Dramaturg Jocelyn Clark
Photo: Michael Premo
Brooklyn, USA is a proud layered tangle of diverse communities, united by – if nothing else – a love for the borough. Over the past couple months The Civilians have been intently listening to people passionately sharing stories about their neighborhoods and the development reshaping our communities. New York City is in a constant state of change. The process and powers represented – or not represented – in how it occurs is an important theme running through every chapter of the cities history. As students in one of our Community Labs discussed, many of the issues in the contemporary story of NYC development are not new. Change is, arguably, a vital force in the kinetic energy that electrifies the city. With such a richly layered history rooted deeply in the fabric of our city, change that threatens to dig up that history and build anew has the potential for seismic reverberations.
Countless hours of interviews were recorded with people across the political, social, and class spectrum from tenants to homeowners, developers, business owners, business patrons, politicians, community organizers, the dispossessed, the displaced, the old, the new, the elderly, the youth, and on through the spectrum. Our ears were wide open to all as we traversed the borough block-by-block, listening to people in their homes, and around their neighborhood at cafe’s, bars, restaurants, bodegas, community gardens, barber shops, church basements and community centers. Some were more forthcoming then others, all had something to say.
This part of The Civilians process is called the investigation phase. It is just the first step in our process as we explore the complicated layers of community and community change. Take a moment to peruse through some of the excerpts posted here. They represent just a fraction of the stories and opinions we heard. Some of the stories here represent a voice often visibly absent from popular media.
Today our work-in-progress presentation of Brooklyn At Eye Level opens at the Brooklyn Lyceum. As a part of The Civilians Investigation phase we invite you to share your own stories or reflections on the performance, by posting a comment below. Please use this space to share your own neighborhood stories, or thoughts on your community and the dynamics of change you’ve experienced. We are also interested to hear reactions to stories in our presentation, keeping in mind that this is the first iteration of a series of outcomes. Were there stories you hadn’t heard before or pieces you felt were missing, for example? I ask that you reserve comments about the specifics and details of the proposed Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yard’s Project to other blogs. If you would like to make comments privately please email us at projects (at) thecivilians.org.
- Michael Premo, Project Coordinator
Brooklyn at Eye Level
Photo: Adrian Kinloch