These days, the Brownsville Community Justice Center has been hanging out in Marcus Garvey Apartment (MGA) a lot. With eighteen public housing developments (NYCHA) in Brownsville’s 1.163 square mile radius, Marcus Garvey Apartments counts itself as one of the largest privately owned developments in the neighborhood. It’s a vibrant and insular community, adjusting to being outside Brownsville’s public housing hub (including the collateral social implications that reality has for residents and non-resident alike), and also withstanding the intense construction happening inside of the development.
Through these 2015 winter months, MGA has undergone some major changes. Aside from the construction, the Brownsville Community Justice Center has begun harvesting and planting seeds of commitment to the development. Attending tenant association meetings, meeting with Justice Community Program alumni who reside in MGA, combing through the larger Brownsville community assessing sentiments and attitudes towards the development, and launching our “MGA Shakedown” community engagement and recruitment strategy (a strategy created by our very own Ionna Jimenez).
We kicked off our “Shakedown” by introducing ourselves to members of the community and shaking 10 hands per day for ten days. Despite -5 degree weather, and early sundowns, interested residents braved the winter winds with us and filled out interest forms and applications. We ended up engaging over 80 people in 10 days, and dozens of young people signed up for our Youth Court, Justice Community, and Brownsville Leadership programs.
As a Justice Center, we are extremely excited about the interest the young people in MGA have shown us. Resident youth and adults alike have expressed the want and need for a laser focus on the development, and we are honored that they have chosen us to assist them with this. Lifting the approach, feeling, ideas, and learned lessons from our primary Justice Community program (which has been rocking and rolling this year ;), and adding relevant, MGA specific considerations, our team at the Brownsville Community Justice Center, and our new family at Marcus Garvey Apartments, are poised to be of great service to Brownsville’s MGA residents this spring and beyond!
Below is a photo of the staff who organized and came together for our first community engagement day at Marcus Garvey Apartments.