When one door closes, another opens.
On Nov. 14, former Democratic candidate for state Senate Ross Barkan, his staff and Bay Ridge residents officially opened Solidarity Space, a hub designed to cater to community organizations, artists, workshops, lectures, politics and “whatever else the community can dream up.”
The space, located at 307 82nd Street, was wallpapered in art, stocked with books, and bursting at the seams with excited attendees. The mantra of the space is “Politics + Art + Action,” speaking to both the genesis of the location and the hope for its future.
“Too often, the arts and politics are walled off in their own quadrants, and there’s rarely any communication between the two,” said Barkan. “They view the other with suspicion, and we want to bring them together in this space.”
The idea for Solidarity Space was born the day after the primary election, during clean-up.
“As we were cleaning up, we were upset about losing the election, and also about losing the community we had built,” said Genna Goldsobel, volunteer director of Barkan’s campaign. “We just kept building and building this beautiful energy.”
“We didn’t win, and we were disappointed. We all were thinking about what we were going to do next. We collectively loved the space, and it brought us a sense of community, so why not keep it?” Barkan said.
That desire to keep the momentum going does not come without a price tag. Barkan’s team says it can keep the space up and running as long as it has $2,000 per month to cover expenses such as rent and utilities.
“I do believe it will be sustainable,” said Goldsobel. “It won’t be easy, but we will get there.”
The space has already been buzzing with organizers and artists.
Riders Alliance, an organization which fights for everyone who uses public transit, has been using the space to launch different campaigns regarding New York City’s public transportation system. Additionally, on Election Day, the New York Immigrant Action Coalition utilized the location to help get out the vote for Democrats Max Rose and Andrew Gounardes.
“Even though this is the opening to the public, we’ve been here doing work,” said Barkan. “We’re already bringing groups in, and allowing them to do what they do best: Connect with the community.”
At the grand opening ceremony, artist-in-resident Anna Lise Jensen presented her work alongside Bay Ridge artist John Tomac, designer of one of The New Yorker’s most iconic covers.
“Bay Ridge has always been seen as a conservative enclave surrounded by blue,” said Ridgeite Rob Bryan. “Maybe this is a sign that things are changing.”
More information about Solidarity Space and upcoming events can be found at www.solidarityspace.org/.
If you are interested in hosting an event or workshop, please Solidarityspacebk@gmail.com.