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.


In terms of preparing me and my group for the presentation, doing in-class presentations provided a great deal of help. We were able to condense our presentation into ten minutes, and be able to deliver a concise yet thorough explanation of our project. Through getting critiques from our peers, we were able to hone down on our issues in the presentation, and anticipate these same questions that will be asked by the moderators at the presentation. Anticipating counterarguments helped us to shape our argument, and answer the questions that were asked to us with ease and confidence. If me and my group can do the presentation over, we would try a bit harder to stay right on time

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.

Reflection- Common Event Seminar 4

As a second semester sophomore at the Macaulay Honors College here at BC, this is my fourth Macaulay Common Event. I can definitely say I felt the most prepared for this event and most comfortable with this presentation, even though it seemed to be the most “intense” one compared to the previous events. What really helped me (and my group) in terms of preparing for the presentation was practicing in front of an audience. Practicing the presentation in class and constantly editing it was a big help. Writing a script was very helpful as well. Although, we didn’t follow a script exactly, writing out and discussing what everyone was going to say using parallel language was very helpful. Feedback regarding presentation style was particularly helpful because I feel like that was our biggest weakness when we were starting of.

All of the presentations were very interesting. Particularly, I liked how many of the presentations had very specific targeted solutions down to what NYC department should make what changes. I also liked how although there was a similar theme in each room, there was variety in the presentations we heard. It was interesting to see how every topic on bettering the city was so interconnected. The coordinator in the room asked very good questions. They were difficult questions, but the kinds that really provoked thought and discussion, which I think this event was all about. The only criticism I have is that I wish that the coordinator would’ve spoke more about her experiences and  background and that there were more adults working in relevant fields present. I think this would facilitate even more discussion and would take the projects a step further.

If I had to give advice regarding the common event to future Seminar 4 students, I would say to tailor the presentation to bettering our city. Furthermore, to be excited about this presentation instead of dreading it. It’s really not an environment where students should be worried and tense. Instead, it’s more about being proud of a solution you’re proposing to a problem that is relevant and significant, but at the same time being open and dynamic because all of these problems are incredibly complicated and an easy cookie cutter solution doesn’t necessarily exist. In this advice also lies my key take away from the conference and the ultimate experience I had. This was truly a learning experience and a realization that NYC is a vigorous city. There are many great things about NYC, but it is also very problematic. NYC belongs to all of us and as the rising generation, the future of NYC is in our hands with both the good and the bad. Fixing the bad is evidently much more complicated than I imagined before learning all the pertinent information during this seminar. However, the challenge doesn’t scare me or drive me away; instead, it pushes me to be more creative, and I really think that there is a lot of hope in the future of our city (especially with all of the great ideas I heard during the conference).  Ultimately, I had a great experience and am proud of our project and everyone else’s. I am excited to see some of our potential solutions be implemented decades down the line. With that, I’d like to extend a great thank you to Alexis, Professor Alonso, my group-mates and the whole class!



Why Is “Authenticity” Coveted?

The idea of “authenticity” reflected in both overall modern terms, and in the context of the city neighborhoods being gentrified, is one that is coveted by the people. People want to be seen as “authentic” and people want to be a part of a neighborhood known for its “authentic” culture. However, the reasoning behind the allure of this quality varies, and trying to understand this reason properly could help illuminate the reason why gentrifiers become enamored with certain areas in the city on the basis of “authenticity.” Richard Greenwald, a professor of history and sociology and the dean of St. Joseph’s College, wrote an article called “Why Is ‘Authenticity’ So Central to Urban Culture?” in which he spoke about the current process of hyper-gentrification and how it led to a new, more uniform city “renewed” by the corporate world. Zukin further supported this idea: “…the city as we knew it was gone. It became a corporate city of transnational headquarters, big-box stores, and Business Improvement Districts…” (222). With this new establishment of big business changing the outlook of the city, the issue of “authenticity” becomes more and more important as places championed for their rich culture began to lose it as many gentrifiers guided their choices of where they want to live in the city based on that idea.

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The Impact of the Need for “Authenticity”

The idea of “authenticity” has its stake in many different conversations and debates, including a push towards the truth in a time when facts are scarce, a quest for originality, and an emphasis on going back to the fundamentals behind embellishments created in our society. “Authenticity” becomes an important topic of discussion when focusing on culture, whether that be for cities of America or of a group of people in a lesser known country on the other side of the world. Sharon Zukin, in Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, identifies this idea of authenticity as a type of culture used as a cause for waves of migrations of certain people in particular areas like Williamsburg (49-50), as an appropriate description of the hip hop cultures formed by African American communities of “black Brooklyn” (56), and the semblance of the history of Harlem used to create a specific image of the “dark ghetto” and the “Harlem Renaissance” (68-71). In trying to define the “authenticity” that attracted people to these areas, Zukin focused on the people and history of each of the areas as the basis for why they were considered authentic and why people fought to protect it or to follow it.

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At Whose Expense?

With the publication of her novel, Jane Jacobs became the hero that fought against Robert Moses and his “destructive” urban renewal policies, emphasizing the importance of street life culture, close-knit communities, and decreased intervention of the state to allow for neighborhoods to be cared for solely by its residents. However, her ideas inadvertently inspired a different kind of extreme than Moses’s plan of eradicating the “slums”: neoliberalism (Tochterman 65). With its emphasis on free-market capitalism, neoliberalism was not built to help the people that were exploited by Robert Moses, but instead continued to cater to the upper and middle classes that could afford the means to becoming successful and producing wealth through opportunities that are unavailable to the lower and working classes. Overall, inequality is continuously reproduced at the expense of these classes in the ideal societies of both Robert Moses and neoliberal activists. Continue reading “At Whose Expense?”

Robert Moses as a Controversial Figure

Robert Moses represents a significant and controversial figure in New York City’s history. He represents a man who was pivotal in creating the layout and outlook of the city as it is today, as well as a man who worked to bring his vision to reality without care for those who served as collateral damage. In Hilary Ballon and Kenneth Jackson’s Robert Moses and the Transformation of New York, Moses and his plans for the city were discussed and debated, outlining the goals he wanted to achieve and how he achieved them. Moses advocated for complete urban redevelopment, leading the largest slum clearance program in the 1950s (Ballon 94). In doing so, he aimed to bring back the middle class with affordable housing to reduce the polarization between the two extremes of the social class spectrum, to establish New York as a center of higher education by making land available for university expansion, and to elevate the status of the city in the nation and the world through installations of different “world-class cultural institutions” (Ballon 106). Finally, he wanted to create expressways throughout the city as a more efficient way of traveling through automobile rather than the “ancient relic” of the public transport system (Jackson 68-69). He argued that the city was built “by and for traffic” (Fishman 125). From his perspective, the city needed to be redeveloped in order to make it more efficient and uniform, as well as to create a center of success and culture known across the globe.

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