Today’s morning discussion and our tour of the Lower East Side were striking as there were clear parallels with our tour/discussion of Harlem yesterday. We observed and discussed how communities have changed in local places over time, and it was interesting (and at times disheartening) to learn that similar dynamics, complexities and challenges were manifested in how communities in Harlem and the Lower East Side were/are (un)able to sustain over time.
In thinking about how I might incorporate yesterday’s (or today’s) NYC experiences into a study away experience, my field of public relations seems an interesting perspective to bring to such a tour/discussion. Theoretically, public relations seeks to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organization (broadly defined) and stakeholders. As the Harlem and Lower East Side tours demonstrated, the “mutual benefit” for parties involved in the outcome of an issue is not always equal and perhaps not always fair. The public relations insights from these NYC experiences could be examined from multiple perspectives, including that of residents who may be displaced from their homes (or cultures) voluntarily or involuntarily, or the ethics involved from a corporate, economic or governmental relations perspective from the past to present. For example, is it ethical for today’s institutions to continue to ignore the historical relevance of places that are meaningful to specific communities/cultures? Is there a mutual benefit for audiences involved in the gentrification of a community? Can pre-existing communities and development co-exist for the mutual benefit of individuals living in a place?
While these questions/foci are not an exhaustive list of the possible topics that could be discussed from a public relations perspective, they offer examples of how these NYC experiences could be incorporated into a public relations study away experience.