There's a great story about the late Brooklyn activist and community leader Elsie Richardson. When Robert F. Kennedy, touring Bedford-Stuyvesant as a freshman senator, declared that he would assign his staff to study the neighborhood's problems, Ms. Richardson, whose Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council had invited RFK to Bed-Stuy, decided she'd heard enough. "Mr. Senator," she replied, "we've been studied to death." Demanding more than curiosity, Richardson led the charge for "substance not studies" that helped build the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation into the city's largest neighborhood-based antipoverty organization in the late 1960s.
These days, more than a few Franklin residents and merchants will tell you that they've been "studied to death." So it comes as a very pleasant surprise to have sat down this morning to several messages, all insisting I read and post the same article about Crown Heights. Amid a surplus of seemingly endless chatter about the neighborhood (this blog is as guilty as they come), Narratively's "The Ins and the Outs: A look below the surface in gentrifying Crown Heights" by Vinnie Rotondaro and Maura Ewing (with great photos from Mo Scarpelli) stands out for its depth of research, multiplicity of perspectives, and smart, sharp writing. If you read one thing about Crown Heights this month, take the time to read this piece. It's a study with substance.
Some other odds and ends:
- Last week, our newly-elected congressman, Hakeem Jeffries, formally joined the House of Representatives Budget Committee, chaired by none other than Paul Ryan. In case you haven't heard, there's a budget fight looming. Mr. Jeffries has promised to "go Brooklyn" on Paul Ryan if he acts up, but in all seriousness, he's going to be at the center of some very important negotiations over the next few months.
- Tickets are still available for this weekend's MLK Day Event at the Brooklyn Museum, sponsored by WNYC. If you're looking for thoughtful commentary on Dr. King and his legacy, I've always found these events to be excellent.