One of the main problems with the rapid rate of change of the city, beyond pricing people out and generally making the city a cloud city temple of rich people and their apps, is just how bland things start to look. Every time a neighborhood business gets swapped out for a dead-eyed bank, a part of the street life withers and dies and starts to look like any strip mall across America. The campaign #SaveNYC rose up last year to try to fight back against this by standing up for small businesses and cultural institutions. The campaign has existed mostly online and in those #SaveNYC signs you’ve seen around town. Now the campaign is holding an IRL event next month to rally support, network and make some plans for future events and actions.
“Go because you’re mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore, because you’re tired of losing what gives New York its New Yorkness, and because hypergentrifiction is not natural or inevitable,” said Jeremiah Moss, the pseudonymous blogger who started the campaign. “There is an alternative.”
The event on April 5 will be held at Cafe Steinhof, 422 Seventh Ave. in South Slope, as a chance to “mix, mingle, and exchange ideas” and get involved with the campaign. They’ll also have #SaveNYC T-shirts for sale.
#SaveNYC’s mission statement says it wants to bring attention to the plight of mom and pop stores and encourage state and government to implement protections for small businesses and cultural institutions. Critics of the group campaign say it wants to stand in the way of natural progress of the city and accuse it of fetishizing the past over the future.
Moss and allies argue that the rate of change the city is facing is not natural (read his treatise on hyper gentrification here). The campaigns three goals are: Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act; Start a Cultural Landmarks program and enact a measure to prevent the spread of chain businesses, similar to what San Francisco has done.
On his blog, Vanishing New York, Moss chronicles every time a long-standing business is threatened or disappeared. It’s hard not to note a strain of increased despair in the listings, but the #SaveNYC campaign is his outlet for doing something about it.
So go to the meetup for drinks, planning or just to see what the campaign is all about. And if you’re one of those people who thinks #SaveNYC is misguided, there’s a Starbucks about a half mile up the road.