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Isabella: Life Deserved

April 15, 2009

isabella

 

Here’s a post about the neighborhood by Dr.Mark Naison who is a critically lauded author and professor at Fordham University:

 

“Isabella: Life Deserved” Advertisement for A Brooklyn Condo Epitomizes The Unthinking Arrogance of America’s Economic Elites

Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University

For the last year, as I have sought to avoid traffic on Flatbush Avenue on my journeys to and from Fordham, I have spent a lot of time driving through Fort Green, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill and have been astonished and appalled by the amount of new luxury housing being constructed in these once African American communities.

On Washington Avenue alone, I have counted over 15 new buildings that have gone up in the last two years on a mile and a half stretch between Eastern Parkway and the Brooklyn Queens expressway, ranging in size from three story glass fronted town houses, to six story apartment buildings to a 20 story tower, still under construction, that adjoins the BQE

But it is not just the speed and intrusiveness of the new construction that has grabbed my attention, it is the unthinking arrogance with which they claim their identity as luxury buildings in neighborhoods which have large concentrations of public housing and still contain many working class black residents.

The advertising slogan on “The Isabella” an eight story condominium on Washington Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street, which was completed only a month ago, epitomizes the arrogance and insensitivity of the economic elites whose reckless financial practices have brought the world to the brink of economic disaster

Less than a block from Black Brooklyn’s major thoroughfare, filled with bodegas, hair braiding salons, dollar stores, and small evangelical churches, less than one hundred feet from two large African American churches, and only a half block from an “A” train stop, a twenty foot sign on the second story of the building proclaims “Live Magnificently! Live Isabella.”

To hard working, struggling residents of the neighborhood who have to walk by the building each day when shopping, going to school or work, or attending church, one can only speculate what emotions that enormous sign inspires

One thing is clear, in a neighborhood where less than twenty years earlier, the crack epidemic took a terrible toll, and where economic survival, rather than “Living Magnificently” is the goal of most residents, the sign proclaims that Clinton Hill is about to be deluged with wealthy outsiders, many of them white, and that the days of Clinton Hill as a place where black working class people can feel at home are coming to the end

But that is not all. Right next to the huge “Live Magnificently” sign are two smaller signs which read “Isabella: Life Deserved”

It’s bad enough that the Isabella’s developers broadcast the message that the building they have constructed is only for those people who have enough money to “Live Magnificently”- they are also saying that the wealthy people about to descend on Clinton Hill, DESERVE their good fortune, and by implication, that the neighborhood people walking by the building deserve their life of scarcity and hardship.

To me, this message epitomizes everything that has been wrong with our economic system in the last twenty years

It is one thing to say that extreme inequality is an unfortunate by product of rapid economic growth, and to try to mitigate the consequences through social policy, it is another thing to say that people at the top of the system deserve everything they get, and that the wealt h the acquire is a sign of superior talent, even superior virtue

Tracy Chapman described this ideology brilliantly in her song “Mounains O Things”

Sweet lazy life Champagne and caviar
I hope you’ll come and find me
Cause you know who we are
Those who deserve the best in life
And know what money’s worth
And those whose sole misfortune
Was having mountains o’ nothing at birth

It was this overwhelming sense of entitlement, that impelled the leaders of failing companies to use government bailout money to give themselves .huge bonuses, and then defend those bonuses in Congressional hearings as the reward for a job20well done.

The idea that wealth and poverty are distributed logically through some form of “moral economy,” and that the accumulation of great wealth benefits everyone, can no longer be sustained, not in a time of layoffs and foreclosures, bread lines and unemployment lines,

In this time in American history, the redistribution of wealth should be the major imperative guiding social policy

As for the Isabella, where not one unit has been bought and rented, it is prime space for conversion to affordable housing,

After all, don’t the working people of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill deserve the opportunity to “Live Magnificantly/”

Mark Naison
April 10, 2009

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48 Comments leave one →
  1. la duchessa permalink
    April 15, 2009 11:59 pm

    I know the 20-story building he’s referring to. It’s right behind Kum Kau and it’s aggressive and monstrous, simply put. I passed by in a car the other day with 3 other people who all cringed at the sight of it. I mean, really, why plop a 20-story building on a block comprised solely of 2 and 3 family units? If that’s not blatant disregard I don’t know what is. 20 stories and a promise of luxury living (and the price to go along with it) will single-handedly change the demographic of that block, or surrounding area for that matter. It’s definitely something to think about.

