Ecuastory: giving voice to a vibrant Brooklyn community facing change and displacement, and empowering youth to help tell its story.
An inter-generational project chronicling the experience of Ecuadorian Americans in Bushwick via audio recorded stories. Translating the stories and making them available online will heighten awareness of this community and give newer non-Spanish-speaking residents the opportunity to hear from their neighbors and understand the community on a deeper level. Interviews, translations, and production will be conducted by paid teens, offering employment opportunities and job skills to the youth of the community.
Bushwick is a historically Spanish-speaking neighborhood that has been in a state of rapid change in recent years due to a style of development typically termed gentrification. Cultural, economic, and language barriers keep newer residents and older residents in different worlds even though they live as neighbors. As expensive buildings go up and businesses that cater to new residents replace the old, existing communities face marginalization or expulsion, and the culture that defines a neighborhood can disappear. Bushwick is unique in that it has one of the highest concentrations of Ecuadorian Americans in the country. This can be seen in the food, businesses, and often on the streets in the Ecuadorian traje típico (traditional clothing). By highlighting the uniqueness of Bushwick's existing community and bringing it to the attention of newer residents, we hope to achieve two goals: Firstly, to contribute to fostering a sense of community that is inclusive, and to promote a style of cohabitation that is mindful and symbiotic. Secondly, to strengthen ties between the library and the Ecuadorian community.
If the existing community of Bushwick is to survive and thrive, there needs to be less division between new and existing residents. By promoting knowledge and appreciation of the existing community and personalizing the community in a way that is understandable to newer residents, we hope to address this need. To address the financial needs of the community, we are offering employment opportunities and skills to bilingual teens in the community.
Success will be measured in the employable skills acquired by our teens- including translation and audio production, the degree of participation and enthusiasm from the community, the quality of the product, and the number of times that it is listened to online.
This proposal was prepared for the Washington Irving Library.