Brooklyn Hipsters Get Political as Young Residents Join Community Boards
CROWN HEIGHTS — Adem Bunkeddeko is not your typical Brooklyn Community Board member. For one thing, he's about 20 years younger.
"Change is happening," said Bunkeddeko, 25, who grew up in Elmhurst but is new to Crown Heights, where he lived for less than a year before joining Community Board 8. "Where I live, there’s kids running up and down the place, so I think it's important that we would try to get more voices that are closer to my peer group."
He's not alone. All across the borough, in neighborhoods that would be unrecognizable to their earlier incarnations, a handful of 20-somethings are making a run at what may well be the last stronghold of old Brooklyn — its community boards.
"I feel like I have a say —I feel like I get to contribute," said Community Board 6 member Lance Pinn, 28, the owner of Brooklyn Boulders, a climbing gym in Gowanus. "It’s very clear, it’s very transparent, and I get to hear from all kinds of extremely educated people."
Unlike Bunkeddeko, who applied to CB8 shortly after moving to the area, Pinn is a longtime resident and business-owner in his district, and was a member of the Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement District and other community organizations for years before he was approached by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to join CB6.
“I am always thrilled when young Brooklynites want to play an active role in civic engagement in their community — be it through political involvement, volunteering or serving on a community board," Markowitz told DNAinfo New York in response to the growing number of young people cropping up on local boards.
"I got my start in public service at 26 by organizing the Flatbush Tenants Council — and of course I encourage today’s young Brooklynites to follow suit.”
In addition to Pinn and Bunkeddeko, there are about half a dozen young newcomers who have joined local boards in the past year. Still, both said they hope to see more faces like theirs at meetings that still trend much older.
"We all have busy schedules and busy lives, but to take an hour or two to know these important pressing issues that are affecting you or your neighbors or the community you live in, it’s valuable," Bunkeddeko said.
"I guess most people would clock out at 5p.m. and go home and think of other things, but I have the luxury — I don’t have a family, I don’t have children, so I have some spare time on my hands and I wouldn’t mind doing some extra good if I can."