My name is Kristen Hackett and I am a doctoral student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and an adjunct professor at Queens College, CUNY and the New School. Over the course of the fall semester my students and I will be collecting oral histories from long-time residents of East New York and Cypress Hills.

This project grew out of a few ambitions: (1) to extend student learning of urban issues, and their intellectual products (papers, reflections, etc) beyond the classroom, (2) to personally be involved in community-based research on issues of equitable urban development, and (3) to consider how digital technologies and the university can be used in the fight for the right to stay put, the larger right to the city movement, and ultimately to encourage positive social change.

This opportunity arose thanks to a connection that was made with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), a local, non-profit organization dedicated to building strong and sustainable East New York and Cypress Hills communities. In relation to their mission, CHLDC is also an important part of the newly formed Coalition for Community Advancement.  The Coalition formed in response to East New York being named the first neighborhood for rezoning under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new housing plan, which many argue will contribute to mass displacement of current residents – a process that has already begun. The Coalition’s stance is that they see the need for some improvements in the neighborhood – affordable housing, decrease in crime, increase in jobs – and they want to find a way to address these issues in a way that doesn’t pose threat to local residents, their livelihoods and overall well-being.


Students from my Environmental Psychology class at the New School pose for a group photo while attending an event hosted by NYU’s Urban Democracy Lab entitled ‘The Politics of Documenting Neighborhood Change’.

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