Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Links: Stoop Series, Affordable Housing, Food Mapping, LaunchPad & More

Pedro Marti, "To Gather," Five Myles, 2010

Some events this evening and coming up, and more updates from various efforts to preserve affordable housing in Crown Heights:

- Five Myles hosts the first of three events in their "Stoop Series," outside in front of their space on St. Johns, tonight at 6:30.

- The Crown Heights Assembly has won the notice of the press for its petition demanding mandatory inclusionary zoning in Crown Heights West. DNAInfo covered their efforts yesterday, and the New York Observer picked up the link later in the evening. 

- Brownstoner reports that the Housing Partnership, which helps coordinate and facilitate the construction of affordable housing, has purchased lots in Crown Heights (to the east of the rezoning area in question). 

- The question of affordable housing and developer influence has entered our 35th Council race in a big way, as reported by Prospect Heights Patch on Monday, with Laurie Cumbo winning the endorsement of real-estate/developer/insurance PAC "Jobs for New York," who plan to spend about $10 million to influence council elections this fall. Ms. Cumbo has responded to the outcry that followed, including criticism from others in the race, by noting in an email to her mailing list that she has participated in NYC campaign finance reform and that, as Jobs for NY's spending "erodes the goals that program was intended to advance," she has "officially and respectfully asked Jobs for NY to immediately discontinue spending any independent funds in support of my campaign."

- The Affordable Housing Working Group of the CHCA will be meeting for the first time since last May's Town Hall II on Thursday, August 1st. Complete information from them is copied below:

We'll be gathering this Thursday at Lily & Fig, 6:30-8P, 727 Franklin Ave (between Park Pl & Sterling Pl) so folks can share their concerns AND learn more from their neighbors and folks in the know about how to address the issue of affordable housing in Crown Heights. We'll mostly be planning the future activities of this group during the meeting but we'll also include: 
  • Information for folks who are facing immediate displacement 
  • Representatives from different neighborhood groups to talk about some of the work that's already
  • Updates about some of the zoning changes and pending construction in the neighborhood.
We hope you'll join us!  Either way - please help us spread the word and let us know if you want to stay connected to this group by emailing to get on the update list.  

Two other ways to get involved:

- Crown Heights Prospect Heights Food Allies are putting together a food map for the neighborhood and planning a Health Fair for September (they did one last September as well). If you're connected to a CSA/Farm Share, local garden or farmer's market, or emergency food supplier, let them know so Food Allies can put them on their map.

- Finally, LaunchPad has a great slate of events this week as always, including a reading from MadHat Press tonight:

Wednesday, July 31st @ 8pm
MadHat Press: A Reading

Join the editorial staff of MadHat Press and MadHat Annual (formerly Mad Hatters' Review), along with some of our Maddest authors, for a night of poetry and prose! MadHat editors Marc Vincenz, Susan Lewis, Jonathan Penton and Jeff Davis will join MadHat Wild & Wyrd Chapbook Contest winner Lysette Simmons and MadHat contributors (and esteemed guest editors) Alexander Cigale and Dana Golin! Open mic to follow.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
8p, $5 suggested donation


Thursday, August 1st @ 8pm
Another Round Storytelling

The August edition of Another Round Storytelling is upon us! On Thursday, August 1st, we welcome featured storyteller Susan Kent, cohost of “Tell It: Brooklyn" and veteran of “The Moth" StorySLAM. Listen to her story "Baby Girl" on a recent edition of “The Moth" podcast.

Another Round Storytelling is a monthly open mic series that takes place at LaunchPad (721 Franklin Ave.) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, at 8:00 p.m. The show features five 10-minute open mic slots followed by a special guest, plus a free cocktail to fuel the storytelling fire. So bring your best tales of drunken disorder and toss your name into the cocktail shaker! The $5 suggested donation benefits LaunchPad, a nonprofit arts and performance space.

Susan Kent is from a small town in South Georgia and currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She tells stories at events like “The Moth" StorySLAM, 826 NYC’s “Knight of Time" and "Tell It: Brooklyn," a storytelling series that she hosts with Victoria Scroggins. Her favorite drink is a bottle of Bud, because she’s classy.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
8p, $5 suggested donation


Saturday, August 3rd @ 3:30pm
Sustainable Cycles

Join Rachel Horn as she arrives to Brooklyn by bicycle from San Francisco -- living on $4 a day, talking about sustainable approaches to menstruation, and giving away free menstrual cups along the way!

