Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts, Sociology

“Understanding a city of the haves & the ain’t-got-shit”

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Nicole P. Marwell, author of Bargaining for Brooklyn: Community Organizations in the Entrepreneurial City was recently interviewed on Brian Berger’s blog Who Walk In Brooklyn. Berger—co-editor of New York Calling published by Reaktion Books and distributed by UCP—engages Marwell in a discussion of the author’s experiences in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Bushwick neighborhoods studying the social impact of the community based organizations she writes about in her book. From the preface to the interview:

Nicole gets deep into one of the most important & least glamorous aspects of understanding a city of the haves and the ain’t-got-shit, the mysterious—to outsiders—world of “community based orgnanizations” (CBOs). In Brooklyn, the best known of these groups is probably ACORN, and even their notoriety is due more to Bertha Lewis’ failed devil’s bargain with Bruce Ratner on the so-called “Atlantic Yards” project than any of their other, less disputable initiatives.
Not all CBOs are alike, however, and because of this, Nicole spent years working with eight different groups in Williamsburg & Bushwick. Some were secular, some church-based. Both partook of a much less flashy but essential ground-level politics, a very far cry from that of the highly paid lobbyists whom an already-wealthy real estate racket uses to advance its profits at the least cost to themselves. It’s been said, from La Lechonera de Coqui in Castle Hill to Angel’s Lounge under the elevated BMT tracks on Broadway, that CBOs are born to lose. This may or may not be true; Berger & Marwell have their opinions but I suggest that we also remember the inspirational words of Bennie (Warren Oates) in Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia: “Nobody loses all the time.” We shall see, Saltamonte, we shall see.

Read the interview on Berger’s Who Walk in Brooklyn blog.