Ethan runs ethan pettit contemporary, an art gallery in Park Slope, Brooklyn. www.ethanpettitgallery.com
Aesthetics, Artists, Bohemians, Bushwick, galleries, gentrification, Greenpoint, Hipsters, local politics, Williamsburg
We are the New Jews of Brooklyn, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. A people of many lands and many languages, and one faith. Artists. And as the Jews and Italians and Irish swarmed over the City of Brooklyn more than a century ago and destroyed its old Dutch character, so shall we engulf today the whole of the borough and supplant its pizzerias and pubs and kosher delis with artisanal cafes and art galleries. And we are proud of it. What. "You got a problem with that?"
"East Williamsburg" is not, as many believe, a real estate label of recent vintage. (Though by now it might as well be.) It is at least as old as the "East Williamsburg Industrial Valley," which was named in about 1981. When I moved to the area in 1983, "Williamsburg" ran from the waterfront to Queens, with the eastern reach being East Williamsburg. And let's not even start on "Bushwick," which is one of the most complex place names in the city.
Look at the ridiculous over-building that took place in "Colonial" Williamsburg over by the river. Had those developers had more of a dialogue with the community, and been educated more about the community, they might have built better and smarter. Their investments would have been more sound, and the community would have been the better for it as well. Shouldn't artists who have been doing creative work in a community for five years or more, be able to provide creative ideas to developers? Something other than the cookie-cutter plans they always come in with?
Maybe we need to open more of a dialogue with the real estate developers themselves. They seem to be the one party that is always absent or estranged from the conversation about gentrification. And we assume that this is because they are callous and indifferent to the community. And maybe they are. But should we not at least invite them to a meeting and find out?
It's a way of broadening the conversation. Perhaps we should invite some pro-gentrification voices to the next panel discussion?
Terrified to confront gentrification? There are those of us who openly promote it, and those who are terrified to confront us.
Julian, I'm happy to share my thoughts. They are summarized in a comment on this thread. I am passionate about the creative economy. I believe the artists of North Brooklyn can create an art and artisan economy the likes of which the world has never seen. I am also very interested in the possibilities of creating good, walk-to-work, entry-level jobs for local youth. The Latino youth of this area have a right to participate in the new economy here. I would like to see them employed in wood shops, metal shops, production houses, places where they can learn skills and launch careers.
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