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Positive Opposition
Emily Gertz, 14 Apr 04

hkny.pngIn New York City, a few neighborhoods are taking a Worldchanging approach to top-down commercial redevelopment schemes that would obliterate the unique character of the city, and profit a relative few.

Instead of only protesting the plans, they're proposing their own ideas. In the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, the alternative plan posits an urban village instead of an IKEA. In nearby downtown Brooklyn, two alternative visions imagine a human-scale sportsplex or an artists' common, instead of the major league sports stadium currently proposed. And in Manhattan, the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association has a beautifully detailed alternative to the current mega-sportsplex/convention center plan for the island's far west side.

There's more to these stories, of course--there are divisions along class and race lines over the presence of stadia and superstores. Financing for the mega-developments is more readily available than for the human-scale approaches. Still, it's heartening to see the positive expressions of caring, imagination, and dedication to livable cities that these alternative plans represent.

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This is awesome. Simply awesome. People actually presenting ideas - positive ideas - instead of approaching another issue negatively. More of this is needed in all walks of life.

Don't say that one way is bad. Give a better way. :)

Posted by: Taran on 14 Apr 04

Another great example of this is Seattle's brand-new "People's Waterfront Coalition" (, which has put out a plan for replacing our aging waterfront elevated highway with... a park.

Posted by: Jon Stahl on 14 Apr 04

Thanks for that link. What a wonderful plan! I'm working with a group here in NYC that advocates for the public on waterfront issues; I'll send that to them. for more info. NY/NJ Waterfront Conference on May 19!

Thanks to living in Oregon for 9 years, I pretty much expect people in the PNW to come up with these positive approaches. That's just how it is in the NW. It's exciting to find them here in NYC, too, where the power-politics-as-usual feels more entrenched.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 15 Apr 04



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