Breaking Bread

Breaking Bread 

Memories From The Women Of Hot Bread Kitchen

Harlem, New York City

Initial Creative Inquiry of Design Question:  

I was interested in working on a project that has to do with food and memory. I have always been intrigued by the idea of  translating specific memories into flavors… Sometimes you can taste (or smell) something and its like wow , ‘Wow…Istanbul school trip…ninth grade.’ It can really take you back to a different place and time, almost like music in a very instant way. I was also interested in preserving these memories, and working with people who many not have the ability or access to partake in this kind of activity on their own. I thought about various groups of people that I may have access to around the city and realized that Hot Bread Kitchen would probably be a good place to explore this idea further… 

Concept Description: 

I decided to create a memoir with 12 women from Hot Bread Kitchen. The idea was to create a very low-tech way of documenting their lives, journeys, memories and thoughts using contributions that they create themselves, eventually creating a book that they could keep or send oversees to their families. I was lucky enough to have access to Hot Bread, where the women working were all mostly familiar with one another and in a comfortable setting. There is something about cooking and working with your hands that allows people to let their guard down and be willing to share their stories with one another. Initially I thought about selling the book later on but thought that it would be most useful if the women themselves could keep a copy instead. I approached the facilitators at Hot Bread with my idea and they told me they would allow me to hold workshops with the women for the next 2 months. During the first two workshops we just got to know each other. We played games that made the whole thing seem more playful and less like a social experiment. One of the games we played was telephone“. I was surprised to learn women said there was some sort of variation of that game in their countries. I think this was very helpful in the sense that it made the group feel like they were home, enjoying themselves with a group of friends. I also gave each woman a legal pad and asked them to use them as they wished but just to be sure to bring them back to every weekly workshop. The group of woman is made of 12 people from 7 different countries.The countries represented are Pakistan, Yemen, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mexico, Honduras, and Morocco. Each of the women is foreign-born ( as are all the women in Hot Bread). 

Cultural and Historical Background: 

Here is the list of women partaking in the project and their nationalities:

Fatima – Pakistan

Shazia – Pakistan

Zuhra – Pakistan

Tahiyya – Yemen

Estelle – Ivory Coast

Nafisat – Nigeria

Isabelle – Ivory Coast

Gloria – Mexico

Maria-Isadora – Mexico

Nejoua – Morocco

Nadia – Morocco

Mona – Morocco

These women moved to New York and had very limited resources and knew very little English, making it difficult for them to join the workforce. Hot Bread gives them an opportunity to earn a living and learn English simultaneously.

Hot Bread Kitchen Background:  

Hot Bread Kitchen was founded in 2007 with the goal of increasing economic security for foreign-born and low-income women and men by opening access to the billion dollar specialty food industry.   To help offset the cost of our training and to build esteem in the contribution of immigrants, Hot Bread sell delicious multi-ethnic breads that are inspired by our bakers and the many countries that they come from.

As part of its mission, Hot Bread preserves valuable baking and culinary traditions and “br-educates” New Yorkers about the tasty and important contributions of immigrant communities.

La Marqueta Background: 

La Marqueta is a marketplace under the elevated Metro North railway tracks between 111th Street and 116th Street on Park Ave in East Harlem in New York Cit. The address is 1590 Park Avenue. La Marqueta was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, with over 500 vendors operating out of the marketplace. It was also an important social and economic venue for Hispanic New York. The New York Times called it “the most visible symbol of [the] neighborhood.” It has since dwindled in size. 

The market was originally an informal gathering place for pushcart vendors and other merchants, but since 1936 it has been officially sanctioned, and vendors rent their stalls from the city. It was also the meeting place for the neighborhood after urban renewal displaced countless small businesses, replacing them with only large scale housing. Today, three of the original five buildings that housed the market have been burned or torn down, and a fourth is shuttered. As of May 2008, only four vendors were operating out of the last building.

The city of New York has repeatedly tried to revive La Marqueta but has failed to find a viable business model that also pleases local residents and politicians. The Harlem Community Development Corporation, a state-run economic development agency, has proposed a concept called La Marqueta Mile. In 2010, the proposal won the support of the Center for an Urban Future. 

In 2009, New York City Economic Development Corporation(NYCEDC) and the New York City Council issued a request for proposals for businesses to operate and maintain a 3,000 square foot commercial kitchen incubator in La Marqueta. 

In early 2011, HBK Incubates, a food business incubator run by Hot Bread Kitchen, opened in a space at La Marqueta that had been renovated with $1.5 million in New York city council funds. 

Audience: 

The idea is to empower the women and let them tell their own stories. The book would be for their personal use or to share with their families and send oversees. 

Methods, Iterations, Design Process:

Initially I was worried that every single women would want to contribute a recipe but I soon found out that was not the case. After two workshops, the women decided what their contribution was going to be. This list included: a written fictional story, a photo of one of the woman’s mothers, a picture of one of the woman’s houses in NYC (which she asked me to take), a picture of one of the woman’s sons in his school uniform, a poem, lyrics to a song, a picture of the Virgin Mary, a photo of one of the woman’s husbands that has died, a drawing of the casbah where one of the Moroccan woman used to live, a recipe for tamales, and a recipe for lavash bread. All the reflections will be bound into the book and given to the women.

Potential Impact:  

Throughout the whole process, the women have a sense of agency. This is why I chose to use tools that were tangible, and that they could send to their families. Perhaps a video could have been more shareable but I was keen on putting together the book in this way, so that the women could really feel as though they were the once responsible for these memories, and they are the that documented them and created a book. I saw my role as simply the organizer. I was there to facilitate but did not want to get too involved in the actual documentation process. So in that way, it can be seen as a way of empowering the women as oppose to making them feel like they are subjects in an experiment.  Another important impact for the community is that long after these women have moved on, this document will be evidence that they were there in East Harlem, cooking, working, learning English and creating new memories.

