A generation of suburban youth arrived in New York during its greatest period of decline and started creating institutions, producing artistic projects in public space, and creating new ways of living in the postindustrial city. A Beautiful Ruin is a densely detailed narrative nonfiction account of their activities during New York's economic low point, in the manner of Luc Sante's Low Life, capturing the texture of the streets, the fascinations of street art and performance, the romance of the declining manufacturing districts where they lived and worked, the sociological world they inhabited, and how the real estate market, banking industry and city government encouraged their activities. In the aftermath of the fiscal crisis, new forms of urban life, real estate models, art practices, imaginative architecture, cultural institutions, ethnographic fusions, pop culture trends and art stars emerged as beacons of a new way of living.
This project has been supported by grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Greenpoint Community Meeting, local advocacy, ongoing. The Greenpoint Community Meeting project is an effort to advance common goals and interests of Greenpoint residents by developing new constituencies alongside and in concert with the normal political bodies and nonprofit organizations of the Community Board, the City Council, the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, the Newtown Creek Alliance, and the state and national representatives. It seeks to recognize such groups as local artists, new residents, young professionals, and minorities that are underrepresented in political processes, inform them about the existing community-based work already being done, and advance their interests within those agencies and organizations. By systematically identifying and including these formal and informal agencies, structures, and all of the existing plans, projects, ideas, and initiatives ongoing or envisioned, it develops a larger vision for the community in Greenpoint and around the Newtown Creek that can transform its damaged ecological infrastructure and radically improve the quality of life.
Rethinking Development Initiative, local advocacy, ongoing. As architects, designers, urbanists, and city leaders we are constantly volunteering and being asked to imagine new ways of creating spaces and adapting old spaces to new uses. We participate in competitions and design studios, we engage in discussions and write reviews, we look at plans and proposals and give them our approval or disapproval. We are rarely agents of urban development and site programming. But now, with New York City having achieved a unique status as a “superstar” city, we are in a position to create a new model that corresponds to our idea of what a great city should be. The Rethinking Development Initiative is an effort to mobilize the design community to become actively engaged in producing new developments, shaping existing developments, and improving political processes to allow this new model to be realized in built forms.
Bring to Light, New York's First Nuit Blanche, Noble Street, Greenpoint, community development, production, and performance, ongoing. The Bring to Light community development work applies practices of reporting and advocacy to a public art project in Greenpoint. It seeks to influence the festival to serve the interests of the community by pushing it to expand and temporarily occupy a large area in need of cultural, economic and physical transformation along the waterfront. In its first year, the project involved contacting as many local community organizations, leaders, activists, nonprofits, community leaders, elected officials, and residents as possible to make the festival fundamentally inclusive, and working within the production group to articulate the aims of the festival in order to advance the interests of community groups and organizations.