A local arts and culture group known as caribBEING has brought the tastes and sounds of the Caribbean to New York City via its two-year-long project resulting in the new “Little Caribbean" neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Founder Shelley Worrell told DNAinfo that she sees the transformation as a way to revive current Caribbean businesses as a new wave of competition arrives with new Caribbean stores and restaurants.
“Our communities are rapidly changing, especially in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and it’s very important now to put our stake in the ground and make a collective effort to preserve and protect Caribbean culture for generations to come,” she said.
The neighborhood will stretch to include southern Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and Flatbush. The initiative is supported by the tourism company NYC & Company as well as a number of local merchant associations in hopes of letting tourists and Caribbean enthusiasts experience the region's culture without ever leaving the city.
“Brooklyn has the largest and most diverse Caribbean population outside of the Caribbean,” Worrell said. “One of the goals of Little Caribbean is to increase visibility and sales for small business along the corridors, in addition to showing Caribbean communities back home that we are united here.”
“There’s a Little Pakistan, a Little Odessa. There are a couple of Chinatowns, a couple of Little Italys. So we needed to have one neighborhood,” Worrell told DNAinfo New York.
Flags and new signs will signal to passersby the perimeters of Little Caribbean, Worrell explained, saying they will be erected as soon as possible, describing her vision of Caribbean-themed WiFi kiosks and her plans for walking tours and food crawls.
“There is a huge interest in Caribbean food and culture even outside of the neighborhood,” she said. “Whether you’re a New Yorker or even a visitor, people want different offerings in New York City."
The opening ceremony will be held Thursday with supporters and local authorities in attendance for the event.