    As for the ads for the Isabella, I think it’s insulting to a variety of residents be them long term, struggling, newcomers, those who are getting by, etc.

  2. Mark Naison permalink
    April 16, 2009 12:36 am

    I would appreciate if you took permission before posting my entire post on your blog. This is plagiarism.

    The correct thing would be to put an excerpt and point people to the original source.

    Please take corrective action.

  3. halsey permalink
    April 16, 2009 1:23 am

    Tracy Chapman went to Tufts University, an expensive elite private school in Boston.

  4. wasder permalink
    April 16, 2009 2:21 pm

    Great post. Of course the slogan of that building is completely ridiculous and out of touch with the times and the location. One wonders sometimes how these marketing types can get things so wrong when they are supposed to be experts at selling. I am not so sure that this sign means that throngs of rich people are about to descend on Clinton Hill however. Certainly in the current economic climate this prediction must be looked at with skepticism.

  5. john mark permalink
    April 16, 2009 3:57 pm

    That building is UGLY. Looks like a Catholic High School built in the mid-60s or a nursing home or something. Anyone dumb enough to buy a luxury unit in there really IS getting a “life deserved.”

  6. April 16, 2009 6:18 pm

    Wealthy folks move to neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Clinton Hill for the tree-lined streets of beautiful 19th century brownstones. Why move to this area just to live in a dull condo? It doesn’t make any sense.

  7. bknesto permalink
    April 17, 2009 4:56 pm

    Hey FAKE Mark Naison I’ll have you know I coresponded w/ Dr.Naison via email and did receive permission to post this in its entirety. What boggles me and Dr. Naison is why would someone bother to impersonate him in a blog comments section.

  8. Tom permalink
    April 17, 2009 10:39 pm

    The Isabella slogan is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as the building itself.

    I watched this thing get built from day one. I live right behind it on St. James. I’ve had the pleasure of waking up every morning at the crack of dawn while non-union workers dug out the hole, slammed beams into the ground with their pneumatic machines and jackhammered away – most of this done well before the city approved 7am start time. Those a-holes were my alarm clock for way too long.

    And now they’ve raised this ugly, obtrusive dorm of a building, and not one unit has been sold? Shock. Who cares about their future tenants. This building doesn’t have the class or character the NEIGHBORHOOD deserves. We see into the condos from our back room, and they’re nothing special. Rather plain. Like the building. Well, I guess we should be lucky it’s not some glass tower, sticking out like a sore thumb.

    And while Dr. Naison speaks of arrogance and entitlement, to turn this into a race issue is the wrong way to go. I’m a white, working-class male getting by on mine and my wife’s salary. I’ve had much wealthier bosses who were black, white, asian, pakistani, men, women – you name it. Once your salary gets into the mid/high six figures you become an entitled, arrogant jerk – doesn’t matter what color you are. Yeah, perhaps the majority of Isabella residents will be white, but that won’t be what makes them unwelcome. It’s the entitlement of wealth.

    And getting back to jerks. Who were the jerks who sold this once empty parking lot to the Isabella builders? How much did they make off of our now having to live with this thing? Where was their responsibility to the neighborhood?

    Oh right, their responsibility was to money.

  9. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 17, 2009 11:47 pm

    Wasn’t it the seminary condo next door which sold the parking lot. Really, who can get upset by building on a parking lot? I think it looks pretty good compared to a lot of the schlock in the neighborhood. Let me (predictably?) disagree with the sentiments expressed by the original blogger. The developments of which he speaks have been built on vacant or under-used (by churches etc) land. While one might very well take issue with the displacement of low-income renters by condo coversions, it is hard to feel as much sympathy with the argument that heightening income diversity by building new housing stock. The public housing is nowhere near these developments (at least in NYC terms), but given concentrating the poor in isolated public housing has not been such a great success, why would it be a bad thing if they were living cheek to jowel with each other. It is underdevelopment, not increased development which has threatened communities. I wish the church on Grand between Fulton and Lefferts would sell their parking lot – or develop it as low-income housing. You want to talk about arrogance, talk about a church maintaining a large parcel of land for its members to sweep into an underdevloped neighborhood so that they can park and pray. Haven’t they heard of mass transit?

