Bok Technical High School at 9th and Mifflin streets was once a thriving public school that produced some of the city’s finest young minds and innovators.
After its later years saw poor internal reviews, it got shut down in 2013.
This summer, its original space was re-appropriated into an urban mockery of Le Bec Fin –foolishly named Le Bok Fin – a members-only restaurant that also offers yoga.
What in the hell are we doing, Philly?
The developmental team behind this gentrification – I mean rebranding – goes by the name of Scout and told the press that their intentions are to produce “a new creative eco-system that seeks to reuse and repurpose existing infrastructure for makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs in South Philadelphia.”
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Yeah, sounds pretty much like gentrification.
Some critics are calling it one of the hottest new “pop-up bars” in the city, while others are protesting its existence.
I’m unapologetically on the latter team because I care about Philly education and don’t take pride in seeing schools shut down only to turn into more bars and crap we don’t need.
This reminds me of that almost-tragic “pop-up” beer garden that failed to get built this summer in Point Breeze. Once again, our city has become divided morally on what conscious we should take in advancing our developmental ambitions against common sense.
What disgusts me the most about Le Bec Fin is that it mocks the very nature of the school in which it feels fit to now colonialize.
Sad fact: their namesake comes from one of the culinary programs the now closed school used to call itself.
How can anyone who cares about education reform and improving the city stand atop that roof and party knowing that the failure of a school produced this? It almost feels as though one is celebrating Columbus Day and forgetting that the holiday partially commemorates the genocide of thousands of native tribes.
And for that reason, I’m asking Philadelphians to have no part in this insensitive developmental site. What next? Tea parties and macaroons where the MOVE bombing took place?
The message this new venture is telling Philadelphia is that schools aren’t meant to save but replace for social hubs that can reminisce their glory days. If that isn’t rubbing it in the face of those former teachers, mentors, and alumni – then I can’t possibly imagine what else does.
And let’s not act like it’s a community effort. The people attending are predominately white yuppies looking for another place to naively encroach their sentiments of innovation and cultural appropriation.
What a neighborhood that housed a closing school needs are not yoga sessions, but smarter resource pools to prevent it from happening again.
The city should start a better campaign to encourage developers and/or community organizers to find actual proactive ways to utilize such property outside of booze-infused recreation.
We are starting to become a Brooklyn waiting to happen and if that’s the case, I won’t be here long enough to see it unfold.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarilyreflect the views of Metro US.