I got mugged on Christmas Eve.I was in front of my Brooklyn apartment house taking out the trash when a man pulled a gun and told me to empty my pockets. I gave him my money, wallet, and cell phone. But then—remembering some- thing I’d seen in a movie about a hostage negotiator—I begged him to let me keep my medical- insurance card. If I could humanize myself in his perception, I ﬁgured, he’d be less likely to kill me.He accepted my argument about how hard it would be for me to get “care” without it, and handed me back the card. Now it was us two against the establishment, and we made something of a deal: in ex- change for his mercy, I wasn’t to report him—even though I had plainly seen his face. I agreed, and he ran off down the street. I fool- ishly but steadfastly stood by my side of the bargain, however coerced it may have been, for a few hours. As if I could have actually entered into a binding contract at gunpoint.In the meantime, I posted a note about my strange and frightening experience to the Park Slope Parents list—a rather crunchy Internet community of moms, food co-op members, and other leftie types ded- icated to the health and well- being of their families and their decid- edly progressive, gentrifying neighborhood. It seemed the responsible thing to do, and I suppose I also expected some expression of sympa- thy and support.Amazingly, the very ﬁrst two emails I received were from people angrythat I had posted the name of the street on which the crime had occurred. Didn’t I realize that this publicity could adversely affect all of our property values? The “sellers’ market” was already difﬁcult enough! With a famous actor reportedly leaving the area for Manhat- tan, does Brooklyn’s real- estate market need more bad press? And this was beforethe real- estate crash.I was stunned. Had it really come to this? Did people care more about the market value of their neighborhood than what was actually taking place within it? Besides, it didn’t even make good business sense to bury the issue. In the long run, an open and honest conversa- tion about crime and how to prevent it should make the neighborhood safer. Property values would go up in the end, not down. So these homeowners were more concerned about the immediate liquidity of their town houses than their long- term asset value—not to mention the actual experience of living in them. And these were among the wealthiest people in New York, who shouldn’t have to be worrying about such things. What had happened to make them behave this way?It stopped me cold, and forced me to reassess my own long-held de- sire to elevate myself from renter to owner. I stopped to think— which, in the midst of an irrational real-estate craze, may not have been the safest thing to do. Why, I wondered aloud on my blog, was I struggling to make $4,500-per-month rent on a two- bedroom, fourth- ﬂoor walk-up in this supposedly “hip” section of Brooklyn, when I could just as easily get mugged somewhere else for a lot less per month? Was my willingness to participate in this runaway market part of the problem?The detectives who took my report drove the point home. One of them drew a circle on a map of Brooklyn. “Inside this circle is where the rich white people from Manhattan are moving. That’s the target area. Hunting ground. Think about it from your mugger’s point of view: quiet, tree-lined streets of row houses, each worth a million or two, and inhabited by the rich people who displaced your family. Now, you live in or around the projects just outside the circle. Where would you go to mug someone?”Back on the World Wide Web, a friend of mine— ;another Park Slope writer—made an open appeal for my family to stay in Brooklyn. He saw “the Slope” as a mixed- use neighborhood now reaching the “peak of livability” that the legendary urban anthropologist Jane Jacobs idealized. He explained how all great neighborhoods go through the same basic process: Some artists move into the only area they can afford—a poor area with nothing to speak of. Eventually, there are enough of them to open a gallery. People start coming to the gallery in the evenings, creating demand for a coffeehouse nearby, and so on. Slowly but surely, an artsy store or two and a clique of hipsters “pioneer” the neighborhood until there’s signiﬁcant sidewalk activity late into the night, making it safer for successive waves of incoming businesses and residents.Of course, after the city’s newspaper “discovers” the new trendy neighborhood, the artists are joined and eventually replaced by in- creasingly wealthy but decidedly less hip young professionals, lawyers, and businesspeople—but hopefully not so many that the district com- pletely loses its “ﬂavor.” Investment increases, the district grows big- ger, and everyone is happier and wealthier.