Blog Post #2 Being Present

I often find myself in my own head, always thinking about what needs to be done or what is coming next. I can find it difficult to take myself out of that headspace and force myself to be present. When I rush around like that, it is easy to overlook the details of what is around me, and what stories those details tell. It is in small signage, carefully chosen décor, and the layout of a block that can represent a larger picture of a neighborhood and a community.

Sunset Park is a largely immigrant community, roughly 39% Hispanic and 35% Asian. In forcing myself to slow down and look around, I noticed reflections of this community make-up all around me. In just a few hours I observed several different languages through the conversations of those around me, through the music from cars passing by, and in signage posted on light posts and in the windows of shops. It is common to see awnings representing different cultures and languages lined up next to each other on the same block.

I also noticed in slowing myself down, the signs of gentrification. Signs for things like commercial development, hotels opening, and small business closing.

On a quick walk through a new neighborhood, these may be signs that blend in with the New York landscape, as the visual markers of gentrification are so common, they begin to blend right in.

It is this kind of quick-paced walk-by that frightens Hasan who runs a local bodega. Hasan told me that he has watched Sunset Park change recently with the development of the nearby Industry City. Business is slower because fewer people are stopping on his block and entering his store. The development kicked out the factory jobs whose employees would get breakfast every day at Hasan’s bodega, and the tourists who come to shop at Industry City take the private shuttle or by-pass the bodega in favor of boutique food halls, then get right back on the train and leave the neighborhood.


~ by kaylabullwinkel on March 3, 2019.

2 Responses to “Blog Post #2 Being Present”

  1. Most informative: from the perspective of someone who’s never visited Sunset Park, the photos and description of the current status of the community gave me strong sense of what’s going on in the neighborhood. You provided both explicit and subtle details about how the culture of the community is manifested throughout several different mediums. Conversations and music are clear indicators of a communities culture; but the little things such as signs and window postings display a great level of awareness.

    Towards the end, the author narrowed the focus from the community at large towards the struggles of an individual shop owner. Her description of the community along with photos and the mentioning of change display the slow yet ever present existence of gentrification.

  2. most informative: although you only stated the percentage of the populations in sunset park, I find it very interesting how your images tell a lot of its diversity. I can see the Italian flag, Korean taekwondo school, Vietnamese restaurant or even Mexican restaurant signs. Lastly, you ended with the conversation with Hasan which tells a detailed experience of what it is like to be part and affected by gentrification. This post is short but informative and effective!

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