Serving the Bogardus, Hillside, Ellwood and Nagle area of northern Manhattan.
Minutes: Nov 13 Meeting of Bogardus/Hillside/Elwood/Nagle Block Association
Participants: Keith, Jeanne Harnois, Stan O’Connor, Rod Wallace, Deborah Wallace
Bogardus, Hillside, and Elwood were represented.
1. Business from previous meeting: drug dealers on Hillside
Keith brought the e-mail contacts for the Post Master General, his assistant, and the tri-borough manager. Deborah and Rod agreed to write e-mails to them about how the drug dealers use the USPS trucks parked on the even side of Hillside to hide and to cache their drugs and their booze. Having the trucks parked on the PO side and adding surveillance cameras could stop this enabling.
2. The five participants discussed bridging the Latino/Anglo divide to form an inclusive block association. Unfortunately, all participants were Anglo. A community organizer who lives on Hillside, could not attend but spoke with Deborah by phone and suggested the old fashioned door-to-door organizing. We all thought that this method could work if we had Latino neighbors also involved in the organizing.
We had a long discussion about how to have an inclusive block association. Rod cited Ramona Hernandez’s book The Mobility of Advanced Capitalism to describe how progressive Dominicans were forced out of the D.R. by American policies and ended up here, having to start over without economic, social, or political capital. Washington Heights/Inwood Dominicans are following the trajectory of other previous waves of forced immigration. The Dominican strivers who struggle for education and upward mobility are leaving the neighborhood as they acquire greater income because they can’t accept the conditions that we all find horrible: the noise, the litter, the dog droppings, etc. They could be an important community resource if they would stay. If the decline in Dominican population in the area continues, the voting block will be broken, and the present representation in the City Council, State Assembly, and State Senate will be changed with implications for municipal services and policies.
So we talked about ways to make the block association more inclusive such as putting the Spanish on the flyers up top over the English, having meetings at the Y with refreshments, and standing against gentrification.
We also had a discussion about gentrification and how disruption and destabilization would play out badly both for those forced to move and for those left behind in the neighborhood, even the middle-class Anglos.
3. We decided to have one small meeting in December to organize for a larger meeting at the Y after the turn of the year. We’re coming up on holiday season when people aren’t attuned to community politics. Jean and Deb will organize refreshments for the larger meeting.