Changing Environs (sp?)

At least I think that's the word I want. I'm talking about the immediate area around the Sojourners office; specifically, down on the corner, out in the street, where Willy and the Poor Boys have been replaced by a Starbucks, a Kinko's, and a Bed Bath & Beyond. That's right, in what was one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., we'll soon have a Bed Bath & Beyond (which I think is the next Star Trek movie, the one where the Starship Enterprise stops to pick up seasonal patio accessories).

Apparently, in an effort to protect us from terrorist attack, Homeland Security is surrounding us with a protective wall of chain stores, including Best Buy, Staples, and Target. The premise being that in a general state of emergency you should immediately seek shelter, order a latté, and buy a flat-screen television.

Our corner used to be a wonderful hodge-podge of diverse cultures and ethnicities. It had color and vibrancy, and offered experiences vital to a robust urban environment, such as getting robbed at gunpoint. These days, your only risk is being accosted by Cinnabon employees offering samples in front of their new store. ("Absolutely not," I reply indignantly, "I RESENT the way you people are trying to turn our neighborhood into a shopping mall!)

("... Okay, maybe just a taste.")

Where once there was the sound of children's laughter, now there is silence, mainly because the children's mouths are full of cinnamon rolls ("with extra nuts, please").

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2007
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