This article appeared just hours ago in the New York Daily News, announcing a new night market that will be installed along Grove Pl. in Downtown Brooklyn. The writer describes the alleyway as “dingy,” “forlorn,” and “neglected,” which are perhaps reasonable descriptors if you take Grove Pl. as an isolated alley disembodied from any surroundings. But Grove Pl. sits in the context of the Fulton Mall area, a historically thriving African-American and Caribbean space that has long been maligned by journalists and city officials using similar descriptors. This article thus relates to a wider American discourse associating black spaces with failure, decline, and social pathology. Such seemingly benign media tidbits contain a subtler and more insidious message, though. They suggest that spaces that are suddenly desired by wealthy, privileged people were previously of no value to anyone. While some spaces are definitely abandoned, often times they are simply (and incorrectly) perceived as abandoned, or forgotten, or “forlorn,” because they are unappealing to outsiders. “I wouldn’t go there, so it must not be in use, or of importance to anyone,” is how the logic generally goes. It may well be that Grove Pl. as an isolated stretch of street is indeed empty and forlorn, but its immediate surrounding context is anything but. By itself, this article is harmless enough. But in the context of the carefully constructed public discourse that for decades has been pushing an image of Downtown Brooklyn as a failure, it does just a little bit more to distort the reality–and trumpet the gentrification–of one of New York City’s most interesting and celebrated urban spaces.
At every screening of My Brooklyn (more than 100 so far!) people ask us “Now that I’m convinced there’s a problem, what can I do?” After a lot of head scratching, and getting together with some of the best minds in the city on this, we have come up with an answer. It’s called “My Brooklyn: Our City” and there is a role for every single one of you who wants to take part in a campaign to strengthen our communities, build collective power and – in the process — influence the upcoming NYC Mayoral and City Council elections.
Here’s how it works:
We will make My Brooklyn available FOR FREE to anybody in New York City who wants to host a house party or screening during the month of July. We will provide you with a Facilitator Guide which includes guidelines on hosting an event and strategies for facilitating dialogue after the screening. It will also include clear information, resources and next steps for making improvements around key issues raised by the film (like the need for affordable housing, subsidy reform, anti-displacement measures and making the planning process more transparent and accountable).
In return, you agree to:
- Host the event
- Get at least six people from your neighborhood or community to the screening
- Facilitate a discussion of at least an hour (using the provided facilitator packet) about what your interests and goals are as a group, and how to take a next step towards reaching them. (You can find someone else to facilitate if you aren’t comfortable doing it.)
- Refrain from copying the DVD or sharing the link with anyone else
- Let us know how it went, and allow us to share your comments (with or without attribution) on our website and/or Facebook page.
If interested, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with more details.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
All the best,
Kelly & Allison