In Chapter 6 of “Urban Bush Women,” author Nadine Georges-Graves speaks largely of the effects of community on the spirituality of the individual. When I think about the concept of clubs and inclusiveness, I realize that people who feel like an important part of a group have a greater sense of self-worth. Also, change to broken systems are applied through organization. As Jacqueline Grant wrote, “The connectedness of people is the only hope of the oppressed” (pg. 170). Change would never occur in society if those who are wronged did not act against the imposed social order.
At the end of Chapter 6, Georges-Graves speaks of how empowerment of low-income areas often leads to gentrification. “Starbucks moves in, and the older residents and artists get pushed out” (pg. 193). I was particularly affected by this section because as a resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn, I am currently witnessing the impending gentrification of my own neighborhood. I may also dare to say that I am part of this gentrification. I’m a young college student, supported largely by my parents, and my personal style and sense of community is charged toward a modern youth agenda. I am by no means Puerto Rican, which is the dominant culture of Bushwick (excluding the gentrifying presence). I think of how Williamsburg has gentrified greatly in the past five years. Thankfully, there still has been no Starbucks. I have a feeling that Williamsburgers are too local-business oriented to allow a Starbucks in the neighborhood, although a Whole Foods is soon to be opened on Kent Avenue.
As much as gentrification is part of my everyday life and a topic that I ponder often, it never occurred to me that it could be caused by empowerment of the underprivileged. I see the connection now. By empowering themselves to create a more pleasant neighborhood with quality of living, they are also unwillingly inviting outsiders to reap the benefits of their empowerment. Enough entitled people move into an area, and then landlords want to pressure leases for families to end, so that they can renovate apartments and jack up the prices. Gentrification saddens me, but it seems to be an unavoidable force that is out of any single person’s control.
I found it very interesting to read about how involved the Urban Bush Women are involved in the community. In the beginning of the reading, the author makes note of the lack of community these days due to several different factors. For instance, the internet has created communities where people can talk to each other for hours, even months, and never see each other faces. By truly connecting with the audience, these women are creating a community where there is most definitely a real life connection. I think this is the most important part of a community, people connecting with each other. This is exactly what happens due to the Urban Bush Women offering classes, intensive summer dance institutes, and different workshops. For example, Community Signs allow people of all ages, people who are in choral groups, or people who would just like to sing for an evening to truly connect with one another. I think this is very good work they are doing by involving the “community” with their art. In times where it is so difficult for people to get out and connect with one another due to modern age distractions, people like this are definitely changing things for the better.
During this passage they talked about different communities and how the Urban Bush Women bring communities together to make the world a better place. With their company they travel to different neighborhoods and towns to perform and spread their art. Each performance holds a different message that could help and bond the community. They even help children at the YMCA. I do agree with Putnam when he said that in 2000 people were disconnecting from communities because the strong urge to become individuals. He also had a good point that I thought was interesting, the concept of “nesting”. He brought up how here in the United States we have become a stronger community due to 9/11. All over America people had to come together and help each other out. We all became stronger as a community because there was a nation wide loss. Even in Chicago they formed a community around the book To Kill A Mockingbird. People performed plays around the book, and held discussion groups all around Chicago. People wanted to belong to something and this experiment allowed people to feel accepted. This experiment is also similar to things the Urban Bush women did in their Community Engagement Projects. They held workshops to engage communities and neighborhoods in popular-culture based activities. The Urban Bush Women were able to help the community understand their culture through dance. I think this is great because people really need to come back to their roots and stay close with family and culture.
In this article, the essence of community is questioned. How do you define community? Is it modified as technology evolves? Where is the line drawn between communities? Should there be a line? A community was probably originally defined as one and united. However, the amount of communities that exist makes it seem as if the essence of the word is not as genuine. On the other hand, the freedom to have a variety of communities makes for equality. From an artistic perspective, the differences in the countless art communities help people appeal to art easier. If there were only one, static type of artistic medium or style, not everyone would appreciate art as a whole. It also sets artists apart and rewards the artists that deserve it in their own categories. They deserve their own categories. As goes for the rest of social groups. While the establishment of several communities separates different people, it also unites them in a different way that keeps culture and roots. The initial understanding of the word community does not lose its essence; it is expanded.
