My Brooklyn takes a close look at the guiding forces behind Brooklyn’s gentrification, from the highly personal perspective of documentary filmmaker (and self-identifying gentrifier), Kelly Anderson. Pivoting around Anderson’s and producer Allison Lirish Dean’s investigation of redevelopment efforts for downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall, the documentary carefully considers both the personal and historical factors behind gentrification’s economic shifts, outlining (if not simplifying) the complexity of the gentrification debate.
Fulton Mall is a somewhat typical example of a minority institution, despite its cultural significance or profitability, being displaced by more mainstream retailers catering to an influx of upper-middle class clientele. Historically, the Mall catered to African-American and Caribbean clientele, and was a highly profitable commercial space insofar as it could service those communities. But as larger retailers and upper-middle class residents moved into Brooklyn in the 1990s and early 2000s, tenants of the Mall started making less and could no longer to afford to pay the rapidly increasing rents. The historical precedent for Fulton Mall’s gentrification runs back to mid-century zoning policy, when racially-biased redlining created ghettoized communities. The bias persists today in the more quietly insidious form of, for example, questionable private-public partnerships that have local governments favoring large businesses at the disadvantage of current constituents.
My Brooklyn’s investigation into Fulton Mall’s development strategies pays service to the complex host of factors behind systemic gentrification; a refreshing perspective when so much of the gentrification debate places responsibility in the sum hands of individual renters. Anderson's documentary considers the role of government in big business, the responsibilities of citizens to their local community, and raises the difficult question of, who has the right to live in a certain city? For our Cutting Room interview, Anderson touched on the sham of open city forums, and how the word “Brooklyn” became a type of brand for gentrification.
Managing Editor and Podcast Co-Producer for Archinect. I write, go to the movies, walk around and listen to the radio. My interests revolve around cognitive urban theory, psycholinguistics and food.Got a pitch, or want to write for us? Contact me!