Brooklyn Utopias? – ‘Utopian’ Urban Planning – what does it mean?

JacobMann-playground-near-brooklyn-bridge

JacobMann-playground-near-brooklyn-bridge

Yesterday (Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009) BHS hosted a lively panel discussion about ‘Utopian’ Urban Planning, in conjunction with BHS’ current Public Perspectives exhibit, Brooklyn Utopias?. Organized by curator Katherine Gressel and moderated by urban historian and licensed architect Marta Gutman, PhD, the panel addressed what the role of artists is in urban planning and how artists and community leaders might work together. We heard from Amy Sananman, Executive Director/Founder, Groundswell Community Mural Project, Shin-pei Tsay, Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives, Derek Denckla, Founder, Propeller Group and Alexander Gorlin, FAIA, Principal/Founder of Alexander Gorlin Architects about art, advocacy, and design projects that involve and engage communities in Brooklyn to evoke change. Many of the comments from the audience and artists focused on how imperative it is that communities be the central voice in any such endeavors.  Some of the most fascinating questions that arose relate to what bettering Brooklyn means. What is involved with ‘improving’ Brooklyn? Is a utopian Brooklyn something other than what already is? Is it something nostalgic?

What do you regard as utopian Brooklyn? What does moving forward mean? What are the forces involved with that change?

About Janice

Janice Monger is Associate Director of Brooklyn Historical Society. She is overseeing the current renovation of BHS's first floor and lower level and is director of the exhibition program, including the Public Perspectives Exhibition Series.
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