Though these communities have coexisted in the neighborhood for nearly 70 years, they rarely interact. Today, nearly 23 years after the 1991 CrownHeights race riots, some residual tensions persist along with strains of anti-Semitic and racist sentiment, and popular news media continue to cast Crown Heights as a neighborhood of division and violence, particularly as the pressures of gentrification sweep through the community.
Yet we found another reality about Crown Heights – that the distance and tensions dividing these communities often seem as much a matter of habit and complacency as historic grudge.
Project 2×1 challenges that complacency by opening up a window to the unique differences and often surprising similarities within these isolated worlds – exploring themes of spirituality, memory, family, immigration, and celebration. With help from Google Glass, numerous Crown Heights residents take us where we normally could not go—capturing a Hasidic wedding, a West Indian Day Parade float, even bedtime story-telling, all from their own points of view. We were inspired by the stories of a Vincentian pastor who, despite deep personal losses, gives his all to uplift his congregation. We watch as a Jamaican father strives to impart the memory of his homeland to his Brooklyn-born sons, as a Jewish wig shop owner empowers married women through the ritual of hair covering, and as a Rastafarian business owner fights social norms to defend her sacred practices. These stories illuminate the fact that communities like Crown Heights are dynamic mosaics of individuals, each with a unique story.