  10. April 18, 2009 4:23 am

    why do you people always love to attack churches? WTF?

  11. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 18, 2009 12:04 pm

    Who are “you people”? I belong to a church, and respect the role that faith and fellowship can play in a community. I also tire of fairly predictable attacks on demographic chamge and real estate development. In this case, where the main attack seems to be against a badly marketed building constructed on a PARKING LOT, I simply (and perhaps provocatively) wanted to question whether pre-existing community organizations are helping sustain the neighborhood and community, or are an obstacle or bystander in social progress. I know nothing about the church on Grand. But it seems like their parking lot is a missed opportunity for them either to enrich their coffers for their social works or to even more proactively use their resource to address the need many of us see in the community, low-income housing. As it is, their parking lot sucks the life out of an already troubled corner of our neighborhood.

  12. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 18, 2009 12:23 pm

    Of course maybe the church doesn’t own the lot, but just rents it. At which point my argument is more another example of how some people (including me) create conflict where there is no need.

  13. Tom permalink
    April 18, 2009 2:24 pm

    I don’t have a problem with their building on a parking lot. It was locked up and rarely used. Not even much in the way of parking. Just a big empty lot. No crime, no mischief, no nothing. Selfishly, I’m going to miss the sunshine we used to get (which the Isabella now blocks), but I’ll just have to soldier on.

    Yes, housing is a need in this city, but judging by the number of empty, half-completed luxury condo buildings in our borough, it’s not a need for those who “live magnificently.” So why do developers keep building these things? Notice how even though the Isabella could’ve been completed months ago, they are still working/tinkering on it. Why? Because an empty luxury condo building is a failed luxury condo building. This was not a good idea for our neighborhood to begin with. Where is the profit in a dormant property that serves no one?

    It was the condos next door who sold the property. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons, but why not sell the property to developers with better plans for it? Did they need the money right away? Maybe see who could build something that would keep the neighborhood a desirable place to live. I have no idea what could’ve gone up on this parking lot. More homes in line with the character of the street? A park? A school? I’m not a city planner, I don’t know. I’m just tired of buildings like this. I’m tired of race bating. I’m tired of the us vs. them mentality. I’m tired of neighborhoods only talking to each other through blogs and not on the streets. I’m done. Thanks for letting me rant.

  14. bknesto permalink
    April 18, 2009 4:10 pm

    PutnamDenizen that parking lot is also used as a schoolyard for students attending the Bethel school.

  15. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 18, 2009 4:51 pm

    Tom – I didn’t hear your comments as a rant. I personally don’t find the building that offensive. (Hey – you aren’t married to a certain artist are you? If so I have two of her paintings hanging on my wall) I can’t speak to the quality, I agree that it seems hard to understand who could afford them, but I don’t understand that in Manhattan either.

    BK – I guess i knew the school kids use the yard too, but if it is indeed owned by the church that really doens’t change my opinion of its under-use. There are many churches which have used the land holdings and group economic power to change their neighborhoods for the better. That lot would seem to be an opportunity and a win-win for all if something appropriate were built there. Doesn’t mean other observations on the type of private development in the neighborhood aren’t as inclusive as they should be.

  16. April 19, 2009 3:52 pm

    How does this nasty building change the hood for the better?

  17. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 19, 2009 9:39 pm

    It was a parking lot. Now it is a building. It expands the tax base. It provides additional housing in a city where that is in short supply. I guess we just disagree on its attractiveness. I think it is much better than most new buildings in the neighborhood. I like the front garden.

  18. April 20, 2009 5:51 am

    additional housing for WHO?

  19. putnamdenizen permalink
    April 20, 2009 6:35 pm

    For WHOM. In any case I think that was the point of the original post, and people disagree about whether creating additional housing for a wealthier demographic is a good thing or not. Perhaps rather than just posting loaded questions you would want to share your own opinions or respond to the responses others including me have shared with you? As it is you are given the impression that you aren’t interested in the substance of the thread. But perhaps I am misjudging you?

  20. April 20, 2009 7:55 pm

    GIVING and that letter does not work on the keyboard oh person who likes to talk about semantics and hot dogs instead of the issue at hand and has such a superiority complex he thinks he can tell the whole world what to do and think

    I have replied to your posts and others posts and furthermore, I will post what I want, how I want when I want and you can’t stop me!

    The disgusting slogan reminds me of your attitude!