Don't know about menstrual cups? Or don't know why we'd need to think about sustainability and menstruation? Join us for discussion, stories, and more!

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
3:30p, Free


Saturday, August 3rd @ 8pm
The Family Repertory Company Presents: A Mid Summer's Cabaret

Come join The Family this glorious Summer as we set forth to entertain you with our any talented Ladies and Gentlemen. There will be the presentation of:

- A monologue written & directed by Marvin Camillo Valentine Jr. (Exec,/Artistic Director of The Family)
- A monologue from "Throw Down" an original and last piece written by the Late Marvin Felix Camillo (founder of The Family)
- Belly Dance by Tribal Intergrate
- Stand up Comedy acts with Johnny Shkreli and La Nena
- The Sultry Sounds of Chewy Choo
- The Poetry of Mia Anderson
- One act Monoloue of Cesar Alvarez

The Time: Door opens at 7:45pm Show starts 8:15pm
Tickets: $13 at the door
$10 Seniors 60 and up (@ door)
Your ticket includes food and 1 free drink.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
8p, $13 suggested donation


Sunday, August 4th @ 1pm
NYC Physics and Math Self-Learners Group

At the NYC Physics & Math Self-Learners, we basically work our way through graduate physics materials, and meet on the first Sunday afternoon of each month to discuss what we've learned and to answer one another's questions.  The emphasis is on intuition rather than problem-solving methods, but we do both.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
1p, Pay what you wish

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tiny Bookstore, Massive Development, Coming Soon

- The folks behind Little Zelda, Wedge, and It Takes a Village are launching their fourth venture in the neighborhood, a bookstore called Hullabaloo (small spaces are their strong suit). You can view their Kickstarter, which is raising money not for the store itself but for an event series to take place inside once it's open, to learn more about it. The space they're renting, many will recall, once housed a short-lived but very-hotly-debated pawn shop.

- Meanwhile, the megaproject in the old Studebaker service station and garage at 1000 Dean Street has confirmed that it will open October 1. The complete press release is copied below.

- Finally, they've been open two weeks and are neither particularly large nor particularly small, but Nimba, the newest coffee shop in the neighborhood, has a lovely, unexpectedly large, cool, and high ceilinged space for sitting and caffeinating. 

FROM:           BFC Partners
CONTACT:    Rubenstein Associates, Inc.
                        Public Relations
                        Barbara Wagner / Jacqueline Hlavenka


Occupancy at the 140,000-square-foot
mixed-use commercial hub begins Oct. 1st

New York, NY (July 29, 2013) –A joint venture of’s Jonathan Butler, BFC Partners and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group announced today that office leasing has successfully begun at 1000 Dean Street, the newly-redeveloped, 140,000-square-foot commercial complex designed for artisans, creative companies, technology firms, not-for-profits, and artists in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The four-story, former Studebaker Service Station building – designed by architect Annabel Selldorf – offers spaces varying from 500 rentable square feet to 32,000 rentable square feet.
“As demand for affordable office space continues to ripple out beyond Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle, we are excited to be part of the exciting revitalization of the borough of Brooklyn,” said Joseph Ferrara, a partner with Don Capoccia and Brandon Baron at BFC Partners, 1000 Dean’s developer, along with Butler. Chris Havens of is the exclusive leasing agent for the building.
Designed with the needs of today’s growing technology and creative companies in-mind, 1000 Dean merges office, production and collaborative spaces under one roof. On the ground floor, where East Williamsburg’s 3rd Ward is creating a food business incubator facility, two entrances serve both Dean and Bergen Streets. A 9,000-square-foot beer hall, coffee house and outdoor garden with varied food outlets, as well as a private room is being developed. Soon, this will be the largest and most comfortable gathering place in the Crown Heights neighborhood, serving tenants, as well as neighborhood residents, with meeting, eating and drinking space.
“We are thrilled to offer small businesses the opportunity to grow their operations in Brooklyn,” said Margaret Anadu, vice president in the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs.  “The project will play a role in the continued revitalization of Crown Heights by creating jobs, fostering innovation, and enhancing the productive use of the building.”
The modern, fully-renovated property features open plan layouts with all new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, elevators and fiber optics. The building’s upper three floors will be utilized as creative office space, with units as small as 500 square feet and flexible lease terms varying from one to five years.  Most rents range from $1,500 to $3,000 per month.
Located in the affordable, emerging and historic Crown Heights neighborhood, 1000 Dean is surrounded by a low-rise community of houses and small buildings. Crown Heights North boasts a new generation of restaurants, bars and quick fine food, supported by hardware, cleaning and child care services, with reasonable residential rents. Over three dozen new businesses have opened in the last few years, transforming the retail environment.
Occupancy is expected for October 1st, 2013. For more information about 1000 Dean Street, please visit

