“I think artists are pretty isolated in Bushwick. In general, I don’t see a lot of mixing [with other residents],” she said. “And in Bushwick you also have the language barrier. People think: ‘Do I even have something to say to my Spanish-speaking neighbors?’”
Enter Jaz Colon, a Puerto Rican-born, longtime Bushwick resident, who runs two arts-based youth groups and a boutique in the neighborhood. Last year, Colon started a group, Bridging Bushwick, to host monthly discussions about the changing area. At the last session, the group brainstormed, among other things, what the word “hipster” meant. Answers included: “apathetic,” “rich,” as well as “young [and] free.”
Colon and Quinter are now starting a print and online publication for such discussions, to be called the Bushwick Bridge. The site, online at BrooklynBridge.com next month, will include posts both from longtime Latino residents (“otherwise no one will know what the past was even like,” said Quinter), as well as poetry and photography from new, local artists. A heavy focus will be on information about re-zoning and housing issues in the neighborhood.
“The biggest topic overall is affordability, which is linked with displacement,” said Quinter, who has seen her own rent rise by more than 10 percent in the last few years, and worries her apartment will soon be unaffordable. Median rent for a Bushwick studio in 2007 was just $795. Today, it’s $1,865, according to MNS, a real estate brokerage.
“It’s about who will be able to live here, what it will be like to live here, and who will be able to feel like they belong here,” said Quinter. “A lot of people are still struggling in this neighborhood even though it’s becoming very hip.”
Bushwick Bridge will have its first meeting this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Express Yourself Barista Bar on 82 Central Avenue, and all are invited.