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Monday, March 23, 2015

Thangka Classes With Sonam Rinzin

Saturdays — 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Sundays — 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
The fee per day is $20.00, all of which is paid to the instructor.
Join us.

Sonam Rinzin, White Tara, detail

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why the TEDx–Livestream thing is the right thing for Bushwick

We should welcome any business that wants to do business in what we call our business zones. These will be our allies in preserving the industrial architecture of Bushwick. An "Industrial Business Zone" means just that. It does not mean "no gentrifying hipster videographers and web designers."
My neighborhood in Park Slope is protected by the Landmark laws of New York City. These stately rows of tree-shaded brownstones will always be a steam-punker's Shangri-La in the midst of the glass buildings that are rising all around us. We are a protected legacy of old New York, an architectural treasure, a cultural asset, a guarantee that tourists will always have a nice place to stroll in the city.

The magnificent warrens of warehouses and factory buildings in Bushwick and East Williamsburg are every bit as beautiful and historically significant as a row of brownstones. But the only thing standing between them and the juggernaut of slash-and-burn condo development, is that they are industrially zoned. Or rather, what I prefer to call a political feel-good zone, having more to do with recoiling from gentrification than with any serious attempt to fill these places with, well, industry.

What happens when industrial space remains vacant or underused, and falls further into disrepair, while the demand for residential units continues to push in from all sides. You can only justify an "industrial zone" politically for so long if you've got no industry to fill it. And this does not seem to be happening as fast as it should in Bushwick and East Williamsburg. There is still a lot of vacant industrial space here.

We need the heavies to help out. We need Google, Oracle, Microsoft, and major film and web houses to set up coding and production centers here. We need a viable push-back against the wholesale residential buildout of Brooklyn, and it has to be something more than wishful thinking and the museum of old Brooklyn factories that we call our industrial zone. That is, if we are to protect the architecture of these old manufacturing centers in the long run, and if we are to preserve a mixed-use commercial and residential borough with good jobs that you can ride your fixie to.

So, when a heavyweight web broadcaster takes over the storied "Third Ward" building on Morgan Avenue and hosts a TED talk, and one of the speakers suggests that Bushwick could become a "Silicon Valley" for the culture industry, it should come as no surprise that some people will bristle at the thought.

Images of anorexic bimbos vamping Louis Vuitton on landing docks ... fly in the face of the bohemian imaginary. An "industrial zone" perhaps, but for the symbolic economy. It would be the hipster Dubai, and the work force for such a place would slam the already slammed housing market. Almost certainly there would have to be residential exceptions for some buildings within the industrial zone.

But it is the right thing to do. If we are to shape a future for industrial Bushwick, and not just whistle dixie to the idea, then we need to be bold. We need Elon Musk and Larry Page to buy up whole blocks of Bushwick and fold them into trusts to house startups, incubators, and firms for the infotainment and technoid economies. We need the burner billionaires on this one. These are the guys who will understand the value of preserving and repurposing a classic industrial neighborhood, who themselves have classic industrial taste, who can make fun and educational things happen, can create jobs, internships for local youth, and on and on. You'll get none of this from the local sharks in the real estate sector. If we love Bushwick, we need to act decisively. We need to pack the businesses in, create a scene, get traction fast and early, let the industry know we mean it.

The alternative, I fear, is worse. A slow burn with no vision. The eternal warehousing of space by successive generations of landed families. The long wait-and-see that was Williamsburg in the 90s, until they tore it all down and built towers anyway. Because we bullshat and were divided. Let's not do that again. Let's get the community and some real money behind a mighty vision for the future of industrial Bushwick.

Monday, March 9, 2015

TEDxBushwick Coming to the Hood

Fundraiser - March 12 - order tickets for $25
Facebook Event
TEDxBushwick on March 21 at Livestream Public

"Translating Transformation" is the theme of the upcoming TEDx talk in Bushwick, which will stream live from Morgan Avenue on March 21. I am scheduled as an "alternate speaker." Whether I speak or not on that particular day is less important to me than that our gallery is associated with TED, and proud to wear its social icon on our website. It is an association that makes sense, given the discursive orientation of our gallery and our connection to Brooklyn history.

But with luck, I shall speak in Bushwick in less than two weeks! The topic indeed is about transformation. My talk is called Art Causes Gentrification, and it is mostly a slide-show. Short on theory, long on pictures, I will show how artists precede speculators, rezoning, and hype by decades. And how art persists, even if artists themselves do not, as a guiding principal of the gentrified neighborhood, long into the later cycles of affluence.

TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. Most people have probably seen a TED talk or conference on YouTube at one time or another. The nonprofit was founded in 1984 to disseminate ideas, and today the talks cover almost any topic, all over the world, in more than 100 languages.

TEDx (rhymes with "Fedex") is the independent franchise, where anyone can put together what the main organization calls "TED-like" events that address issues of concern to local communities. This minor league version of TED is done under a free license, and no one gets paid anything. You raise your own venue and funding, and with some guidance and coaching from the main organization, shazzam, you are a TED event.

There are about a dozen speakers at this upcoming TEDx, including born-and-raised Bushwick poet Emanuel Xavier and Bushwick creative pioneer Rah Crawford, who founded the media hybrid Wickbush. If you're into the Bushwick geist, you should not miss this event. I urge you to use the links above, come to the fundraiser on Thursday, and to the talk itself on March 21.

— Ethan Pettit