Culture and Gentrification:

A Visit to Williamsburg

Monday, October 19, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Organized by the Art & Social Justice Preconference Committee.

This exciting cross-sectoral session will incorporate a visit to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg where session participants will travel via subway to engage in a rich, timely discussion at the community human rights and cultural center, El Puente. The session will begin with a short performance, “Happy Nail Flower” by Radha Blank. The performance will be followed by a panel and facilitated fishbowl discussion including representatives from intersecting social justice arenas such as community organizing, fair housing advocates, cultural workers, Hip Hop activists, and philanthropic partners. The session will close with a reception at el Puente including local artists and activists and food! Participants will receive a “goodie bag” that includes information from the presenters and others, and neighborhood magazines and maps. They will have an opportunity to see nearby murals and can also tour/enjoy other local Williamsburg spots following the session.

Williamsburg is viewed as both a haven for established immigrant families and as an area of artists, hipsters and an influential hub for indie rock. Williamsburg is home to a thriving contemporary/multimedia/performative art community and is largely associated with one of its main thoroughfares: Metropolitan and Bedford Avenue. Williamsburg is home for many diverse cultural enclaves including Polish, Hasidic Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans.

Williamsburg’s growing population and rapid development of “luxury” housing has threatened artists live/work space and affordable housing for many communities and is encouraging “sprawl” to neighboring communities such as Bushwick and Greenpoint. While this session will provide a glimpse into a Brooklyn neighborhood, these cultural and class struggles are playing out throughout many neighborhoods in New York City as well as throughout the country and world.

Facilitator: Michelle Coffey, Lambent Foundation

Panelists: Shona Chakravatty, Hill Snowdon Foundation; Christine Gaspar, Center for Urban Pedagogy; Maurine Knighton, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; Rickke Mananzala, FIERCE; Deborah Masters, visual artist.

Fishbowl discussion initiators: Caron Atlas; Fractured Atlas and Pratt Center for Community Development, Radha Blank; Frances Lucerna, el Puente; Clyde Valentin, Hip Hop Theater Festival.

Related Links:

El Puente
Hill Snowdon Foundation
Center for Urban Pedagogy
Hip Hop Theater Festival
Deborah Masters
Fractured Atlas
Pratt Center for Community Development
Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone
Lambent Foundation