Thursday, July 31, 2008

Silk Screening! :D

After weeks and weeks of sketching, we finally silk screened our designs on paper, wood, and cloth. All of the designs came out better than we thought it would. All the work must had paid off from drawing our design on contact paper and cutting them out with exacto knife. We were so excited silk screening our designs and getting paint all our fingers. Throughout the process, we felt that we have achieved and learned a lot about designing. It also brought back our childhood memories, and for us to think once again like a child. As a child we think things simple and adorable, so our main theme is all about the kids. We had to focus on the phrase "Watch Us Grow" at the P.S 134 Community Garden. Even though the thinking part required a little brainstorming, seeing our designs come out nice made our day!!
Yesterday we started to brainstorm about our research projects. We split up into two groups. Melissa and Vivian went to SDR to take pictures of the part to build a stage for the performances. We, Angela and Helen, went to SDR to take notes of everything that takes place in the park, like the different activities that difference ages groups do. The park was long! It was about 6 blocks long. While walking from the beginning to the end of the park we noticed a lot of things we didn't know about the park. Theres a community garden that is taken care of by communtiy workers. We also learned that the houses from Grand going down to Delancy, the 6 blocks, there are different types of people living on each block. While we were exploring around the park, we saw people performing in front of the kids and the parks are open for everybody. We also saw a huge garden; which took up a whole section of the parks. But no one really takes care of it. And Helen thought of an idea to write her research project on the community gardens that no one takes care of. And as of Angela, she took notes on the different activites and different age groups in the park. Now we should get started on the project. We only have 2 more weeeks!! :(

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meeting in Queens

Hi, this is Melissa. This morning I went with Dylan and Kayan to a meeting with the Immigrants and Parks Collaborative in Jamaica, Queens. A main goal for today's discussion was to address language on signs in parks. Two days ago, Mayor Bloomberg signed an executive order that would improve language access for immigrants. It stipulated that essential public documents would have versions in the six top languages spoken in the city and that interpretation services would be available in these same languages. Unfortunately, logistics for achieving this level of communication has been slowed down by bureaucracy. The Parks Department claims that it shares the Collaborative's interest, which is in favor of the immigrants, but if there is no result to show for their supposed good will, no one is satisfied. The Immigrants continue to suffer from the inactivity of those with power. Today's discussion was often directed towards how they could impress the importance of actually translating important documents and signs. This meeting made it all the more clear to me exactly how slow the process of actually getting things done in this city is. The tiers of power always get in the way because it takes such an effort for advocates of impoverished New Yorkers and immigrants to get their point of view across to those with money and authority.
Perhaps halfway through the meeting, the guest speaker showed up. Christian DiPalermo from New Yorkers for Parks. He orally presented some of the history behind what Parks has done until now. The agency grades parks and beaches in the five boroughs and assesses safety, cleanness, and the condition of facilities. He brought up the issue of tracking crime that takes place within parks, as this is a fairly recent development. Some people presented ideas they had for there own parks in order to lower the crime rate, but it was merely brainstorming.
I found the meeting insightful. I was in a unique position because I came into the meeting knowing very little about the topics of the conversation. As someone who grew up going to many of the parks that were addressed, I found it very interesting to hear what the politics behind them are. So little is concrete because of the complications of working with the city. It was not exactly comforting to learn how much crime still exists in New York's parks, but at the same time, the rate has decreased due to all of the work that organizations for parks have done over the past decade and more.

Monday, July 21, 2008


The garden is used by students from the elementary school located next to the garden. It is a place for the students to learn and do hands on activities in an outdoor environment. The garden is maintained by volunteers daily. So far they had helped to water the plants, clean the floor of fallen leaves & trash, and pull out the weeds and perform other gardening work. Not only do volunteers maintain the garden, they also help design ways to draw the community’s attention. The garden needs to attract members of the community.

Currently, we are working to make the garden more community friendly. We are trying our best to develop ideas to make the garden much more noticeable. One suggestion is to make signs. The signs will bring attention to the people walking by the garden. Some thoughts are

the use of colorful and seasonal signs. We also want these signs to be kid friendly yet are still appealing to adults. Another idea of attraction is to make tracks leading into the garden so it would lead curious children who follow it right to it. Hopefully these signs and attractions will bring the community to visit the garden more frequently.

One recent problem was an intrusion of delinquents in the garden. These delinquents had climbed over the door, and had vandalized the garden. Red paint was splattered on trees. A couple of chairs made by the student of the elementary school were also thrown and smashed. To prevent another intrusion, an idea was formulated to prevent future cases. One idea was to hang a sign over the entrance of the garden. The entrance to the garden had a lower fence than the surrounding areas, which delinquents can easily climb over and enter during the night. The signs would not only attract members of the community - it can be used to block delinquents from entering.