2 Examples of the works produced:

Song by Nigerian artist Christy Essien Igbokwe called Seun Rere 

Nafisat from Nigeria wanted to contribute lyrics from her favorite Nigerian artist, Christy Essien Igbokwe

Seun Rere

Omo mi seun rere tie a dara o, Omo mi gbo temi tie a dara o

Omo mi seun rere tie a dara o, Omo mi gbo temi tie a dara o

Iya mi ma seun rere, gbadura fun mi

Baba mi ma seun rere, gbadura fun mi

T’omode ba wuwa buruku won ani iya re loko

T’omode ba wuwa buruku won ani baba re loko

iya mi f’ona to da han mi laye

Baba mi f’iwa to da han mi laye

Aye ti mo wa yi ko ma yemi o

Eyi ni Olorun Keji mi La’aye

iya wa e seun rere, baba wa e seun rere

Iya mi ma seun rere, gbadura fun mi

Baba mi ma seun rere, gbadura fun mi

T’omode ba wuwa buruku won ani iya re loko

T’omode ba wuwa buruku won ani baba re loko

iya mi f’ona to da han mi laye

Baba mi f’iwa to da han mi laye

Aye ti mo wa yi ko ma yemi o

Eyi ni Olorun Keji mi La’aye

iya wa e seun rere, baba wa e seun rere

iya wa e seun rere, ti wa a dara o

Isabelle wanted to contribute a recipe from the lavash bread she bakes daily at Hot Bread. 

Lavash Bread 

  •   1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • .25 ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt 3
  • cups all-purpose flour
  1. Combine water, whole wheat flour, and yeast until wet. Mix in the salt and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Mix in the rest of the flour using a mixer or strongly with hands.
  2. When the dough comes together, knead in your mixer or on a floured surface to make an elastic ball. Add more flour or water if needed to keep dough from getting sticky or too stiff. Pour a little bit of oil in the bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Divide into 30 pieces about the size of small walnuts. Rolling the dough into a long log helps to divide it evenly. Roll each piece into a ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel for 30 minutes to rest.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place a baking sheet on the center rack of the oven so it can preheat at the same time. 
  5. Roll each ball into a circle. The dough should be very thin. 
  6. Pull out the oven shelf and place as many crackers on your baking sheet as you can fit, 2 or 3. Close the oven and bake for about 3 minutes. 

Reflection of Process: 

Although the process has been very exciting for me, I feel that it would have been more beneficial had I had more time to work on it. It would have also been amazing if I could have involved all the women (and the few men — there are 3) that work in the facility. That would have gave it a more rounded, holistic feel. I also find it a little bit ironic that the project is based in East Harlem at a site that used to be a meeting spot for the Hispanic community and is now the workplace of foreign-born women who are mostly not from the community at all. Most people that work at Hot Bread commute from the Bronx.  

[Art x Neighbors]

[Art x Neighbors]

The project “Art x Neighbors” has been created during spring 2014 by Helen Hyungou Jo and Anna Jungan Lin.

 

Initial creative inquiry

Our initial investigation of this project began from the east Harlem exploration, by that chance, we had our first walking tour in east harlem where the street image and cultural atmosphere in East Harlem were totally different from New York City. The majority of the residents area are latino who hold unique cultural characteristics. We wondered how this unique culture be shaped under different culture over time, how people living in East Harlem think, and what is the actual life they have in New York City. We were interested in developing a project that can show their unique culture and allow them to share their experience to other people.

 

Concept description

Art x Neighbors is a collaborative art project with neighborhood in East Harlem that offers the neighborhood a new way to share and communicate with each other. Art as a medium to interact with people, there is no language boundaries and technical limitations. It is potentially able to show people’s thoughts, characteristics and underground culture. Through art, this project focus on three aspects which are social engagement, humanity, and process. Moreover, by putting research into practice, building relationship, and collaborating with the neighbors, we were able to learn the culture from their angle.

Cultural probe as a mean, our goal is to get ourselves involved in the community, gathering inspirational data about people’s lives, values and thoughts in order to understand their culture better. At the same time, we hope we can provide people in east harlem a chance to share their cultural experiences in an innovative way and allow them to have more conversations as well as a sense of belonging of the community.

 

Cultural & historical background

East Harlem

East Harlem is also called El Barrio. This area began an era of rapid urbanization when the Lexington Avenue subway line completed a station at 125th Street in 1919. Today, East Harlem is home to people of Latino background, as well as recent immigrants from Asia and the Middle East.  East Harlem maintains its strong Puerto Rican cultural identity and it is one of the most the most vibrant neighborhoods in New York City for the outdoor artworks with about 15 murals painted in schoolyards, community gardens and random locations in the street. One of the noted murals, The Spirit of East Harlem, at the southeast corner of East 104th Street and Lexington Avenue, has been in the community for more than 30 years. An ode to the neighborhood’s day-to-day lifestyle, it covers the entire façade of a building and depicts local people playing chess, chatting and taking care of their children, among other activities.

DSC_0151

Puerto rican in new york

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, large numbers of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York, especially to the Bronx, and East Harlem and Loisaida neighborhoods of Manhattan. Labor recruitment was the basis of this particular community. In 1960, the number of stateside Puerto Ricans living in New York City as a whole was 88%, with most (69%) living in East Harlem. they helped others settle, find works, and build communities. New York City’s Puerto Rican community contributed to the creation of hip hop music, and to many forms of Latin music including Salsa and Freestyle. Puerto Ricans in New York created their own cultural movement and cultural institutions such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

 

rough_puertorican_Page_1 rough_puertorican_Page_2

Audience

Our Target audience are basically communities and residents who use community gardens as communication and gathering spaces in East Harlem. To be more specific, we want to engage their community, find people who get artistic ability, and make them express their own ability and share with communities.

