Walk Leaders: Lisa Schreibman and Michael Fagan
We called the walk “Crown Heights: Where Change Is Happening”. Seventy-three people showed up. So much for small group discussion, but boy were we happy we had two routes planned. In all honesty, we could have used a third. We started the walk by asking the group where they were from and why they had come. Nearly everyone who attended was from New York City, most from Brooklyn and the vast majority of people had arrived on foot. Those people who don’t live in Crown Heights mostly came for an introduction to the area. A lot of people from the neighborhood came because they wanted to see more of the stores. Residents who had lived there longest were interested in the new stores, the ones who were recent arrivals wanted to learn about the old ones. We threw out themes we had seen evolving in the past decade. The neighborhood had become whiter, richer and younger than when we had moved to it. There was also more housing, though less affordable housing. We asked the participants to think about those trends as we visited the various businesses and why it meant that places had opened or closed. Almost all the participants made it to the two hour mark of the walk. A third few stuck it out for the last half hour and a dozen people had drinks with us after the walk to keep the discussion going. For me, the most interesting take away was to realize how many people never stray from their comfort zones. Whether long-time residents or new transplants people expressed surprise and delight at some stores they had never realized existed despite walking past them regularly.