Keep in mind that none of our current ideas are final, and that we will continue to work to improve this garden.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Allen Street Pedestrian Malls

            One of the projects we are in the middle of is renovating the Allen Street Malls. Funding for this project began in 1996 and planning began in 2003. This past Wednesday, HSC hosted a scope meeting to get suggestions from people who live in the neighborhood and find out what they would like to see in the new malls. Those who came to the meeting were split into groups and given line drawings of panoramas of different malls on Allen Street. They could draw all over them to give visual aid to their suggestions about how to renovate specific blocks.

            For the local residents’ benefits, there were ideas of creating a peaceful area for relaxation or an area for events such as dance performances, holiday festivals, etc. To make living in the area more comfortable, local markets would benefit from their long walks to buy groceries. As for residents that walk their dogs in the morning or daily joggers, their own greenway would really benefit them. Families would be able to go to the malls and take a stroll.

            There is a safety issue around the Allen Street Pedestrian Malls. On each side of the malls are wide roads which can cause a hazard to pedestrians. People hope that there will be a way to decrease the amount of traffic and lessen the pollution. In effect, it can also minimize potential accidents. There is also an idea of putting bike lanes around the malls, which can also minimize the traffic. However, it might not happen because by law, all bike lanes have to be on the right of the road.

            There was a scope meeting with people from the DOT and Parks Department to discuss ideas about renovating the malls. Representatives from each group shared their ideas.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

David Byrne’s "Playing the Building"

David Byrne’s new art installation is quite the auditory experience. It plays with the sounds already present in the former terminal of the Staten Island Ferry. A single organ is situated in the center of an empty room that has hardly been restored since the building was used for its original purpose. Byrne used wires to attach each organ key to fixtures located all around the room. The wires are connected to different aspects of the building that can make sound. When the building is “played,” sounds are produced that simulate those of conventional musical instruments from woodwinds to strings to percussion, except that the sounds are more primitive in nature. When a key is played, vibrations are sent to the connected wire and travels to the motor. Each motor produces a different sound and pitch. When multiple keys are played, a gathering of clanks, whistles and booms rise up the empty room and echo off. This piece of art is something that you must hear with your own ears to understand. The beauty of this installation is its interactive quality. Visitors can play the organ and actually create the clanking sounds of an ancient building. The installation is like an art gallery, but it is at the same time very unique. To get the complete experience, it is beneficial to walk around the room and hear the sounds from different angles. Unlike in an art gallery where walking around allows for a different perspective of the visual display, the location in which the visitor stands gives a new perspective on the sound as well.

We have referred to the other interns for ideas on what to do with students on a class trip to the exhibit. We have played with the idea of having students respond to a drawing or writing prompt. As far as the drawings go, we came up with ideas such as the students drawing what they think the space might have used to look like, drawing an imaginary instrument that they think could produce a certain sound they hear, or designing some sort of basic design inspired by the clean lines of the room. A writing activity would allow the students to pay more attention to the sounds they hear, rather than the visuals. Prompts included the question of whether what they hear is music and what they believe music to be. Another prompt questioned whether they consider the exhibit to be art. We also like the idea of students simply listening to the sounds. If they spread out and sit alone in different parts of the room, they will be able to better appreciate what they hear. If students are not with their friends, they will listen to the sounds rather than talking, and there will be less miscellaneous noise that may distract people from hearing the clanks, rings, and whistles of the installation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Done Cleaning...

Today, we did the usual going to the garden and watering. It was good weather, not too hot and a bit breezy. We're just about done with the cleaning, but still have the tool shed to clean. In the future, the garden will be easier to handle. 
We're thinking about ideas with the signage in the garden. We want to make the garden more appealing and want to attract more people to come in. As of now, we're just brainstorming and throwing out ideas. 
vivi signing off...:]

Monday, July 07, 2008

First day of work

Hey, we are the 2008 summer interns. Our names are Angela Huang, Helen Liu, Melissa Gollance, and Vivian Kong. Today is our first day of work in Hester Street Collaborative. It was such a great experience. We first went to the P.S. 134 garden. There was a lot of work to do because people from the neighborhood have thrown lots of trash through the fence. We had to sweep up all of the dead leaves, pick up trash, organize the tool shed, water the plants, and weave the vines through the fence. We were there for hours, but there is still so much work to do that we will be returning each day to make it presentable for the children who will be learning in this outdoor classroom. 
After lunch, we passed out flyers around chinatown. The flyers were about a design meeting on Wednesday night. Posting the flyers around chinatown made me(Vivian) understand how tiring it was. I sympathize with people who pass them out in the streets under the sun. 
we cleaned out the planter outside the building. We had to weed the whole thing. We only left behind the marigold plants. Later on we will plant flowers and other plants. Hopefully this will discourage people from throwing trash into our planter in the future. We are looking forward to the next weeks of our internship and sharing it with you!