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Underground activism: Subway-station posters shed light on boro poverty - Brooklyn Paper

Underground activism: Subway-station posters shed light on boro poverty

Double take: Bedford-Stuyvesant based interior designer, Malene Barnett, checked out her likeness in a poster that educates subway riders on poverty in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Community Services

Talk about platforms for change.

Straphangers across the borough are being targeted by the creators of a new poverty-awareness campaign who plastered posters in dozens of subway stations that shed light on the fragile financial states of hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites. The placards, which feature notable locals including artists, chefs, and designers, educate residents on the plights of their neighbors who struggle to get by, many of whom are black, in an attempt to promote unity, according to the woman who spearheaded the initiative.

“As black people in Brooklyn we understand that many residents struggle in our community to make ends meet,” said Sonya Shields of Brooklyn Community Services, which advocates for the borough’s less fortunate. “This campaign is to bring our entire community together across socioeconomic status.”

The posters for the “Many Voices, Many Stories” campaign note that 23 percent of Kings Countians live in poverty, and feature photos of influential residents — including the co-host of foodie talk-show “The Chew,” Carla Hall, and local music-maker, DJ Spinna — above quotes from each that address the issue.

And one Caribbean-American interior designer who participated said it was an honor to personally advocate for the less fortunate members of her community.

“I’m really happy I was selected to be a part of this and to use my influence in Brooklyn,” said Malene Barnett, the owner of Malene B design studio who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “There are things that need to be addressed and I want to bring awareness, especially in my community, because it’s going to benefit more than just myself — the goal is to inspire others to take action.”

Barnett, who urges “Don’t allow anyone to define you by your living situation … dream big and remember you have purpose” in her poster, said she hopes the information the placards present spurs witnesses to help their fellow neighbors.

“I want you to be in shock, because when you hear the percentage, it’s not something you would think,” she said. “But once you know, you can take action and find ways you can support people living in these situations.”

See the posters yourself at stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Dumbo, Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Fort Greene, Gowanus, Greenpoint, West Midwood, and Williamsburg.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.

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