Monday, July 25, 2005

Hi, my name is Susan Zhang. Today would be my first full day of work in the garden.
I did a good amount of gardening upon my entrance into the garden – if you consider clearing away trash along with the soil as gardening. I ‘gardened’ with Jesenia and some students from P.S.134. We also worked on the mosaics glued onto one of the plant containers together. One of the main goals for today was to at least make some progress in completing the garden’s first mosaic container. The girl I was with from P.S.134 - Marsali - and I reached for that goal by simply finishing her mosaic and clearing away the extra cement that covers the mosaic pieces with the end of a paint brush. It wasn’t that easy since the majority of the cement glue had already hardened. It was also very frustrating because very little difference is shown even after a lot of hard work.

Alex, Jenny, Dominick, William, Zi Yi, Le Wen and Janet joined us later on with ideas and goals of their own (Anne was already there). Jenny joined us with the mosaics and showed me how to use a hammer and a shovel or just a shovel to chip off bumpy pieces or dried cement. I’m not sure why but I got really excited and interested in trying out her ideas. It was really fun and I even got around with trying out other tools that were available. By then this girl named Lily was also working on the mosaics. I have to admit, I felt as if she had more concentration and determination than me to smooth out the bumpy container. She got so involved with her task that she even decides to skip her lunch period. In my opinion, I think today was a success already since the project was able to attract kids from P.S. 134. The playground was filled with kids playing and having fun. It was amazing how a lot of them offered to help work in the garden rather than continue playing with their friends.

Another job that I perform that I thought would make a good contribution to the garden was planting seeds with Jesenia. She had brought seeds that would one day sprout into a sunflower, a snapdragon, or an aster. The flowers were going to be really pretty, the seeds were easy to plant and the best part of all – we would see results in a short time! The sunflowers were buried behind the benches by the fence, the snapdragons in a container (I didn’t help with that unfortunately… I was busy), and the asters in another. The sunflowers weren’t much trouble but the asters were a whole different story! First we turned the soil with Janet, and then took a look at the seeds for the first time. The seeds were so so so so tiny! Like no larger than a grain of rice! Another trouble with this is that if we were to follow the directions we would have to place each seed in a hole 1 inch by 1 inch. I’m not sure if Janet and Jesenia shared the same opinion as me but I was like “As if!” (I wasn’t good with measurements and being precise with a tiny object in the heat with soil all over me) Well, we ended up randomly spooning out a little of soil for each seed, throw a seed in, slap a handful of dirt on top and forgetting all the measurements and the exact place they were buried in. I really need to work on my patience when I garden!

Then there was the weeding… it wasn't very difficult except for the fact that I constantly got sprayed by the water hose while weeding. Actually, I should thank the kids from P.S.134 for that… it was rather refreshing!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Playtime at the Garden

Hello people, it's me William. I know, William is writing again. I'm sorry, but I just have to tell you all what happened today. Alex, Dominick and I joined Anne, Jenny, and the Henry Street Settlement kids at the garden. It was designed by the students of PS 134. We're fixing it up for them for the summer. This would be the second time for me going to the garden. I was really hyped to get out of the cool, comfortable office for the dirty, humid outdoors.

Anne made me in charge of supervision. I was suppose to ask the kids if they needed a helping hand. My first attempt of interacting with people was a failure. I assumed it was because of me being much older, and therefore creepy. So, I walked around the small garden, picking up fallen bark and leaves. Can ya believe the trash people leave? My gosh, there were so much plastic wrappers. There was even a smashed glass bottle! Ugh, I tried my best to clear that away.

Alex had us interview one child each. He wanted us to practice our interviewing skills for the oral history assignment, that is later on in the internship. I was assigned to talk to a little girl in pink. I pretty much followed her, but didn't say a word. I thought, 'I'm a guy attempting to talk to a girl no older than nine years old. How creepy is that'. To solve this problem, I waited until she was doing something I could help her with. I saw her raking, so I took a broom and swept the garden path. Alex checked in on me and told me to stop sweeping and talk to her already.

I saw her working on the mosaics, and came up to her to lend a hand. When I asked her for her name, she said "...Megan..." as though she were scared. I could understand why. I could be a kidnapper. But after working together for a while, we opened up to one another. I found out that she wanted to be an artist. She would like to have a natural pond on the corner of the garden. I thought I'd throw in a silly question, asking if we could put animals into the pond. She surprised me by saying it was too much responsibility. Some one would have to take care of the animals. Instead, she suggested to me to have objects that would resemble creatures in the water. Unfortunately, due to my reluctance, I wasn't able to ask her more questions. She was a sweet little girl though.

