¡Que Triste! Hipsters miss out on the Fiesta
Lessons Learned from Graham Ave’s annual block party
Graham Avenue is not the new Bedford.
We knew going into the Graham Avenue Fiesta that area’s demographics had dramatically changed. Non-Hispanic whites grew about 250% while Asians rose by about 40%, according to 2010 census figures. As a result, we expected to see a fair number of these new residents, even though Hispanics were still the dominant ethnic group.
That’s not what happened. The fiesta was was decidedly Hispanic, with only a few new residents in attendance. When we talked to members of the community, we found out that the dominant ethnic group, Puerto Ricans, were moving out of the area while Mexicans and Dominicans were moving in. They confirmed the census figures, saying that there were more non-Hispanic whites moving in, but many said that this group kept to themselves, and didn’t participate in neighborhood life.
But the few white residents we talked to painted a rosier picture of life in East Williamsburg. They said that they felt welcomed and were a part of the community. However, one person we interviewed only lived in the neighborhood during the school year, and another told us that she didn’t know about the block party because the fliers advertising it were in Spanish.
The Low Census Return Rate:
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Businesses: ‘What fiesta?’
The business owners we talked to were not fans of the fiesta. They said it took business away from them. Trucks, tents and other vendors block their storefronts, diverting traffic that would normally have. One said that the only way to make block party profitable was to set up a table. Those are free for stores along Graham Avenue, but they require someone to man it during the fiesta. For store owners, that usually means hiring another employee, which they can’t afford.
A Blog Talk Radio show was broadcast 36 hours before our live coverage of the Graham Avenue Fiesta. During the radio show a panel of four discussed the changing demographics of the area, the lack of participation in the census, as well as the bands volunteering to perform at the festival.
Day of coverage included live blogging on CoverItLive, you can check out that content here:
Audio interviews with members of the community were uploaded on Sound Cloud and included on the CoverItLive module. In addition to the main moderator, we also had three roving field reporters contributing via their Twitter accounts and text messages.
Here is a slideshow of the colorful neighborhood ‘Fiesta:’
Over the course of the event a dozen bands performed. Edwin Vazquez drew the greatest response from the crowd. You can check out a highlights of his performance here:
Yudith Ho, Kevin Sheehan and Lisha Arino contributed to this post.