Friday, July 04, 2014

'Take Back Gowanus': A Truly Democratic Community-Led Forum On The Future Of Gowanus This Wednesday

GowanusMockupAlexiouFront copy
A consortium of  several neighborhood groups that include Friends And Residents Of Greater Gowanus, Voice Of Gowanus, Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development, and Save Kentile, have organized a "Take Back Gowanus" forum on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 7pm at the Green Building, 452 Union Street at Bond.

The purpose of the meeting is to bring local residents, business owners, and manufacturers together for a true democratic discussion on the future of Gowanus. The goal of "Take Back Gowanus" is to create a manifesto of what the community wants to see in the neighborhood they live and work in.

The need for such a forum arose from the dissatisfaction and suspicion felt by many who have attended "Bridging Gowanus" community planning meetings convened  by Council Member Brad Lander together with several other local elected officials.
The year-long process was touted as a real chance for community stakeholders to jointly shape a vision for the future of the neighborhood.
In reality, the "Bridging Gowanus" community meetings have been highly curated affairs, seemingly designed to divide stakeholders at small group tables, making a more inclusionary discussion impossible. Facilitators at each table stuck to rigid scripts that seemed expressly designed to get specific comments and a pre-determined outcome.
That outcome likely will involve changing the zoning of much of the area from manufacturing to mixed-use which will allow developers to build more housing along the Gowanus Canal.

"Take Back Gowanus", on the other hand, will allow the community to engage in a real, honest conversation and to demand a real collaboration between our community and the City of New York.

Please join your neighbors this Wednesday and let's show our elected officials what democracy really looks like.


Jim said...

"Gowanus Alliance" published a report last year that showed Gowanus is now home to modern wholesalers and small craftsmen shilling custom made wedding dresses, coffee supplies and pre-cut vinyl sheets. It also reported that the number of new businesses in the area is up 44% since 2000 — many started by young entrepreneurs and tech geeks, and that the median income in the census tract west of the Canal and south of Carroll St. nearly doubled from roughly $45,000 in 1999 to $99,000 in 2013.

Anonymous said...

Gowanus Alliance, Gowanus Community Development Corp., Gowanus Conservancy, Fifth Avenue Committee, South Brooklyn LDC, Carroll Gardens Association and other orgs. working to improve the Gowanus neighborhood for years are excluded from TBG.


Anonymous said...

Whiners unite! It's a truly democratic process because we all get to hate on Lander and any Gowanus development together. Any opposing opinions will be drowned out with boos...democratically. Hope you like pictures of poo.

Katia said...

Why do you say that they are excluded. They should be at the meeting. The groups that I mentioned have organized the forum, but have made clear that everyone in invited.

Anonymous said...

The organizations listed above by 8:15PM can always show some imitative and hold another meeting and invite the community.
Seems that the possibility of neighbors and community members coming together to engage in a dialogue has touched a nerve with some. This is probably something our reps (not just Brad) should have done awhile ago.
Unlike the Bridging Gowanus meetings, I am very optimistic that people will be allowed to speak and differing viewpoints respected.

Anonymous said...

I have attended the meetings and washed how Pratt has filtered and over-generalized the community discussions.

For example, my table discussions we defined mixed use as mixing, industry, artists, and other commercial, no one thought housing should be along the canal for many good reasons. Others told me that had a similar discussions at their tables. defining a mixed use that deliberately excluded housing. But we now have Pratt repeating that we have consensus for a mixed which includes housing. Their over-generalization, which they call consensus, has lost all the nuances of the kind of mixed use many have been expressing at these meetings.

The meetings that followed the consensus-setting discussions have been about where to put the housing and this last, about how much height we will trade for for other community interests, like more open-space and park land.

The meetings have grown more frustrating because the initial meetings never did the hard work of developing and gauging actual consensus.

It's the process that needs to change.

Agnes said...

Democracy can be messy, but I would rather have a mess than the streamlined undemocratic "consensus building" that Bridging Gowanus is - whoever, whatever think tank thought up this process followed by Pratt, take note, it os antiquated and smart people do not buy it.