Marchers demand cleaner air, healthier food

By Rachel Brown for the Hunts Point Express

Dozens of Hunts Point residents marched with nearly 400,000 demonstrators in the People’s Climate March in Manhattan this past Sunday, calling on world leaders to make drastic changes, all the while chanting slogans such as, “The South Bronx is under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

Local marchers gathered at 9 a.m. with the Bronx Climate Justice bloc at La Finca del Sur community garden in Mott Haven, and started the day with some yoga, a contrast to the huge cardboard fists people would soon carry. Led by two yoga instructors, the marchers were encouraged to remove their shoes, spread their toes, feel grounded to the earth and breathe deeply, bringing calm to the already palpable hustle of the day.

Representatives from Sustainable South Bronx, South Bronx Unite, the Green Worker Cooperatives, Mothers on the Move, Percent for Green, The Point, Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition and La Finca del Sur then took turns outlining their platform points, from waterfront access to healthy food. Most of the groups also made the point that while climate change affects everyone, vulnerable communities such as Hunts Point often bear the brunt of the negative impacts. Another common theme among speakers was that the people have solutions for the issues they face, and lawmakers need to listen to them.

By 9:30 a.m., the group dispersed to take the 1 train to Central Park West, where the citywide march began. A faction of the crowd instead mounted bicycles, and several riders wore lime-green gas tanks labeled with “Stop FreshDirect” stickers to symbolize the health effects that the company’s diesel trucks would bring into a community already burdened with very high asthma rates.

“As a mother whose daughter grew up with asthma, I decided to join today,” said Candace Adams of Morrisania, who rode her bike to midtown after the Bronx gathering. The South Bronx bike group later joined with a larger bike bloc, a group advocating for divestment in fossil fuels and calling attention to bicycles as an environmentally friendly way to get around the city.

Also on the bicycle route was Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, one of the co-founders of Boogie Down Rides, a Bronx-based cycling group. “As a South Bronx resident, at a time when the city is making decisions that affect us, I’m here today because I want to be a part of that,” Ramos-Fermin said.

Longwood resident Nicolás Dumit Estévez said he was participating in the demonstration to be united with the people of the South Bronx who are routinely neglected by the city government. He suggested that climate justice is connected to race, class and gender. “There is a reason we refer to the earth as mother,” Estevez said. “I think we need to change that idea to lover. We have to start loving the earth.”

Mychal Johnson of South Bronx Unite, a coalition working to improve and protect the social, environmental, and economic future of the area, was also one of 38 international civil society delegates to the United Nations Climate Summit held on Sept. 23. He marched along while monitoring the FreshDirect parade float, which was the size of a delivery truck and bore the message, “FreshDirect aims to bring 1,000 daily diesel truck trips through a South Bronx community where 1 in 5 children have asthma.”

“Hopefully I will have the opportunity to bring issues facing people every day in the South Bronx to the world stage,” Johnson said, interrupting himself to tell marchers to watch their step, and, a second later, to pick up the pace. “And I hope that the governments will create a binding agreement on carbon emissions.”

“Sustainability with Dignity!” was a phrase on Alicia Grullón’s Percent for Green sign at the march. Through months of conversations with Bronx residents, she has drafted the Percent for Green bill, which would require that city-funded development projects dedicate 5 percent of costs to public green space. The youth activist program A.C.T.I.O.N and the circus program from The Point could likewise be seen marching, juggling and holding up a banner that read “The Bronx is Breathing.” “It feels amazing to be part of a huge march like this,” said Twahira Khan, a long-time Bronx resident and volunteer with the Bronx River Alliance. “When you’re in a small community trying to solve problems, it can feel overwhelming. But when you know that others are out there working on the same issues in their communities, it’s inspiring.”

(how to) make friends, make a scene, make things happen, and fall in love with your neighborhood

(how to) make friends, make a scene, make things happen, and fall in love with your neighborhood is based on Meta Local’s ongoing project, Boogie Down Rides. Participants are invited to consider the act of riding a bike as a form of performance and community-engaged action.

Download PDF

 

This is part of Meta Local Collaborative’s contribution to Christine Wong Yap’s Make Things Happen Project

 

 

Make Things (Happen)

Make Things (Happen) is a participatory project organized by Christine Wong Yap featuring 29 artist-created activity sheets to make things or make things happen.