About Jonathan Butler/Brownstoner
Brownstoner is the leading site about Brooklyn real estate and renovation, and all the tangential topics that impact life inside and outside the home in Brooklyn; the site also boasts a Marketplace with over 3,000 real estate listings and 250 local businesses. Launched in October 2004 by Jonathan Butler, Brownstoner currently has over 200,000 unique visitors and almost two million page views per month. The site has been featured numerous times in publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and New York Magazine and was honored in 2008 by the Historic Districts Council for its role in preservation. Since 2012, Brownstoner has also offered coverage and listings of the Upstate New York market and in May 2013 Brownstoner Queens was launched to offer comprehensive coverage of the Queens real estate market and built environment. The company is headquartered in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

About BFC Partners
For the past 25 years, Brooklyn-based BFC Partners has been responsible for the acquisition, development, financing, construction, marketing and management of many of New York City’s finest residential, office and mixed-use projects. Since the firm’s inception in the 1985, BFC and its principals have completed over $1 billion in development projects, encompassing the construction of more than 5,000 residential units and millions of square feet of mixed-use development.

As a market leader, BFC Partners excels in finding creative solutions to unique and challenging projects, having been at forefront of the revitalization of many neighborhoods, including the East Village, Harlem, Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn. BFC acts as the exclusive general contractor for all of its projects which allows complete control of the construction process, enabling the delivery of each building on-time and within budget. From conception of an idea through long-term property ownership, BFC maintains an active role in all of its properties.

About The Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group
Established in 2001, the Urban Investment Group deploys the firm's capital by making investments and loans that benefit urban communities.  Through its comprehensive community development platform, UIG is a catalyst in the revitalization of underserved neighborhoods.  UIG has committed more than $2.8 billion, facilitating the creation and preservation of approximately 13,200 housing units - the majority of which are affordable to low, moderate and middle-income families - as well as nearly 1,300,000 square feet of community facility and more than 1,900,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. was founded in October 2002 with the goal of approaching marketing campaigns in a completely creative way (creating trends, rather than following trends) and embracing the very best, honest and approachable Real Estate Brokers. Today, is a mid-sized company that fosters an intimate work environment (as you may characteristically find in small local brokerage companies), while boasting a sophisticated roster of exclusive listings and strong, working relationships with influential NYC developers (as you may characteristically find in large, corporate Manhattan-based firms). Our day-to-day activities are centered on the core principles of hard work, honesty, and professionalism. We strive to be a leader in Real Estate Marketing and garner respect from industry peers, in the areas of market presence, market knowledge, community activism, and customer service. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Get Involved This Weekend: Council Race Events, Affordable Housing Petitions, and SOS Crown Heights March with 100 Men

In addition to the "Hipsters for de Blasio" event below, there are lots of ways to get involved in the neighborhood this weekend.

- As noted on the flyer above, SOS Crown Heights hosts a "March with 100 Men" tomorrow to end violence in Crown Heights. Complete info above.

- City Council candidates are also out and about this weekend. You can catch Ede Fox tonight at JACK just across Atlantic in Clinton Hill from 6-8pm, and Laurie Cumbo tomorrow at her office on Lincoln Place between Franklin and Classon from 2-4pm. These races matter too - as the New York Times reported back in May, NYC's developers are entering into these races in a big, targeted way after Citizen's United, and the issues we've been discussing on the threads below - development and gentrification - will loom large in these campaigns.

- If you want to get out and do some direct action around Affordable Housing, the Crown Heights Assembly is leading an online and offline petition drive regarding the current re-zoning proposal. You can sign the petition here. More info below, passed on by the CHA:

The Crown Heights Assembly just released a petition for the New York City Council to include guarantees for affordable housing and increase penalties for landlords harassing tenants in the Crown Heights West rezoning. Despite the drastic increase in rent in the Crown Heights neighborhood, the proposed rezoning for Crown Heights West offers no guarantees that new housing will be affordable to existing residents. The rezoning only includes a voluntary incentive, called Inclusionary Zoning, for developers to build some affordable units within market-rate developments. This incentive has a track record in NYC of resulting in few affordable units, and a vast array of luxury housing. 

Regardless of whether developers take the affordable housing incentive, they would be allowed to build larger buildings, which would increase the property value. This could mean: 
• Rents could increase. 
• Existing housing and retail space could be demolished. 
• Tenants could face increased harassment to leave their apartments. 

