Its 6:00 on a Thursday night in late March, and Norman Siegel is speaking at a small campaign fund-raiser at the Bowery Poetry Club. The Dance Liberation Front organized the event, and the room is filled with a collection of activist types, who some might view as oddballs and misfits but who proudly call themselves deviants for Norm, as one speaker puts it.
Beneath the giant steel-lattice frame and glass roof of the Javits Center on a recent Sunday afternoon, Sarita Feldchtein peddles her wares at New York’s International Gift Fair. “Tchotchkes, plain and simple,” the stern-faced vendor says, uttering the Yiddish word with uncommon gusto.
Nothing says “You’re a winner!” like a giant check. Greeting readers on the back page of the March 26 issue of the Brooklyn Papers is a full-page, full-color ad from Forest City Ratner, touting their recent deposit of $1 million into Carver Federal Savings Bank, a tenant at FCR’s Atlantic Terminal.
The first time it happened I was in the Metropolitan Avenue subway station listening to my iPod on the platform, virtually alone. A song by the meteoric band Bloc Party was winding down when the blast of malignant air ahead of the L train rushed over me. As the subway doors opened and a crush of worker drones scattered, a young woman made eye contact.
David Dyson is a longtime social justice activist and pastor of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene. Norman Kelley, whose latest book is The Head Negro in Charge Syndrome, recently sat down with Pastor Dyson.
In Flatbush, where Church Avenue and Coney Island Avenue intersect, one hears a quintessential urban sound mash: bus brakes squealing and a jackhammer boring into the street. Just a few blocks away, along placid Prospect Park South at Argyle Road and Albemarle Road, birds chirp and a baby babbles.
Daniel Helfman wants to do good. Not carrying-groceries-for-an-elderly-neighbor good, but the kind of good that creates jobs for the long-term unemployed, builds affordable housing in high-poverty areas, and extends health care to those without it. He calls his mission “social change through free enterprise.”
A mid-February stroll past the acre-and-a-half Wyckoff Farm in East Flatbush does little to evoke an image of what life here looked like before 1901, when most of Brooklyn was a working plot of fertile farmland. A dozen or so fledgling apple trees have been planted in rows near the corner of the lot that advertises the “Fixed Flat Tire” services of the neighboring junkyard.