Before It's Gone//Take It Back :B4G

Please give TODAY to help us create and maintain this historic community art and resource project to save affordable housing in  Brooklyn, NY
We have no grants and corporate funding . All we have is YOU and the rest our community to support this work. Whether you live in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Boston, Baltimore or Barcelona - if you believe in affordable housing and are against corporate gentrification then please GIVE to this project.
(photo by Shoshana Brown - Greenpoint, Brooklyn 2014)

BEFORE IT'S GONE // TAKE IT BACK is a web-based response to the crisis of gentrification of Brooklyn, NY.  We define ‘gentrification’ as the deliberate pricing out of low-to-middle income residents from neighborhoods by corporations, real estate developers, and landlords in favor of renting, selling, and catering to people of higher and/or more flexible incomes. At the same time, we know from first-hand experience that the same unscrupulous property owners who use tactics to force long-time older tenants of color out of their rent-stabilized apartments will turn around and illegally overcharge incoming younger white tenants for the same apartment. For this very reason, we believe that all of us- long-time and new residents, communities of color and white communities, low-income and middle-class people - have a stake in the urgent struggle to save affordable housing in Brooklyn.

BEFORE IT'S GONE // TAKE IT BACK wants everyday people to shoot and submit short videos, photos, and artwork that documents and celebrates life in Brooklyn. We want people to use accessible technology like their smartphones and cameras to interview their family members and neighbors about what it was like to grow up in Brooklyn or when they first arrived from Haiti, Bangladesh, Puerto Rico, Italy, Korea or elsewhere. We want your pictures and videos of The Norwegian-American Parade on Bay Ridge Ave, The Brooklyn Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans Pride March on Fifth Ave and The Caribbean Day Parade on Eastern Parkway. We want your footage of Old-Timers events in Red Hook, Brownsville and Bushwick. Please send us videos of your Quinceañeras, bar/bat mitzvahs, high school graduations, weddings, baby showers, and Lunar New Year celebrations.

(Church members of a Haitian congreation holding a parade down Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY - photo by Imani Henry 2013)

Along with people’s celebrations of Brooklyn life, we also want photos and video that document the changes in neighborhoods due to gentrification. From the closing of small businesses to the construction of luxury condos, we want your footage. We want people to document their stories about the unjust practices used by landlords and developers that are forcing people out of their homes. We want to see pictures of the unsafe and hazardous conditions that many Brooklyn tenants endure. We also want to see footage of all the ways that communities are responding to gentrification in their neighborhoods---from organizing meetings and rallies on affordable housing to the rent parties and fundraisers to save a neighbor’s home or community center.

We see BEFORE IT'S GONE // TAKE IT BACK as a unique artistic project for social change. We see the solicitation of video footage, photographs, and artwork as the first level of engagement for a longer-term strategy of creating a feature length documentary on the gentrification of Brooklyn. People viewing the video and photo archive will have access to our housing, legal and advocacy resource library, which is organized by neighborhood. We will also provide news articles and research so that community residents will have the latest information about gentrification. Most importantly we want to support and aid existing community organizing efforts for affordable housing and against gentrification by getting more people involved in social justice activism in their neighborhoods.

(Members of Brooklyn Community Pride Center hold the banner they made for Equality for Flatbush's Visibility Day in front of new construction near their office in Downtown Brooklyn - photo by Sarah Hartzell 2014)

We have no illusion that our website hub documentary project alone, will stop the multinational corporations and real estate developers’ rapid efforts to gentrify the borough. What we are determined to do is to create a community response large enough that it will slow down and impede their process. Our broad strategy utilizes four major components: 1. The creation of a documentary archive and feature film; 2. Engaging in a multilingual grassroots organizing and social media campaign; 3. The creation of a resource and advocacy library and 4. Social justice activism. We see this four-pronged strategy as the way to effect long-term change and social impact.

We believe that we all of us - long-time and new residents, communities of color and white communities, low-income and middle-class people - have a stake in the fight for affordable housing and against gentrification. Together, united, you and I, your neighbor across the street or across the hall, BEFORE IT'S GONE // (We will) TAKE IT BACK!

(The NYC staff of Right to the City photo by Imani Henry 2014)

What do we need your money for:
Building, Designing, and Maintaining a website with enough bandwidth to host videos and photos

Using the most interactive technology so our website is easy to nagivate and use 

Having our promotional materials translated so we can launch our multilingual grassroots organizing and social media campaigns this summer

 Making sure BEFORE IT'S GONE // TAKE IT BACK palm cards and stickers into every coffee shop, beauty salon, barber shop, mosque, temple, church, and community center in neighborhoods across Brooklyn to assure that our project reflects the borough’s diversity

Offering modest stipends to our fabulous web designers, organizing and administrative teams so they can put in the hours of labor needed to make the project happen!

