FEAST #11 Proposals

Together on a Hill

Primarily a Caribbean and Jewish neighborhood, Crown Heights has a rich, and sometimes volatile, history. In recent years, the historic Crow Hill section in northwest Crown Heights—like several other parts of Brooklyn—has undergone a transformation in appearance and demographics. Many see these changes, shudder and whisper through their teeth, “gentrification.” Others celebrate. Some neighborhood tensions have surfaced even as new alliances form around an effort to develop without destroying.

Together on a Hill is an exploration of Crow Hill in transition, featuring day-in-the-life multimedia pieces combining sound and photography, similar in style to the New York Times series “One in 8 Million.” Defining a neighborhood while preserving its history-in-the-making, our project will spotlight this diverse, changing area through the stories of some 15 individuals, both newcomers and longtime residents. They include a local gardener, a graffiti artist, a backyard poultry raiser, a tattoo artist, a rabbi, a storefront church preacher, a longtime merchant, a community activist, and a building superintendent.

The final product will be a public presentation of the series outdoors in the new CHCA Community Garden, with refreshments donated by neighborhood vendors, and available for longer-term viewing at LaunchPad, a Crow Hill creative venue. This community-building project is aimed at helping create a bridge between the old and the new and bringing greater awareness about the complexity of local gentrification to all who live, work, and play on “the Hill.”

In the words of feisty, strong-willed community activist Eve Porter, 75, who has lived on Crow Hill for over 40 years: “You aren’t just here, you belong here.”
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Greenpoint Oil Spill Remediation Oyster Mushroom Pilot Project

Mycoremediation is a term coined by noted mushroom researcher Paul Stamets, who discovered the enzymes and acids that mycelium produces are superb at breaking apart hydrocarbons. Oyster mushrooms gained national attention after the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, when nearly 60,000 gallons of fuel were dumped into San Francisco Bay. Clean-up workers successfully introduced oyster mushroom spores to help decompose the oil. And once oyster mushrooms run out of food, they die off and decompose naturally, posing no threat to the environment, according to the EPA. [1]

Meanwhile, here in north Brooklyn: “An estimated 17 to 30 million gallons of oil, benzene, naptha and other carcinogenic chemicals pollute a 55-acre, 25-foot-deep swath of soil in Greenpoint.” [2]

We therefore seek financial support for an oyster mushroom pilot project, to begin attempting as a community to mycoremediate the oil spill beneath us. We’d buy spore kits and related supplies, to generate a self-replenishing source of mushrooms for this purpose. We’d also seek volunteers to help plant various sites: people’s backyards, city parks, empty lots, the banks of Newtown Creek… We wish to be methodical, learn what works here and why. After this phase we’d ask Paul Stamets to advise us directly, as well as the city’s ecologists (who are already curious). We then would approach Exxon itself, who are obligated to further remediate the spill site.

1. http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/the-oldest-solution-on-earth/
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/opinion/16Prudhomme.html
3. image: http://nymag.com/news/features/32865/index4.html
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Tinderbox Music Festival

Now in its second year, the Tinderbox Music Festival (http://tinderboxmusicfestival.com/) is an annual Brooklyn event showcasing a powerful and diverse lineup of established and emerging female artists producing innovative, original music across all genres. Rooted in the vibrant NYC music scene, Tinderbox fosters community by providing opportunities to perform, collaborate, and connect. Tinderbox donates 100% of its net proceeds to NYC organizations involved in empowering the next generation of female artists including Girls Write Now, an organization dedicated to providing guidance and writing opportunities for NYC’s underserved high school girls, and the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a non-profit music and mentoring program empowering girls and women through music education and activities. Tinderbox’s goal is to celebrate music by local female artists in a space that espouses diversity and acceptance while giving back and engaging with the community.

Tinderbox also works with the community by producing a no-cost Summer Songwriting Workshop Program held in late July for NYC’s young women ages 13-18. Participants collaborate to pen original songs with established female artists– many of whom are Tinderbox Music Festival performers residing in NYC’s five boroughs. The workshop culminates with mentees and mentors performing and recording their musical collaborations.

A $1,000 FEAST grant would be applied towards the songwriting workshop which would include approximately twenty mentees and twenty mentors. Funds would supply participants with songwriting notebooks and necessary recording equipment. Any remaining funds would then be applied to both the promotion of the songwriting workshop and the music festival.
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Art in Odd Places 2011: RITUAL (program guide)

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) is an annual festival that presents visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces along 14th Street in Manhattan, NYC from Avenue C to the Hudson River each autumn. As a response to the dwindling of public spaces and personal civil liberties, our mission is to stretch the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks outside the confines of traditional public space regulations. AiOP reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas. AiOP has always been a grassroots project fueled by the goodwill and inventiveness of its volunteer participants.

