Brooklynites Tackle Gentrification with ‘Brooklyn Deep’

By Sameer Rao May 31, 2017

Brooklyn’s Black residents created their own vibrant communities well before real estate developers branded the borough as New York City’s capital of cool. Its new reputation accelerated Brooklyn’s gentrification, which is when predominantly White and affluent newcomers prompt rising property values that price residents out of their neighborhoods. Digital news outlet Brooklyn Deep, which reports on economic displacement in Central Brooklyn from the perspective of longtime denizens, launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday (May 31) to broaden its work in these contested neighborhoods.

Brooklyn Deep began in 2013 as a community media project of the Brooklyn Movement Center, a grassroots advocacy organization in the predominantly Black—but rapidly gentrifying—Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Its projects include the podcast "The Third Rail" (named after a colloquial term for politically controversial topics), an investigation into Airbnb’s link to gentrification and its Radio Rookies collaboration with WNYC, which trains five area teenagers to develop their own radio stories. One of those teens, Corinne Bobb-Semple, recently won an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for her story, "Gentrification: Feeling Like an Outsider in Your Own Neighborhood."

"There’s no pretense, and there’s no trying to get people to do, say, sound or look like something that they’re not," explains "The Third Rail" producer Keisha Dutes in the Kickstarter promo video. "We look like Brooklyn."

The publication plans to increase its production and outreach capacity with the Kickstarter funds. "Regardless of where you are in the world, Brooklyn Deep represents a new model of local journalism: where communities regain control of their narrative and report on the impact of every day life and the long-term issues that transcend today’s latest headline," reads the Kickstarter summary. "Too often, mass journalism ‘parachutes’ into our neighborhoods only to report in moments of crisis, portraying a one-dimensional representation of our experience—Brooklyn Deep is changing that, serving as a constant presence in the lives of our neighbors, ready to figure some tough sh*t out and unpack the complexity of us all trying to figure it out, together."

The campaign runs through June 30.