2014 Summer Stipend Finalists Announced!

Below are the application submissions from our finalists, currently being reviewed by our Summer Stipend Panelists:

Caroline Losneck

Risingtide2014-5
(Liz Bieber, Photographer)

Project: King Tide Audio

Goal: With the King Tide Audio Project, I am telling the story, through creative documentary audio, of rising tides and sea levels in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland, Maine. The project is rooted in observing and engaging with the belief that King Tides* (the highest tides of the year) provide a glimpse into the future both here in Portland, Maine and around the world. Through the The King Tide Audio Project, I hope to document and share the story of how the places which are flooded during King Tides will be flooded more often in the future, as sea levels continue to rise. These are the places we live in, work in, love, and inhabit. The King Tide Audio Project and King Tide Parties (described below) knit community engagement to the arts by using original site-specific art that create dialogue, inspire solutions, and build community.

The King Tide Audio Project will continue work that has already started here in Southern Maine around rising sea levels, sea level awareness and artistic interventions. With help from Macktez Summer Stipend I will complete the King Tide Audio Project by interviewing five more people that live and/or work in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland, Maine, a diverse neighborhood which is surrounded by water and is already home to businesses and streets that are impacted by sea level rise and flooding during King Tide events. I will spend time asking questions and recording their observations, ideas, and reactions to rising sea levels.

During the interview phase of the project, I will ask people that live/work in East Bayside questions including: 1) How (if at all) do rising tides already impact your life? 2) Your work? 3) How does rising water shape your vision of the future of our city? 4) How does the rising water impact the people that call Portland, Maine home? 5) Is there anything that could be/should be done? After I complete the King Tide interviews, which are largely based on engaged citizen science, I will use the raw audio to create three sound-rich documentary audio pieces that will be presented live as part of the next two King Tide Parties scheduled to take place on October 9, 2014 and in early 2015 (at the outdoor Marginal Way/Cove Street intersection in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland).

The King Audio Project is one part of the larger King Tide Parties, which are site-specific events (that are planned around the year’s highest tides) that aim to build awareness on an important issue that will impact the future of Portland’s waterfront and to encourage community engagement through the arts. The King Audio Project and the King Tide Parties use art and interaction with Maine artists and audiences to highlight what we see as a looming issue. It is my hope that through the documentation, interviews and public sharing of these audio documentaries, we can spark critical conversations and interactions while connecting Portland, Maine to other communities around the country and world that are also experiencing sea level rise.

* King Tide is a popular term for an especially high tide, such as a perigean spring tide. King tide is not a scientific term, nor is it used in a scientific context.

Needs: So far, my audio work, interviews, editing, and production work on the King Tide Audio Project have been 100% self-funded. To date, I have conducted five interviews with people that live/work in the East Bayside neighborhood where tidal flooding occurs, and self produced three documentary sound pieces that debuted at the King Tide BYO Chair Party on July 13, 2014. I also helped design the mixed media installation, coordinate and publicize the event and attract more artists to participate in the King Tide BYO Chair Party.

With the Macktez Summer Stipend, I will complete the King Tide Audio Project and interview five more people that live and/or work in the East Bayside neighborhood about their observations, ideas, solutions and reactions to rising sea levels here in Portland. With these interviews, I will then produce 2-3 sound-rich audio pieces that will be presented live/publically as part of the next King Tide Party in Portland (October 9, 2014) and at another event in early 2015.

The Macktez Summer Stipend of $1000 will allow me to offset some of the costs of equipment and expenses needed to be able to better take produce, edit, and share publically the King Tide Audio Project story. Expenses include: a DropBox account ($22/month for 6 months); SD cards ($50); equipment upgrades and speakers ($200) for the free public King Tide Audio installation (at the King Tide Party); travel costs and personal expenses ($300); event publicity (posters, postcards $100); website maintenance ($150) and taking the time needed to do this work.