IMG_0048

 

Methods, iterations, design process

We set three tactics for engaging their community. First of all, to visit them several times as much as possible. Secondly, to try to have conversations. For our case, it was better to have light chatting and make simple joke instead of formal interview. We and also they have same language difficulty. Our first language is not English, and neither theirs is. However, because of this difficulty it was much easier to have conversation between us, like using simple and easy sentence. Lastly, to build trust. This was the most important thing for our project. Because we should open their mind and make them feel free to do something for us. So we acted like a friend to them and show our open mind.

At the first time, when we got into the 117th street community garden, they were really welcome us. Even though we are the only asian girls among all pueto ricans, we can really get belong to them easily. We felt that they like visitors in their area. And we met the guy, whose name is Raymond Sontana. He has been managing this community garden in 20years. And interestingly, he actually draw all the paintings in community garden. He really like to draw and like art. He usually goes to a school for disable children, and teach them how to draw. While having interview with him, we got inspired by him. from the research we have done, we think drawing can be a really good way to start. Therefore, we place four canvas on the wall in the community garden and each of the canvases have a theme; Four themes are ‘food’, ‘religion’, ‘happy time’, and ‘free drawing’. The reason to have the theme is that we also want to see the cultural-based art through this experience, what they are thinking of and what remind them of.

We stayed there, having this activity for two days. we start to draw ourselves first and talk to them, asking them if they want to join. They began to draw themselves. People danced salsa ,taught us spanish and talk to others.

IMG_0039

Potential impact

Art x Neighbor brings a new form of communication as well as interaction in community garden. We think this project may have the potential to make people there see the community garden in a different perspective rather than domino and BBQ. Moreover, it potentially arouse the willingness of using community garden as a place for sharing and to hold varied events.

The project, Art x Neighbors is more like a different face of workshop of art and collaboration.  Both user and us learn from the art creating process. We learn their culture, their habits, and their thoughts. They learn that everyone can draw, they learn express themselves in a different way and they they learn our cultures and thoughts as well. It is a mutual and sharing process which full of humanity. This process is essential which makes designers or artists know the needs and preferences of the audiences in east harlem.

Hopefully, we can have chance to scale this project; see the 117 st community garden as our starting point and template further to collaborate with more neighborhoods in other community gardens in east harlem, and collect them as a series of collaborative culture-base art.

 

Reflections on process

We do really learn a lot. First of all, the process of this project was really different from what we were used to. Inspired by the cultural probe which is a design techniques used to inspire ideas in a design process, we almost followed this method. However, it was so hard to get scientifically valid information because the data we got were usually subjective. Also, it was full of risk since the result was not depending on ourselves, it depended by the participants, by the audience. It was sometimes pretty hard to tell what the project would exactly look like. The final result for us was unpredictable which was scary.

Besides, we were glad that we got ourselves involved in the community; this was an on the ground project that we had to learn to open our mind first. Don’t be afraid of talking to people in the street and do not refuse to have interaction with them. Sometime, we just went there, sitting there with no purpose. I think this was really important in our project that we are friends of them instead of students doing project.

 

Listen to Sugar Hill – Songs of closed places

Listen to Sugar Hill – Songs of closed places
http://listentosugarhill.wordpress.com/
Jung Chao, Eishin Yoshida

EY

Project summary & Goal

Listen to Sugar Hill is a project that gathers memories of closed cultural places in Harlem. The city reasoning policy in the past decade has change the landscape of Sugar Hill. High rise buildings, chain stores replaced the local restaurants, jazz pubs that once nurtured Harlem Renaissance. We are interested in those places that was once the social center of Harlem but now gone. With this project, we gather memories such as drawings and audio recordings of Harlem residents. The goal is to raise awareness about the importance of local businesses by placing those social memories outside of the now empty spaces.

 

Historical / Cultural Background

Sugar Hill differed from other neighborhoods of Manhattan by it’s vibrant community gatherings. From the rent parties that occurred in 1920s, social and cultural events appears frequently. Tenants would hire a musician or band to play in their apartments and pass the hat to raise money to pay their rent. Those rent party played a major role in the development of jazz and blues music. In the late 20s to 30s, Jazz pubs started to open up. Places like St. Nicks, Small’s paradise and The Harlem Renaissance Ballroom nurtured generations of artists like Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and Thelonious Monk. Those places signified not only the great musical talents, but also the first african american owned and organized social clubs. It was where the african american people had intellectual freedom to create and present their art.

One of the jazz places in Sugar Hill, St. Nicks was the oldest jazz club and hardly changed since 1940. Although it changed owners and names few time, it was on St. Nicholas Avenue at 149th street. Seven nights a week starting at 9:30pm was the stable entertainment events for 70 years. On March 4, 2011, the police shut it down during a raid before the second act could finish its set. New York Times* reports the reason it closed is that the owner of St. Nick’s pub, Mr. Lampkin ran the pub for over a year after the liquor licence lapsed, and the police raid came after repeated warnings. On St. Nick’s facebook page*, they posted that ‘St. Nick’s pub will be temporarily closed for improvements and renovations for the next two months…’ on March 15, 2011. But it seems there is no activity after that. Not only St. Nick’s pub but also many Harlem jazz, such as Minton’s Playhouse (closed in 2010) and Lenox Lounge (closed in 2012) have been closed in the past few years.

On the other hand, there are some places that people enjoy jazz music. Marjorie Eliot’s parlor jazz is one of the warmest jazz places in Sugar Hill now. Marjorie Eliot, who started playing the piano as a child and grew up surrounded by jazz, has opened her home every sunday afternoon for the jazz matinees for 21 years with no charge. The residents visit her and enjoy the music but more than that it has become one of the sightseeing spots for tourists.

