In 2015, The Fusebox Festival, working with the City of Austin and thinkEast Developers, through a grant from ArtPlace America, commissioned Ghana ThinkTank to help interrogate people's assumptions about the roles they play in the gentrification process.
After several months of interviewing people concerned by, or involved in the process of, gentrification - including developers, community activists, new residents, long-term residents, city-councilors and small business owners – Ghana ThinkTank devised a way to activate this process publicly. We built a candy-looking folding cart mounted on wheels taken from a girl’s bicycle, with two benches facing each other. Each bench was labeled with an obnoxious LED screen in bright green pixels, giving audiences two options of where to sit: "GENTRIFIERS!" or "GENTRIFIED!" and linked to its own custom app.
Those who identified as GENTRIFIERS sat at the “What’s your Austin Problem?” app, where they were instructed to record their personal problems with Austin.
Those who identified as GENTRIFIED sat at the “What’s Your Solution?” app, where they could swipe through a growing list of 100+ problems people had submitted about Austin.
This was an attempt to apply the flipped power dynamic, central to the Ghana ThinkTank process, to Austin in an accessible and localized way.
The cart traveled to parts of Austin known for gentrification. Some neighborhoods were on the verge of gentrification, and others had entirely been changed over to craft beer, lattes, yoga, and prix fixe farm-to-table menus.
It asked neighbors who are unwittingly competing against each other, sometimes despite their best intentions, to recognize the effects of their housing decisions.