ReImagining Politics in Central, South, and East Brooklyn
People who attended the Vision Workshop in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, on Thursday October 18 had no shortage of ideas for the future of the local Democratic Party. Around thirty community members, including District Leader Josué Pierre, filled the church hall of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church. Of dozens of values discussed, transparency was mentioned most, as at most Vision Workshops thus far. Participants also listed accountability, integrity, bridge building, and accessibility as principles that should guide our elected officials.
One participant expressed a concern that the Vision facilitators were not people of color, in this predominantly black region of Brooklyn. Only one of the three facilitators was a person of color, and Vision Project team members responded to this criticism by indicating that they are continuing to work to diversify their facilitation team, and also that facilitators are there to listen and record community members’ ideas, and not to direct the discussion.
Participants listed leaders they admire, including civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, Senator Bernie Sanders, and local officials Diana Richardson and Jumaane Williams, among others. They discussed the qualities that make a good citizen, in the most inclusive sense of that word: concern for others, understanding and executing civic duties, “communitarianism”, and honoring identities, history, and differences.
In the final segment of the workshop, participants listed issues that are central to their vision for the future of Brooklyn politics. Policy goals included clean energy, affordable housing, and universal health care. People also mentioned government reforms they hope to see, including automatic voter registration, getting money out of politics, and fair access to resources.
There were moments of tension and disagreement early in the workshop, but after two hours of conversation, participants departed inspired at the possibilities they had articulated for the future of local politics.