I was surprised when another camp came in, a bunch of children came into the garden. They were asking why we where created a mosaic on the flower plots. I thought about it... It was a good question. I couldn't answer them, but was able to get two girls to join in. They really liked the assorted colors, and one of the girls, Ariel, said we deserved a medal. I don't know about a medal, but a grant... Maybe. Although they really wanted to help, their counselor took them back to their group. I was disappointed, but hoped that they will come back.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Information is the Key

Today is wednesday. Technically we, Dominick and I, were not suppose to be here, but we had to make up our absent days. We started the day a little late. Even the adults were reluctant to come into work at the precise time. But it was okay cause when I was able to write up a new draft of the newsletter that was suppose to of been sent out a while back. Heh, I guess I haven't written it to perfection yet. With Alex's guidance, I'm getting closer to my goal.

When Alex did come in, he immediately put us to work. He wanted us to look for information on how to get information. ... Yeah. Did you pause for a second? He gaves us two sites to check out to help us understand what he wanted. One of the sites was about hypertexts that allowed a person to follow a link to the item inquired. It is pretty much talking about search engines and sites that exsist only to harbor links. It goes on to say children learn more from the net than from educators. I assumed this was because the internet has became a part of people's everyday lifestyle.

We also examined another site called Photovoice. It was a volenteer program that sends recruits as photographers to in need areas. Most of them are children from 16 to 20. Alex wanted to show us how images that send a message to a viewer. Their photos depicted the hardships, sorrow, and endurance of the refugees, poor villagers, and the homeless. It really excited me when I read more about the program, since I have been wanting to get back to serious photography. I might consider volenteering next year.

We went back to Alex to report on what we had interpreted from the two sites. We talked about the power of images, which was basic photo 101 to me. Alex got to talking about oral history. In my head I though, "It's basically letting the speaker talk freely about their past, right?" It is actually more like an informal interview. Alex asked us to look into it on the web, and constantly questioned us if we understood what he said. We did, but the problem was coming up with the solutions to receiving information we need from people. To us there is no other way to ask people other than annoying them with questions. We're nice kids, and we don't want to do that. Anne and Alex tried to explain the concept of oral history to us again, but I didn't quite understood where they were going with it.

Alex gave us a final assignment to find out about the history about Chinatown and the Lower East Side, and brainstorm on what we needed to know for the project ahead. He also gave us a little warning of our future assignment to each get oral histories of five people in the neighborhood. Major gulp.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Hideous Building By Dominick Freeman

This has to be one of the hideous parts of Chinatown. On the Corner of Allen and Division Streets right across the street from the Gas Station, this building has to be the most grotesque thing I ever saw! There is graffiti everywhere the store seems as if it were abandoned for years. Ironically, the only thing that was left clean were the lettering for the store, on top of the countless murals of graffiti at street level.

William Chung and I went on an assignment to find a building that annoys us the most and when we saw this hideous building ...I was speechless! Broken glass on the windows and not to mention the burnt walls surrounding it. But the most scariest thing has to be the color of the facade, a dark, gothic color that makes me want to run away from that block and never go back again. Below the windows there are burnt walls and and a graffiti tag that said HI-5.

There is another part of the street that is just as hideous as the building across from it, the Allen Street malls. The fences are like spagetti; it's all over the place, it spirals around with split ends. The sidewalks looks as if an earthquake struck New York, with one part of the concrete higher than the other, making it dangerous to walk on it and trip. It's the summer and the trees in that mall doesn't seem like its growing leaves, but rather drop chip of bark on my friend William Chung on the arm. I couldn't say more, this part of town needs to be renovated and maintained!

