Freedom Market, a local initiative to create dialogue and get neighbors to vote with their dollars by supporting BIPOC-owned businesses rather than massive corporations, has been on a cross-country road show since earlier this month.
“Every Friday at 7 P.M. for nearly six months, the Freedom Market has set up shop between the McCarren Park baseball fields to sell products from BIPOC-owned businesses, as well as foster meaningful conversations among neighbors.” Greenpointers reported in May.
When we last spoke with Trevor of the Freedom Market, a big goal was expansion — and expand it has.
“We started with some initial runs in Brooklyn outside of North Brooklyn — we went to Maria Hernandez Park, we went to Domino Park, we also went to the Brooklyn Expo Center to get an idea of what it would be like to be a bit more mobile; part of the idea was getting everything into a van in a compact setting,” Trevor, Freedom Market’s founder, recalled.
Most recently, the Freedom Market road show visited St. Petersburg, Florida where the exposure to different viewpoints and new environments has proven invaluable to both the perspective of reaching new communities and the exposure for BIPOC-created products and art.
“As you can imagine it’s new to us, figuring out how to engage with communities that are not where we are based,” Trevor said. “But it’s been really enriching, meeting people who have the same struggle but may not be as active as we are in New York. In terms of just making the initial connections and documenting and hearing stories, and knowing that the next time I come down to St. Petersburg we’ll have a little bit more knowledge and extend that to the next stop.”
But Freedom Market isn’t only making an impact on the road. Prior to setting off, they began working in support of a redesign of the intersection of Bedford Ave, Lorimer St., and Nassau Ave to make it safer for vendors and pedestrians. The proposed Bedford Slip Plaza currently houses The Hot Spot, a POC-run vintage collective that sets up on the weekends.
“We wanted to support [Bedford Slip] because it does align with economic empowerment and diversifying the neighborhood,” Trevor explained. “We think about the farmers market — if that can be such a welcoming and inviting space for the community, why can’t we create a similar space that’s two blocks away, requiring less space, but with the same intent of having the neighbors have a place where they can find something that they may not be able to find somewhere else and, in this case, something that’s from a diverse group of people?”
The movement and redesign also prioritize safety, particularly with the number of accidents occurring at the intersection and the high volume of pedestrians in the area on any given day. But the effort hasn’t gone without pushback — Trevor recalls earlier altercations with neighbors in opposition as well as an increased police presence (plus an opposing petition making the rounds).
But the group, in conjunction with North Brooklyn Mutual Aid, remain undeterred, and further developments are likely to come in March.
As for the Freedom Market specifically, Trevor is gearing up for a North Brooklyn homecoming on February 12 with hopes of reinvigorating those whose interest may have waned.
“We want to have actions that are compelling … We really need to reverse the trend of people losing interest and getting back to normal and find compelling ways to get people engaged,” Trevor said. “I look at the history of civil rights and changing oppressive environments and it was always that element, especially in the Black community, of us leaning into that passion, that pain. It changed the dynamic, how do we maintain that with what we’re doing today?”
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To sign the Bedford Slip Plaza redesign petition, click here.