A Tale of Two Globals
A Tale of Two Globals
Pupusas and IKEA in Red Hook
The weather is unusually warm for a Saturday morning in mid-October, and the clear horizon of the sky stretches blue and wide above this distant patch of Brooklyn. To the southeast, high above the elevated subway tracks, a jet plane climbs on the first part of its journey, away from Kennedy Airport in Queens, its real point of departure, but also far away from the two-story, redbrick houses and vacant lots of East New York, long known as one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. When you get out of the subway train at Van Siclen Avenue and walk down the stairs from the elevated tracks, you feel a bit lost in the shadows and the absence of shops, except for a small corner bodega, on the quiet street. But a short, smiling woman in her sixties, who gets off the train with you, sees that you don’t look black or Hispanic and senses that you don’t live in the neighborhood; she invites you to walk with her. Improbably, on the next block, almost directly under the tracks, three lush, green gardens, carefully tended and fenced, come into view. Inside, planted in neat rows, green beans and mint wait to be picked. Small onions peek through the earth, ready to be dug before the first frost. A few peppers fl ash slivers of bright red through the leaves of tomato and squash plants that have already seen the last harvest of the year. These oases represent the time and effort of a small number of community gardeners who live in the neighborhood. Since the 1990s they have been created and maintained by the gardeners’ hard work and earnest planning, both subsidized and jeopardized by the city and state governments; like the Red Hook food vendors, they are a tangible symbol of the constant struggle to put down roots in the city, especially if you don’t have much money. The helpful woman whom you have just met invites you to visit one of the gardens, a small lot of about one-third of an acre.
Keywords: Adam Purple, Billboards, Caribbean immigrants, Destination Culture, East Brooklyn Congregations, Green Guerillas, Latino immigrants, Municipal Art Society, New York Times, Operation Green Thumb
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