    ANYWAY, what is needed in the hood is more AFFORDABLE HOUSING not more ugly “luxury” condos! On top of that, we need the neighborhood businesses we used to have instead of more overpriced mediocre restaurants

    Y’all came to the hood for the flava and the flava is being rapidly pushed out

    They didn’t come and blend in they came and TOOK OVER and buildings like this make sure none of us can get the apartments as do the brokers

    LIKE IT OR NOT THIS IS A HISTORICAL BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD AND WILL ALWAYS BE NO mATTER HOW mUCH YOU TRY AND WHITEWASH IT!!!

  21. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 20, 2009 10:27 pm

    Oh. Sorry. Then why haven’t you followed up on my comments about churches leaving land fallow rather than develop it for low-income housing? Obviously it is hard to get the financing for lower income housing. Groups like PACC have worked hard – one of their projects is on Washington Avenue. Do you think they have been successful? Are there other institutions which might be harnessed to make sure that the newly built housing is more affordable? In addition to churches, perhaps some of the fraternal organizations such as the many masonic orders. Do you think that Bed-Stuy Redevelopment Corporation has lived up to its name? I know some people think it has been far better at paying salaries than on encouraging economic growth. Do you think that is a fair comment?

    what kind of stores are we missing? At least on Fulton there seem to be a mix of stores. And I think that is true on Myrtle as well. Clearly Dekalb has been invaded by the sort of eateries which I think you dislike, but my memory (perhaps not as long as yours!) seem to be that there wasn’t much there ten years ago. I remember going to 2 Steps down 20 years ago, tho.

    I am not sure that you really want to engage on the racial dynamic. I would guess that we not find much common ground on that one. You’ve made some assumptions about my racial background and that of my family which aren’t hundred precent accurate. I just don’t buy anyone having the right to make people feel uncomfortable in a neighborhood because of their racial background.

    P.S. You are right – I should have let the grammatical error pass. But given your pissy questions I couldn’t resist. Call me childish.

  22. bknesto permalink
    April 20, 2009 11:17 pm

    Putnamdenizen,

    If a korean mini market(previously owned by white residents), Cellars, a bike shop, magazine store(bobs..still there under new ownership),sporting good store, alibi bar, two steps down, cinos italian restuarant, merkens diner,a hardware store, video rental, doctors office, pharmacy, beauty salon, elly’s, pizza shop, barber shop, butcher, Sheilas(red bamboo), chinese restaurant, real state office, liquor store, hat store, and clermont lounge ALL located on dekalb ave is nothing I don’t know what to tell you. ALL of these things were on DeKalb TWENTY years ago! And it hasn’t had a downturn since…

    Secondly your rant about the church that houses the Bethel School is off base. The school has been there for years for people who want their kids educated in a christian school. The fact that it serves this purpose for children is good enough for me. That’s bigger than however unsightly it may be for you.

  23. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 20, 2009 11:57 pm

    Many of the establishments you mention are still on Dekalb. I wasn’t actually living in the neighborhood 20 years ago – just visiting it. I was actually agreeing that Dekalb seems to be suffering from a bit over-saturation of restaurants.

    I think you are mischaracterizing my speculations on the church (Bethel?). I have said nary a word about the school, nor called it unsightly. (I think the church and attached school are quite attractive, btw). Come on – when did I attack Christian education? What I have said is that the church PARKING LOT seems like it could be put to better use. Really, at some point your refusal to engage on what I am actually saying becomes a bit tiresome. It feels unfair, and not particularly intellectually honest.

  24. April 21, 2009 12:26 am

    Elly’s now is a ridiculously overpriced Korean store that caters to the new rich white residents and nobody else can afford it

    Liquor store is now moroccan restaurant

    Tnt deli is now also the $4 potato chip selling store no more $1 25 sandwiches there

    2 hardware stores gone

    butcher gone

    health food store gone

    french cleaners gone

    tilman(real estate office who actually catered to US) GONE

    Barbara(Ties that bind) GONE

    several beauty supply stores GONE

    Kadel’s GONE

    bookstore GONE

    mexican grocery GONE

    and that is not even close to everything!

    Putnam Denizen, your thinly veiled attempts to defend condos and all that is white are quite transparent and laughable at best

  25. April 21, 2009 12:31 am

    “I just don’t buy anyone having the right to make people feel uncomfortable in a neighborhood because of their racial background.”

