Grit Talk: Bushwick

Grit Talk: Bushwick” is a video series reflecting on the current changes in the neighborhood through the voice of longtime residents. Videos are intended to run on tv screens mounted in neighborhood businesses (bodegas, pharmacies, etc.) where locals tend to stop and chat. 



The dynamics of a neighborhood reflect changes in a larger system of political, economic and social tides. Bushwick, Brooklyn, for example, transformed itself many times and maintained considerable wealth before falling into disrepair in the 1970s. In the mid-2000s, a redevelopment initiative attracted new businesses, residents and attitudes. Bushwick has harbored many demographic shifts, but today’s changes are more subtle. There is a polite, but separate, coexistence where there was once family.


My Role: Conceptualization, Ethnography, User Experience, Community Liaison, Design, Videography

Process: I conducted research using numerous approaches, including field studies, individual stakeholder (community residents and business owners) interviews, and historical literature to analyze neighborhood history and present dynamic. Throughout the research process, I prototyped different technological paths and iterated upon my learnings to determine the least intrusive method that also reached the largest audience. Prototypes determined that utilizing the televisions that were already a fixture in the majority of the local venues were the least intrusive and most effective method of communication. I collaborated with longtime and new community residents to develop and share stores to represent the neighborhood. 

Final documentation and design process for this project, including research and user scenarios, can be found here.

Solution: "Grit Talk," a collaborative video series, addresses recent demographic and economic changes in the neighborhood using comedy to initiate dialogue between longtime and newer residents about the design -- future and past -- of their shared community.

Challenges: There was a level of distrust between longtime and newer residents. Myself being a newer resident, had to find a way to overcome this distance.   

A look at Bushwick

Pilot; Episode 1: Change

In the pilot episode of Grit Talk: Bushwick, I focused on the meaning of change in the neighborhood. This episode examines the progression of the neighborhood in the past 50 years. Viewers receive residents’ perspective on the change in community in comparison to the neighborhood they knew it to be, historical context of the Bushwick neighborhood, and most importantly, the idea of community in this coexistence. As the mediator and facilitator of the show, I bring viewers into a fictional setting in their real neighborhood. The story of the first episode follows the change in Bushwick in comparison to the neighborhood it was 10, 30, and 50 years ago. Through the stories of the residents, viewers are given a glimpse into the types of changes that Bushwick has gone through.