Time to start Digging… (emily)

16 Jun

Where did Brooklyn Diggers come from? It’s been an idea now for over a year, but now, now… I’ve got the impetus and collaborators to make it happen.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that valued and cared passionately about history. In fact, my first memory of a conversation that I wanted to be a part of was listening to my brother and father discuss the War of the Roses over the dinner table. I didn’t know what this botanical disaster was… but I wanted to, after that! As I got older, the history I was interested in got closer and closer to my front door. I was raised in Rochester, New York– where Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass used to meet for tea and argue over whose civil rights should be granted first. When my Mother became my Girl Scout Leader, she made sure that we started learning about the struggle for Women’s Rights. It was shocking to me– the fact that people with righteous ideas had to LOSE so many times before they won. And how even after they won, they were frequently forgotten. Rochester has an incredible history, one where many social justice advocates were raised up– to name a few, Lillian Wald and Emma Goldman– and as many of these advocates and their ambitions grew, they would relocate to the big scene… New York City.

I came to New York in 2006 and, like many of you, thought, “how the hell will I afford to live here?” The answer was Queens. Then Brooklyn. And then I accidentally became obsessed with Brooklyn and all it’s many pockets. So obsessed with New York’s pockets in general that I became a tour guide (something my mother foresaw but I staunchly resisted out of pride for years.) The more I learned, the more questions I had. I didn’t want to hear about the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys anymore… I wanted to hear about the outsiders. Not the sexy bohemian Artists who were bankrolled even back in the day, but the people who never fit. Because I don’t fit, either. Classic New York intimidation moment.

Now I work at the Tenement Museum, but it’s only increased the itch.

Of course, Brooklyn has long been the stranger next door neighbor to Manhattan, and as the most populous borough in the most densely packed city in the US, it’s got more than it’s fair share of secrets and stories.

So these days I’m in Brooklyn, constantly stumbling over suggestive buildings and curious photos. Wondering about the origins of smells, the roots of rumors and what used to be in that rusted car lot.

Now, we’re going to try and find out. And have fun along the way.

xo,

Emily

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