We need your help to tell the New York City Council to include protections for affordable housing and increased penalties for harassing tenants in the proposed Crown Heights West rezoning. We're asking NYC to: 
1. Adopt Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, a policy that guarantees a certain percentage of affordable units in new developments under a rezoning. 
2. Establish an anti-harassment area, which requires the City to look into whether harassment occurred when it receives demolition requests and penalizes landlords who harass tenants. 

To sign on to the petition, visit 
Signatories should be Crown Heights residents, but they don't need to live in the area of the rezoning. Please take a minute to sign it right now and post it to your Facebook!
The Crown Heights Assembly is also looking for volunteers to collect signatures on Franklin Avenue:
Thursday, August 1st, 6-8 pm
Saturday, August 3rd, 3-6 pm
Meet at Franklin Ave and Eastern Parkway on the pedestrian mall on the northeast corner (nearest the new construction). Please email (  to sign up. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Politicking, More Gentrification

(image via Politicker)

Some links and tidbits following up on Monday's gentrification-and-politics mega-post

- Three comments on gentrification in Brooklyn, one written by a Brooklyn nativeone by a recent arrival, and one from The Onion, were passed along by friends over the last few days. Readers, your thoughts? MikeF/Whynot has been writing quite a bit of commentary about them and the neighborhood changes in general over at Brooklynian as well (though I have yet to see his hard-hitting take on The Onion's piece).

- Despite the New Republic's admonition that "the hipster vote is meaningless in New York City," Bill de Blasio is actively courting it, first with last week's fundraiser at Crown Inn and now with a "Hipsters for de Blasio" fundraiser this Saturday at Rosco's Pizza. Hipsters or non-hipsters, are you going? Supporting de Blasio? 

Weekend Events: Movies in the Garden, Murder Mystery at LaunchPad (+ Summer Programs for Kids Next Week)

It's never too early to start thinking weekend:

- On Friday, the Walt L. Shamel Garden hosts their final movie night of the summer, starting at 8:30pm. Don't miss their Farmers' Market on Saturday from 8am-3pm, too (now accepting EBT).

- LaunchPad's also got an entertaining slate of weekend events lined up:

From their weekly update:

Friday, July 26th @ 9pm
Haunted Murder Mystery Beach Party

Celebrate summer, art and good times at LaunchPad's Haunted Murder Mystery Beach Party; An interactive evening where the audience will work together to solve a murder mystery while experiencing awesome art and performances...or just hang out, drink, dance and party amidst the artistic chaos. It's up to you!

One year ago legendary boogie-boarder, Chip Rigby, died in a freak accident at the national boogie-boarding championship (hosted by LaunchPad, of course). Some say that ever since that day his ghost has been haunting LaunchPad trying to solve the mystery of his death, which prevented him taking the championship title in 2012. On July 26th, LaunchPad hosts the 2013 boogie-boarding championship featuring many of the same competitors, who are all suspects in Chip's eyes. Strange vibes are afoot, dudes and dudettes.

Featuring performances by:
:: MUSIC Surf rock by the Ape Hangers
:::: CRAFTING Group Crafting Challenge
:::::: READINGS/INCANTATIONS Niina Pollari + JD Scott
:::::::: VIDEO Julianna Schley
:::::::::: KARAOKE Cool Beans Midi Karaoke Madness
:::::::::::: BEER Home Brewed by Honest Pete
:::::::::::::: WINE Provided by Wino(t)
:::::::::::::::: BYOBBQ Bring food for communal grilling in the backyard

Beach attire strongly encouraged. All the proceeds go to benefit LaunchPad.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
9p, $10 suggested donation


Saturday, July 27th @ 8pm

Pulsewave started in March 2006 as a way for chip music composers from all over the world to showcase their live music, paired with live visuals, on a monthly basis. Chip music is a kind of music made from archaic hardware, including Nintendo Game Boys, Nintendo Entertainment Systems and Commodore 64s.

Battle Lava creates music that inspires you to dance, contemplate, and sometimes both.

Jérôme LeBel, AKA Pocaille, is a Montréal multimedia artist. Recently, he has been focusing on music production. His first album, "Divide et Impera", is buzzing with retro-fueled dancefloor-oriented house grooves and is injected with old gaming console synths.

