It was no surprise that President Obama made economic recovery the central issue of last night's State of the Union address. He rallied the base, threw some populist punches (I know he's supposed to be Mr. Competent, but could Mitt Romney have possibly picked a worse day to release his tax returns?), and articulated a vision of fair and equitable economic growth that drew heavily, both rhetorically and substantially, on FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, and which positions him in stark contrast to whomever the GOP sends his way.
One point the President returned to several times was how the fallout from the 2008 crash had landed disproportionately on the backs of middle- and working-class Americans (he could have added single-family households, women, and people of color to that list). This is certainly true in Central Brooklyn. While NYC in aggregate has bounced back well from the recession (thanks in large part to the continued rakings-in of a few at the top) foreclosures have wreaked havoc on neighborhoods like Crown Heights - in my first year of blogging, back when I really was "walking around Brooklyn with a camera and a pen," evidence of their catastrophic impact was everywhere (taking photos in East New York, I was suspected of being a foreclosure agent). Unemployment numbers in Central Brooklyn are equally brutal - 15% as a whole, which rises to 16% for Hispanics and 18% for African-Americans, as of this summer.
Thankfully, there are a number of local organizations working to provide citizens of these hardest-hit areas with the knowledge and access they need to get back on their feet. One is the Local Development Corporation of Crown Heights, which hosts a home-buying workshop tonight from 7-9pm at the First Baptist Church on Eastern Parkway (ILFA heard about this workshop from Councilwoman Letitia James, who often posts events of this kind on her blog). Another is the Pratt Area Community Council, who are hosting a workshop for small businesses on "Access to Capital," also tonight from 6-8pm (the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, who were represented at the most recent CHCA meeting, host similar events for small businesses). If you know people who would benefit from this information, pass it along - in my experience, it's not that these resources aren't out there, but that people don't know about them.
A pair of unrelated links from the behemoth blogs:
- Gothamist posted an interesting piece today about clashes between Chabad landlords and new tenants in Crown Heights (with the requisite Gothamist flair, of course).
- Brownstoner reported last week that the owners of Bombay Masala (an IFLA fave) have plans to put a "Bollywood Bar" in the space next door (currently home to a fantastic liquor and wine store that is not nearly as typical as it looks from the outside). Mike F and the Brooklynians are already practicing their dance numbers, but I'm wondering why they can't just put the new bar in the empty space next door to the liquor store to keep the lady and I from having to trek for our hard stuff. While I'm wishing for things I have no power to make happen, can we form a band called the Brooklynians that Mike F can front? Sounds very indie . . .