Last week Friday, a West Village photo studio was transformed into a hub of empowerment for #GalinskyLIT, an effort to help fund libraries and education initiatives in NYC jails and prisons. But if the word “fundraiser” inspires images of gold-plated table spreads and celebrities in sparkly gowns posing in front of hot lights, well, you’ve got the wrong thing in mind. Instead of exclusiveness, this event embraced inclusiveness– and rather than simply serving and coordinating donations and programs for incarcerated teenagers from a distance, the organizers really listened to the underserved and too-often maligned group that it represents.
In 2013 Mayor Bill De Blasio was voted into office with pledges to reign in police violence and stop-and-frisk policing targeted at blacks and latinos. (Remember that emotional video about needing to have stop-and-frisk conversations with his son, Dante?) And since he took office, street-stops have continued on a downward trend–there were about 24,000 stops last year, a far cry from the peak of 685,000 in 2011 under Bloomberg.
You’d have to be living under a rock to be surprised to hear Bushwick is undergoing some explosive changes. It feels like streetscapes here are transforming faster than anywhere else in the city and many longtime residents feel they’re losing grip on their neighborhood. But Bushwick is in a strange limbo right now. While the northeast corner is bubbling over with ritzy new restaurants, bars, clothing stores, and art galleries, all increasingly patronized by German tourists and chiseled young bro dudes with man buns, for now at least the southern section closer to the graveyard has resisted these striking demographic shifts and skyrocketing rents. “We need to make moves now,” explained Drew Vanderburg, a resident of Bushwick and a graduate student at Parsons in the Design and Urban Ecologies program.