Friday, August 31, 2007

Article in Downtown Express on Gentrification in Chinatown

This was in the Aug.31-Sept. 6 issue of the Downtown Express, which is a free paper that is distributed there. There is a pretty good article on the battle against gentrification by the Asian community in Chinatown, "Game Teaches Chinatown Youth the G-Word" by Annie Lok.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Be Shy! Introduce Yourself!

All people and comments are welcome here.
From now on I will be deleting unsigned anonymous comments.

Monday, August 27, 2007

All Out to the Sunset Park Summit Sept. 23rd

What is your vision and hope for the future of the Sunset Park Community?


Sunday Sept. 23, 2007 1:00- 4:30 PM

PS 24, 38th St and 4th Ave.

Childcare, translation and food available.

When a proposed 12-story building on 42nd St. threatened to destroy the quality of life and the historic low-rise nature of Sunset Park, a group of home-owners, tenants and activists organized a historic effort to stop it. They called themselves the Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors (SPAN). After several well-attended community meetings, protests, calls and letters to elected officials, a petition drive, community board meetings and press conferences, the developer agreed to cut the building in half. With that battle won, however, the real struggle began: In order to protect the WHOLE neighborhood from similar irresponsible development, Sunset Park needed to be rezoned. So once again, SPAN volunteers worked night and day to get the Community Board to support and eventually the NYC Dept. of City Planning to commit to a rezoning study.

To find unity in the diverse voices of Sunset Park and create a plan for the future development of Sunset Park that will support families and residents.

These areas were agreed upon by neighbors attending the Aug. 4 Neighborhood Action Meeting.

Housing-- Preserving a wide range of low to middle income housing; Affordability; Imposing requirements on developers to develop affordable housing; Preservation of the architecture of Sunset Park; ending displacement of current residents; Creating solutions to overcrowding; conversion of 2-3 family homes to boarding houses.

Schools/Education: Lack of high school; Size of schools (too big); Quality of schools; lack of parent education with regard to parent rights & involvement in schools; Police presence; support; seats.

Infrastructure: Transportation/trains; sewers; firehouse; "green" building; construction within space; environmental concerns; pollution; traffic; floodplain; brownfields.

Resources: Family support; sanitation; community education.

Safety: construction permits; signs; safety at worksites; noise; environment.

Aesthetics: Preserve character of neighborhood; Preserve view from Sunset Park; impact of "flippers" investing to make a quick buck.

Business: Support small, local businesses, big box corporations are displacing local businesses; Dwindling manufacturing--preserve and accommodate manufacturing; hire community residents for developing projects.
Create apprenticeship opportunities for community residents.

Open Space: More trees; Preserve Sunset Park and the diversity of programs and people who use it.

Waterfront: Waterfront access

Unity: Support ethnic and class unity and diversity; Encourage cross-ethnic community involvement; Encourage community investment and involvement.


Summit Registration
or register in person at the summit

Also email if you want to volunteer to distribute flyers to get the word out.

at our regular Monthly Membership Meeting
Every Second Thursday of the month
Trinity Lutheran Church
4th Ave bet. 45 and 46 Street
Sunset Park, Brooklyn


The fund-raiser/party on Aug.25th was awesome! There was a great crowd and a great sense of community.
Updates: there is more mural going up, this time on the street side of the school. This time it looks as if the themes are from the guys. Pics to follow.

Quotes from Time Out New York (Aug. 23-29, 2007)
"Manhattan's getting whiter, while ethnicities multiply in the other boroughs. Welcome to New York's future."
(I think "ethnicities" means not white and not African-American.)
"...groups identifying themselves as Hispanic or Asian saw bumps of 90,000 apiece over (the past six years)" in New York City.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Aug. 25....Party and Fundraiser

Host: SPEAC & SPAN Collectives
Location: Eclipse Restaurant
4314 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 US
View Map | Find a Hotel
When: Saturday, August 25, 9:00PM
Phone: 718- 851-3936

Join us for a benefit party to support grassroots organizing in Sunset Park, Brooklyn! All proceeds will support the Sunset Park Education In Action Community (SPEAC) School Planning Team - a group of community residents and allies seeking to open a new public community school in Sunset Park - and Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors (SPAN) - a collective of Sunset Park residents organizing to protect the community from over-development and gentrification.

