I've held back from posting about Robert Guskind's memorial because I feel a tad silly offering up more responses (after an initial posting) since I never met the man, nor did I have anything resembling a personal friendship with him. However, attending the memorial a week ago was moving, and it was reassuring to hear that many others were as affected by his efforts and support in the world of neighborhood blogging as I.
Happily, for my relatively shy self, I arrived just as the memorial video was about to begin. It's an extraordinarily well-crafted montage of interviews, images, and video shot by Bob himself. It's worth a watch, and I hope it will help people to understand why so many have responded strongly to the loss of this particular journalist. This guy loved Brooklyn, Gowanus and Coney Island in particular. And just as many of us love pieces of Brooklyn that others may consider ugly, run-down, or past hope, so did he.
I'm providing the link (above) because - I'm embarrassed to admit - I just have never gotten the knack of embedding video. I know, it's simple, but it's simply beyond me.
The memorial service itself was a collection of amazingly heartfelt appreciation for the passion, work, and support from Robert Guskind; there was also a call for balance and a reality check. I won't go into the details; they are described more eloquently (and links to other sites are provided) than I could share on the Gowanus Lounge site. However, one of the effects of the memorial service that I think Bob would appreciate is that it brought out various bloggers who might not otherwise attend "blog events." It was great to meet the people behind so many creative, informative, hysterical, and thoughtful websites around Brooklyn. I had to leave too soon (which was tough considering the amount of amazing food offered and the people I wanted to meet and talk to), but I did get to chat briefly with the people behind Flatbush Gardener, New York Shitty, Pardon Me for Asking, and other websites that help Brooklyn become a better, closer, more able to laugh at and appreciate itself kind of place.
As I attempted to say (less than clearly due to my distaste for public speaking and my baby spitting up on my shoulder to distract me) at the memorial was that one of the things that Bob Guskind did was to support and encourage those of us who truly care about our neighborhoods but might not feel like we deserve to have any kind of public voice. He got excited about things that seemed like no big deal, and he always asked for more. As a teacher, I know how important a pat on the back (cyberpat or otherwise) can be.* Encouragement means someone keeps trying to get it right - even if he never reaches perfection. It's certainly necessary when the majority of responses in our world are negative.
* A pat on the back is considered a no-no, as is any touching between teacher and student, by the way. Ridiculous, but necessary in very, very few cases.
My hope is that vigilance in our neighborhoods will not decline because Gowanus Lounge is without its publisher and leader. My hope is that those who love Brooklyn (and wherever they happen to live) will keep their eyes and ears peeled, will attend CB meetings and Community Council meetings, will ask questions, will call 311, will appreciate and laugh at the beautiful and funny things and call out the negative things. In that way, the things that Guskind worked for will continue to have champions.