In 2011, AiOP returns to 14th Street from October 1-10 (our seventh year!) with the theme of RITUAL presenting sixty-six international artists exhibiting a wide array of installations and performances. This edition of AiOP seeks to disrupt the procedures of the everyday and emphasize the ritualistic character of small gestures or acts in both religious and secular life, to establish temporary moments of ecstatic contemplation in the public realm.

With the help of a FEAST grant, AiOP will be able to cover the design, printing, and distribution costs of 10,000 program guides. The guides–featuring a map, project descriptions, and artists’ bios for the 2011 festival–will be distributed in key locations throughout the five boroughs of NYC.
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The Step Right Up Program

In ten weeks, students in The Step Right Up Program create an original theatrical production from start to finish: from conceptualization (script writing, storyboarding), to design (costumes, sets, props, lighting, sound) to production (acting, directing, choreography, music, multi-media). Given complete creative freedom, these kids come up with some awesome stuff!

This fall, will be our third year at The Green School. The student population is predominately minority with a high concentration of immigrant students. This is an at-risk community, with 75% of the school’s population living at or below the poverty level. The students come mainly from East Williamburg, Bushwick, East New York, Canarsie, and Bedford Stuyvesant.

Our Teaching Artists have found their community in this same neighborhood. And sadly, right along side a very artistic community, these kids don’t have arts programming unless it is brought in by outside organizations. We are committed to providing this opportunity of creative expression. While our teaching methods encourage resourcefulness, the cost of raw materials does add up. $1,000 would allow us to purchase materials we need to build a set, make costumes and props, as well as purchase lighting and audio equipment.

Thank you for extending this opportunity to the community at large. We look forward to the moment they look out into the audience and see their families and the people that are living, working and creating in their neighborhood (you!) and they can say, yeah, I made this and I’m proud!
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Brooklyn Diggers’ Imagine 1861 in Greenpoint (The 150th Anniversary of the USS Monitor)

The Brooklyn Diggers are a collective of activists, historians and artists. Our aim is to reclaim the working class psycho-geography of our neighborhoods and to expose ignored perspectives in our history; encouraging residents and visitors to contemplate their lived environment with increased insight and empathy.
For our next project, we will re-create Williamsburg-Greenpoint circa 1861 for a one-day participatory festival along the waterfront, imagining when North Brooklyn waterfront was at the center of national trade and industry. The handiwork of hundreds who occupied this neighborhood would make a major impact on United States Civil War. Our festival will draw visitors into meticulously researched recreations of daily life during this period. This will include demonstrations of old Greenpoint occupations, such as rope making, ship-building and metal-working. Costumed interpreters will engage visitors in conversation. Culinary historians will serve popular dishes from the period. The festival will also give us the opportunity to reconstruct, with participant help, a giant paper-mache model to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor, the Greenpoint-built Civil War ironclad that greatly aided the Union’s victory. A marching band playing Civil War era music to create a festive atmosphere. The event will conclude in a parade celebrating North Brooklyn’s Civil War history.
Our hope that is through immersing visitors in our imagining of Greenpoint-Williamsburg during this important time, we will remind New York City that North Brooklyn has long been a significant place– setting trends not just on the fashion pages of the New York Times, but actually contributing to major events in American History.
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Hinge Figures

Who lives/d behind the doors of your neighborhood? What is their story? How many hands have graced your own doorknob, before it was yours? As vvitalny began to research North Brooklyn and the communities we both identify with and those we simply share space with, we began to uncover the complex process of a century of home-making that has made the neighborhood inhabitable for us today – a process that implicates us all.

Hinge Figures is a sculptural sound installation that explores the layered histories of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick through sculpture – three life-sized doors – and sound – found sounds, historical recordings and original compositions. It will be installed in McCarren Park from Sept. 2 – 18. “Ring” the doorbell and trigger an embedded sound module which plays a sound characterization of a segment of that door’s potential history. Visit the website to browse an extensive historical timeline of North Brooklyn from 1850, and to learn about the historical recordings used in the piece.

Hinge Figures is partially funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council. FEAST funding would allow us to grow the project, and to deepen its connection to the community, in three ways:

1. Purchasing a sound recorder to gather field recordings representing the communities as they exist today.

2. Design and implement a format for individual response (these responses would be compiled and posted on the website).

3. Install the project in additional locations, including McGolrick (Greenpoint) and Maria Hernandez (Bushwick) parks. FEAST funding would cover permits and technology maintenance.
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The Manhattan Apparel Project

The Manhattan Apparel Project is a company that was founded six months ago. The goals of the organization are two-fold.

First, the organization aims to connect underserved youth with local artists and designers via hands-on workshops. These workshops vary in content from creating Lego accessories with guest fashion designers Dee&Ricky, to creating crochet sculptures with crochet artist Olek, to hand dyeing and printing fabrics.
Second, the ideas and works developed during these workshops will serve as the basis for a line of apparel and accessories. For example, the fabric that is printed during the workshops will be used to create cardigans and t-shirts, while each guest artist will inspire a stand-out accessory. These items will then be sold, with a portion of the sales from the line going toward sustaining and growing the workshops.