♪ [XC3N] (MTL)
Co-Foundator of Montréal's Toy Company events and sole chiptune DJ on FM, XC3N has been very active on the chip music scene. From lowtempo dubby vibes layered with hip hop references to high energy drum and bass rhythms, he keeps a steady flow of beats headed your way with his own unique live setup. After playing in Montreal, Quebec, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, XC3N is happy to celebrate 5 years on the cheapt00n circuit with a comeback to Pulsewave: the very event which inspired him to stir up the scene in MTL.

☼ DIY_destructi0n (NY)
Formerly known as Invaderbacca, diydestruction is a new take on old hardware. Using 2 Nintendos, custom Android software, PD programming and an Altoids tin to mix, he creates a visual environment that goes beyond clips from old horror movies and 1UP mushrooms.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
8pm; $10 suggested donation


Sunday July 28th @ 1pm
Mozzarella Making Class

The Campania Region in Italy is known for its beautiful water buffalo milk pasta filata cheese: mozzarella. Although the water buffalo is a rare entity in the U.S., we can make the most of this traditional recipe by using the best breed of local cow milk. How do we replicate the richness of classic water buffalo milk in our cow milk mozzarella? Our class will explore cheese making by producing a large batch of the cheese to be eaten fresh. Expect drink, cheese, spring produce, stories, and recipes from an urban cheese maker.

Registration required:

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
1pm; $35 registration fee (includes materials)

- Finally, the Brooklyn Waldorf School (nearby in Bed-Stuy) has one more week of camp left, and they're still accepting campers.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Cost and (Anti)Politics of Gentrification

A little over two weeks ago, ILFA ran a post titled "The Human Cost of Flipping a Brownstone on Dean Street" that described the ugly tactics used by landlords to force longtime rent-stabilized tenants to accept buyouts and leave their homes. It was the blog's most-linked and most-read post of 2013. Some readers responded with shock and horror, while others with experience in NYC's housing industry nodded and noted that these sorts of things are, in many ways, par for the course in gentrifying neighborhoods (a similar discussion was taking place on Brooklynian at the same time). Brownstoner linked the post, along with a New York Times article from the same weekend, "Gentrifying Into Shelters," which argued that gentrification - and development policies that promote it - contributes to homelessness in New York City. Using ILFA's post as an example of how this might happen (I had noted that some of the tenants under attack were seniors on fixed incomes and unlikely to find affordable rent-stabilized places if they left, putting them at risk of homelessness), Brownstoner asked readers "do you think rising rents are to blame for homelessness?" 

Both Brownstoner and the Times received extensive replies from readers, many of whom were skeptical about this connection. I'd wanted to respond, but hadn't quite motivated myself to write something until the New Republic ran a blog post that suggested gentrifying neighborhoods, and people moving into them, in particular, were somewhere between apolitical and anti-political. Being a gentrifier, loosely defined, the post argued, doesn't influence political behavior. Or, as one of the pollsters interviewed put it, "there's no such thing as 'hipster' on the voter file."

Is this true, and if so, why? This is a long post, but in it, I want to suggest two things: first, that there isn't (much of) an electoral politics of gentrification because the processes that produce it are hidden behind a series of myths, and secondly, that if those of us moving into these neighborhoods took the time to educate ourselves about these processes and listen to our neighbors who've suffered from them, such a politics might emerge. There's an immense and growing body of research, scholarship, and activism around these issues, and while I realize most folks who spout off on comment threads aren't necessarily looking for a summer reading list, I hope at least some people who take a serious interest in these issues will find some of what follows useful. 

The question of whether and how gentrification (and policies that promote it) causes homelessness has been around for awhile; Peter Marcuse tackled it with a series of pieces on "Gentrification, Abandonment, and Displacement" in the mid-1980s that argued that federal, state, and local policies had shifted during the 1970s to dis-incentivize the creation and maintenance of housing for low-income and working-class people in New York. In some neighborhoods, like Park Slope, these policies promoted gentrification, while in others, like Brownsville, they produced abandonment. Both processes - gentrification and abandonment, which Marcuse suggested were two sides of the same coin - eliminated units of affordable housing, particularly flophouses, single-room occupancy buildings, and other very-low-income housing, leading to a squeeze that displaced low-income New Yorkers, leaving many homeless. In an interesting echo of Marcuse's work Slate magazine recently ran a piece arguing that SROs and flophouses should be brought back