*Frustration Builds Over Closed Harlem Nightspot (New York Times)

*St. Nick’s Pub facebook page

Methodology

We conduct qualitative interviews to collect memories of Sugar Hill residents. Some questions we will be asking are:

– Growing up, where did you use to hang out in Sugar Hill?

– What are some of the places that you miss?

– Tell us about a memory you have of the place?

– Why was this memory important to you?

Apart from verbal interview, we ask participants to draw out one memory they had at the social location. We bring colored markers, and drawing pads for people to freely draw. They will then asked to write a sentence to accompany their drawings. We found out by trying to recreate the memory it also allows the participants open up and share more.

 

Target Audience

Our target audience are developers, gentrifiers unaware of the meaning of the old places of Harlem. We hope to invite them to join and support old jazz bars, local businesses alive by showing the beautiful stories of those places. On the other hand, we wish to connect with local Sugar Hill residents who were supportive of their local businesses already. Though they might be aware of the importance of place, through participating this project they might be able to connect with other residents and stakeholders who are supporting the same cause. The project will eventually serve as a qualitative data which will be able to stand as an evidence that local businesses are important for the development of the neighborhood.

 

Specific Deliverables

We create a website archive of memories people have of closed cultural places. Viewers would be able to see drawings, and hear stories about past jazz pubs, restaurants, churches and community centers.

To bring back those memories to the physical space, we exhibit interviewee’s drawings and short stories outside of the closed location itself.  Since many places were closed down are still vacant, we placed to print out posters of those memories and stick it on the walls and doors of those locations.

We also set up blank papers and markers at the location. This way, audiences can also join the conversation of the memories after viewing the stories of others.

 

Team Members Roles

Eishin Yoshida: Sound recording, Interview editing, Mapping past social centers

Jung Chao: Website design, Photography, Designing Interview/Workshop Methods

 

Project Timeline

March – April 2014: collecting prototype data – drawings, audio recordings, photos

May 2014: Presenting prototype of website and workshop/ reflecting, redesigning research method.

June – July 2014: Collecting more data (goal of having 50 participant to launch)

August 2014: Launching workshop and art interventions on vacant buildings in Harlem

 

Potential impact

We hope to rebuild the bond between closed cultural centers with past audiences. As mentioned previously, closed cultural centers such as St. Nicks, Harlem Renaissance Ballroom, Lenox Lounge have been closed despite it’s importance to local residents. Organizations that support the preservation of cultural places exists such as the Harlem’s Community Board. However, their actions have mainly been focusing on advocacy for policy change. Many cases fell, such as Small’s paradise that has been demolished.

“So if Harlem’s Historic Buildings are in jeopardy, it’s not due to some concerted malicious plot but due to ignorance and indifference.”

Michael Henry Adams, Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York

Through our field interviews asking residents why they think cultural places are closed, many did not know the answer. When ask if there were action groups to avoid the buildings from closing, the answers were also often negative. People usually point us to famous musicians or local cultural advocates that are fighting for the issue. As Michael Henry Adams points out in his essay, we think the problem lies in that many residents think they are indifferent from the developments that’s happening around them. They are lead to believe that they have no power or agency in participating in building preservation.

Our project seeks to empower residents and let them know that they can in fact, allow  voice their voices to be heard and be the change of their neighborhood. By creating a message board on the closed locations, and creating a space online, we help locals document the importance those past cultural spaces are to them. Through this process of writing down precious memories, we provoke residents rethink, and reconsider their role in building the meaning of those cultural places.

The results we hope to see through this participation are below:

– Generate discussion about the cultural centers in Harlem

– Connect newcomers/gentrifiers to the residents through cultural discussions

– Help closed cultural centers reopen with sustainable funding.

In order to achieve this impact, we wish to connect with preservation advocacy group such as  Place Matters, Harlem One stop and Michael Henry Adams the Harlem preservation activist cited above. We believe by posting memories on the walls, it could generate conversations and media coverage on the preservation of the sites. Hopefully by the partnership with grassroot organizations, the conversations and media coverage we create can help elevate the participation of local residents in those campaigns.

 

Reflections on process

It took time to figure it out our focus of the project until we actually went to Sugar Hill and asked people about that they think about the neighborhood. Once we started listening to people who was on the street and in the park, we could feel the passion and energy in this area. It was a slow process in collecting interviews, because each interview often took us an hour to complete. However, we felt it was meaningful that we spent time in knowing residents in a deep level every weekend. We were able to feel we are not intruders trying to profit on other’s issues, but listeners listening to the pain and joy people have about a place.

After few interviews, we decided to bring these memories to the closed place not only achieving online but also take an action in the physical space. St. Nick’s pub was one of the common places that everyone told us about in the interviews. Also we had been researching the background of St. Nicks so we chose to go there and take an action.

Though this final intervention, we learned that creative designs such as culture probes can help people jump in and participate a lot faster than traditional interviews. When we allowed people to write down their memories or create a drawing, almost 30 people stopped by and talked to us about the projects. Compared to the 1 or 2 interviews we could gather previously with one visit, we were able to draw people to us instead of finding the right interviewees through chance.

The Urban Atlas Project

Sabrina Dorsainvil + Luisa Múnera
The Urban Atlas Project
Urban Tactics – Design + Urban Ecologies Thesis 2014

website: www.urbanatlasproject.wordpress.com
twitter: @Urban_Atlas
email: urbanatlasproject@gmail.com

Initial Inquiry + Design Questions

We had begun this semester interested in with Sabrina interested in developing conversation starters and Luisa looking at developing conversation starters. We wanted to investigate how creative socially engaged practices could be used as a tool to create a more inclusive urban ecology? How can we create a sense of collective ownership? We were interested in developing a project that would build on creative practices as a method for awareness and action around everyday issues experienced in the city. There was a desire to be able to engage with residents to be able to unearth their curiosities about the neighborhood they live in.

