Finding myself with some free time this past weekend, I ended up on Netflix browsing recommendations for my instant viewing pleasure. The very first result was “Brick City,” billed as a 2009 documentary series about Newark, NJ, with a Netflix synopsis that reads “a sort of nonfiction companion to HBO’s crime drama The Wire.” Considering I had heard of Newark mayor (and Stanford alum) Corey Booker from his dealings with Mark Zuckerberg last year, I clicked play. The video above is the first 10 minutes of said episode.
While the show is undoubtedly dramatized - with shots of old, white policemen laced with hip-hop beats - it does a great job of documenting the intricacies of municipal governance in a city with real problems. For those of us interested in equitable community development, there is no better in-progress case study than that of Newark. A show like this makes clear the delicate nature of progress: in the first episode, a shooting threatens to derail months of progress in the crime-ridden city. It also underscores the reality that the things we care about, the areas in which of us feels our cities can improve - whether it be affordable housing, crime, education, etc. - are intricately linked. Working towards a more equitable world requires the coordination of holistic action by the key players in municipal governance - local governments, nonprofits and individual community leaders.
These were my ruminations from watching the first episode of the series. I am sure I will find a way to plug through the rest of the series - all of which is on Netflix streaming, by the way - this week. I’ll keep you posted.