Twenty years later, in the mid-2000s, another scholar of gentrification in New York City, Lance Freeman, published some seemingly-surprising findings. In a series of articles on residential mobility in gentrifying neighborhoods, Freeman argued that data demonstrated that direct displacement - in which a longtime, low-income tenant is forced out and replaced with a higher-income tenant - was relatively uncommon; in fact, low-income tenants in gentrifying neighborhoods moved less often than similar folks in poor and working-class neighborhoods. In a city packed with liberal-ish gentrifiers wondering how guilty they should feel about their impact on the neighborhoods they were moving into, Freeman's work was gobbled up with great gusto, producing headlines like "Exploding the Gentrification Myth," and "What's Wrong With Gentrification: The Displacement Myth." These articles, ignoring Marcuse, contrasted gentrification with abandonment, arguing that these were, essentially, the only two options available to post-industrial cities. Breathe easy, gentrifiers, they wrote - without you, the city would just be abandoned. Such arguments are still deployed frequently, as evidenced by comments on NYT and Brownstoner.

Freeman, unlike many of those who celebrated his work, delved deeper into the question of what gentrification meant for low-income New Yorkers. In his 2006 book, There Goes the Hood: View of Gentrification from the Ground Up, he put data aside for ethnography, and talked to folks in Harlem and Clinton Hill. Did people enjoy certain benefits in gentrifying neighborhoods? Sure they did - lower crime rates, better city services, better private amenities - and that's why they tried to stay on longer in their apartments than they might have in a poor neighborhood. Homeowners, in particular, benefited from rising home values, though occasionally those who were land-rich but cash-poor found rising taxes forced them to sell, albeit with good returns. 

However, Freeman noted, the larger argument that gentrification was a rising tide that lifted all boats couldn't be sustained. Jobs created by new businesses rarely went to longtime locals (the Times article made the same point two weeks ago), middle-class parent involvement in schools did little for working-class children, and contact between new arrivals and longtime residents seemed, on the whole, to produce more suspicion than understanding. Additionally, intra-neighborhood mobility, for poor and working-class folks, was significantly reduced. People without steady or reliable incomes (who often inhabit buildings owned by unreliable landlords) move a lot, but they frequently stay in the same neighborhoods, if they can. However, once a neighborhood starts to gentrify, they can't do that anymore. With respect to homelessness, as whole neighborhoods of the city gentrify, the supply of low-rent housing decreases, leaving those on the margins with fewer options and more competition for them. Direct displacement - as described in ILFA's post about 1076 Dean - may be rare, but indirect, aggregate displacement of the poor from gentrifying neighborhoods is not. 

There are real costs to urban policies that promote gentrification, including homelessness. Faced with this, some folks will suggest that gentrification is the lesser of the two evils, but as Marcuse's work showed 30 years ago, that's a limited and unconvincing perspective (for updates on Marcuse, check out the best comprehensive book out there, simply titled Gentrificationwhich covers many of the most recent research findings and scholarly debates about the process in simple, straightforward prose).

Others will offer some variation on the platitude that "change is the only constant," but such a statement, divorced from an analysis of HOW change happens, only serves passive acceptance of the status quo. Liz Robbins had a well-researched piece in the New York Times last week that chronicled urban change in Crown Heights over 125 years through the life of a single home, 1372 Dean Street. It was a useful reminder that neighborhood changes are not just the result of individual choices or tastes, but shifts in the political economy of cities resulting in part from decisions made by elected leaders. Robbins quoted Brooklyn historian Craig Wilder, who also appears in the film "My Brooklyn," (reviewed here and on ILFA in January), which offers a useful look at how these policies have shaped development in downtown Brooklyn over the past decade.

So, what of the "Night of Drinks And Fun" co-hosted by Howard Dean and Bill de Blasio at The Crown Inn? Titled "Why the Hipster Vote is Meaningless in New York City," the New Republic post poked fun at Franklin Avenue and cited polling data that suggested that being newcomers in gentrifying neighborhoods doesn't shape political behavior (what would these people care about, the author snarked - bike lanes?). According to the accepted wisdom, these folks, if they vote, don't vote with their neighborhoods in mind.

I'm inclined to believe that better awareness of the costs of gentrification, as well as better understanding of the policies that drive it, might generate a different politics. I don't mean to be naive - such a process is very tough, as it means acknowledging racism and classism, and how many newcomers, including this blogger, benefit from them (often unthinkingly). It also means rejecting the dominant free-market mythology that suggests all change is a product of individual choices, and the variation on this myth that suggests the only other potential path for a city is abandonment. It means getting out and meeting neighbors, checking discomfort and privilege at the door and actually listening to people, and thinking critically about whether the political and economic structures that brought  these groups of people together are the best available to us. 