Concept Description

The Urban Atlas Project is an archive of narratives around urban development as seen through the five lenses of stories, boundaries, power dynamics, networks and imaginaries and serves as a platform for local artists, residents and youth to critically investigate, unearth and imagine the ways in which processes or effects of urban development impact their everyday life.

The mission of the Urban is to develop creative methods of alternatively looking at the everyday. Organized through the Urban Atlas Project Youth Initiative, the Urban Atlas Project Collective, made up of citizen artists and designers with an interest in socially engaged art practices, open resident contribution and partnerships with local organizations the Urban Atlas Project will allow the individuals directly affected by urban change to collaboratively contribute to the archive. Our guiding tool, the Urban Atlas Guide exposes UAP participants to creative methods and tools pulled from various artists, social scientists, activists, community organizations and more. By utilizing these tools and reframing their context for urban investigations UAP participants can unearth the past, reveal the present and imagine the future of their city.

Cultural + Historical Background

The Urban Atlas Project acts as a mediation platform for residents and artists to come together and have their stories heard and it allows for individuals to  connect on a collective level. The city is constantly growing, shifting, changing and in flux; residents are being displaced whether it be physically, emotionally, economically or culturally. Our project will provide agency for the people most affected by the changing city; they will be able to contribute their stories as well as ask questions about what they see in their everyday lives. The concept that the artist is one with the crowd, someone who pulls from his experiences and interactions in daily life  to produce work that challenges the systems and process that exist in everyday life has influenced the creation the UAP. Pulling  from the various tactics and methods that were employed by artists, activists, social scientists and anthropologists, allowed us to create the Urban Atlas Guide; a resource to support the urban investigations conducted by residents, youth and citizen artists in Harlem.

Audience

The project has been designed so that it can engage with a diverse audiences living in a certain locality. Our efforts are currently grounded in Harlem, New York. We want to be able to engage youth, contributors and artists on an equal platform.  For this specific grant we would like to focus our efforts on two specific components of the project, The UAP Youth Initiative workshops and The UAP Guide; a core tool in our project that serves the audiences that will form part of the project.

The Urban Atlas Project Youth Initiative seeks to create a youth centered platform that engages young people in the process of investigating urban development in their communities through a series of workshops. As we are currently in Harlem our target population for the Youth Initiative is young people from the age of 10 to 22. Each group of 10 – 15 students will be organized through partnering organizations and afterschool or summer programming through cultural institutions such as the Sugar Hill Museum of Art and Storytelling, No Longer Empty, and Brotherhood/Sister Sol. We are increasing our partnership base with local community organizations and are interested those whose mission aligns with our vision for the project.

About the Partners:

Bro/Sis provides comprehensive, holistic and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-two. Bro/Sis offers wrap around evidence-based programming. The organization focuses on issues such as leadership development and educational achievement, sexual responsibility, sexism and misogyny, political education and social justice, Pan-African and Latino history, and global awareness.  The Sugar Hill Museum of Art and Storytelling is a flexible space with galleries showing artwork generated in or inspired by Harlem. Sugar Hill’s history and thriving cultural life create a rich foundation to share with families the pleasure of personal expression and nurture children’s love of reading, writing and storytelling through art making. No Longer Empty’s mission is to widen the public engagement with contemporary art, to promote the work of artists, and to build resilience in communities through art.

Methods, iterations, design process:

Our research process has informed the methodology of how our project will operate.  After selecting Harlem as  our site for investigation, we began by identifying a theme for investigation, displacement. We identified local organizations working to serve the community of Harlem by providing services or agency and met with several of them (Broadway Housing Communities, Corbin Hill Food Project, Brotherhood Sister Sol).

We embarked on our own urban investigations by utilizing some of the methods and tactics that were pulled from our research like recording through drawing and photography to identify commercial businesses and what their presence means in relation to the collective identity of Harlem. We also performed derives in the neighborhood to be able to experience first hand the fragmented function, culture and energy. We also invited Antoine White and Nadine Nader, Harlem residents, to join the investigation process. After our investigations we collectively discussed our experiences and analyzed our content through our 5 lenses method. Our investigative process forms part of the Urban Atlas Project Archive that is presented on our web platform for the general public to have access to. As we began to further develop the project we collaborated with Blue Bellinger in order to develop cohesive lesson plans for the Youth Initiative.

Description of team members individual roles

We collectively developed each portion of the project from concept to budget and action planning and furthermore implementation.  Moving forward we have discussed the possibilities of Sabrina being responsible for community partnerships, youth workshop development and contributor relations. Luisa could potentially be in charge of curatorial development, the Urban Atlas Project Citizen Artist Collective and external relationships with cultural institutions.

Potential impact:

what impact do you think this could have, what would you need to do to get there

The Urban Atlas Project Youth Initiative is one component of the Urban Atlas Project and as we continue to develop it we are also putting energy toward the development of the Urban Atlas Project Citizen Artist Collective and the contributor space. We are currently in conversation with Brotherhood/Sister Sol to potentially pilot the Urban Atlas Project Youth Initiative. We have already begun developing exercises for contributors (“What’s Our Story”) and plan to develop more based on the guide. Although we have outlined the activities that could happen we can begin to plan the details of each day in preparation for piloting our 7 day youth workshop exercises. In order to continue this project we are looking for funding as well as partners to work with. We are continuously looking for creative methods to include in the guide and we look forward to being able to accept investigation contributions and organize our artist collective.

We believe this project offers a space for voices to be heard, networks to be created and a platform narratives that speak true to the experience on the ground. In regards to the youth, we hope that our workshops will inspire a sense of agency and an interest in working at the intersection of the arts, activism and the urban in the future (Below we have included a logic model for the Urban Atlas Youth Initiative).