 

mkth

 

Artists: Lauren F. Adams, Oliver Braid, Maurice Carlin, Kevin B. Chen, Torreya Cummings, Helen de Main, double zero, Bean Gilsdorf, Galeria Rusz, Sarrita Hunn, Maria Hupfield, Nick Lally, Justin Langlois, Justin Limoges, Jessica Longmore, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., Meta Local Collaborative, Roy Meuwissen, Dionis Ortiz, Kristina Paabus, Piero Passacantando, Julie Perini, Risa Puno, Genevieve Quick, Pallavi Sen, Elisabeth Smolarz, Emilio Vavarella, David Gregory Wallace, Lexa Walsh.

Visit

Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration

Curated by Deb Willis and Hank Willis Thomas

March 27–October 2, 2014
Nathan Cummings Foundation
475 Tenth Avenue, 14th floor (between W. 36th & 37th Streets), New York, NY 10018
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 27, 6-8 pm
Reservations required; email exhibits@nathancummings.org.

Mid-October to November 28, 2014
NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Photography and Imaging galleries
721 Broadway, 8th Floor (between Washington Place and Waverly Place), New York, NY 10003
Opening Reception: TBA

Project Statement

Make Things (Happen) is intended to multiply creative activity. I started by asking 29 artists to create activity sheets; these are downloadable here and freely available in Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration. Anyone and everyone are invited to use them to make things or make things happen, then share their results (#mkthngs or #mkthngshppn) to encourage further participation.

ACTIVITIES. I was inspired by enjoyable, memorable, shared experiences—from showing my niece how to sew her own holiday decorations, to initiating a book club via video chat with distant peers. The invited artists branched out, enriching the project with their diverse artistic and didactic pursuits. Their contributions reflect their optimism and ambivalence towards how-to directives, and thus offer concrete objectives as well as space for open-ended interpretation. The activities range from drawing worksheets to elaborate constructions; community exchanges to gallows humor; and studio instructions to discussion prompts.

Activities fall into two categories. Make Things entails hands-on, tangible art activities. Through drawing worksheets, participants can encounter the techniques and social concepts in the work ofKevin B. ChenDionis Ortiz, and Lauren F. Adams, or potentially increase positive sentiment (Galleria RuszPallavi Sen). Participants can also create hands-on 3-D projects, such as a shadow puppet show (David Gregory Wallace) or multi-person swing (Kristina Paabus). The projects also intersect with the virtual; one could modify the code in digital images (Emilio Vavarella), or hand draw algorithmic patterns (Nick Lally).

Make Things Happen encompasses manifold approaches. Projects from Helen de MainMaria Hupfield, and Lexa Walsh catalyze or facilitate interpersonal exchanges. double zero has programmed a telephone menu as a public, interactive, and collaborative experience. Individuals can also improve bad days (Elisabeth Smolarz), meditate (Piero Passacantando), take a tongue-in-cheek personality quiz (Risa Puno), or explore looking as a form of time-travel (Genevieve Quick).

Other artists’ projects instantiate the expanded boundaries of contemporary art practice. The studio itself is re-thought with alternatives for creating and inhabiting spaces, both individually (Jessica Longmore) and collaboratively (Maurice Carlin). Meta Local Collaborative describes the extra-studio art practice of bicycling. Bean Gilsdorf’s kooky, illustrated handout, How to Use It, never identifies what “It” is, calling upon users’ interpretation and open-ended application.

Four artists riff on (im)possibilities, referencing feature films (Torreya CummingsRoy Meuwissen) and texts (Oliver BraidJustin Limoges). They alternately employ poetics, darkness, and ambivalence.

While how-to instructions typically describe concrete actions, four contributors ambitiously invite participants to engage in efforts and radical re-imaginations towards social change. Julie Perinidescribes how white people can challenge white supremacy. Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. parodies corporate handbooks to tackle gender and power. Sarrita Hunn contributes a well-researched How to… Make An Alternative Institution, and Justin Langlois’ list of provocations encourages collaborative visions for a self-determined future.

ARTISTS. I invited these particular artists, duos, and collaboratives because their practices are a mix of hands-on, participatory, and engaged with the world. They work across social practice, drawing, sculpture, video, and performance. About one-third of the artists are international—from the UK, Canada, Poland, Italy, and India; one-third are from California; and the rest are from New York or other parts of the US. A few actively create new conditions for art and engagement by founding organizations and initiatives. All excite me with how their lives and art-making are interconnected with the world at large. I am particularly interested in highlighting practices unconcerned with, despite, and agitating against the demands of the art market. Profiles and links to their sites are included so you can learn more.

