Northside Stories


Alexis Dennis
Digital Documentary Photography
December 2009

Stories of the Northside Community of Chapel Hill and “gentrification awareness events” have been prevalent in Chapel Hill and on UNC’s campus during the past few years.  Upon embarking on this project, I sought to truly understand why gentrification is a hot button issue as well as understand the types of injustices that result from its occurrence.  In addition, I wanted to learn more about the large and historic African American community that I previously never knew existed, despite the fact that it is incredibly close to campus.

Initially, and maybe naively, I adopted the same attitude towards gentrification as those whom had exposed me to the issue – my peers:  I desired to create a project that documented the horrors of gentrification and exposed the stories of those forced from their homes by the “evil” developers.  As I began to meet and talk with residents and activists, however, I learned that the issue is a lot more complex than many individuals realize. 

This project is the result of shooting over 1,300 images, as well as multiple interviews with residents, community members, students, and activists.  Over time, my project evolved from exposing the wrongs of one group upon another, to exploring the different aspects that contribute to the problem.  I formed a great appreciation for the perspectives of the different groups of individuals who impact and are impacted by gentrification along the way. 

This work is not intended to be political, but to instead provide a bit of understanding and provoke a bit of thought about this