When I sat down with the New York Times reporter to discuss the United Methodist Church of Sheepshead Bay (3087 Ocean Avenue) and its soon-to-expire steeples, he asked me one hundred different ways: how come no one is trying to stop it? If this were brownstone Brooklyn the community would be up in arms, he said. Why not here?
I gave him the long answer, which involved a lot of convoluted sentences and parenthetical statements about community fragmentation, civic decay and media penetration rates. It was an academic answer so unsuitable for quotation that he wrote me an e-mail asking the same question again – in three different ways – just so he could capture one line to push the narrative forward.
The simple answer? We could blame demographic shifts. Or we could blame weak civic institutions. Or the failure of local media to bridge cultural divides.
But at the end of the day, there’s one thing missing from the equation that’s needed before we can blame anything else: a leader.
Of all the media attention the issue got, and all the “Oh, that’s a pity” statements we heard from history buffs and preservationists, not a darn person tried to rally people, raise the money, and save the steeples.