BACKGROUND. About a year ago, I wrote an essay and created a diagram to explore “What Artists Make (Happen).” I wanted to think through how artists who create art objects make things in their studios, also make things happen with others beyond the studio walls—events, dialogues, possibilities. The point was that artists also involve and affect other people, and therefore manipulate social realities.

what-artists-make_01c

 

 

Make Things (Happen) continues to explore these ideas. In this case, making things is still defined as hands-on fabrication, while making things happen includes social, conceptual and performance actions. By participating, the public can sample activities that manipulate objects, forms, and social realities, and experientially encounter artists’ practices and thoughts. These activities are intended for participation—so it’s your move.

—Christine Wong Yap, 2014

THANKS to curators Deb Willis and Hank Willis ThomasNYU Tisch Department of Photo and ImagingKarl Peterson and Sonia Louise Davis; and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. My sincerest gratitude to all the artists for their time, enthusiasm, and thoughtful contributions; and to Sarrita Hunn for exploring the potential of the initial concepts. And thanks in advance to participants!

LINKS. For more participatory contemporary art projects, see Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Do It, and Paper Monument’s Draw It With Your Eyes Closed.

Caption: Various Artists, Make Things (Happen), 2014, 29 activity sheets, 8.5 x 11 inches / 216 x 279 mm

 

Get the Boogie Down Rides T-shirt

Screen_shot_2013-06-25_at_7.58.28_AM

Show your Boogie Love and support bicycling in the Bronx with the BDR t-shirt! GET IT HERE

Unisex

This is an Anvil Organic T-shirt

5 oz. 100% certified pre-shrunk organic cotton
Soft, comfortable fabric
Double-needle stitched for durability

This shirt complies with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

More info about Anvil compliance policies here.

GUEST BLOG: Global to Local, environment and space – ideas from around the world

Excerpt

By Maria Adebowale (Capacity Global) for  Local Trust

Boogie Down Rides: Bicycling as an art (New York, America)

Boogie Down Rides was set up by artists who use bikes and art to start conversations about improving local space and how people access it.

Elizabeth Hambey and Hatuey Ramos Fermin, the two artists who set up the project, were keen to show how riding down a street can be a starting point for turning a place around. The conversation starter they used with the local people they met focused on how bike riding helped to encourage a cycling culture or make an area even safer. If more people felt comfortable riding bikes around the neighbourhood then more people using the streets and lanes could help to reduce crime and give an area a buzz.

Talking about bikes helped people to start thinking about why areas feel unsafe to ride and what the solution might be for people living locally.  Elizabeth and Hatuey noticed that more local people started using a bike, mending their bikes or learning to ride (particularly women) for the first time.

For some residents cycling represents the ability to get outdoors and explore their local green spaces.

To find out more about Boogie Bikes click here.

Citizen Placemakers: Elizabeth Hamby & Hatuey Ramos Fermín Use Art to Bring People Together

By  for Project for Public Spaces

Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermín are people connectors. As artists, activists, and Bronxites, their creative collaborations are all about gathering information from neighbors and presenting it in ways that allow communities to better understand themselves and the urban spaces they create. The two have worked in all kinds of public spaces, from major thoroughfares and street corners to laundromats, grocery stores, and vacant waterfronts.

Recently, they organized Boogie Down Rides: Bicycling is Art. The artists used the social act of biking as a springboard for talking with people about the creation of healthy, active urban environments. Throughout the month of May 2012, they set up many different formats for engaging the public: a temporary bike shop that simultaneously served as an education hub, group rides across the Bronx, and visioning workshops about biking and greenway initiatives in the city.

The project was organized as part of the public art exhibition, This Side of Paradise, by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freedman Home. I recently sat down with Hatuey and Elizabeth to talk aboutBoogie Down Rides and the other urban projects they have in the works.

 

What was it about your community that inspired Boogie Down Rides? Was there a particular need that you were responding to or wanted to address?

Hatuey: Boogie Down Rides grew out of another project of mine, Transmit-Transit. It explored the idea of taxi drivers as a mode of transport in the the Bronx, and the need for cabs to move around. Public transit in the north-south direction works well but east-west not so much. No Longer Empty first approached me about that transportation project, which became a video installation at the Andrew Freedman Home that connected the gallery space to the outside world. Then we began thinking about how to physically and conceptually expand transportation within the community. Transportation was a major theme extending back to Mr. Freedman’s time, with Mr. Freedman being a major backer of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), New York City’s original underground subway. The IRT addressed the linking of open space from Central Park to Van Cortlandt Park. Extending the idea of Transmit-Transit beyond cabs, we wanted to look at bikes as another viable option to address mobility in the Bronx.

One of the great things about Boogie Down Rides is how it brings together many activities that people may not normally associate but which all contribute to healthy places. Your tagline, for example, is Bicycling is Art. Can you explain how biking, public art, and urban spaces are linked in your project?

