If you care about the gold rush sweeping Brooklyn and you haven’t been listening to WNYC’s There Goes the Neighborhood podcast…well, you must be living under a rock (or maybe in Tribeca). The eight-episode capsule podcast, hosted by The Nation‘s Kai Wright, is required listening. From studying landlord and developer tactics to understanding people’s complicated relationships with their homes and neighborhoods, it goes beyond the constant stream of tenant harassment cases to really try to make sense of the historical and social context around the recent developments in the changing the city.
After you’ve binge-listened, you might feel a creeping sense of helplessness. You’ve heard about long-timers feeling pushed out, like Tranquilina Alvillar’s heart-wrenching fight with her landlord to stay in Williamsburg, and Monica Bailey getting priced out of her apartment. But you’ve also heard from young new arrivals, like roommates Emily Wilson and Allie Lalonde, wrestling with how they fit into their new neighborhood and what they can do to change the process of gentrification. Where does that leave us?
To cap off the finale of the podcast, WNYC is hosting a forum on Monday that should help put things in perspective. Don’t expect“The Way Forward for Gentrified Brooklyn” to be a dry or academic exercise. The host is comedian Khalid Rahmaan, who runs a monthly standup show, It’s Sooo Up and Coming, described as “the best free standup comedy show in not-quite-gentrified Brooklyn.”
It’s also a chance to put face to voice, and hear in-person from people featured on the show, like Bed-Stuy renter Monica Bailey, developer Boaz Gilad, Crown Heights newcomer Elizabeth Grefath, and Williamsburg resident Akilah Hughes.
They’ll engage in “micro-conversations” with writers and thinkers, like CNN’s Sally Kohn, Fortune contributor Ellen McGirt, young adult author Daniel José Older, and Michael Arceneaux, a culture writer for Ebony, Complex and The Guardian. They’ll discuss subjects like strategies to push back on gentrification, how white gentrifiers in historically black neighborhoods can show up meaningfully, and even–if the cynical among you can believe it–how developers can work in a socially conscious way.
Back at the kickoff in March we saw some of these micro-coversation thingies in action–instead of a ho-hum panel, it’s basically two people attempting to have a casual and heartfelt conversation…in a room filled with and eager listeners. Sounds strange, but it just may be the perfect way to approach neighborhood change: Talking to our neighbors and stakeholders, instead of past one another.
There Goes the Neighborhood: The Way Forward for Gentrified Brooklyn Monday, May 2 at 6 p.m, at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, 44 Charlton Street, New York, NY (corner of Varick Street). Tickets are $10.