Reflections on process:positive and negatives, mistakes, did you learn from them?
After looking back on our first presentation at the Studio Museum in Harlem we had definitely come across the difficulties of translating terminology used in academia into more accessible language. We’ve experienced this terminology struggle to some extent when we first began the Design and Urban Ecologies program. Although we went into that particular presentation aware of the issue we found that the way in which we presented the guide  truly affected the way  in which people understood the whole project. Since then the way in which we have been able to tell our story and ground it has been through anecdotal recollection of the ways in which we navigated the jargon. This course brought our interests together and allowed a space for them to naturally grow together.

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Example of future Urban Atlas Guide Tutorial:

The Urban Atlas Project Drawing Tutorial

 

Walk Harlem final reflections

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The project “Walk Harlem” has been conceptualized and created during Spring 2014 by Nour Chamoun, Daryl Meador, Ann-Sofie Persson and Hugo Rojas

Our initial investigation was to explore Harlem through its more underground histories and narratives of struggle and social justice. We wondered what an integration of these narratives into current public space might offer and how it might engage the community. We began designing walking tours that explored these histories but were also integrated with the present reality of the community. From here, we developed a series of templates and tools for members of the community to create their own walking tours, with the hope that these tools would generate an empowerment of public space through their use.

We were asking how the concept and creation of alternative and personal walking tours, and the creation of maps of such in order to share the experience with others, engage a community to develop a deeper sense of its cultural and political history and of ownership of public space?

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“Walk Harlem” is a participatory project developed to promote social change through the use and creation of maps and walking experiences in the area of Harlem. Behind the project is an attempt to discover more about how culture and political history relates to place. The idea is that participants will be able to see their neighborhood in a new perspective or discover aspects or parts of its history previously overlooked or unknown to the participant. The goal is for the participants to gain new knowledge, or to see an old familiar place from a new perspective. The project further aspires to humanize neighbourhoods that are often understood only in terms of statistics or stereotypes.

The participant will be able to walk through a mix of art experiences and civil rights/Harlem history and learn about and discover new sides of Harlem. We have created a few template walks, as well as template maps that can be downloaded or printed, and the hope is that these will serve as examples and inspire new ideas among participants to create their own maps with new or expanded walks in the neighbourhood.

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The experiences are incorporating already existing locations and sites where history happened, such as the Harlem Riots, with some added details in forms of signs adding further information and inspiration. We are aiming for a new experience where the participant is coming out with a more open mind and a deeper understanding of Harlem and some of the issues in the community, during history as well as today.

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We have also developed an educational plan with a number of lessons and ideas around how the creation of maps and deeper exploration of ones neighbourhood can generate knowledge of space, a feeling of ownership of public space and inspire to social change. The idea is that participants will get a better understanding of their surroundings by gaining knowledge about specific places and re-connect with their city.

The lesson plans as well as map templates are available and can be downloaded and printed from our website. (The website is currently available at;  nourchamoun.com/walkharlem  In the near future the intended address is www.walkharlem.com)

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It is in this relatively recent movement of cultural and critical cartography that our project exists. We call into question the power structures that have created dominant maps of the area and are using cartography to dig beneath the surface. In addition, by giving the power to create maps back to the community itself, we are reversing that power structure and expecting that the performative action of mapping will engender a new sense of ownership of space that was lacking before.

Our hope is that the mapmaking and walking explorations will allow participants to go deeper into the space that is familiar on the surface, and gain a more open mind and deeper understanding of how culture and history relates to space that we are inhabiting today. Our two template walking tours, made to inspire further exploration, are focusing on the culture, in the form of literature, and the fairly recent political history of Harlem.

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Our first template walk is inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “I Dream A World.”  Hughes confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and focused on a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism without self-hate. Hughes was one of the few black writers to argue racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists. Following this walk, participants will be able to discover signs with fragments of Hughes’ “I Dream A World” poem. With this walk we hope to inspire to further explorations around the connections between poetry/literature and heritage, as well as potentially inspire to further research on socially conscious literature and philosophy.

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The second template walk is based on the events of the Harlem Riot of 1935. This was Harlem’s first riot based on race or skin color inequalities. The riots were sparked by rumors of the beating of a teenage shoplifter. There is a sign about the history of the riots at the beginning of the walk. With this walk we hope to inspire to further thoughts around the concept of activism and equality.

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Our goal is to, through participation and exploration of the neighbourhood as well as the creation of maps in order to share the experience with others, generate a feeling of ownership of public space, inclusion in society and inspire to further creative exploration of the own or visited neighbourhood.

We are hoping to provide inspiration for further exploration and discovery of the neighbourhood, both in terms of culture, political history and current situation. We are also hoping that the exploration will lead to ideas and projects related to social change and improvement of the neighbourhood for its community and inhabitants.

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We hope that the mapping tools we created can become of real and practical use to the community in Harlem, either through the creation of maps that they feel are relevant to their lives, or through the transformative process they will be offered through mapmaking as a practice.

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Walk Harlem Final Reflection Paper 14 May 2014

Engaging Harlem: Projects @ Studio Museum May 7th

Join us for Engaging Harlem
Project Presentations for Urban Tactics & Media Ecologies in Harlem

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Collaborative Studio taught by Melanie Crean & Nitin Sawhney
Parsons Design & Technology + School of Media Studies, The New School

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Studio Museum, Harlem
144 West 125th Street, New York, NY 10027
Light food & drinks provided

Projects emerged from a cross-disciplinary design studio offered in partnership with No Longer Empty, supported by The New School’s Collaboratory research initiative. It brings together perspectives from art, technology, and activism, to inform participatory, site-specific critical inquiry and the co-design of creative interventions in the context of Harlem.

