Industry City – Personal Reflection

How much did you know about the subject before we started?

I had only heard about Industry City in passing and was very excited about the opportunity to visit and learn about the place as well as the area. When thinking of the “greening” of an area it had always been something that I thought I understood.  I looked at in very simple terms, everyone benefits by introducing more green and open spaces. I knew very little about the community of Sunset Park and the history and culture of the area. So, all in all, I knew very little going in on the specific subject and area. On the topic of development of green spaces I believe I came in with some common general biases .


What was especially satisfying to you about either the process or the finished product?

The satisfaction gained through this project was in the process and it’s ability to give a well rounded view of the subject matter. By being immersed in the subject we were able to live it more personally. In addition to the immersion in subject, we were also surrounded by others who brought different views and opinions, and this made us look at the subject from many different sides. The final product became an amalgam of this new knowledge and the differing viewpoints.

We were asked to “get out of our own heads” and see, feel, hear and touch the subject. I believe this gave us all a better understanding of all the sides of the issue, thus making the finished product more valuable.

Personal Reflection

Did you do your work the way other people did theirs?
In what ways did you do it differently?
I was in the neighborhood group, and as we walked around and looked at the internal contrasts and external pressures that separated different kinds of buildings and businesses, I noticed that each person brought different disciplinary perspectives to the neighborhood. Here is a summary of different perspectives on the neighborhood:
Architectural: Some of us wondered about the differences in architecture between houses on the same block. The more architecturally advanced members of our group were able to guess at the wood frames that likely existed behind cheap siding.
City Planning: The historian remarked on how the Brooklyn expressway hurt the livability of the neighborhood and disrupted what had been a main street.
Historical: The historian in our group guessed that the nicer homes were originally inhabited by the bosses of various waterfront businesses, with the workers living in the simpler homes.
Demographic: We noted how the Latin restaurants and the ads for international phone cards below reflected the still very Latino demographics of the neighborhood.
Economic: We considered the different forces of gentrification, from new business investments to rising property taxes/valuations.
Personal Taste/Aesthetics: We remarked on the beauty of the park that gives Sunset Park its name, and the delicious food at certain restaurants. We talked about whether we would like to live in Sunset Park, and compared it to our own neighborhoods.
I think that as a humanist, I was curious about the human experience of business owners and workers–I wondered how many of the older businesses were threatened by various (mainly economic) forces, and what daily life was like for the workers and business owners. If I were to continue with that line of thinking, I might investigate the question by interviewing those people.

Waterfront walk

What resources did you use while participating in this activity?

sunset park walk

Quantified walk in Sunset Park

I used the walking app on my phone to track our walk in time and space. Quantifying my progress shows only where I went and when. It does not show the human resources of my colleagues, who continued to share their very thoughtful observations about the conditions of the buildings, street and sidewalk surfaces, transportation routes, and speculations on the need for such ample parking, as we made slow progress out to the feral cat colony at the end of 39th Street, and hasty progress back to meet other groups on time. Their thoughts contributed to my reconsidering my position on the feasibility of the greenway.

Have you changed any ideas you used to have on creating recreational open space?
We could see water from every point on our walk to the waterfront, but access to the water eluded us, even though it appears very close to our route. High chain-link fences separating a broken sidewalk from vast, empty paved areas kept us from getting close to the waterfront. Too close for comfort, however, was the rush of heavy truck traffic. Some vehicles sped along Second Avenue, while many made nearly blind turns onto or off of side streets. When I set off on the waterfront walk, I imagined a bi-directional protected bike lane on the west side of Second Avenue filled with cyclists harmoniously pedaling alongside motorized vehicle traffic. By the end of the experience, I began to doubt the feasibility of the greenway until truck traffic is calmed and rerouted and pedestrian- and bike-friendly crosswalks are established. For the greenway to succeed, it must serve all nonmotorized modes, abilities, and ages.

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Group Reflection

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

Sarah Ruth Jacobs, Ruth Marsiliani, Tracy Zimmerman

Community Centered Benefits

  • The community will be able to access the waterfront and have a space they can enjoy and congregate. Currently the space is not benefiting the community, and children will have a new outdoor area.
  • Picnic tables and fencing will ensure families can gather safely.
  • Community centers and community-based programs will be put into place.
  • The area will be beautified, and the community can enjoy the beautiful space.
  • Maintaining and securing the space may create jobs for residents of the community.
  • Our plans will be developed with the assistance of community partners and will be presented for feedback to different stakeholders, from local businesses to community organizations.

Business Centered Benefits

  • Beautifying the area will make it more attractive to prospective investors and business owners.
  • Incentives will be offered for business opportunities for the community-based businesses, such as food truck spaces.


We know that developing the waterfront poses a possible loss of the sense of community, as new businesses and residents potentially seek to move in. Historically, Sunset Park has had very strong community engagement and planning, and we think that with the continued involvement of different stakeholders, the development of the waterfront does not have to threaten local businesses and residents.

Place-based Learning Reflection

Your participation during Friday’s seminar contributed to a vibrant learning environment, one I hope will inspire you to take your own students out of your traditional classroom setting. As stated by Gregory Smith in Place-Based Education: Learning to Be Where We Are,

“teachers in such settings act as experienced guides, co-learners, and brokers of community resources and learning possibilities. Their expertise lies not so much in their stored knowledge – although this is important – as in their capacity to help students acquire the skills and dispositions of effective learners. (2002, p. 593).

To me this quote exemplifies how faculty can and should challenge their own teaching practices and venture outside of the classroom with students and seek to develop their student’s knowledge and desire to learn. To complete our place-based learning activity, reflection is most beneficial, and some, including me, argue necessary. To practice reflection, I ask that you provide two forms of reflection for Friday’s activity. First, one person from each group should post your stakeholder’s position on the proposed waterfront greenway along Second Avenue near Industry City, connecting Red Hook to Sunset Park and second, post your own personal reflection.

For the group reflection, log into the OpenLab and create a new post on our OpenLab site, choose the category “Industry City 2018” and provide the information that was asked during the activity (see below).

The name of the people in your group.

Your stakeholder.

Who benefits, who loses, what is won, what is lost, what is the cost?

State your stakeholder’s position.

For your own personal reflection, review Edutopia’s 40 Reflection Questions for the Classroom and choose two reflective questions. Log into the OpenLab and create a new post on our OpenLab site. Write the question you chose and then write your response. It would also be a beneficial practice to respond to another person’s post.

For more information about PBL in general or about the specific requirement to leave the classroom with City Tech students, take a look through the PBL page on the our OpenLab Site as well as the PBL page on the Faculty Commons Site.

I look forward to reading your reflections.

BWRC Conference, April 20, 9:00-4:00

If you were intrigued about the Brooklyn Waterfront during our last session you would value the BWRC conference, see the information below.

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center presents
its Annual Spring Conference

Brooklyn Waters:
Sea Level Rise, Sustainability, and Resilience along the Brooklyn Waterfront

Friday, April 20th
9:00am – 4:00pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall 

Click here for conference information & registration.
Free admission; registration required.