Mom is Worried about her Kids

November 15th, 2008

“Now I look around and my son doesn’t necessarily know the people next door cause we don’t talk to them. People are moving in and out so much that you don’t really wanna get to know them because you don’t know what they’re about. I don’t want my son to talk to any little kid because one, I’m afraid he’s gonna get attached to them and they’re gonna move away and two, I don’t know what their parents are like.” – Worried Mother

The Organizers Most Important Tool

November 15th, 2008

Protest Signs in Lucy Koteen's Basement

“Clipboards are one of the most important tools for community organizing. Because you’re always asking people to sign things.”  – Community Organizer

Architecture is Ethical

November 15th, 2008

“I mean buildings are ethical finally. The amassing of power, the amassing of money, the kind of deals that you make, the exclusion of other people to make those deals, the blocking of light – that’s ethical. That’s architecture. Architecture is ethical.”

“Brooklyn keeps wanting to be legitimized somehow. And I understand that…But you know a lot of us are [here] – to be the ‘not manhattan’ – a lot of us are happy to be the ‘not manhattan’”

- Architecture enthusiast


November 15th, 2008

“You want my stories? You gots to come up off that cash. . .  I’m not giving up my life for free. . . I gots lots of stories too. Lots. I’ve been living here all my life…. That’s over  fifty years. Over fifty years of stories. Nah. Like I said, you gotta pay me. You telling me you ain’t got no monay? You got money. . .Not-for-profit? What that mean? You still got a producer. Producers got money. , , How I’m gonna give you my life for free? …I got fifty-six years a stories. But, I ain’t no chump. Nah, I don’t need no dollar. I don’t need two dollars. Like I said, I need lots of dollars. Like I said, COME UP OFF THAT CASH! I don’t want coffee or lunch. See here?  Look, look, I got my own food. Swanson Frozen TV dinner, that’s right. I get my own coffee and my own food. I need money. How I’m gonna give you my life for free, then you up there and people see you telling MY stories and they like it, and they tell somebody else, and they like it, next thing you know, you up there at the Oscars sitting with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett and I’m still sitting here eating Swanson TV dinner, watching you winning a Oscar on TV for my story?? You got a grant. It say you sponsored by a grant. So you got that grant money. I want some-a that grant money. I’m not saying I want a million dollars. I’m not saying that. Like I said, I want something. Few hundred dollars.  Coupla hunnerd dollars. I got sixty years a stories. Sixty years. I seen this neighborhood go from white, to black, to everything, and now back to white again. Sixty something years of stories I got. But I ain’t giving them away for free. Like I said, come up off that cash.” – Someone Who Needs Some Cash

Our presentation at the Brooklyn Lyceum may not win us an Oscar or even get us a seat between Will and Mrs. Pinkett Smith at the Oscars but it will stir up the hood.

(NOTE: The gentleman pictured did not offer the quote.  He is a “street performer” who has been spotted around Brooklyn)

Civilians on the Street

November 13th, 2008

Construction Next Door

BROOKLYN, USA.  If Brooklyn were an independent city it would be the fourth largest in the country.  New York’s most populated borough is a layered patchwork of neighborhoods and communities comprised of a diversity of class and cultures.  Like the entire City of New York, Brooklyn is constantly in flux; seething with the energy of millions of people suffering and smiling.  Brooklyn today is a different place then the Brooklyn where Vince Lombardi, Mel Brooks, or Rosie Perez grew up.  And the Fort Greene beautifully captured in Spike Lee Joints may be just a memory.  Or is it?  Depends who you ask.  One thing there is no shortage of in Brooklyn is opinions.

For several weeks now The Civilians have been walking Brooklyn, block by block, listening to anyone with something to say about the changes happening on every corner of the borough.   Over the coming weeks we will be posting notable highlights from our conversations. We invite you to post a comment or email us if you feel you have something to say.

What do you miss?  What do you like about the changes?


Post a comment or send an email to Michael Premo, Project Coordinator at Premo(at)

Got Something to Say?

November 5th, 2008

The Civilians want to hear from you. Brooklyn is changing fast. If you have something to say, we want to listen. We want to talk to long-term residents, recent arrivals, players in the Atlantic Yards story, as well as those who work or live in the area. Eager to hear from all perspectives. If you want to be interviewed send us an email with a little information about yourself to Michael Premo, Project Coordinator: Premo(at)thecivilians(dot)org. For more information: These interviews will be performed along with original music and dance by Urban Bush Women live at the Brooklyn Lyceum, December 4th – 7th.