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February Tuesday

Virtual Program | What Signs Say Part One: The Aesthetics of Gentrification


In their book What the Signs Say: Language, Gentrification, and Place-Making in Brooklyn, sociolinguist Shonna Trinch and anthropologist Edward Snajdr explore how changes in the look and language of New York City’s storefronts signal a gentrifying neighborhood.

Join them for a wide-ranging discussion about “old-school signage,” “new-school signage,” and how storefront design intersects with class and race, with Cynthia Gordy Giwa and Tayo Giwa, founders of Black-Owned Brooklyn and Peter Robinson professor of urban theory and architecture at Parsons School of Design and a Board Member of BlackSpace Urbanist Collective. Michelle Young, founder of Untapped New York, moderates.

This two-part series continues on March 25, with a look at how streetscapes reflect activism and nostalgia.

Presented in partnership with John Jay College, CUNY


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

6:30 pm

Virtual Program via Zoom Webinar


  • Free
Register Here


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    Edward Snajdr and Shonna Trinch

    Shonna Trinch is a professor and linguist, and Edward Snajdr is a professor and cultural anthropologist. They both work in the Department of Anthropology at John Jay College. Trinch’s research has examined social justice issues at the intersection of language law, and gender violence. Snajdr’s work includes studies of power and identity in post-socialist societies, the anthropology of development, policing and human trafficking. Their new book, What the Signs Say: Language, Gentrification and Place-Making in Brooklyn examines how race, class, gender, ethnicity, privilege, and justice get deployed in the language and design of Brooklyn’s storefronts and storefront signs, and the larger contexts of gentrification and placemaking in urban space.

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    Peter Robinson

    Peter Robinson is a Board Member of BlackSpace Urbanist Collective. BlackSpace promotes a vision “that demands a present and future where Black people, Black spaces, and Black culture matter and thrive.” Peter currently teaches urban theory and architecture at Parsons School of Design. He has recently been appointed to the Board of Trustees of AIA New York | Center for Architecture. Peter’s research focuses on cultural subjectivity and the city, broaching parallels and interferences among architectural/ urban design, planning and cultural theories as a means to engage/inform social action.

    In 2008, Peter founded WorkUrban, with the principal mission to promote effective urbanism around the world. WorkUrban partners with local and international initiatives (government, private development and community agencies) to construct public dialogues, identify sites for potential action and provide analytical and programmatic services leading toward effective implementation.

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    Cynthia Gordy Giwa and Tayo Giwa

    Tayo Giwa and Cynthia Gordy Giwa are the co-creators of Black-Owned Brooklyn, a digital publication spotlighting Black-owned, Brooklyn-based businesses and the people behind them. The site also documents Black life in the borough more broadly, from deep-rooted histories to beloved cultural gatherings and everyday lived experiences that contribute to the borough’s soul and vibrancy.

    Tayo is a photographer and media & technology lawyer, and Cynthia is a marketing executive and writer who has written extensively about issues at the intersection of race, culture and policy. They live in Bedford-Stuyvesant with their daughter.

  • Michelle Young Press Photo Square High Res

    Michelle Young

    Michelle Young is the founder of Untapped New York, a web magazine and tour company about New York City’s secrets and hidden places. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture. She also teaches at the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. Michelle appears regularly as a guest speaker in documentaries and at conferences on urban issues. She was recently featured on Netflix’s Stay Here, PBS’ 10 That Changed America, and Smithsonian Channel’s Secret Cities.