Timeline: The Macktez Stipend will be used to help me complete the following parts of the King Tide Audio Project between August 2014 and early 2015:

1) Conduct 5 new interviews if East Bayside residents/workers (Aug2014 – Sept 2014)
2) Use the audio interviews to produce documentary sound pieces (Oct 2014)
3) Debut King Tide Audio at the next King Tide Parties and Organize the Events (Oct 9, 2014 and in early 2015)
4) Create a system to archive the audio interviews/sound pieces on the Envisioning Change: Sea Level Rise in Casco Bay website in cooperation with University of Southern Maine; Maine Economic Improvement Fund; East Bayside Neighborhood Organization; The Resilience Hub; Zero Station; U-Haul and the King Tides Project (an international hub for the King Tides community.)

Description: On July 14, 2014 (during the astronomically high tide that occurred from 12:00- 2:00 AM) I participated in the King Tide BYO Chair Party. The King Tide BYO Chair Party was both a happening and a collaboration of artists across multiple disciplines who aim to cooperate with businesses, cultural organizations, educational institutions neighborhood organizations and municipalities to host situational events (parties) to observe and interact with King Tides, the highest tides of the year here in Portland. Interactions take the form of sculptural and environmental installations, audio and video art and documentation, projections, performance art, puppetry and more. The idea behind the King Tide BYO Chair Party July 2014 event was to gather artists and residents in the East Bayside neighborhood to witness one of the largest tides of the year and to engage with the rising tides here in Portland through art, performance, and documentation. In addition to creating documentary audio for the event I also helped plan, organize and provide creative vision and publicity for the event.

With Macktez Summer Stipend I will be able to complete the King Tide Audio Project and will be able to interview five more workers about the impact of rising sea levels in East Bayside. The interviews will be archived on the and also be the backbone for creating new original audio pieces featuring local people that live or work in East Bayside. These pieces will be featured at the next live and free King Tide Party/Observation (October 2014 + early 2015) as well as on the Envisioning Change website.

The King Tide BYO Chair Party is tied to a larger project called Envisioning Change: Sea Level Rise in Casco Bay and is in cooperation with University of Southern Maine, Maine Economic Improvement Fund, East Bayside Neighborhood Organization, The Resilience Hub, Zero Station, U-Haul and the King Tides Project, an international hub for the King Tides community.

For more information on King Tide BYO Chair Party (July 2014), click here.

Chris Bravo

Control

Project: Control Documentary Website

Goal: An online portal that will serve as the basis for a grassroots distribution campaign for the feature documentary Control. Control is a unique film project in that it takes a holistic, domestic approach to address issues stemming from mass incarceration. We envision the portal being useful to teachers, activists, social workers, and families who will be able to screen the movie and take advantage of personalized supporting content that will aid them in contextualizing the film to their students or group members. Furthermore the portal will create action points to facilitate involvement in the issues and creative responses to the incarceration crisis.

Needs: We are partnering with groups who specialize in relevant areas such as prison reform, prison policy, and harm reduction to provide the content for the portal. The documentary itself is complete and is currently screening very successfully at film festivals and conferences including The People’s Film Festival (Best Documentary), Allied Media Conference, Landlocked Film Festival, Oakland International, and others. The next phase of the project requires bringing together the technical and design elements of the portal, including design, information architecture, and whatever technology we feel will help present this wealth of information to people in a clear and useful way. I believe that we should be able to hire an individual designer or small team for $1000.

Timeline: Our goal is to have the website completed in November. We are building great momentum in the film and finishing the portal in the fall would give us an opportunity to reach out to people and get it off the ground in the spring of 2015.

Description: The Control Documentary Website is a project to leverage new media technology and distribution to reach an audience that would otherwise be very difficult to connect. Control is a feature film that documents incarceration as a reality that is present everyday in our communities and that has a tremendous impact on our day-to-day lives. The film follows a 16-year-old boy through a felony arrest and court case, tracing how his trial affects his sense of identity as he comes of age. Control uses that ordeal as a launching point to investigate the critical intersections of carceral institutions in many facets of life: from homes to schools to streets.