Elizabeth: Instead of representing reality as a painting, we live it on a bike. The bike embodied action for this issue of transportation in the Bronx, where biking is a social act and a political act. Instead of designing a solution to a problem, we tried to figure out the questions that exist in real life through the experience of biking. We both live in the Bronx. It’s part of our day-to-day reality, and because we’re artists, we have a compulsion to make what we see public. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities. We hope our work as artists can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable in many ways.

The project also involved community visioning sessions for the Bronx’s longer-term development. What came out of these sessions?

Elizabeth: The visioning sessions were really spearheaded by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which was just launching an interactive toolkit to gather data and address threats to active transportation and public space. They were key in leading some of the concrete visioning work happening around the Sheridan Expressway, where dangerous connections make it unsafe to bike between the parks. Rather than focusing on cause and effect, the visioning sessions were about figuring out opportunities for improvement. Safety—specifically, feeling safe in public—was an ongoing theme in the conversations we had with our neighbors.

Throughout your various interactions with the public, did you come across questions or reactions that particularly surprised you?

Elizabeth: One of the most surprising things that we learned from Boogie Down Rides was the number of adults—particularly women—who had never learned how to ride a bike, and who were very excited to find out about opportunities for biking in the Bronx. In the instance of another project, Mind the Gap/La Brecha, we talked a lot with folks in our neighborhood about their ideas for the waterfront. One of the critical components to the waterfront that came up over and over again was the basic need for clean public restrooms!

Collaboration seems integral to your work. What other community partners were vested inBoogie Down Rides?

Hatuey: Conversations and collaborations were important from the start; we worked with Transportation AlternativesDepartment of Health and Mental HygieneBronx River AllianceBike the BronxBronx Health REACHPartnership for ParksVelo City

Elizabeth: We also had a meeting with City Planning and the Mayor’s Office where we were able to show our recommendations. It was perhaps an unusual case in that the Mayor’s Office and City Planning came to us. Our collaborations really grew organically, and our project was timely in terms of how they related to conversations already happening in New York about biking, complete streets, and the South Bronx Greenway Plan.

And did people express any misconceptions that you were able to address through these collaborations?

Elizabeth: I think that artists working in public the way that we do are often confused with non-profit or other community-based organizations. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities—and the ways that we hope that our work can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable.

Any advice you would give to communities who are trying to build healthier places?

Elizabeth: You have to remember the factor of critical mass. If you notice a problem, someone else probably has too, so it becomes about working together in a long-term way.

Hatuey: It’s realizing there are already resources within the community, and that becomes the main point of departure. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You want to create space to bring stakeholders together.

Elizabeth: Also humility and willingness to listen and genuinely collaborate—those are really important, in regard to attitude. There’s a lot of work that goes into working together.

Hatuey: Listening is the biggest thing, listening with a big ear.

Boogie Down Rides

Boogie Down Rides is a bicycling and art project.

Boogie Down Rides is a celebration of bicycling in the Bronx. It includes educational events, community visioning sessions and group rides.

Boogie Down Rides firmly believes in the power of bicycling as a way to promote active transportation, recreation, and exercise. We support and build bridges of existing efforts to expand safe cycling while connecting communities and people in the process.

This project is organized by meta local collaborative, an initiative by artists Elizabeth Hambyand Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, and includes a broad coalition of individuals and organizations.  Community partners include Bike the BronxBronx River AllianceVelo CityBronx Health REACHNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,Partnership for Parks,  Transportation Alternatives, and New York City Department of Transportation.

This project started as part of the exhibition This Side of Paradise, presented by No Longer Empty.

Bicycling is art.

Boogie Down Rides on Facebook

 

 

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615

 

 

 

I.R.T.

For the exhibition, “This Side of Paradise” organized by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freedman Home, Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín presented IRT, a multi-model installation and public engagement project exploring transportation issues in the Bronx. The project has a variety of interrelated components including a video installation about livery cabs in the Bronx (Transmit – Transit), maps, interviews, and neighborhood tours.

In collaboration with community-based organizations in the Bronx, the artists presented Boogie Down Rides, a month long cycling celebration and public education project. The project ran throughout the month of May and hosted a series of educational events, community visioning sessions and group rides. Visitors and community member learned about ongoing cycling projects in the Bronx including the development of greenways and bike paths. The project was also a place for community engagement and for members of the public to respond to these initiatives through surveys and participatory workshops. By creating a cycling project, Boogie Down Rides aimed to increase awareness of cycling as a mode of transportation and recreation, promote safe cycling and bridge existing efforts to expand cycling in the Bronx.