    THEN WHY DO YOU DO IT???!!!

  26. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 12:32 am

    Er, right. You got me. Seriously, with life comes change. Some good, some not so good. Any thoughts on any of the other issues I raised?

  27. April 21, 2009 12:50 am

    You are against church parking lots what do you really want us to say?
    Personally I would rather have the lot than the condo

    As for the organizations you cited, they have done nothing to help anyone except your people PACC was intsrumental in the gentrification process in the early stages with some very deceitful tactics causing many to lose their homes under the guise of being “helped”

  28. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:10 am

    No, I was suggesting low-income housing on the church lot. Do you think that Atlantic Commons (the townhouse developments between Fulton and Atlantic near the mall) were a successful moderate income project? Most of the people I know who live there seem to have long roots in the community, but perhaps that is changing too.

    When you say that you prefer empty lots to any kind of development and refrain from suggesting any positive way to increase the amount of affordable housing in the neighborhood, I am left scratching my head. What is your vision of the future of the neighborhood? Is there an organization you would be comfortable working with to accomplish your goals?

  29. April 21, 2009 1:24 am

    Atlantic Commons was great and we need more stuff like that instead of these condos

    You clearly lack good reading comprehension as I said I would rather see the lot than the CONDOS not than any kind of development

    No there is no trustworthy organization or government official currently existing

    HA! They could start with getting rid of the loophole about buildings with 5 apts or less have no stabilization or protection whatsoever this is one of the many tricks used to ensure that only *certain* people would get the brownstone apts and one of the major tactics used to get rid of so many of us

    They could also ENFORCE the original deals made where certain percentages of these new units were supposed to be affordable but instead they turn a blind eye and let them reneg again and again

    As for the future of the hood I have no idea as I could have never imagined what I am seeing now even in my wildest dreams

    Sadly, if the current trend continues, so will the systematic harassment of residents and business owners of color until they have finally TOOK the neighborhood altogether and myself and my people will fight this to the end BY ANY mEANS NECESSARY!

  30. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:37 am

    Yeah, I like Atlantic Commons too. I believe that was negotiated as part of the first mall there. I notice they are building another building there.

    Since we agree that some sort of development might be appropriate on the church lot, just not condos, do you know anyone with connections there? Is it a very active church with a socially conscious agenda or is it more inward looking?

    There is no doubt that the lack of rent stabiilization in smaller building has allowed those buildings to be changed more rapidly. In fact I read somewhere that Fort Greene is actually less dense demographically than it was before as brownstones are being converted back to one or two family houses. Is that your experience? Clinton Hill on the other hand seems to have more apartment buildings thus allowing greater residential stability and retaining greater economic diversity. We may see that with some of these condo developments – already that project on Myrtle and Clermont went rental due to the market. Most of them don’t seem very well set-up for families however. I heard that POS building on Fulton and Classon went Section 8, which is good for those who have the certificates. I feel a bit bad for those who live in that building because the construction seemed very shoddy.

  31. April 21, 2009 1:41 am

    I am not all gung ho that something must be built on the parking lot like you are! There is plenty of empty already built residential space that needs to be available to EVERYONE not just a select few and the condos on myrtle are renting for RIDICULOUS rates which is why they are still mostly empty and THIS IS WHAT NEEDS TO STOP FIRST BEFORE WE BUILD ON CHURCH PARKING LOTS!!!!!

  32. bknesto permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:49 am

    The building on fulton & classon is a battered womens shelter.

  33. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:52 am

    Oh, okay. While it may sound like I am picking on the church I don’t mean to. In some neighborhoods the churches have been a source of positive social change and economic development. Just seems more likely that we could be successful at encouraging the development of property owned by communiity based organizations. I question those who rage against private developers who make no claim to be after anything but making a buck, while overlooking potential resources closer to home. I think I ‘ve been as clear as I can be on that point in earlier posts. While you seem to have a narrower view of who is within your community than do I, I would hope that we share a goal of reducing housing costs and allowing people more choice is where they can live. How do you think we can go about making the empty new developments available to all? Are you thinking that they will go bankrupt and the city will take them over. Of course that has happened with older buildings with hefty tax leins, but I don’t think this is very likely with these new buildings. Are there any groups suggesting some sort of direct action squatting?

