I tend to approach our discussions with the potential perspectives of my students in mind; that said, I think what most resonated with me in terms of the local to global implication of our discussion is our conversation about gentrification. This is an issue I personally feel to be overwhelming, simply because there are a lot of complex factors and seemingly no great ways to “solve” it. Our group’s response suggested to me that I’m not the only person who feels this way and I think when we talk with students about issues of social justice on local-global scales, they have a similar response. Although we get frustrated about not knowing what to do about these issues, there is real educational value in reflecting on it in the context of local-global scales. How do you define gentrification? How does it impact which peoples? Do we need to “solve” it? I think of the frustration we as learners feel about these complex issues as soil for the seed that has been planted to mature and take shape. Its not always a comfortable, but its necessary.
I confess that my brain is currently overwhelmed with the Tenement Museum tour so I’m going to cheat and address both this tour and the tour of Harlem. The Tenement tour was a really powerful experience for several reasons, but I appreciate having the juxtaposition between the historical culture of the lower east side and that of Harlem. Noteably, there seems to be a great deal of “institutional” reverence for the history of the people of the lower east side, with regard to there being a museum dedicated to this area, evidence of community activism to retain or build cultural landmarks, and the city’s own involvement in the development of the community. It seems that Harlem lacks these supports, with the exception of community activism. I was reminded of our Harlem tour guide frequently pointing out that there are few historical indicators in Harlem. I think these experiences can lend themselves to discussions with my library science students about the role that libraries can play as community institutions that support identified community needs. I would also like to look at libraries in these communities to understand how they see their role.