On a stormy Sunday, Bronxites from across the borough gathered at gathered at the New Settlement Community Center to discuss one of the biggest issues facing the Bronx today – gentrification *cue dramatic music.* The conference kicked off with a preview of Vivian Vazquez’s documentary Decade of Fire, which takes a look at how the Bronx was abandoned during it greatest time of need, the string of arsons that engulfed the borough in the 70s.
The audience also got a chance to view the Bronx Photo League’s Jerome Avenue Worker’s Project, which profiled workers along the area of Jerome Avenue that would be impacted by the Jerome- Cromwell rezoning proposal. Many are immigrants scraping by as is and with the city’s plan to work with developers to introduce “affordable housing,” their future in the neighborhood is all but done for.
The last and certainly most lively part of the conference was the panel featuring Vivian Vasquez, photographer Rhynna Santos, HPD Commissioner Vicki Been, and CASA Tenant Leader Fitzroy Christian. Attendees called out Been on the city’s faulty affordable housing plans and offering up low income neighborhoods up to developers on a platter.
What most moved me was seeing how many people came out, even on such a crappy day, to show their concern for the Bronx and try to protect it from gentrification. It’s rare to see such solidarity here in NYC and it was really motivating. The real test now, is to see what actions we all take to really show that we’re serious.
Let’s not be armchair generals when it comes to potential (and in a sadly increasing rate for small businesses) displacement in the Bronx – we need to get our hands dirty and put in the work to back up our voices.
The Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision has monthly meetings on the first Thursday of each month from 6-8 pm at New Settlement Community Center. Childcare and Spanish interpretation is available as is dinner, so spread the word to your friends, family, and neighbors.