It's been a great run over here at 84 Havemeyer Street, but with the latest rent hike -- a 240% increase -- it's time to move on.
We moved to this storefront in 2000, when there was nary a health food store, bar, condo, or sushi joint this side of Bedford Ave. It was off the beaten path. 99 cent stores abounded, and the Puerto Ricans owned this block. Their lives were lived on the street: barbecues and backgammon, family and friends.
There's a lot of history in this space, and it started well before we arrived. Beka took it over from a woman named Megan who hosted a pirate radio station in her living room, with 24 hr. jam sessions, performance art, and parties. She and her boyfriend built a sort of gingerbread house cum forest cottage in the middle of the space from reclaimed wood. It was Beka’s bedroom for 2 years. Before Megan was a man whose name we can't remember, known by the neighbors as the curmudgeonly guy who'd open the front door, pull out a guitar and amp, and play heavy metal in his bathrobe on the street. Much, much earlier it was a grocery store, and before that, a bagel factory.
We saw potential beyond a home/office, and when the 2004 Republican National Convention was announced Not An Alternative was formed, and we started to use the storefront as our headquarters. We hosted weekend workshops on the sidewalk with a boom box, a grill, and political artists from around the city, recruiting passersby to pitch in with production in advance of the protests. For evening artist talks and meetings we’d carry all of the living and bedroom furniture to a friend’s apartment upstairs and bring it all back down again at the end of the night. It was truly a multi-purpose space!
That soon grew old and in 2005 Beka moved out and Jason, Winnie, Ian, and friends renovated the space to be Not An Alternative’s dedicated events venue, workshop and coworking office, née The Change You Want To See Gallery and recently re-named NO↔SPACE. Over the years we’ve hosted 100’s of events here: from film screenings, artist talks, workshops and trainings, panel discussions, and festivals, it’s been a laboratory for the cross-pollination of artists, activists, and academics.
Beyond pedagogy, we’ve engaged in practice, in collaboration with community groups and cultural producers. Our first major effort involved a series of projects aimed at challenging the 2005 rezoning and gentrification of North Brooklyn. But the neighborhood has changed dramatically since then, and we've had front row seats. The block built up, the foot traffic grew, and so did the rent. The latest hike is the last straw: a 240% rent increase, from $2500 to $6000. And so we find ourselves displaced, like countless other spaces, businesses and residents around here over the years.
It's been a wild ride, with ups and downs, but never a dull moment, and we're grateful for it all. Much gratitude to our residents and coworkers, our audience, our allies, and our collaborators, past and present, as this experiment never would have happened without you.
This isn’t goodbye: we’ll keep you appraised of our next steps! But this is the end of this chapter. And we'd like to commemorate it with you.
Please save the date:
Saturday, September 17
Final Event at NO↔SPACE on Havemeyer St
Film screenings and Closing Party
(Exact Time TBA)
We hope to see you then.