  34. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:53 am

    Interesting info on the Classon/Fiulton building.

  35. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:54 am

    BK – now that I’ve clarified, any comment on the likelihood/obligation of churches to use their property to address the growing need for affordable housing in the neighborhood?

  36. bknesto permalink
    April 21, 2009 2:21 am

    I’ve already stated the property is fine as it is, while I wouldn’t fashion myself a religious man by any means, I love when they have the tent in the summer and the parishioners are out beaming with joy during worship. I love seeing the kids playing during school recess when it’s a day I happen to be off.

    Churches serve many purposes for people in the community, especially minorities. They not only serve as counsel, they’re a support base for many, it provides activities for adults & kids, everything from cub/boy/girl scouts to after school programs, day camps, the organizing of trips & events( ex. apple picking ,visiting a dude ranch or Easter egg hunts). Many are active in the community.

    Along with that for many in my community worshiping god is therapeutic. So no I don’t think they are obligated to address the growing need for affordable housing or in most cases qualified to do so as I would guess most Reverends and Deacons aren’t well versed in urban planning or urban development. Most of the longtime parishioners in these churches could not forsee that their neighborhood would be unnaffordable to their offsprings.

  37. Putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 12:28 pm

    Again there is no need to sell me on why churches exist. I attend regularly (middlechurch.org). I part company on your static vision of their mission and their potential. I hope we would agree that much of what we are discussing is what has been variously called economic or environmental racism. People of color are pushed to the margins and relegated to live in neighborhoods which are less healthy and less accessible to jobs and resources. X has pointed out that the limitiations of rent stabilization have allowed evictions from brownstones by new owners. The real estate development which is going on (except for Atlantic Commons and PACC) is aimed at wealthy singles and couples, not families. In the end it comes down to you can’t control what you don’t own.

    I think I have made it very obvious that I am very uncomfortable with the idea that one racial group has some sort of moral or historic “ownership” of a neighborhood. As one who considers himself a race traitor and lives in a transgressive way, I believe that such identity politics as a basis for residential community building is a dead end. But accepting your paradigm of an Afro-centric neighborhood as your goal, it seems short-sighted to overlook the community resources available. Again, I value play space for children, parking for seniors returning to the church of their childhood, and even the occassional old-fashioned revival. But if we accept that there is a crisis in the community and a threat to the continued racial and economic diversity of this area, then choices have to be made. The fact that this was not anticipated is not an excuse for current inaction. And I believe you are selling the church leadership short. I do not need to lecture to anyone about the strength of the Black Church Leadership and what it has accomplished in this country. If the church (and the masons and the community based development corporations) aren’t going to stretch themselves and respond to this crisis by thinking creatively, who will?

    Too often your eloquence is spent describing the halcyon years of your youth and praising what was in sharp contrast to your dislike and distrust of what the neighborhood is becoming. You reject the most reasonable of suggestions for common ground or future actions. This comes off as very reactionary and passive. Why should complaints of over-condoization be taken seriously when no alternative for inclusive and progressive development is offered?

  38. April 21, 2009 12:47 pm

    just the fact that you consider yourself a “race traitor” in itself makes you a racist

    given your lifestyle it’s no surprise you seem to think taking away church space is the only option

    you are wrong on PACC you need to do more research as they are the main ones who started the takeover of buildings way back when

    as for the “power of the church” why don’t you go to cumberland and lafayette and see where the gospel church used to be for several decades and the new white people complained about the music and got them shut down and now there is ridiculous condos called sanctuary

    there is no need for any development at all just for already existing units to be available to EVERYONE and for people to not be forced out of their homes for no good reason

  39. nigel permalink
    April 21, 2009 2:33 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I completely agree with the article.

    Everything that used to be okay and would bring the community together is no longer okay. The best example I find to illustrate this negative change is Fort Greene Park.

    – We had events/performances every Tuesday night. Now, there is no more permit for that.

    – We had the soul summit every weekend. Now it’s restricted to 3-4 times a year.

    – Now, they want to ban soccer and football from the park! I repeat ban soccer and football from the park because it produces too much dust and kills the grass.

    My point, all this was okay for soooo many years. But all of a sudden, it’s bad.

    I simply wish that those who move here would accept our culture and not try to impose theirs. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who move here and respect our neighborhood culture. But there is also a small powerful minority who wants to turn this into another Park Slope.

