Leaders in Manhattan
Beyond that, however, there are several options for public discourse, and Manhattan-based institutions like the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) or the Municipal Art Society (MAS), are the leaders in helping further such discourse.
Notably, several MAS panels associated with the Jane Jacobs exhibit last year had a strong Brooklyn focus. Last month, I visited MCNY, way up at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street, to hear a stimulating panel discussion about the future of Coney Island.
A MAS Planning Center Forum titled "David vs. Goliath" on May 14 will include Marshall Brown, the architect behind the UNITY Plan for the Vanderbilt Yard and Candace Carponter of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, a backer of the plan.
Brooklyn institutions and Brooklyn venues should be hosting similar panels. Given the ferment about development--just yesterday the Gowanus Lounge reported on the founding of the South Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance--Brooklyn needs a place where controversial issues can be ventilated publicly. After all, the frequent discourse that has Brooklyn neighborhoods designated the nation's "bloggiest" deserves to surface in real time.
There are places for discourse, among them the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College (and other academic institutions), and events sponsored by community boards, the Borough President, civic groups, and neighborhood groups like the Fort Greene Association and the Park Slope Civic Council. And Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT) produces a good number of public affairs shows.
However, Brooklyn, given its population of more than 2.5 million, would be the country's fourth-largest city if independent. It deserves its own equivalent of MAS or MCNY, just as it deserves much more press coverage.
Who will step up?
Can any of the Brooklyn groups step up? Maybe a consortium of organizations could take a closer look at development, or join up with a Manhattan-based organization like MAS or MCNY. One good venue might be the library's new, centrally-located auditorium, the Dweck Center.
(See the comments for another good candidate: the new home of the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment, or BCUE.)