In addition, the essence of the original form of community is also not diminished during the evolution of technology. As technology evolves, so does society. Generations that grew up with technology were able to create communities on social networking sites. They can connect with people with the same interests and talk to people like them from all over the world. Without social networking sites, I, myself, would not be so connected to countries abroad. It is positive in developing communities and connecting people, even if it is virtual. Even though there is not one centralized community in this world, the acknowledgement of differences has created a equality among countless types of people. And don’t unity and equality go hand in hand?
While reading “Urban Bush Women” by Nadine George-Graves I found something that kind of coincides with a previous post I have done. “The line between audience and stage disappeared. . . . These pieces were about community,……” It has always confused me how one word can mean many different things. Discussing the word community for example has many different views but in this book they made it clear that the Urban Bush Women think its to keeping people together for good causes. The Urban Bush Women introduce many different communities such as cultural, social, religious, and a lot more. To relate it to my old post every performance deserves an audience. Urban Bush Women deleted the audience out of the picture in many ways. Even though there was a physical audience they played more of a roll then that. People in the room became a community of there own, they all became involved even if not performing. They were so inspirational to so many because of their involvement in performing.
One last thing that caught my attention would have to be the diminishing meaning to community because of the technology involvement. I feel that the world has less physical evolvement communities and have moved to Facebook, MySpace, twitter, and all the Internet communities rather than more effective meeting in person communities. Personally I haven’t ever liked the huge involvement with Internet communities even though I live technology I’m all about helping out in person. As I was home after the hurricane I have notices since there was no phones, electricity, Internet, or any of the technology communities people had no choice but to volunteer and help others. This came to show that yes people still do care and people realized that they don’t have to be involved with online communities that they can be social in person and meet new people with out Internet. I have come to realize myself that I shouldn’t be reliant on my technology as much.
While reading about the Urban Bush Women, I found myself really interested in how focused on community they are. I know that it was brought up in other posts, but it was very explicit how big a role community played in the success and performances of the Urban Bush Women. It is amazing how much can be done with the help of a community. Especially when you find a group of people who are interested in the service you are providing. If they are interested in what you are putting forward, they will be more likely to stop and say, “Hey, I’m interested in that and will help you further yourself.” Just as the Urban Bush Women’s audience did for them. It is imperative to collaborate, because it can only help you. If you are trying to do something on your own, chances are it will be much more difficult than it would be if you had help. A community can make a world of differences.
There are a few things that really struck out to me when reading about the community in this chapter of Urban Bush Women. It is amazing how true some of the things mentioned in this chapter really are. For example, a good portion of it focuses on the lack of community that exists in many parts of the world today. Due to the constant advancing of technology, it is very easy to see how the communication between people in person is decreasing. With so many things available to them through the internet, people feel as if they have the whole world at their fingertips. Communicating with people around the world is now something someone can do from the very comfort of their own home. Even cellphones are advancing in a way where people don’t need to use a computer as much because so much of the internet is available to them through the use of their cellphone. The results of this type of mindset that many people are developing was described perfectly to me in this quote: “We tend to know our neighbors less, spend less time with family, and give less money to charity.” The focus on an electronic device indeed causes a person to spend less quality time with their family, since their priority is to check in with the world through technology. People begin to feel that using social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, or even texting/sending emails, can replace the conversation that one can have in person. What people don’t realize is the use of social media or any technological device does not have the same effect as a live encounter does. The Urban Bush Women fight to keep the meaning of “community” alive through their performances. Connecting with their audience is as crucial to them as people connecting with one another on a daily basis.