Feature, Not a Bug - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2254756

Feature, Not a Bug

Here is what I would say to Edgar Papazian [“A Tourist Trinket,” Letters, May 16] if we chatted about it some more, and I hope we do.

I think privileging one type of conversation over the other is reductive. The fact that we are having multiple conversations about Sag Harbor’s future is a feature, not a bug.

Conversations about intractable issues being worked out in real-time in a community will take many shapes — including circular. The shape of a conversation has no bearing on its importance.

Joe Shaw did an excellent job guiding the discussion at the Express Sessions event away from all the distracting eddies. The absence of answers does not diminish the discussion. It provides a context from which future conversations may take shape.

The NYIT student presentation was a conversation that took a different shape. It was more linear. The presentations were expressions of specific urban intent and, graphically, very compelling. I do wish more people had seen them.

While all had a kernel of an excellent idea, they also stretched the bounds of plausibility. This does not matter; the fact that we were having this conversation was the point.

Let me throw another conversation in there: I did a workshop with the Teen Arts Council at Guild Hall on a project they began calling the “Sag Harbor Bathtub Project.” This was a public art project with a talk at Kidd Squid the next day.

If one said, “This conversation was too pointed because it just focused on the flooding in the backyard,” I’d be okay with that. But it was enhanced because other conversations about Sag Harbor’s future were in the air.

In our workshop, we engaged with experts in climate resilience who have worked with many communities. They imparted us with some unexpected wisdom, separate from the science of it all. One was to call the community into the conversation rather than to call them out.

This outlook came to define the project, and our next undertaking is just that — it’s an oral history from the people who knew what the backyard was like before the parking lot was built in 1950. I hope you will join us.

To learn more about the Sag Harbor Backyard Project, or to contact me, please visit ozasabbeth.com/are-thinking-about.

Nilay Oza, AIA

Sag Harbor