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All over the United States, neighborhoods are changing. What were once poor or immigrant enclaves are discovered for their charm, safety, or valuable real estate. Old timers die, newcomers move in, and new communities get established. The process may be inevitable.

In Roots in the Garden, we are introduced to this process as it unfolds over the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, a beloved network of Italian-American homes, shops, and lives.

In the 1950s, Court Street, the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, was lined with Mom-and-Pop stores, which catered to the local clientele. Those who remember those days speak dreamily of the smell of home-cooking wafting through the streets, and the sound of their mothers calling them from apartment windows.

Today, the charm — and value — of the place has been discovered by urban professionals who love their work lives in busy Manhattan, but want to come home to something more welcoming. So prices have skyrocketed, driving out some of the aging neighborhood regulars, and challenging those who are committed to staying.

Workshop participants Carolyn Cole and Pia Sawhney allow us to meet some of the people who have seen — and loved — their neighborhood for generations. Through their voices, we are able to visualize the past, and grasp the emotional depth of what has been lost. In doing so, these two journalists have made real, and very personal, the faceless tide of gentrification.

Roots in the Garden is a product of the MediaStorm Storytelling Workshop, where participants work alongside MediaStorm staff to create an intimate, character-driven documentary in just one week. Learn more about upcoming MediaStorm workshops and online training at mediastorm.com/train.

Published: May 28, 2008


Photography, Audio & Video: Carolyn Cole
Editor: Pia Sawhney
Producer: Chad A. Stevens
Field Producer: Eric Maierson
Graphics: Tim Klimowicz
Workshop Director: Jessica Stuart
Intern: Tim McLaughlin
Executive Producer: Brian Storm

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