I’d heard about the recently released film, “My Brooklyn,” a tale of gentrification amid (as a result of) the Bloomberg era but sometimes hearing these tales, there are all too many, can get to be a bit much. At Washington Square Park, the Bloomberg Administration pretty much steam rolled their agenda for the park over the community and park advocates. Reading Friday’s New York Times’ review of “My Brooklyn,” however, piqued my interest. The film sounds well-documented and on point as Mike Bloomberg’s tenure finally draws to a close.
Jeanette Catsoulis from The New York Times writes:
“My Brooklyn,” Kelly Anderson’s sensitive study of gentrification in her home borough, is as much personal essay as urban-policy survey. Having watched her once ethnically diverse Park Slope neighborhood slowly transform into “a hip, expensive brand” — and realizing that she had been in the vanguard of that transformation — Ms. Anderson begins to question the complex forces that determine a city’s character.
Focusing on the redevelopment of Fulton Street Mall, for decades a popular and profitable Caribbean and African-American shopping destination, Ms. Anderson traces a tale of aggressive rezoning, multimillion-dollar development deals and racial displacement.
Tracking the actions of the Bloomberg administration and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, she follows the money all the way to the pockets of developers and, later, home buyers promised 10 years without property taxes. And as thriving small businesses and nearby units of affordable housing made way for luxury condos, owners and residents were essentially left to fend for themselves.
The history of the American city is in itself one of cyclical displacement, but here the apparent lack of transparency and official callousness are especially troubling. Filming from 2006 to 2012 and invaluably assisted by the historian Craig S. Wilder, Ms. Anderson grounds her investigation in the commercial lifeblood of black culture: the barbershops and music stores and snappy-suit emporiums that gave the mall its flavor.
And, contrary to the belief of one particularly condescending white interviewee, they gave downtown Brooklynites rather more than the opportunity to purchase a “Scarface” beach towel.
“My Brooklyn” Screenings:
Playing through Thursday, January 10th in Dumbo with panels and special guests each day:
RERUN THEATER (147 Front St., Dumbo, Brooklyn)
(first stop out of Manhattan on the F train, York Street exit)
Jan. 4 – 10 (two screenings per day with panels and special guests)
Info and tickets at www.mybrooklyn.eventbrite.com
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Also, in Brooklyn, (it feels like this should be discussed more in Manhattan, no?), same topic, slightly expanded, January 10th, at the Brooklyn Musuem:
Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Brooklyn Museum, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion, 1st Floor
How do artists and activists use creative tactics to address the needs of their communities? This conversation brings together project and thought leaders in a discussion that seeks to empower artists, organizers, and community members to confront issues of gentrification and globalization. It will serve as research for Lanchonete.org, a five-year artist residency project in a neighborhood in the center of São Paulo.
The participants in this conversation will include:
- Sarah Schulman, author of The Gentrification of The Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination and Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at The City University of New York, College of Staten Island.
- Mitty Owens, Deputy Director of Development for the Brooklyn-based FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality), and former WK Kellogg Fellow exploring the intersection of arts and activism.
- Paula Z. Segal, Founding Director of 596 Acres and founding member of the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Street Law Team.
- Risë Wilson, Founder of The Laundromat Project and Program Director for Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a ten-year initiative created to strengthen the support structure for artists as a workforce.
- Todd Lester, Executive Director of the Global Arts Corps, founder of freeDimensional, and creator of Lanchonete.org.
As space is limited, advance ticket purchase for Museum admission and entrance to the program is recommended via www.museumtix.com. Museum Members receive free admission to Thursday Evening programs; please call the Membership Hotline at (718) 501-6326 for reservations.
Note: Brooklyn Museum has a suggested contribution/admission of $12 although you can contribute what you wish. However, to buy tickets in advance, you must pay the $12 plus a $2 fee.