Because our project leverages peoples’ voices to tell their own story, particularly young people, we have been getting enthusiastic responses from youth who have seen the film, and from educators and activists that work with youth groups. Unfortunately, reaching young people (especially young people of color) with a film project is extremely difficult. Film festivals, on the most part, do not put much effort at bringing in a young audience. Traditional distribution avenues of youth media are highly contested spaces and difficult to break into. But during research, we came across a project developed by Sesame Street called Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration. This is a tool kit/app that has pulled together a variety of informational material to help kids think about and come to terms with an incarcerated parent. The Sesame Street Project really inspired us to try and take control of the distribution of our project and to try and deliver something to people that was meaningful, entertaining, and useful.

The Control portal will be much more than a website where you simply watch the film. We see the film as an opportunity to launch into more content that we can tailor to address the needs of each user. For example, if a teacher wants to show the film in a classroom there will be suggested curriculum available that can help them lead discussions around topics in the film. Or if a youth watches the film, maybe they want to connect to organizations in their home town where they can learn more about prison activism and get involved. We can provide that information. Maybe someone watches the film who is directly impacted by incarceration and they are struggling to figure out a way to talk about that experience. Another of our inspirations for the project is a youth led media group at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that gives kids an opportunity to create media directly about their experiences with prison. We are forming partnerships with groups that will allow us to use some of this youth created media, hopefully to inspire young people to find ways to tell their stories.

We see the challenge of creating media as finding ways to create space and context around projects. This web portal is our attempt to do that.

Henrietta Mantooth

henrietta

Project: The Process of Freedom

Goal: I am creating a book to serve as a retrospective on my 90 years and to inspire and offer solidarity with other artists. The book will include images of my work, commentary on the work by a number of artists and writers, and an interview to appear in both written and audio form. I am undertaking this project in order to share what I have learned with other artists, especially young artists. For a look into my process, please see here.

Needs: I have already selected a publishing platform, an editor and a book designer, and have begun the process of selecting images and soliciting commentary from other artists and writers. The stipend funds will be used to produce a limited edition of 12 copies of the demo book, which can then be used to approach publishers and hopefully secure a larger print run and a wider distribution.

Timeline: I have allotted eight weeks to gather written contributions and select the images for the book. The interview segment has been scheduled for the first week of August and the audio will be edited and posted concurrently with the book production. Because my editorial and production team is using a web-based publishing platform, the actual design and production process can be accomplished quickly, so we will be able to have printed proofs in hand within three months.

Description: I had practiced painting and visual arts for over thirty years when I heard myself introduced at my exhibit and slide presentation as “an artist who uses freedom to express freedom”. Those were the words that finally introduced me to myself and my work. I saw then that I had the ability to stay free with a brush or a crayon in hand. In fact, free to trust my hand to do the painting for me without interference or theories. The meaning and the technique are discovered simultaneously. That means I never know what I am doing until I do it. My one rule is: choose discovery over perfection every time.

I see that that particular energy and invention is what draws people to my work. When I had a large solo show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it surprised me how many young artists came and came back with colleagues and friends. Over the years I have become a mentor and a role model for many artists of all ages who, with their years of art education and studio practice, are hungry for and relish my example of letting the paint speak for itself. With this in mind, I believe that my process, discoveries, inventions and influences could make an exciting and useful book, with colorful documentation of my paintings and drawings as well as experimental scenic designs and costumes and theater inventions in which visual art pieces became active performers on stage.

I spent 18 years in Latin America, experiences which seemed to mesh with my childhood in Missouri during the Great Depression. My early art was experienced in the dime stores and in a mud hole where my sister and I created our version of sculptures and toys adding pebbles, corn cobs and corn silk. bits of cloth and cardboard, and creating our paintings with crushed mulberries, boiled onions, and laundry blueing on lined Big Chief school tablets. No one pinned our art works on the “ice box”, but they didn’t bother us or say “that doesn’t look like a cat”. That’s where freedom began. It was the time of dust bowl migrants, foreclosures and racial prejudice and segregation, and as a child, I saw all this and these subjects became powerful in my later work as a witnessing artist. At present I am creating on corrugated cardboard a large installation entitled “Jail Birds” using avian images to show the prison system in the USA; my next installation will be about refugees forced to leave their homes and searching for some safety in an exploding world. The stipend would be used to make a demo book as an intermediary process to publishing this work in a final form.