The Urban Atlas Project: Luisa Múnera, Sabrina Dorsainvil
Walk Harlem: Nour Chamoun, Asa Ann-Sofie Persson, Daryl Meador, Hugo Rojas
Breaking Bread: Laila Gohar
[ ART X NEIGHBOURS ]: Helen Hyungou Jo, Anna Jungan Lin
Listen to Sugar Hill – Songs of Closed Spaces: Eishin Yoshida, Jung Chao

Course Blog: http://melaniecrean.com/urbantactics/
NLE website: http://nolongerempty.org
Studio Museum: http://www.studiomuseum.org

Listen to Sugar Hill: Project proposal

Project Title: Listen to Sugar Hill: Songs of closed places

Project summary & Goal

Listen to Sugar Hill is a project that gathers memories of closed cultural places in Harlem. The city reasoning policy in the past decade has change the landscape of Sugar Hill. High rise buildings, chain stores replaced the local restaurants, jazz pubs that once nurtured Harlem Renaissance. We are interested in those places that was once the social center of Harlem but now gone. With this project, we gather memories such as drawings and audio recordings of Harlem residents. The goal is to raise awareness about the importance of local businesses by placing those social memories outside of the now empty spaces.

Historical / Cultural Background

Sugar Hill differed from other neighborhoods of Manhattan by it’s vibrant community gatherings. From the rent parties that occurred in 1920s, social and cultural events appears frequently. Tenants would hire a musician or band to play in their apartments and pass the hat to raise money to pay their rent. Those rent party played a major role in the development of jazz and blues music. In the late 20s to 30s, Jazz pubs started to open up. Places like St. Nicks, Small’s paradise and The Harlem Renaissance Ballroom nurtured generations of artistslike Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and Thelonious Monk. Those places signified not only the great musical talents, but also the first african american owned and organized social clubs. It was where the african american people had intellectual freedom to create and present their art.

Methodology 

We will conduct qualitative interviews to collect memories of Sugar Hill residents. Some questions we will be asking are:

– Growing up, where did you use to hang out in Sugar Hill?

– What are some of the places that you miss?

– Tell us about a memory you have of the place?

– Why was this memory important to you?

Apart from verbal interview, we ask participants to draw out one memory they had at the social location. We bring colored markers, and drawing pads for people to freely draw. They will then asked to write a sentence to accompany their drawings. We found out by trying to recreate the memory it also allows the participants open up and share more.

Target Audience

Our target audience are developers, gentrifiers unaware from the meaning of the old places of Harlem. We hope to invite them to join and support old jazz bars, local businesses alive by showing the beautiful stories of those places. On the other hand, we wish to connect with local Sugar Hill residents who might be supportive of keeping local businesses already. Though they might be aware of the importance of place, through participating this project they might be able to connect with other residents and stakeholders who are supporting the same cause. The project will eventually serve as a qualitative data which will be able to stand as an evidence that local businesses are important for the development of the neighborhood.

Specific Deliverables

We will first create a website archive of memories people have of closed cultural places. Viewers would be able to see drawings, and hear stories about past jazz pubs, restaurants, churches and community centers.

To bring back those memories to the physical space, we plan to exhibit interviewee’s drawings and short stories outside of the closed location itself.  Since many places were closed down are still vacant, we place to print out posters of those memories and stick it on the walls and doors of those locations.

We will also be setting up blank papers and markers at the location. This way, audiences can also join the conversation of the memories after viewing the stories of others.

Team Members Roles,

Eishin Yoshida:

Sound recording, Interview editing, Mapping past social centers

Jung Chao:

Website design, Photography, Designing Interview/Workshop Methods.

Project Timeline,

March – April 2014: collecting prototype data – drawings, audio recordings, photos

May 2014: Presenting prototype of website and workshop/ reflecting, redesigning research method.

June – July 2014: Collecting more data (goal of having 50 participant to launch)

August 2014: Launching workshop and art interventions on vacant buildings in Harlem

Overall Budget

Item Amount
Sound equipment:Zoom H4N recorder $270
Drawing tool kit:Markers, drawing pad $30
Website design/development:Creating private WordPress account, Domain $100
Printing Posters:Memory drawings, Personal Stories to put up outside of closed locations $50
Total $450

Requested Budget

$300

 

The Urban Atlas Project Proposal

Collaboratory Proposal : The Urban Atlas Project

Project Summary & Goal

The Urban Atlas Project is an archive of narratives around urban development as seen through the five lenses of stories, boundaries, power dynamics, networks and imaginaries and serves as a platform for local artists, residents and youth to critically investigate, unearth and imagine the ways in which processes or effects of urban development impact their everyday life.

Organized through the UA Collective, made up of citizen artists and designers with an interest in socially engaged art practices, the UA Youth Pioneer program, open resident contribution and partnerships with local organizations the Urban Atlas Project will allow the individuals directly affected by urban change to collaboratively contribute to the archive. Our guiding tool, the Urban Atlas Guide will expose UAP participants to creative methods and tools pulled from various artists, social scientists, activists, community organizations and more. By utilizing these tools and reframing their context for urban investigations UA participants can unearth the past, reveal the present and imagine the future of their city.

Ultimately we are developing the archive will give residents forum to recognize neighbors with similar interests, voice concerns about how things are changing, develop ideas around how to make things better and start a movement of awareness that can lead toward a movement of action.

Vision, Mission, Goals

Our vision is to build a method of investigating, understanding and imagining the urban environment that can inspire a movement focused on resident empowerment around urban development. Our goal is to facilitate creative ways in which past and present discourse and imaginaries around urban development are explored by the people directly affected by change.  The dominant stories in our society make it easy for us to not ask questions. By investigating the everyday we can pull apart the things that are common to us and begin to explore them in alternative ways. By questioning the norm we can unearth the past, reveal the present and imagine the future of our cities.