Please come out and support! Food & alcohol will be available. A DJ and great live performers will keep you groovin' all night long, plus, there is an outdoor patio space for chillaxin'...

We are asking for a minimum $10 donation at the door.

SUBWAY DIRECTIONS: R Train to 45th Street

This school will be founded on
* A BELIEF that youth succeed in an individualized, responsive, and rigorous learning environment with clear relevance to the world around them.
* AN AWARENESS that wellness is the intersection of social, economic, and environmental justice, individual health, and community strength.
* AN UNDERSTANDING that students, families, teachers, and neighbors play an active role as community builders working towards a healthier, more just world.
* A COMMITMENT to developing sustainable wellness both within our walls and in the community beyond.

SPAN (Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors) is a group of people who love the community of Sunset Park, Brooklyn and are committed to its preservation and empowerment. We are committed to open and honest communication and education about the past, present and future of our diverse community. We recognize and work to preserve the economic, racial, ethnic and generational diversity of our community. Together, we can maintain and create an environment where all can freely and enthusiastically enjoy everything Sunset Park has to offer, in the present and future, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and equality.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mural vs. Condo

Hello. My name is Amina. The place I call home is the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, or more specifically, the Latino area of Sunset Park. (There is a Chinatown here that starts a few blocks from me.) My neighbors are from Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and a few other places. I am half Puerto Rican and half Arab-American and I have lived here since 2001.
For many years the place I call home had suffered a bad reputation. During the time of crack (80s and 90s) a lot of people would not set foot here. I lived in Park Slope at the time, so I did not need to. All I heard about Sunset Park was...Don't go there, it's a real shoot em up.

Then I got displaced, or became an economic refugee. After over six years of living month-to-month in a studio apartment with no lease or one single rent increase, I was told to vacate the premises because my landlady needed the place for her aging parents who were selling their house. When I looked around the Park Slope area, the rents told me I was not the kind of person they wanted there anymore. Which is why I ended up looking in other parts of Brooklyn and found a rent stabilized one bedroom in Sunset Park.

It was easy for me to adapt since I speak Spanish, a skill you needed then to even do your laundry here. During my first year, one guy got shot in the head in a club around the corner from me (that club was closed down), and a woman got shot in front of her children across the street from another club--a gang-related case of mistaken identity. Those two clubs are now a bakery and a church, respectively. Also during my first year year an off-duty police officer while driving drunk wiped out a family. He is now in jail.

So you can see things are getting better. As of today, August 9, 2007 there is still a lot that could be better. But I love my home. I love that all the countries of Latin America are repping here and that we pretty much all get along. Some people are here illegally and some like me are born and raised here, but pretty much everyone is just here to make a better life for themself and their neighbors, sometimes against formidable odds. Their strength inspires me.


Last summer work was commenced on a mural on the PS 24 building at 4th Avenue between 37 and 38th Streets. The name of the mural is Feels Like Home: An Immigrant Journey and it is a project of the public school and Groundswell Community Mural Projects Voices Heard Series.

I quote from the wall: "This mural depicts the immigrant experience as told to us by women from the Sunset Park community. Beginning with the women's thoughts about leaving her homeland, the visual journey takes you through the various phases of immigration.
We hope to convey this story in all of its complexities as one full of hardship and happiness, struggle and hope. We celebrate the dedication and determination of these women as they move towards a brighter future."

Over the past year, the mural has become a significant source of pride for the neighborhood
and a second mural project is now underway on the street side of the school building. (More pictures to come!)


Well by now you must have surmised that this neighborhood is not full of millionaires. An interesting fact I learned recently is that 40% or more of the housing stock in this area is rent regulated.
Here are some images of the Sunset Park I have been living in for the past 6 years:

Mexican flag in a grocery store window.

Taqueria, 99 cents store, Santo Domingo Invita restaurant.

The Taqueria Mixteca Restaurant

and here are our new future neighbors, on the corner of 36th Street and Fourth Avenue:

This structure is called the Green Walk, and the units are being sold at prices between $437,000 and $775,000.

The condo's website describes the building as being located in "greener pastures" in Greenwood Heights. Actually the building is in a cemetery and when you walk out the door you are in

Sunset Park!!......Welcome to the hood.


Stickers like these....this one says "The gringos come, the rents go up."

and these "Hello, my name is Barrio.
Get out gentrifier"

Here they come....

to be continued......