Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Last Thursday the Daily News published a story about the Brooklyn Young Filmmakers “Neighbor Sketches” Project. It focused on the first time meeting of two of the neighbors we’ve interviewed: Ashanti Baptiste and Angelo Cilia. They live only a couple blocks apart in Fort Greene, while being worlds apart in their everyday worlds and where they came from. You can read the article online:

Several readers posted comments. I was shocked by the first two entries. Here are excerpts:

GHOSTFACEUP Sep 4, 2008 11:33am we need to chase these newcomers out. Because when you go into their hood they look at you with hate. maybe the street guys need to start robbing these rednecks out of here

SLUGGER Sept 4, 2008 3:33pm Gentrifiers aren’t about helping anybody. The nature of gentrification is about helping yourself to everything. I suspect these community profiles will be more valuable to the police than to Fort Greene residents.

Some people are using the blog-a-sphere to pound on the negatives. I get the anger. We’ve been here living and struggling for years, and now our home has become a tight corner as people with nicer clothes hurry by pushing us off the street (or asking the police to do so). But being full of powerful anger – doesn’t make you powerful. I don’t want to live, and sit, and die in anger – and the other side of this coin – frustration.

That’s why we started the Neighbor Sketches project. I hope GHOSTFACEUP and SLUGGER actually read the sketches. Unlike the Daily News article, which in its limited space focused on the niceness of two diverse neighbors meeting, our Neighbor Sketches give neighbors the opportunity to speak in detail about the situations that make them boil or feel endangered – or welcomed.

It’s always gonna be that someone has a lot more money than me. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk to each other and find some common ground to be neighbors on. Some of the newcomers moving in are coming here not just for a physical home, but because they like that there are people different than them living here – and they don’t want to see this neighborhood become only people like them. And some of these newcomers have come here because they got pushed out of their old neighborhoods, so they understand.

Not everyone wants to be a good neighbor to someone who has less money. Personally, I want to stay clear of and not think about those people. I’m putting my efforts towards looking for the some people -- who want to know, and look out for, whoever their neighbor is.

On a practical level, if we don’t have much, we have to learn to meet and network with the people who have more. My neighbor might open a door for me if he knows me. So I’m not going to slam a door on him before we’ve even met. And if it has to be me who starts the conversation, so be it. Trayce

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