One of my neighbours told me that there used to be beautiful trees lining the streets of BedStuy when he was growing up, but at some point the city stopped bothering to plant trees or any kind of green spaces beyond the dilapidated Herbert Von King Park, and now the streets are bare. I tried planting a myrtle tree on the strip of dirt by the road outside my building but it died within a few days. You can walk from home to school to the local stores and cafes while encountering very little of the natural environment at all. The schoolgrounds and play areas are concreted over. Wind rips down the avenues and blows litter all through the streets and onto people's front doorsteps.
The kids who live here are mostly from poor families, and it always strikes me that because of the unofficial segregation in New York, these are the kids whose childhoods are void of beautiful things. I've often tried to imagine what it would be like to grow up in such a harsh environment, and what things seem beautiful in our neighbourhood to a child whose world hasn't yet expanded beyond BedStuy.
Commissioned by Lior Willinger