  40. putnamdenizen permalink
    April 21, 2009 2:48 pm

    X – elloquent and persuasive as always. I guess since I have ignored your race-baiting you decided to move on to gay-baiting. Pass.

    Race traitor is a term which invites (white) people to think about racial and class privilege in their everyday lives. It challenges the concept of “whiteness” as the norm and the measure of all humanity. Perhaps it was too subtle a concept to be flip with on the internet.

    Unfortunately (and I mean that, because there are legitimate disagreements about how to move forward in this neighborhood), your policy solutions seem to add up to “give me” and “get whitey.” In a city with an increasing population where some blocks are being made less dense by the effects of gentrification, there is a need for more development. The choice we all have is to think creatively about how to make it accessible and affordable to a great swath of our neighbors.

    I suspect we have be having this discussion in an echo chambers. But I hope if we pass on the street we nod and great each other cordially as the members of the same human race we are. Peace out.

  41. Julianne permalink
    April 21, 2009 2:52 pm

    Wow, I appreciated reading this post very much. I was grateful to read a well-argued article regarding this particular building. I just walked by it on Saturday for the first time.

    The comments seem to be taking more of a war energy, but until that point, I appreciated the back-and-forth bringing up various important and valid points. It’s good for my brain to read such debates here.

    It’s ridiculous that someone impersonated Dr. Naison to try to defame BKNesto. Congrats on winning that one, BKNesto.

    Thanks for posting a great article, BKNesto.

  42. April 21, 2009 4:39 pm

    YOU don’t get it denizen! The fact that you even consider “race traitor” to be anything “valid” shows that you believe in “whiteness” so you lose once again!

    I wouldn’t really think that a gay man raising a child with another man would embrace the church in any fashion so point proven! Also, there is no point in discussing any of this with you as you only see what you WANT to see! Where in this entire discussion did anyone say “give me” or “get whitey”? I think your white guilt has you psychotically paranoid and incapable of simple reading comprehension so marinate on that “traitor”! Take good care of your trophy child too

    nigel, very good points about how our quality of life has suffered! Thank you

  43. saultee permalink
    April 22, 2009 12:12 am

    Wow X, personal attacks like that make all of your points null and void in my book. You are showing your ass bigtime now.

    One thing that Putnamdenizen has done is offer up ideas to address the issues the neighborhood is facing. He is the ONLY one.

    I agree 100% that new people coming into the neighborhood and not respecting the long time residents is horrible. I think these peoples main flaw lies in how they go about things… the snide remarks on message boards, or running to the the congresswoman with petty complaints. It would be nice if people could get together to discuss their differences. Hell it would be nice if people were just a bit more friendly on the street. I’ve stated on this blog before that I myself don’t feel very welcome in this neighborhood by black or white people (I am mixed with both white and black but look latino).

    This is a complex issue that I feel probably has no solution until people seriously start working together, stop being so damn greedy, and get over their fears.

  44. April 22, 2009 1:46 am

    saultee, denizen has been showing his ass on every blog and boad since he started posting! we have been dealing with him for YEARS!

    I don’t know what your problem is cause I liteskin too and have had nothing but love since the beginning of time in our hood

  45. Osito permalink
    April 22, 2009 3:50 pm

    basically 100% white during the previous 120 years or so of non-Native settlement.

    And why does this moron make such wold assumptions? Why does he assume that these buildings are only for white people? There are plenty of nonwhites (including many blacks) in these buildings. Furthermore, there are many non-affluent non-blacks in the neighborhood; many of who have been there for decades.

    Maybe Mark should get out of his car and actually walk the streets of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. Oh, and the class-warfare card sounds pretty silly when you are one of the 20% of neighborhood residents that even owns a car.

  46. nabor permalink
    April 22, 2009 4:05 pm

    X- you don’t have to get personal to make your point. Throwing in hateful personal commentary about other commenters only devalues the argument you’re making. Too bad, since I’d like to actually hear your argument

  47. April 22, 2009 5:06 pm

    Ok denizen I think you are almost right all the SYNAGOGUES should donate their parking lots for affordable housing!

  48. May 4, 2009 5:15 pm

    halsey: Tracy Chapman attended prep school and then Tufts on scholarship. At Tufts she majored in African studies. As a child she participated in A Better Chance, an academic support program for kids from working class families. Your comment lacks context.

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