BUSHWICK IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
Photos by This bushwick life
I consider myself a Bushwick native. I have been a resident here since 2008 and have seen Bushwick change. Things are different now than it was when I moved in. Rents have gone up, crime has gone down. New buildings everywhere, mom and pop businesses closing down. Old timers struggling to adjust to new residents.
Bushwick once crowded, loud and lively is now quiet. It is strange to be the only person walking on Knickerbocker Ave or through Maria Hernandez Park. It feels unreal to see an empty park that used to be packed with people playing Ecua-Volley, others laying in the grounds. Skateboarders showing their moves while the sound of an old jam plays in the background. Handball and basketball courts jammed with multiple games going on, some just strolling around killing time.
As everywhere else, COVID-19 came into our neighborhood uninvited and interrupted the daily rhythm in our developing community. New businesses barely opened had to shut down their doors. Everyone forced to adapt to survive in the new contactless and masked way of living. Palmetto Bar, located at the corner of Knickerbocker and Hart Street had to close their doors after their Valentine’s Day opening. Kala Yoga, a new yoga studio, moved to an all on-line program after being open for only twenty days. Businesses have been forced to create go-fund-me accounts to help cover their rents and keep employees on the payroll.
In these tough days though, people in Bushwick are rising to the challenge. Jesse Davis and his wife Rona, owners of 191 Knickerbocker felt that it was important to give back to the community that helped them start their business. Together with the Noise Church, they run a free-meal program that operates like a restaurant. You can pre-order your meal on their website the night before and pick up the next day. You can even select your choice of menu items. Their program is supported by local community organizations, along with cash and food donations from local residents.
Latinos Unidos and Mutual Aid Bushwick are providing weekly food deliveries to families in need. It’s a volunteer based network of Bushwick residents helping distribute food to the neighborhood’s most at-risk neighbors. El Puente and Rise-Boro community centers are both providing on-line academic support through free virtual classes to the community.
It is May now, and the weather has started to change. We can’t help but wonder which businesses will comeback from this, and what new business will open to replace the ones that closed down. This summer won’t be filled with las tamaleras along Knickerbocker or Fidel’s Mexican street-style ice cream. No Le Garage brunch or Bushwick Collective block party. Dance in Bushwick performances remain on-line only.
Since the NY-PAUSE started, my husband and I spend our days inside our one- bedroom Bushwick apartment. Sometimes we go for early morning walks to avoid late
sleepers that start wandering the streets around 11. We do our grocery shopping and run errands before 9AM to help reduce any crowding. Once we are back home, we find ways to keep ourselves occupied and entertained until it’s time for lunch, dinner and then bed. It has been a pretty monotonous routine but it is not unlike everyone else.
Until we can be like we used to, we just have to put our lives on hold and reflect on what really matters, our health, family and friends. See you all soon.