Through the many trips of my ethnographic research of Red Hook, I became increasingly more interested in the communities that coexist in Red Hook, and how these communities function as part of a complex system. Initially, I was interested in Red Hook’s maritime history and its location as a pier neighborhood, due to my first visit at the Ikea and Erie Basin Park. As I began frequenting Red Hook more, I began to notice more young people and young families around the neighborhood of Red Hook. Walking through the neighborhood past the parks, Red Hook Houses, and newly constructed apartments, I wondered, “How does the environment affect the people who live in it?” My main interest in researching the community of Red Hook is how its different groups of inhabitants consider Red Hook their home.
Complexities began to arise as I began researching how Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged Red Hook in 2012. As a pier neighborhood located close by the water, the effects of Sandy were devastating. In the past few weeks, I walked on streets that were flooded with six feet of water years ago. Looking back on my personal experience with Hurricane Sandy, as I am from Long Island, I empathized with the community of Red Hook because I know how damaging the storm truly was. I rethought my whole exploration of Red Hook, questioning what is being omitted from the face-value knowledge I see from just walking around. The personal stories of Hurricane Sandy are so intimate and hidden from what I see. Emotions are the complexities that are hidden from the physical world.
I want to use my personal experience with Hurricane Sandy to formulate and ask empathetic questions to my informants. In addition, simultaneous perception is a skill I plan on using to continue my research on Red Hook further. To categorize information, I will use an artistic and journalistic method to represent the emotions behind the facts. I’ve decided that I will not be focusing on gentrification, though a problem on its own, as the main topic behind my project because I do not want it to steer attention away from the effects of the storm on the community. The resiliency of the Red Hook community is what I would like to learn more about through interviews. I want to know the stories behind Hurricane Sandy and how it has affected “home.”