Meeting Adrienne Vega and Denise Arroyo

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Adrienne Vega, age 27. [1]

“Viewed through the experiences in one place and of one person, we can begin to delineate the kinds of problems caused by the massive structural intervention of urban renewal of American cities. We can identify some of the costs for the community and some of the pain experienced by individuals.”

-Mindy Fullilove [2]

     I meet Adrienne Vega in the community room of Southside United HDFC Los Sures, located at 145 South 3rd Street in Williamsburg. She is accompanied by her best friend since childhood, Denise Arroyo. At first, I internally panick as an interviewer, anxious about receiving a semi-structured interview from the pair, fearful of tangents or personal references that I will not be able to make sense of as an outsider. However, the dynamic between the two of them is almost seamless; both Adrienne and Denise play off each other’s thoughts and fill in the blanks when one begins to trail off. What I was able to gather in our one-hour and six-minute interview is a composite view of the changes, some for better and some for worse, in the community of Los Sures from the perspectives of two 27-year-olds, natives to the Southside. The changes seemed almost too drastic to be true for just a decade of time, yet Williamsburg has seen more evolution in the last ten years than most cities have seen in fifty. What follows is a tale of constant reinvention of a city so near to bustling, diverse Manhattan, yet so unique in its own culture.  

     Adrienne, age 27, works as a social worker for Southside United HDFC. Inspired by various generations of women in her family and their work with the center, Adrienne has spent the past three years here, helping families and the elderly alike apply for government benefits. These benefits often prove to involve complicated literature and require form completition that many have difficulty figuring out by themselves. With Adrienne’s aid, members of the community are able to receive necessary help from public assistance programs.

     Denise, also age 27, is currently unemployed, but has much to say about the importance of the spirit of her childhood neighborhood. Though she no longer lives in Los Sures, she has watched it evolve drastically over the past several years, and is able to contribute many specific instances of reinvention, like the transformation of the Commodore Theatre into the Williamsburg Cinemas as well as the efforts of the community to save the local fire station, Engine 221 & Ladder 104.  

Meeting Adrienne Vega and Denise Arroyo