It is, as I say nearly every Friday, a busy weekend in Crown Heights. On Saturday from 12-3pm, the Crow Hill Community Association hosts a Town Hall Meeting (you'll recognize your friendly neighborhood blogger among the volunteers) to ask residents from all walks of life what they like about their neighborhood, what they don't like about it, what their dream for the neighborhood is, and how we might work together toward these dreams. The meeting will consist of small-group sessions where neighbors can meet and talk in an open forum on these questions and a group session to report the key concerns, issues, and ideas that emerge from these conversations.
Why should you come, when there are so many other things to do in Brooklyn on a spring Saturday? If you live in Crown Heights, you already know that the area is changing rapidly and that residents new and old alike have ample reason to view (some of) these changes with (some measure of) skepticism and trepidation. These sentiments linger around the edges of nearly every formal meeting that takes place in the neighborhood, and they can be heard in informal conversations up and down Franklin Avenue. The goal of this meeting is not to lay blame for gentrification, but to talk frankly and openly about it, and to think about how, as a community, local residents can make their voices heard and involve themselves in these changes in a constructive way.
Does this sound like a lot for a Saturday? It probably will be challenging for many participants - these conversations always are - though I'm hopeful that it will be fulfilling, educative, and inspiring at the same time. As civil rights scholar Francesca Polletta put it, "freedom is an endless meeting." Participatory democracy is hard work that takes a lot of time, but the relationships it builds and the community efforts it launches are well worth it.
- Also on Saturday, check out the Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair at LaunchPad from 12-6pm (ILFA is encouraging everyone to swing by after the meeting, of course).
- Daily Press has won a beer and wine license, and they'll now be staying open late on Friday and Saturday nights to make use of it (with your help, of course).
- This evening (Friday), Five Myles hosts photographer Marc Baptiste as part of the Haiti Cultural Exchange's An n' Pale conversations series from 6-8pm.
- The kids of PS 221 are having a Hip2BHealthy fundraiser this afternoon (Friday) with Seeds in the Middle, with fresh fruit for sale and information about their youth programming, including their spring soccer league, on hand.
- Passover begins Monday for the neighborhood's Jewish community, but the handmade matzos from Crown Heights are already in the oven.
- Finally, if you're not at a seder on Monday night, swing by the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center from 5-7pm to catch Spike Lee's "Crooklyn" on their big screen.