This weekend, I travelled to San Diego for the Sunset Cliffs Debate Tournament. As I explored San Diego, I noticed two things: nice, clean neighborhoods surrounded by breathtaking nature, and a lack of people on the streets. In fact, while my team and I were walking around downtown San Diego, I remarked “Are you sure this is downtown?? I barely see any people here.” It then hit me that upon hearing the word “downtown” our minds always jump to a populated area filled with noise and culture, but if you look at Brooklyn’s downtown, it’s the exact opposite. I think the key missing presence in San Diego, which I see a lot of in New York, was diversity. On the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University, I noticed that almost 97% of the student population was of white color. While the diversity that lacks in San Diego is omnipresent in New York, New York still isn’t the best city it could be. So, what exactly is lacking? Continue reading “Diversity: we preach it, but It SHOUTS back!”
While Jacobs viewed New York City neighborhoods from a holistic view, taking on the policies and past events that governed the streets, Mitchell Duneier approached one neighborhood, in particular, Greenwich Village, in order to uncover a specific aspect of neighborhood life through a series of interviews. In his ethnography and documentary, Sidewalk, Duneier observed the African American men who filled the streets of Greenwich Village in the 1990s selling books and magazines. Duneier drew upon the idea of the sidewalk being “the site where a sense of mutual support must be felt among strangers” in order to live together and that it should be an area of limitations and intimacy between the inhabitants (Duneier, 55).
In Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs discusses the creation of public life and trust through the use of sidewalks and the common ignorance of “outsiders” or orthodox planners. Jacobs’ uses Bostons North End as an epitome of a neighborhood that is self-functioning yet still considered a “slum” in the expert terms of bankers and developers. Similarly, New York City’s Brownsville is commonly misconceived by outsiders and its image tarnished through untelling statistics. In WNYC’s ongoing feature Brownsville: No Label Necessary, the members of the Brownsville community have commited to rebuilding Brownsville from “the inside out” using public life and trust created within a community to create what Jane Jacobs calls a, “self-governing” neighborhood.