A running list of (9) not-so Tiny Things
It’s 10 pm and Oak is sleeping in my bed. He howled earlier this evening when he should have been asleep already because I was nowhere to be found. I was too busy at Restoration Plaza (which is set to be restored by architect, Sir David Adjaye, with the help of the community.) Before clearing Sir David Adjaye’s name in my mind, I looked at the plans, which look nothing like the Restoration Plaza I just walked into. And even further from the restoration I knew as a kid; where we ran through the puzzling map of steps and ramps to play while our grandmother shopped for food. It doesn’t look like the Brooklyn I often like to recall. Yet, neither does much of anything.
In 1972 Restoration Plaza was rehabilitated from its former life as a milk bottling plant. The development corporation that came together five years prior, was one of the first in the United States to collaborate directly with community and businesses to address economic stability, while supporting local culture and initiatives. The New York Preservation Archive writes,
The real impetus for change occurred when Senator Robert F. Kennedy toured the neighborhood in 1966. Kennedy realized that the racial issues facing the nation had changed from oppression in the American South to urban blight and racial disparities in northern cities. His tour of Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1966 only reinforced the knowledge of these calamities. At the end of the tour, Kennedy met with community members at the YMCA to discuss solutions to the decline of the area. Community members were incredulous about this public spectacle and pressured Kennedy to put action behind his ideas for community and economic revitalization. Senator Kennedy's major ideas emphasized the important role of the community in economic development. Building pride and social ties combined with providing financial incentives for economic development led to the renaissance of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
As I walked in to see him on my bed, I nearly buzzed off the words of Nikole Hannah-Jones. My introspection when seeing Sir Adjaye’s plans can read as pessimistic (to be clear: I am relieved and elated it is him and his team… the place has seen risky years). But when noting that Nikole said she sometimes is called pessimistic, I feel a brief moment of solace as I continue to de-layer and acclimate to the vision of my son’s body in my bed. Nearly, like his infant days.
Does she feel this in her inner thoughts I considered? If I am often bemoaning the change that is Brooklyn, or the world for that matter, does it mean that I am pessimistic? Or does it mean that I am noting it in the realm of realism?
If I am always keeping score of what was, and what is, what they plan to be, then aren’t I truly living?
I pause to give myself room to let my thoughts carry me away ever-briefly before writing to you. I consider how Brooklyn will look foreign to someone I know who may one day visit from another state or country after a year or two away. New buildings cascade its skyline, sidewalks are nearly exotic and lush, save for the trash and building materials that are as consistent with the time as ever. That said, even natives need to study the new terrain.
In that space tonight though, things were at once magical and routine. I jotted notes in the folder of my phone, and considered that although so much has changed on the outside, the potency of New Yorkers in a room (The Billie Holiday Theater, no less) willing and desiring to learn is unmatched.
This Thursday evening, New York, the world, feels so darn big as I sink into my smallness of thoughts. I remember Nikole Hannah-Jones’ words on this history of our ancestors and their strength, and how what we do, think, are, is the embodiment of that labor and that work, and suddenly, I no longer feel minuscule. Neither does writing you, nor this list. So here are nine not-so tiny things I read, thought of, or considered this week. Feel free to share yours.
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