Many folks in the "first wave" of gentrification - artists, students, employees at NGOs, etc - have common cause to make with longtime residents, far more so than with the developers who seek further transformations. Here in Crown Heights, many such people and longtime residents together are working hard to build political alliances. The Crown Heights Assembly has made housing justice their primary focus, and the Brooklyn Hi-Art Machine, who earned a nice write-up on DNAInfo this weekend, are hosting a series of events combining art and activism on Lincoln Place this summer. The Crow Hill Community Association's Housing Working Group also shared these links, which have excellent information for anyone confronting a situation like the one described in the original post about 1076 Dean. If reading that post or the Times piece about gentrification and homelessness disturbed you, as they did ILFA, don't mourn, organize. Take this summer to get out, meet folks in the neighborhood, and talk and think with them about what a different urban politics might look like. There have been plenty of statements suggesting that "it's too late" for Franklin Avenue, and maybe it is, but there's a whole city out there staring these challenges in the face and a mayoral election coming up soon. It's never too late to think differently about the places we lay our heads. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Farmers Markets in Crown Heights: Today at Hamilton Metz Field, Tomorrow at Brower Park (and Saturday on Dean Street)

From the folks at Seeds in the Middle, who've worked tirelessly through permit confusion, electricity challenges, and a whole host of other hurdles to get the Brower Park Market off the ground starting this Friday. They could still use a little help with respect to the electricity (see below), but the market will go on:

Come to the market and welcome back RH Farms and Jamerican Farms and all vendors at Hamilton Metz Park.

Join the Crown Heights Community Marching Band!

Try fresh smoothies!

Want to vend? Email:
What's for sale?  Corn, tomatoes, okra, potatoes, onions, peppers, hot peppers, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apples, lettuce, spring onions, garlic, fresh herbs, honey, watermelon, cantaloupes and more...   
TODAY! Free smoothies and drum lessons!
Drum majors
Wood wind & brass wind players
Girls/boys - AGE 11 AND UP
And guess what no EXPERIENCE NEEDED,
come and be a part of our community marching band.  
3 pm:  FREE SMOOTHIES and nutrition tips from our students at SUNY Downstate Hospital!

4:30 pm: Join a new Crown Heights Community Marching Band!
Check out the drum line. 
Ages 11 and up. Free percussion lessons today with Medger Evers Preparatory School Band Director - Mr. Joseph and band members.

Don't forget healthy treats at our Hip2B Healthy Market.
Snow Ices, fresh icy orange/lemonade, anyone? Flowers? 

Come to the Hip2B Healthy Market tent! 
We're on the Radio!
Check out PS 221 Hip2B Healthy Market Ambassadors on Heritage Radio!
Chefs,  Farmers, Food Artisans!
Join our Crown Heights Farmers Markets

We open through Nov. 15, 2013  
All vendors welcome. Can't spend the day? Drop off product and our Hip2B Healthy student ambassadors will promote you! Or set up a tent with us. 
EBT/SNAP, FMNP, WIC, $2 Health Bucks when you spend $5

Thank you, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Friends of Brower Park, Community Board 8, 77th Precinct, NYC Parks and all the Brower Park neighbors for welcoming us to Brower Park on Fridays. We open Friday

FYI - We have a glitch at Brower Park! 
despite obstacles we must overcome, including that our farmers can't park at Brower Park. Thank you, Councilman Al Vann, for reaching out to NYC Parks. Thanks, NYC Parks, for making an exception and allowing farmers to plug into the park house for electricity. 

WE ARE SEEKING DONATIONS OF RUBBER MATS for Fridays to cover cords so no one trips.

We wrote an editorial about our challenges.
Stay tuned! 
Like Seeds in the Middle on Facebook to see when it's published! 

Thank you, NYC employees in ALL agencies who gone way out of their way many times to promote Seeds in the Middle's mission and help us help all New Yorkers!
TODAY - Hip2B Healthy kids feature snow ices, fresh orange juice and lemonade! Yum! 50 cents! 

 $20 donation drive to raise money for free soccer, music & Farmers Market activities!

Anyone who donates and gets 5 more folks to donate $20 each automatically wins a restaurant gift certificate! Thank you to our chef supporters of TASTES of Brooklyn!  We want to raise $20k to promote our markets and kids! That's only 1,000 of you! Come on!

Let's give all kids free or very, very, very low-cost summer fun!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekly Events: Art, Books, Music, Movies, Trash

Lots of good stuff going on this week, including events at Franklin Park and Launchpad tonight:

- The folks at the Walt L. Shamel Garden on Dean Street do great things every summer. Join them on Friday for a movie night (flier above), and every Saturday from 8am-3pm for their farmers' market.

