Celebrating the South Bronx – and Opposing Developers

Bronxites gather in a circle to share stories about their borough. (Photo by D. J. Constantino for Hunts Point Express)

Bronxites gather in a circle to share stories about their borough. (Photo by D. J. Constantino for Hunts Point Express)

Residents of the South Bronx gathered recently to celebrate their neighborhood and defend it from developers by joining in an evening of music, singing and storytelling at the Bronx Music Heritage Center, reports D. J. Costantino in Hunts Point Express. Here’s how one “love letter” to the Bronx from a participant read:

“We are the only borough that is not an island in this city. We are literally grounded in ways the other boroughs will never be. Greatness is born here, it’s fostered here and it lives here.”

Five Boro Story Project, which brings people together to connect through storytelling and performance, organized the event in collaboration with Yolanda Rodriguez, one of four founders of the BxArts Factory. After rapper and poet Not4Prophet performed stories of his life, Five Boro founder Bridget Bartolini…

… led the “story circles,” and attendees, ranging in age from high school students to seniors, rearranged their chairs and shared personal accounts of growing up in the Bronx, raising their families, and trying to make change in their communities.

“Developers forget to consider what was here before,” said Altagracia Montilla, an educator at FLAGS High School in Melrose, who grew up in Fordham Heights. She stressed that “there is a difference between joining a community and gentrifying a community.”

Go to Hunts Point Express to read what other participants had to say about the notorious recent efforts to rebrand the South Bronx area as “the piano district.”

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