It is often debated on the impact a community has on the outcome of their own neighborhood or the power of the people to control their own city. After all, public involvement is what democracy is built on. As seen in Tom Agnotti’s excerpt, “From Protest to Community Plan” in his book New York For Sale, The Cooper Square committee, comprised of the residents of the Lower East Side, and their allies managed to dictate what a portion of the land in the Upper East Side would look like and on their terms, not the governments or the terms of developers. In the same way the New York Times article, “Greater Diversity Sought for New York City’s Community Boards” outlines the importance of community boards through cases where they have in fact made an impact in community planning. The article not only vouches for participation by residents in community boards but also for the increase in diversity of the publicly appointed board members themselves to include those that Agnotti calls the “few” in his chapter, “Community Planning for the Few.” The article provides a nice summary for the two points brought up in Agnotti’s chapters.
Feedback we received centered around focusing on how the public would interfere in the gentrification cycle. It allowed us to see a more clear approach must be given in terms of explaining the role of the residents of Long Island City. Feedback to other groups considered hyper-focusing on the role of education to help the residents of the city. This helped us consider future implications of bettering our research proposal.
Thought provoking ideas that other groups’ research projects centered around was the idea of opening a university to increase self-sufficiency in Red Hook. This would increase apartment buildings that can be afforded by college students, and younger adults. The influx of a university may also bring on a slew of restaurants, cafes, and more commercial businesses. I would give advice to future Seminar 4 students to focus more on a broad view of bettering the future of New York City, and make sure to be thinking of this idea each time you do a lesson during the seminar class. Takeaways from the conference and the experience, I personally feel, should be more centered together. Conferences of this sort allow Macaulay students to meet each other, but this conference did not allow for that. It would have been better to have a conference that was similar to Seminar 3, in which we propped our posters / presentations on display for all the Macaulay students to walk around. Upon a moderator’s request, we may be able to present to them. This would allow us to see and meet more students’ presentations, as this conference mainly sectioned us off into separate rooms to present to a small number of individuals.
This class, however, proved to be extremely insightful and one of my favorite seminar classes. It allowed us to see the city we live in, and decipher the movements behind who truly holds the power in this gentrification era we are prospering in. We are able to see the economic and political aspects of the leaders behind the cycle. This seminar will allow me to utilize the concepts and principles I have learned in the outside world, and inspect the workings of the political and economic background behind the zoning and urban planning changes made in the city.
Many times in this class we have discussed the issues surrounding a community, and what can be done in order to inspire change. According to Angotti and LaDuke, change can be made easier if people got together in their communities and spoke of their issues and advocated for them. All of this would be true, if many other sources stated that engagement is the key, not advocacy. It would also be true if organizing communities was the first step in advocacy campaigns. Written by Carole Mahoney, here are “8 Steps to Successful Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns”. These steps will be reflected by the Cooper Square Plan reported by Angotti and Jane Jacobs’s victory by Zukin. The steps go as follow:
Throughout the course, there has been a lot of discussion as to what ruins certain aspects of the city, such as community or infrastructure. I am also very interested in what makes a city great. Usually, a city’s outward aspects such as architecture, transit system, and food are the first to be evaluated. A city’s economy, housing, and opportunities are also very important. However, I’ve found in this course that protecting the people in the city and its culture are also very important in making the city great. These factors are much harder to see from the outside; some digging into the city’s policies and laws would reveal the truth. While the outward appearance of a city is always important, it is important not to overlook the residents that make up that city.
The public services and the protections that residents receive are examples of ways a city can take care of its residents. Connectedness is also significant factor in the quality of a resident’s experience of the city. It helps foster a sense of community, where residents develop bonds with one another. This class taught me a lot about what really matters in a city in a humanitarian aspect.
New York City has always been viewed as a place of opportunity. It was this belief that attracted people from all around the world to pick up everything they had for a chance to have a better life. In current times, however, this belief has been exploited by the wealthy elites. They see New York City as an opportunity to display and grow their wealth, but don’t see, or at least don’t care, about the effects this has on everyone else. They want to the city to be a place for them, stripping New York City of the one belief that has made it the powerful melting pot it is. They care about the growth of economic value, but what about the growth of human value? Once an area of mostly undeveloped land and farms, the belief that New York City would provide opportunity allowed it to grow, so how can we believe we can continue to grow once that belief is gone?