believes they are. Employment in the Olympic borough of Tower Hamlets actually went down over the Olympic period, according to MP Rushanara Ali.
New York’s Harlem, a district once associated with “urban blight, crime, gangs, and drugs” according to the Chicago Booth magazine, is now home to “upscale delis, numerous banks, and that telltale sign of gentrification: fashion-conscious young men in knitted hats.”
People can’t decide for certain what causes gentrification. Some blame local councils for granting planning permission for expensive high-rise flats. Others think the government needs to do more to control rents increases.
Many link the rise of “Hipster” culture to gentrification. Creatives and artistic types generally don’t earn six figure salaries and so move to areas where it’s cheaper to live.
Individuals on higher pay grades also start moving to these areas, attracted by the “trendy” vibes created by the hipsters. As more wealthy individuals enter the area, prices start to rise.
Whilst some argue that hipsters are a symptom, not a cause of gentrification, they provide an easy target for those wanting to rally against changes to their area.
Families being forced out of the areas they grew up in does not sound good. “Upper-class Ghettos” also sounds rather dodgy. However, investing in an area does have its benefits.
Vintage shops, craft-ale bars and even cereal cafes create jobs and wealth. The tax paid by these companies is spent by local councils on improving the area.
It’s often claimed that gentrified areas also have lower crime levels. Which is a good thing, surely?
So, urban renewal is good for the area, but not necessarily for all the people who have lived there all their lives. Is there a better way of redeveloping the spaces we live in?
Gentrification is becoming a problem in our cities, yet there’s more to this than cafes which charge £2.50 for a bowl of cereal.
Join the debate and tell us in the comments below – is gentrification is good or bad? Or if taking action is more your thing;
Against greedy developers in the East End? You could sign this petition rather than taking a pop @ Cocopops. https://t.co/N4nBLZPIAm
— Audrey Gillan (@audreygillan) September 28, 2015
The international organisation the United Nations just set a load of aims to make the world a better place. Only thing is, the UN didn’t meet its previous targets. What are you going to do to help?
Everyone has that friend who’s a bit of an overachiever. You know, balancing three careers simultaneously whilst also learning a new language?
In the international community the United Nations is that person.
The United Nations is an intergovernmental organisation promoting international cooperation. That’s a posh way of saying the world’s governments get together to solve problems faced by the planet. For example: war, poverty, climate change, that kind of stuff.
The United Nations formed in 1945, primarily to prevent another conflict like World War II. So far, so good.
The UN just announced its new set of Sustainable Development Goals. Big words; simple aims. These are the UN goals make the world a better place.
The full list has 17 goals.
Each goal has numerous aims and targets to be met before 2030. Ambitious much?
The list kicks off with “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. Starting with something easy then.
It then zips through stuff like “end hunger” and “ensure sanitation for all” (clean water and all that jazz) and “achieve gender equality” for good measure. No biggie.
That’s not to mention promising “decent work for all” (fair pay and realistic working hours) making our energy and cities sustainable reducing inequality in the world.
All done yet?
The United Nations also believes we must “take urgent action to combat climate change”.
The key word here is sustainable. As in, we only have one world with limited resources, so let’s be smart about how we use them.
Oh, and the UN wants to ensure global society is inclusive and peaceful.
It’s like the to-do list of a higher power.
Errmmm… not exactly.
The Guardian reports that although the United Nations achieved significant progress with the previous set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many specific targets were missed. For example; Millennium Development Goal One tackled global poverty. The United Nations missed its target of halving the number of people suffering from hunger.
It’s not all doom and gloom; despite some missed targets, other aims were achieved ahead of schedule. It’s estimated that 1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Not bad going.
United Nations member states will meet at the UN summit 25-27th September 2015 to formally adopt the brand new Sustainable Development goals.
International organisations like the UN relies on aid from countries to fund development work.
In case you were wondering what we spend: the UK government is committed to spending 0.7% of our total income on foreign aid.
The United Nations created the Sustainable Development Fund to put organisations and businesses who want to help in touch with relevant UN and humanitarians agencies around the world.
Call it the world’s largest matchmaker.
However with goals like providing “sanitation for all” estimated to cost $290 billion a year people worry there will not be enough money.
Is it realistic to set new goals when previous ones are unfinished? Or perhaps setting the bar high is a good thing as it encourages us to strive harder?
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general acknowledges that while remarkable gains were achieved “inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven.”
The United Nations is doing some great things in the world, though we wonder how it would go down if we tried a similar approach in our own lives.
Picture it: next time you’re given a task at work, brand it as part of something much more difficult and say “at least I tried”. Then set new targets and hope no-one notices.
Sometimes it just means you don’t hit your targets.