CHCA Town Hall Meeting Summary - 3.23.12
On Saturday, March 23, 2013 both old and new residents gathered together for Crow Hill’s first town hall meeting in the auditorium of PS 22. The meeting drew approximately 220 people including volunteers and the demographics were predominantly young newly relocated residents, mostly white, while approximately 12% of the attendees were older African American and Caribbean long time residents.
To open the meeting, a photo montage played on the overhead projection screen showing crown heights at the turn of the century to present day, and a local fiddler entertained the crowd. Crow Hill Community Association members, Nick Juravich (of the ILoveFranklinAve blog) and local merchant Garnett Alcindor (co-owner of Taste Buds) welcomed the community explaining that the meeting had been called because business as usual was no longer working in Crow Hill and more people needed to get involved. They explained that all types of issues could be discussed including the positive and negative aspects of gentrification. It was also emphasized that all parties were encouraged to speak openly and honestly.
Karen Granville, a Crow Hill resident for 17 years, then broke the audience into groups according to the month of their birth (which several people thought was quite unique.) Each group was guided by a volunteer facilitator facilitator from the neighborhood which lead the group in answering 4 questions: 1) what do you like about your community; 2) what don't you like about your community; 3) what are your dreams for this community; and 4) what is one thing we could do tomorrow or within the next few weeks to work towards that dream. After much lively conversation, the groups gathered again in the auditorium and each facilitator along with a volunteer speaker from the group shared responses to the questions.
While each of the groups reported a unique perspective of the problems and potential of Crow Hill, most of the conversations centered around three areas where people raised their likes and concerns: People, Access to Services, and a Livable Neighborhood. Topics raised in each area included:
- Sense of community
- Civic Engagement
Access to Services
- Racial separations & tensions
- People don’t say hello
- Unclear how to get involved in the community or access information
- Good mass transit
- Arts & culture activities (BK Museum, West Indian Day Parade)
- Green space (Park, Botanical)
- Locally owned businesses
- Good food
- Not enough business diversity( too many bars and high-end restaurants)
- Lack of welcoming community centers
- Struggling schools, issues with co-location & charters, lack of day care
- Relatively affordable
- Pedestrian friendly/human scale
- Displacement from rising price of rents and goods
- Still lots of work to be done to make the neighborhood feel safe (crime, NYPD, lighting, violence) and clean (dog mess, trash, vermin)
Based on these lists, the top areas that emerged that people wanted to work on right away include:
Better offline outreach for community meetings, Get a more diverse base of residents involved in community conversation
Tenants rights information, affordable housing designations within new developments
Access to and accountability of local politicians
More community forums, clearer information sharing about upcoming projects that will affect the community
Events that help build community, encouraging people to say hello to each other
The event closed by opening the floor to senior residents. Several long-time residents from the community took the floor to share their memories of the community and their dreams for its future. Eve Porter a pillar of the community, long time activist and Crow Hill Community Association founder & president, spoke eloquently about the days of crime and violence in the 1980's and the deprivation and absolute resurrection of a decimated community along with the work that was required to get us to this point today. Dr. Meredith, a verbal whip who has lived in the community for 65 years recalled the days before WW2 and the common thread of poverty that held Italians, Poles, Jews and blacks together in the Crown Heights of yesterday. She shared that she graduated in the same building where the group currently stood in the mid forties and implored us to shore up the United States educational system and to individually support our neighborhood schools.
While the weather was picture perfect outside, all in attendance thought it was of the utmost importance to spend an afternoon inside, looking their neighbors in the eye and speak candidly from their hearts.
Crow Hill Community Association has committed to help further these conversations, engage more local residents, and help move the conversations toward action. Here are some next steps and ways that people can get involved:
- Join us for our next town hall meeting April 16th at 7p (location TBA via the Crow Hill list or call 718-228-7928 for the update)
- Attend Crown Heights Assembly’s fair housing event! (Rally & free legal consultation, Saturday, April 6 at 1:00pm, Meet at Dr. Ronald McNair Park (Washington Ave & Eastern Parkway), Childcare will be provided
- Sign up for the CHCA mailing list via the sign-in sheets up front or (http://crowhillcommunity.org/)
- Keep an eye out for print versions of notes/next steps throughout the neighborhood.
- CHCA’s monthly meetings. The Association meets every third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 (excepting July and August) at the Gospel Tabernacle Church, 725 Franklin Avenue (between Sterling and Park)
Get to work!
- We will hold subsequent meetings to keep the dialogue going!
- We will seed working groups to address issue areas listed above that community members are most passionate about!
Admit it, you want to go ice skating with us on January 12th.
The change on Nostrand will make the one on Franklin look minor