- Secondary Sound hosts their Brooklyn UP series at Franklin Park tonight. Music starts at 9pm.

- The Livable Neighborhood Work Group of the Crow Hill Community Association sends an update on their efforts to improve local sanitation:

We are finishing up collecting Petition signatures and Trash Assessment data and are preparing to meet with Council Member Tish James' office.  

Please bring any filled or partially filled paper Petitions (asking for more public trash bins and pickups) to HAD Associates, 737 Franklin Ave, by this Wednesday, July 15.

Please circulate the Electronic Petition among your friends and neighbors until the 15th as well.

- Five Myles hosts the Haiti Cultural Exchange's summer concert series, Mizik Ayiti, on Saturday.

- And, as always, Launchpad has a great slate of events planned, with art and books featuring prominently this week.

Tuesday, July 16th @ 8pm
Drink + Draw + Draw

You are cordially invited to a model drawing session at Launchpad at 8:00pm There will be beverages on hand. The recommended donation shall be $5, but any extra support of the space is appreciated. The session will run until 10 pm with a short break in the middle. Please bring your own drawing materials, including drawing boards if you have them. If people are interested, there can also be an open drawing table for collaborative draw jams and general messing around.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
8p, $5 suggested donation


Wednesday, July 17th @ 8pm
Renegade Reading Series

Featuring work from Brooklyn and beyond, we invite you to come hang out at our venue, LaunchPad, each month to drink wine, eat cupcakes, catch up with friends, relax, and listen to an eclectic lineup of amazing writers.

This month please join us as we raise our fists to this oppressive heat and feral cats. We're really excited to be back again in a couple weeks for what we've been told by at least three Feed The Children representatives is "the most significant night on Michael Bloomberg's calendar."

We're really excited for you all to hear the following group of human beings slay you with their words:

Adina Lepp
Stephen Green
Sebastian Paramo
Joe Giarratano (as featured at Caroline's on Broadway)
John Fischer (author of The Probable Outcomes)

Bring friends, dates, parents, strangers off the street. As usual, there will be free cookies and wine and some sort of strange prize for the person who correctly identifies the actress in this month's picture.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
8p, $5 suggested donation


Saturday, July 20th @ 7pm
Fragile Territories

Exhibition Opening: July 20 7-11pm
New Regulations Performance: 7-9pm
Music: 9-11pm

Curated by Rebecca Pristoop

Fragile Territories brings together artwork by three Israeli artists of the same generation who explore their complex relationships to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While each artist moved to the United States to pursue her own artistic exploration, it is the home she left behind that beckons her full attention. Individually, the artists wrestle with poetic notions of faith and loss while enacting artistic processes that question the division between personal identity and national responsibility. Together, they represent a growing community of Israeli expats struggling to unpack the meaning and significance of this inheritance. Through diverse materials and processes each artist grapples with the loss of security and rightness within Israel’s national history as it intersects with a thinly veiled private life.

Alexandra Ben-Abba gathers images of military destruction and confrontation from social media outlets. Observing the human relationships captured within, her process results in blown glass, installation, video and performance. For Fragile Territories, Ben-Abba presents the performance “New Regulations,” along with a video entitled, “Always On Our Plate.” These pieces pair experiences and images of security checkpoints and obstruction that seem striking and uncomfortable to an outsider. To an insider, they reveal the banality of politics in everyday Israeli life.

Noa Charuvi refers to photographs from news sources and processes them through paint on canvas. By eliminating almost all figures in her painterly interpretation, she abstracts and distills images to examine disappearance and displacement in a broader context. With deliberate and flat brushstrokes, she manipulates form and color, breaking down specificity of person, place and thing. In this way, her investigation travels from the personal to the universal.

Naomi Safran-Hon takes her own photographs in Wadi Salib, a dilapidated neighborhood in her hometown of Haifa and transforms them into sculptural paintings. She mounts her photographs on canvas and cuts into the images of crumbling structures, removing broken windows and doorways. Layering surface and texture, Safran-Hon rebuilds the fractured constructions with lace and cement, thereby interrupting the silence of her source photographs and giving voice to the untold stories of the now absent inhabitants.

Presenting Fragile Territories in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, another region historically under conflict, inevitably adds an additional layer of import to the investigation. It is also the current home of all three artists. - See more at:

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C to Franklin Avenue station
7p, Free