Team Members & Roles

Sabrina Dorsainvil – Co-Founder, Community Partnerships/Workshop Development and Contributor Relations
Luisa Munera – Co- Founder, Cultural Institutions Partnerships/UA Collective Coordinator
(Blue Bellinger – Volunteer Youth Workshop Coordinator)

Brief Historical / Cultural Background

The Urban Atlas Project acts as a mediation platform for residents and artists to come together and have their stories heard and it allows for individuals to  connect on a collective level. The city is constantly growing, shifting, changing and in flux; residents are being displaced whether it be physically, emotionally, economically or culturally. Our project will provide agency for the people most affected by the changing city; they will be able to contribute their stories as well as ask questions about what they see in their everyday lives. The concept that the artist is one with the crowd, someone who pulls from his experiences and interactions in daily life  to produce work that challenges the systems and process that exist in everyday life has influenced the creation the UAP. Pulling  from the various tactics and methods that were employed by artists, activists, social scientists and anthropologists, allowed us to create the UA Guide; a resource to support the urban investigations conducted by residents, youth and citizen artists in Harlem.

Methodology (how the project will be conducted):  

Our research process has informed the methodology of how our project will operate.  After selecting Harlem as  our site for investigation, we began by identifying a theme for investigation, displacement. We defined local organizations working to serve the community of Harlem by providing  services or agency. We also embarked on our own urban investigations by utilizing some of the methods and tactics that were pulled from our research like recording through drawing and photography to identify commercial businesses and what their presence means in relation to the collective identity of Harlem. We also performed derives in the neighborhood to be able to experience first hand the fragmented function, culture and energy. After our investigations we collectively discussed our experiences and analyzed our content through our 5 lenses method. Our investigative process forms part of the UA Archive that is presented on our web platform for the general public to have access to.

Target Audience: The project has been designed so that it can engage with a diverse audiences living in a certain locality. We want to be able to engage youth, contributors and artists on an equal platform.  For this specific grant we would like to focus our efforts on two specific components of the project, The UA Pioneers initiative a workshop and The UA Guide; a core  tool in our project that serves the audiences that will form part of the project. We would like to take advantage of the  ‘makers space’ that is being provided by No Longer Empty during the exhibition at the Sugar Hill’s Children Museum.to pilot a UA Pioneer workshop. During this time we would provide the guide to be used during urban investigations.

Specific Deliverables: UA Pioneer workshop and the UA Guide.

We will have the completed UA Guide to provide youth during the workshop in the ‘Makers Space.’  An example of the type of activities that could take place in the workshop is  an introduction of the 5 lenses through storytelling or creating a sociogram or by creating a layered mental map where the participants compose their visualization according to the stories, boundaries, power dynamics, networks and imaginaries they want to identify. Paper, colored pencils, markers and crayons could be used during these activities.

In preparation for the UA Collective

The UA Collective is a component that we want to put together for a Fall 2014 investigation.  Collaborating and supporting the work of existing social justice organizations as well as arts & cultural institutions is an integral part of our methodology. Using the space  provided by The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum in collaboration with No Longer Empty to promote our collective initiative would be very valuable in beginning to reach out to interested community residents and artists. We will have designed postcards and posters to begin and promote interest in the UA Collective’s Fall 2014 inauguration.

Project Timeline

June: We would like to have the UA Guide completed and printed for the workshop we will host in the ‘Makers Space’ of the No Longer Empty exhibit at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum. For this event we will also have a fully designed workshop where the participants will engage in the first iteration of the UA Pioneer initiative.
June- August: We will be putting out a Call for Applicants for the UA Collective during the summer months.

Budget

UA Guide

Company: Create Space
Guide Dimensions: 5.5” x 8.5”
Cost per guide: $7
Number of copies: 50
Shipping cost: $23 (standard shipping)
Total cost (including shipping): $373.00

UA Pioneer workshop materials:
Paper (white and colored), pencils, markers, colored pencils, string: $150.00

Promotional material
Promotional postcards and posters informing audiences about the UA Collective initiative and call for applications
Company: Vista Print
Number of copies (postcards): 500
Standard dimensions/ colored
Cost: $55.00

Number of copies (posters): 500
Standard dimensions/ colored: Medium (18 x 24”)
Quantity: 10
Cost: $7/ poster
Total cost: $70.00

Start up domain name for The Urban Atlas web platform
Cost: $15/ year

Requested Amount
The combined costs of the components we would need initial funding for is $663.00. We would like to ask for $700 is make sure we cover shipping as well. Any money that is left over will go towards the purchase of materials for the workshop.

proposal

Project

 “Walk Harlem” is a participatory project developed to create a deeper connection with the neighborhood and public space through the use and creation of maps and walking tours in the area of Harlem. The participants will be able to ‘take’ the walking tour following the map that they can find in the location point or through their mobile devise, Also through the website, the participants can download a template map and create their own tour.

Goal

The participants will get a better understanding of their surroundings and personal community by mapping and exploring specific places; through this process, they will connect with their neighborhood to create a sense of ownership of public space. We hope this will empower participants to feel better equipped as engaged members of the community.

 Methodology

 We have created two walking tours where the participants can interact and respond through the use of chalk in a specific location as part of the walking tour.

One of the walking tours is based on the poem “I dream a world” by Langston Hughes. Through the uses of chalk the participants will complete the sentence

I dream a world where____________________________________________.

The second walking tour that we created is based on the Harlem riot of 1935. For this tour we invite the participants to answer the following question, using only six words

What does activism looks like to you? ______________________________________________.

Also, we have created a unit plan for after school programs where students can use a template map previously designed and create their DIY walking tour

 Target Audience

 Residents of Harlem in general, and more specifically teens enrolled in after school programs in the area.

Team member

Nour Chamour

Asa Ann-Sofie Persson

Daryl Meador

Hugo Rojas

Project timeline

 May 3-May 4. Walking tour

Summer program activities

Overall Budget

 Website Domain $60

Acrylic sheets  $44

Chalk  $30

Printing cards $30

Stickers $20

Markers $30

Requested Budget

$ 200