The Macaulay seminars have always been about our city and its different dynamics that makes it unique. This seminar however, was unique in its own way because it allowed us not only to learn, but to also shape our knowledge in ways to actually be involved in the city. The ‘Shaping Future of NY’ Seminar was about empowering ourselves as citizens and learning about our surroundings in order to be part of the change. This was an amazing way of ending the seminars. Though we spoke about the past and the present, we are all working on projects that will shape the future and prevent mistakes done in the past to be repeated again. I enjoyed every single topic discussed in this seminar (and found none of them useless or confusing towards the seminar goal) and I am glad to have learned so much that will influence my critical thinking, writing skills and morality as a citizen of New York.

So What More Can We Do?

Both Tom Angotti and Sharon Zukin towards the end of their books point out and discuss the significances of neighborhoods, how they were made and “destroyed”, and how community and advocacy continue to influence those communities. Quoting from Winona LaDuke, Tom Angotti mentioned “There is no social change fairy. There is only change made by the hands of individuals” (Angotti, 113).


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:


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Small Businesses: The New Old Problem

As of recent news, the dramatic increase in the closing of ‘mom and pop’ shops have been brought to the public. Among the people looking for a solution to this “new” problem are City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker Christine Quinn, Eco-Justice Candidate Marni Halasa, Councilmember Corey Johnson and NYC’s mayor Bill de Blasio. All individuals are interested in the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) which allows for a 10-year lease for small businesses at a fair rent, the right to renew the lease and the right to negotiate on rent increases¹².

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Gentrification: Do The Poor Really Get Poorer?

As all the authors’ works have presented this week, gentrification is a robust term used to define many phenomena presented together when a neighborhood is undergoing change due to influx of value. This value, whether attached to property or economics, significantly changes the current residents’ state of lives and how they face those challenges affects their future as well in the neighborhood, and their chance of living elsewhere. As discussed in Filip Stabrowski’s work New-Build Gentrification and the Everyday Displacement of Polish Immigrant Tenants in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the topic of gentrification is nothing new to residents of big cities like New York City. As paralleled throughout the city’s history, local residents protested and local organizations were given funds to protect those residents’ rights, but nothing could contain the rapid change the neighborhood undergone and the residents that were displaced because of it (794).

Despite these strong evidences, such as Polish immigrants even having to leave the country, Jacob Vigdor in Does Gentrification Harm The Poor? mentions that the analysis provided for gentrification proves that residential displacement “is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for declines in the living standards of poor households.” This may be true if the Polish immigrants who have returned to their homeland are financially more stable than they were in the United States, and it may be false for the other Polish immigrants who look for housing elsewhere with cheaper rent, but more spending for the cost of living. In other words, this analysis may be inclusive, it is dependent on each displaced individual and the surrounding factors of their households. Kathy Newman and Elvin K. Wily analyzes the extent of gentrification for the past two decades in New York City and found that about 11,651 people were displaced per year between 1999 and 2002, and surely the numbers have gone higher since then. As provided by “Governing”, only 9% of the New York City was gentrified overall between 1990 and 2000 but since then 29.8% of the city has been gentrified.

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Understanding Cities: New York

The relationship between public-private partnerships are most certainly not as equal as the title implies, but they are certainly useful. In The Naked City by Sharon Zurkin, Zurkin analyzes this relationship relation to Union Square Park in New York City and various other projects done by these organizations in the history of the public. These ‘public’ spaces which she mentions are not very public at all, are owned by Business Improvement Districts (BID) and Local Development Corporations (LDC). These organizations take care of the public’s safety by putting watchful officers on watch, staff to clean up the park and keep the homeless away, mostly provided by the city government (127). As mentioned by Zukin, the image of all different kinds of people meeting in a public place such as Union Square appeals to the city, and not to the picturesque sidewalk as envisioned by Jane Jacobs, whose work was previously analyzed. The idea that public spaces are owned by private trusts indeed do betray the public’s trust (128). Being privately owned implies that the public truly do not have a say about what occurs on the space as they believe they do and isn’t a safe haven.

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NYC: A Means Of Distraction

Unlike Robert Moses and his followers who had multiple projects and saw the city only as an ‘end’, Jane Jacobs saw the city as a ‘means’ and all of the city’s assets holistically for its citizens. In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs analyzes the faults of Moses’ planning and how it affected its citizens thereafter. A major factor of city life, Jacob explains, is the way people view it from the outside and also from within. The city brings forth a false sense of “togetherness” which can only be defied as unified behavior towards certain situations. In a suburban life as Jacobs mentions, people know each other and interact while in the city the “togetherness” reaches as far as the sidewalk for contact, reaching the bus stop, the laundromat, barbershops and corner stores.

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