Will Park Slope be able to retain its diversity amid the “tsunami” of money flooding into the chi-chi nabe? Was there ever any diversity? And what is diversity anyway?
Such navel-gazing quandaries — which form the neurotic core of every Park Sloper’s existence — will be examined this Sunday at a roundtable hosted by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, featuring the more opinionated members of the less-than-demure Park Slope crowd.
Take Chris Owens, the would-be Congressman and longtime Big Man on Slope. He’s skeptical that there is — or ever was — much diversity in the neighborhood.
“The Park Slope I remember as a child was dominated by Irish and Italians and had a large amount of racism in it,” said Owens, the child of a Jewish mother and African-American father who grew up on the Prospect Heights side of Flatbush Avenue.
Of course, Owens pointed out, diversity is not all about race. It’s also about socioeconomics.
Pauline Toole, who’s been living in the Slope since 1991 and works for a public employees union, seconded that notion:
“Today, the property values are such that families like ours, people who have reasonable but not gargantuan salaries, can’t afford to live here.”
But Toole’s perspective isn’t totally a downer.
“The Slope is more accepting of cultures now than in the past, in part because of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community here,” she pointed out.
And — all snark aside — diversity is pretty important.
“We’ve seen cultures, like in Bosnia-Herzegovina, disintegrate over minuscule differences,” said Toole. “So the fact that we have an awareness that we want to keep diversity, that’s a good goal.”
Considering the ethnic, socio-economic and political diversity of the lineup — which includes the liberal Owens; the liberal Toole; Toole’s liberal husband, Gene Russianoff, who heads the Straphangers Campaign; and the liberal Susan Fox of Park Slope Parents — the discussion promises to be broad-ranging.