Click here to view Henrietta’s portfolio.

Minh Huy Dang

Pace

Project: Pace

Goal: This project is about enhancing one’s focus by exploring and using meditative approaches through technological aid. Interactive technology and multi-sensory experiences are planned to be built, which follow the idea of simple and redundant interactions. The goal of these interactions is to relax one’s mind by freeing oneself from any thoughts. The interaction is essentially helping the user to be present in the moment. Being in that state of “now” enables the user to perceive the non-perceivable, the so-called virtuality. The virtuality shall not be understood as outside of the human being’s empirical world, in fact it is part of it. The extent to which virtuality is part of reality can be explained by means in naturally occurring waves: waves have something to do with virtuality as their mass and noise tangle together to comprise a variety of complex auditive and sensory data. However, human beings simplify this complex tangle of billions of moving water droplets to very simple perceivable sounds – the sound of the sea.

Virtuality is the foundation of reality. It represents the diverse details that influence human beings on an unconscious level. Someone who has experience in meditation or knows how to place their focus on something can sharpen their perception and sense things they would usually disregard because of their unimportance. This project tries to extend the user’s perception of the fragmented reality. One could argue that playing a video game on a device will produce the same effect. A virtual game can easily bring the player to the mental state of flow and thus distract the player from any thoughts as well. But the game ushers the player into the virtuality, fabricating a distance from reality, an artificial reality, if you will. A game does not include the body, whereas this project does. The preliminary research about space and human perception made it clear that a non-fragmented experience can be accomplished by experiencing with the human body and thus senses only.

Being thoughtful begins with slowing down your moment of thought for reflection. This is something I want to do in the long term. This project is a tool for me to accomplish that, not only as a tool itself, but also just by working on this project.

Needs:
Software:
$100 Apple Developer Progam
$60 MAX MSP
$40 Other tools

User Testing:
$400 Rewarding (40) interviewees from different backgrounds with $10 for 1hr interview.

Hire:
$400 Hire a developer who supports me in debugging and finalising the software project.

Timeline: The final deadline is the 16th of September.

I am currently participating in a bootcamp that supports me with this project. We meet every week with instructors in class and get feedback about our weekly assignments and general progress.

I am still user-testing and building prototypes. The next steps would be evaluating all the testing I have done so far and, from there, build new prototypes. Iteration, iteration, iteration.

Description: I am currently prototyping my software project. Whether this software tool serves more efficient, meditative or therapeutic purposes needs to be investigated, through user testing, for instance. Access to a diverse pool of people would help to find the right audience for this project and also help me to understand their needs while interviewing. I have done around 15 user tests already since the beginning of the bootcamp, which began on 23rd June 2014. Mostly friends and students have been interviewed. Talking to strangers takes time and effort. A little reward speeds up this process, in my opinion.

My study background is design. I have not developed software so far. But there is always a first time, isn’t there? If things get messed up when programming, I would consult someone to give me a hand in debugging. I would let him explain to me what exactly I have done wrong and what a programmer’s best practice would be to avoid mistakes or learn better logical patterns of thinking.

The finalised software project will be realised on MAX MSP, a visual software platform that is similar to processing. With the base of MAX MSP, the interface will be implemented on it with Javascript. Finally this software package will be exported on Phonegap.

To see some of the Pace prototype, click here.

Paula Segal

Urban Reviewer Signage

Project: Urban Reviewer Signage for Urban Renewal Areas in New York City

Goal: We have created a map online of all of the urban renewal plans that the city of New York has ever adopted. It took hundreds of hours and a lot of patience (you can read more about the process here.