Get Involved in the project:
GENTRIFICATION IS A WORLDWIDE ISSUE that impacts us all: Please articipate in our International Anti-Gentrification Selfie Campaign: We want your anti-gentrification pictures and videos that document the struggles of everyday people from across the US and around the world. We want pictures and videos fit into 2 criteria:

 1. Send in a PHOTO of yourself holding a sign with the words “Before It's Gone // Take It Back” (you can add the name of your neighborhood or a line about gentrification or affordable housing) OR  2. Send us a short VIDEO (we need ONLY just 1 minute) of you saying why you support the project and/or your thoughts about affordable housing and/or against corporate gentrification in your area.
You can do the PHOTO or VIDEO in your home/office OR in front of new construction or an existing community landmark that means something to you! We will be posting these photos and videos on social media.
Please send us your selfies and videos about how you feel about gentrification to : [email redacted] or (646) [phone redacted]   Our Hashtags are:  ‪#‎Gentrification‬  ‪#‎Beforeitsgone‬
‪#‎Takeitback‬ #Brooklyn #BKfightsback 

Follow us on Facebook :

BEFORE IT'S GONE // TAKE IT BACK: Documenting Brooklyn - Fighting Gentrification is a project of Equality for Flatbush, a new people of color-led grassroots campaign to create a stronger network between tenant rights groups, block associations and community organizations fighting for better conditions for Flatbush and East Flatbush residents.

Contact us at: [email redacted] or call /text[phone redacted]

Follow us on Facebook:

Follow us on Twitter : @EqualFlatbush

Follow us on Instagram:
#beforeitsgone #takeitback #B4itsgone #BKfightsback

(Activist, Rayn Cornielle - 2014 - NYC)

More Details about the Website and Project:
Roughly 2.6 million people live in Brooklyn. It is the most densely populated borough of New York, rich in cultural, social, and linguistic diversity. In these difficult economic times, regardless of whether you rent or own, we all want an affordable place to call home. While the Brooklyn housing crisis is a hot button topic in the media, most community residents do not have a forum to express their feelings about this unfolding development. For most of us, as tenants and homeowners, we are left to cope on our own with skyrocketing rents, rampant foreclosures, and the fear of displacement from our communities. To add insult to injury, Brooklyn is sometimes depicted in the press as “uncharted” territory, where only what is “new” and “trendy” is culturally relevant, artistic, and/ or quintessentially Brooklyn.

For all these reasons and more, we believe it is urgent and necessary to mount a large-scale Brooklyn-wide community response to the crisis of gentrification. We want to create an online documentary art and resource project by inviting Brooklyn residents to contribute their personal videos, photographs, and artwork that celebrate everyday life. The use of accessible, low-cost technology such as smartphones and cameras allows the participation of people from every economic and cultural backgrounds. By using both multilingual grassroots organizing and social media campaigns, we will be able to amplify the voices of everyday people directly impacted by this dire economic and social issue.

(Chris Toenes, a social worker and activist Raliegh, North Carolina)

BEFORE IT'S GONE // TAKE IT BACK will also offer news articles, social media blogs, and statistical data about gentrification.

The website will feature research, news articles, and information about the ways that race, class, sexual and gender identity, age, immigration status, physical and mental capacity, etc. interplay with gentrification and impact our communities. We want to demonstrate how historic systemic oppression, along with negative governmental policies and law enforcement practices like Stop and Frisk furthers the agenda of gentrification not only in Brooklyn, but throughout the five boroughs of New York City and across the United States.

The website will include a “Wall of Shame” section to expose greedy corporations, real estate developers and landlords whose lust for profit, for example orchestrates the tearing down of low-income or senior housing to build luxury apartments. We will also use this section to highlight current lawsuits brought against landlords by tenants.

Another section of the website will be devoted to best practices for building better alliances among neighbors. Entitled, “I want to be part of the solution: How to live in a consciously anti-oppressive way in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods” will offer tips, political writings, and resources for strengthening the cultural awareness of both new and long-time residents.

(Shawn, Flatbush, Brooklyn resident -photo by Imani Henry 2014)


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Imani Henry 
Brooklyn, NY
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