I have some plans that I had to brainstorm as my assignment. For one, I would like to see that hideous building repainted, we need to give some life to a building that is part of our lives everyday. The graffiti needs to be cleaned out, graffiti only shows neglect and always will. I would love to see the street level part of the building to be a nice store or restaurant so people can spending time on that block. For the mall, the trees need some leaves, at least some fake ones to make it look pretty. Sidewalks needs repaving and resurfacing so people can feel safe not to worry about tripping. Also, fixing up the fences and the benches would make it more convenient for people to sit or tak a nice walk on this warm day.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Hi, I'm Jenny Chen. Today, I was working on the garden in PS134.
The whole day wasn't wasted on non-resulting activities. We made a lot of progress on short term work. We started the day with volunteers from Henry street. We brainstormed ideas in which we can improve on the features of the garden and cateogorized the ideas into short term activities and long term goals.
After our discussion on the potential goals and worked on the short terms goals that ranged from raking leaves to pulling out weeds.
Gardening was a whole new experience for me. To me, gardening is helping maintain the life of plants by pulling out weeds and watering the plants, and also making the appearance of the garden more pleasant to observe.
The importance of today was to make progress on our short term goals, but if generalized, the purpose of today was to clean up the garden and make our work on the garden in the future to be less burdened.
I felt as though the hard work in garden today paid off. I could really tell the diffence between how the garden used to be and how it is right now. It is amazing how a little weed pulled out makes such a huge diffence in appearance. Even though I think the the garden looks great as it is right now, I can't wait to see the finished product of the garden.

- The next day
Today's goal was merely just to research on the plants and ideas that will better suit the garden. We went though our ideas realistically and made sure that our ideas didn't go out of hand like building a whole fountain in the garden.
My favorite idea was to mosaic the garden's pathway with marbles or pebbles. I like that idea because when you think of a garden, you immediatly imagine all this different kind of bright colors, but with a dull solied floor, the dull color does'nt compliment the colors of bright flowers. With the colors of the marbles mosaiced on the pathway, it can bring the colors of the garden to the next level.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Well, hello. This is Dominick Freeman and I feel happy that I can write the first blog for HSC. Well today Iwas a bit nervous, feeling like a computer illiterate once again. I never knew what on earth HTML was all about. My co-worker William Chung and I didn’t know what to do until he found a site that made HTML a bit easier for us. We moved as fast as a snail but we made it through and we have accomplished our first step to our new webpage. (hehe)

I felt an accomplishment by learning the basics but there are other things that made me feel a bit sad.Alex Gilliam, our boss, took us around the corner to see a wall. It was a ugly-stained wall that surrounds the handball and basketball court. The wall was stained with many shades of red and it made me scared because it shows neglect. Even though it was left to peel, the kids still play in the court. They play handball and they still have time enjoying themselves.I looked at them play and I was saying to myself that these kids would like to see something done to the wall. I would like to see something creative done to that wall like a mural that would make it more appealing to the community. If it works out in the end, Chinatown would look much more beautiful and I want to see it glow when I’m walking on the street.

Well anyways, I love to have my first blog posted and I would do some more construction work on the webpage. Now only if I had a manual….

Friday, July 01, 2005

Heh, hey. My name is William, and this is my first web blog entry at the Hester Street Collaborative. Woot-woot.

This is my second day working with the collaborative. The first day was a real nervous one. Another intern and I had to setup the exhibit that displayed what they did with kids from PS 134 and MS 131. We put up photos of the kids working and learning from the guest speakers. I was impressed and surprised to see the work the kids had done. Especially the job they did with the flower garden.

Anyways, my second day went well too. I came in too early, cause Anne wasn't here yet. But, another person put me to work. I was like, "Oh man, another boss. Act cool." He name is Alex. He seems alright. Very impressed with his education in carpenting.

Alex gave me a little assignment to pick fifthteen photos that could be postcard worthy. They had to represent what we do here, and look good. Was it a test of my abilties? Nah. I tried to see it as a musuem report. I walked around the basement looking at the images, and writing my analysis. I went to the computer to print out the photos for my presentation. I was all nervous, but Alex said I did alright. I basically said why some images I choose I thought were powerful, and others were fun to have as postcards. Man, I wish I had one night just to write an essay, and be all student like. Wait. What am I saying? I'm out of high school. Why am I still thinking school-ish?

I really like the mural photo (the one displayed). I remember it when it still looked nice. It's suppose to show the endurence of the Chinese immigrants. Now the wall is covered with graffitti. Dang youths who don't appreciate art. I believe it is important that the postcards show what the neighborhood needs fxing, as well as the improvements. Hopefully it can delieve a message to others.

What time is it? I hope my shift is almost over. Ha ha, just kidding. I like it here.