Little Haiti District in Brooklyn's Flatbush Neighborhood

Shelley Vidia Worrell founded "CaribBEING" a local cultural institution back in 1999. It is a non-profit and cultural space that celebrates Caribbean heritage in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Flatbush, Brooklyn. She is a first-generation Caribbean American and Flatbush resident whose parents are both immigrants from Trinidad. CaribBEING started its journey when Shelly bought a shipping container and turned it into a pop-up art space. She calls this not a store or shop; it is a "miniaturized mobile museum".


Worrell used to work at Google as a Strategic Partner Development Manager, but decided to spend more time with family and thus she created CaribBEING. She is in charge of making visitors feel that they have been transported to the Caribbean. Every inch of her container has the feel of a breezy, beachside aura.

About 20% of the Caribbean populations in Flatbush are of Haitian descent and more than 90,000 are Haitian-Americans--the third highest concentration in the United States, live in Brooklyn. Miami already has a Little Haiti. Shelley Worrell is a longtime supporter of the Little Caribbean and she is trying to preserve and celebrate Caribbean food, culture and small businesses in this area through the creation of similar Little Haiti in Flatbush and her initiative has received support from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), NYC & Company, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the Flatbush Nostrand Junction BID. However, to Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte, who is the first Haitian-American to be elected to the State Legislature from New York City, an active participant in the effort, "the designation of 'Little Caribbean' was premature (the designation of both 'Little Haiti' and 'Little Caribbean'), and did not have a wide community support."

It is a fact that even though the push for the designation of Little Haiti is gaining momentum, the statistics show that the process of gentrification is eroding the Haitian character in Brooklyn. The percent of Haitian diasporas in New York came down to 20% in 2016 from 30% in 2000.

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