The Affective on Franklin Ave

Although gentrification has a decidedly negative connotation, its positive effects can sometimes be overlooked. I have gone about my research and exploration of Crown Heights with the assumption that gentrification equals bad, and that the people around me thought similarly. However, upon communicating directly with a few residents of Crown Heights, I found that this was not necessarily the case. Two of the people I interviewed seemed to see the main outcome of development in Crown Heights as simply an influx of young newcomers, and they maintained a generally positive outlook toward recent changes as well as a sense of loyalty and appreciation towards their neighborhood. One subject even praised the current state of Crown Heights for being much safer than it was before, providing him a safe place to live and conduct business.

However, these findings may have been a result of my choice to interview people on Franklin Ave, one of the busier and more recently developed streets in the vicinity. By exploring this area and frequenting or working at the similar shops or restaurants, these people may have an entirely different impression of Crown Heights as compared to residents who live on less developed side streets beyond Franklin Ave. They are more likely to think similarly on these topics simply because of their physical proximity, by walking the same streets, seeing the same buildings, and interacting with the same community. I believe that they may be affected by the neighborhood around them, by the reconstructed face of Franklin Ave.

This is the street where you can find coffee shops that make more money from selling milk alternatives than they do from coffee itself, where you can find the highest volume of dogs that have been purchased from select breeders. I could feel a physical change in atmosphere upon turning onto Franklin Ave from Empire Blvd, the shift from old and worn to fresh and vibrant. Even the buildings come to life; as Bennett writes, “So-called inanimate things have a life, that deep within is an inexplicable vitality or energy, a moment of independence from and resistance to us and other bodies: a kind of “thing-power” (18). The residents of Franklin Ave can feel the affect of this street, the brightness of newly painted shops and the brightly lit interiors of designer boutiques which similarly reflect the feelings expressed by these residents, a cyclical relationship that has no clear origin. They become one with the buildings lining the street, a combination of minerals to create one place and one atmosphere.

You can experience this even from a picture, which I have done my best to capture in order to demonstrate this phenomenon. As I came across the scene in the picture below, I found myself taking in a sharp breath of air at how the sun reflected off the building in white-gold rays. Even now, viewing this picture leaves me with both a physical and mental sense of tranquility, demonstrating affect as described by Teresa Brennan. While Western approaches to thought have turned towards the objective and away from the affective, it cannot be denied that affect can cause a clear physical effect on the subject. The streets come alive and in turn affect residents both physically and emotionally, whether or not this is a conscious experience. The sentient and insentient become one, each changing the other to reflect itself to create an affect such as the one embodied in Crown Heights.

~ by Amy Chiang on March 1, 2020.

One Response to “The Affective on Franklin Ave”

  1. Hi, I chose you work as the most affective one to me because your description of your experience of Franklin Ave is very relatable to me on a personal level, I enjoy attempting to feel the vibrations of the matter around me

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