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October 19, 2007

Civic activism post-Jane Jacobs: stamina, (AY) "insurgencies," and "retaking our souls"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports from "A Civic Activist Bootcamp:"

As with the first two panels in the programs tied to the Municipal Art Society's Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York exhibition, on the loss of "soul" and the "activist press," the panel October 16, A Civic Activist Boot Camp: Working Within and Without the System, ventilated a good deal of unease, with only some partial solutions. The session was held at the MAS, with about 100 chairs moved into the two rooms housing the exhibition.

MBrown.JPG Reverend Billy gave his take on his in-your-face satirical street theater activism and Marshall Brown tried to explain why he's not an activist.

Why not? “A lot of people practice activism who are trained,” said Brown (right), even as tributes to the not formally trained (but hardly unsophisticated) Jacobs surrounded the group. Moreover, said the thirtysomething architect, “I think the word activism is tied up with Old Left stereotypes” that are easy to dismiss, like sit-ins, hippies, Birkenstocks.

He noted that the pro bono project, to many, didn’t seem to make sense, because Atlantic Yards seems like a done deal. So, why do it? He cited a set of motivations. Given that he used to live in Fort Greene, it was a matter of personal survival, he said. “Professionally, I was offended and felt threatened by the way the architect [Frank Gehry] was used by the developer [Forest City Ratner] as a marketing tool.”

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NoLandGrab: Marshall is way too modest. OK, he's probably too well-dressed to be an old-school activist, but he definitely makes activism hot.

Posted by lumi at October 19, 2007 7:10 AM