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Before it was displaced by Atlantic Yards / Pacific Park, there was a homeless shelter for families on Dean Street. It wasn’t uncommon for the younger kids from the shelter to quiver as their faces were being painted during our block parties. It’s hard to know why, but maybe it was an unfamiliar level of intimacy—whether of race, class, or gender.

I suppose to an outsider it could seem nostalgic to execute sack races and dance-offs in the shadow of Barclays Center, an arena dedicated to turning entertainment and sports into a mega-business. But it’s really just about volunteers working together successfully and having fun, especially from watching kids enjoy themselves. It is a burden of our circumstances that a community- focused event is made political by virtue of its very existence.

When the arena developer’s vice president tweeted a photo of professional dancers on Dean Street during the MTV VMA’s red carpet, I tweeted her back a similar one of Dean Street residents dancing the electric slide at a block party in exactly the same spot.

Block Party
Block Party
Gouache on paper
10 1/2 X 7 3/4 inches
2012