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Place + Displaced

A Community Cultural Mapping and Civic Participation Project

New York City is losing its neighborhoods. Cycles of gentrification threaten to displace artists and longtime residents alike. Yet these groups are largely isolated from one another, with additional disconnects related to race, ethnicity, class, and age.

Place + Displaced is a community mapping and civic participation project that identifies sources of cultural vitality to support neighborhood self-determination. Based on the premise that a healthy cultural sector engages with the wider community, the project seeks to foster dialogue and strategic alliances between artists and residents at risk of displacement. Artists and cultural organizations gain a politically potent and community sensitive approach to organizing that illuminates the extraordinary breadth and depth of New York City's cultural life.

Place + Displaced has chosen to engage with neighborhoods in different stages of gentrification. We are currently working in Long Island City, with the expectation that community engagement and surveying will continue through most of 2010. We began the project in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick, Brooklyn during the fall of 2006.

The mapping process employs participatory action research whereby community groups document their constituencies and articulate their concerns. Long Island City neighborhood partners include The Chocolate Factory, Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City Business Development Corporation, and Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, with the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN) providing data on creative industry businesses in the area.

In Brooklyn, our neighborhood partners have included El Puente, Arts in Bushwick, Williamsburg Gallery Association, and Academy of Urban Planning. The Pratt Center for Community Development provided analysis of changing demographics and real estate patterns, NYIRN researched creative industries, and CityLore created a video.

The maps will live on in an interactive and multilayered website including artists, cultural organizations and programming, and creative industries. Audio and video clips and photographs will bring the diverse voices and creativity of the neighborhoods to the map, illustrating the cultural resources that are at risk. Project data will be available for partners to use as a tool for ongoing political engagement and community empowerment. Fractured Atlas will advocate on city and state levels on actionable issues identified through the mapping. A report of each neighborhood will summarize methodology, lessons learned, key issues, and opportunities for change. We anticipate that the Brooklyn report will be available in Spring, 2011 and Long Island City's later in 2011.