Friday, September 12, 2008


Trayce was telling me some people were shocked by the anger and conspiracy theories expressed by the guys upset about wealthy newcomers (See “SOME PEOPLE” post). But those thoughts are in a lot of our minds, because all we can do is watch everything change and nobody talks to us.

While I was reading over Tom Hughes’ Neighbor Sketch, I came across where Tom speaks about the $500million condo/supermarket development on Myrtle Ave. To do this development they tore down the neighborhood supermarket and Duane Reade used by residents in public housing. They were promised that the Duane Reade would come back, and a “Gristede” supermarket would be built (though from what I have been told their prices are not up our alley!)

Well the Daily News July 25 issue reported that the $500million project now is reduced to a dwarfing $40million project – without the supermarket and pharmacy that were promised. So where does that leave residents in public housing shopping for their basic needs? A lot of people have to pay a car service now just to get basics. For senior citizens who rely on medication, this makes it almost an impossible mission for them just getting it. Where do these developers get the power to just destroy businesses serving the community and rebuild for wealthy buyers? Where are the promises? Where are the contracts stating these agreements? All I see is the poor being left with empty space and more hardships in surviving.

And sometimes I think the wealthy buyers are being taken for a ride too by these developers. I saw this when Brooklyn Young Filmmakers sent me on the Fort Greene Association’s House Tour in May to get a new perspective on the neighborhood. My first stop was FORTE Condos on Ashland and Fulton, which is spelled with an “e” to give it that European upper class splash of magic. The colossal structure stands like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the middle of a brownstone residential area. Stepping inside the building for the first time was not at all a rejuvenating moment. The lobby looked just like any other building. It had a corporate vibe. The rooftop was closed due to construction, so my destination was the 26th floor. The view was astonishing, but other than the windows there was nothing interesting about the apartment. The rooms were no bigger than a room in my apartment – and I’m in Section 8! To add some humor, the tour guide stated that the apartment has a $$$MILLION DOLLAR!!! price tag attached with it. And one man shouted out, "A MILLION DOLLARS! THAT’S GREAT!" ……... So you go figure.

Anyway, I understand people’s anger and confusion. That’s why I’m working on this Neighbor Sketches project. I don’t want to feel like we are at war. We have to have a place where we are heard. And we have to have a way to talk to the newcomers to find the ones who want to be living beside us. -- Ashanti (Pat-Riot)

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