The processing has been done and now we know which vacant lots in New York City were created on purpose as a strategy to “improve” our neighborhoods, which of these vacant lots were promised to include open spaces (over 170 of them), and which neighborhoods still have active urban renewal plans that can be used to force residents and business owners to sell their properties to “eliminate blight.”

There are organizing opportunities at all these sites, and we want to be able to bring the information to the impacted lots and neighborhoods. We want to make some signs.

Needs: We want to design signs that will mark active urban renewal areas and places that were planned as open space through urban renewal and put them up. We want to show how the history of planning impacts present-day neighborhoods and connect current residents with opportunities to shape their part of the city.

Design will cost $400. Printing 30 signs (at cost from SmartSign), will cost $360. Hardware will cost $40. Paying our organizer to travel to these sites will cost $200. Total: $1000.

Timeline: Assuming we have funding for the signs, we simply need to select sites from the new database we have built and get a new design created. The whole thing can be done in 2 months.

Description: Reviewing Past Urban Plans > Discovering Present Impact > Supporting Future Actions

The City of New York has adopted over 150 urban renewal plans for our neighborhoods. Neighborhood master plans were adopted to get federal funding for acquiring land, relocating the people living there, demolishing the structures and making way for new public and private development. Plan adoptions started in 1949 and many plans remain active today. Development in the plan areas sometimes happened, like Lincoln Center, and sometimes didn’t, like many still-vacant lots in East New York and Bushwick. Areas were selected for renewal because they were considered blighted or obsolete. The “blight” designation always came from outside the communities that got that label – from inspectors working for the mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance in the early period and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) employees in the later period.

596 Acres has teamed up with Partner & Partners and SmartSign to produce a comprehensive online map showing all the adopted neighborhood master plans for New York City. It has taken us nearly two years to follow up on a Freedom of Information Law request for records of those plans and meticulous translation of paper plans into machine-readable spreadsheets to make this map. We made a map by investigating the urban renewal and neighborhood redevelopment master plans that NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has in their archives and by relying on a few secondary sources produced by NYC Government offices.

The plans were written with a great city in mind. Huge swaths were designated for demolition, to be paid for with federal dollars. Lots that were designated this way to justify the funding for demolition had to be included in a plan that stated what they “should” be – designations like “housing,” “industrial,” and “open space.”

METHODOLOGY
Every property in the city has a specific number assigned to it – a borough, block and lot number (BBL). The BBLs created using the above process were mappable (using MapPLUTO) only where they have not changed since the plan was adopted. Many plans or other developments changed these numbers, for example, when a number of small lots were merged to become a larger lot.

In order to map those places where the BBL changed, we used the City’s Library of Tax Maps to find historic maps of the blocks in question and determine which lots they had become. Where we were unable to find a lot in the Library of Tax Maps, we consulted the most recently-published compendia of urban renewal maps – an atlas from 1984 and a progress report from 1968. By looking at the outlines of the impacted areas in those books we were able to identify which modern lots were actually the ones impacted by the plans. This process let us capture every lot that was designated for “renewal.”

Where we could, we also captured what form that renewal was meant to take in the form of “dispositions,” or planned uses for the land. Our map lets you search for lots that were designated for “open space,” “residential” or “commercial” uses, among others. Only some plans were this detailed, so not every lot has a specific designation. For example, some plans listed potential uses for the plan as a whole but did not assign specific uses on a lot-by-lot basis. In other plans, lot dispositions were not legible on the paper maps provided. Searches with our tool do not include lots such as these that lack specific designations. However, some lots were intentionally assigned multiple uses such as “residential and commercial,” and these lots will appear in search results for both “residential” and “commercial” dispositions.

The data is hosted for free on CartoDB.

OUTCOMES
One of the reasons we are excited to be making the plans accessible is that they include places that were cleared with the intention of creating open public spaces. In our work through 596 Acres, we have already found two and helped neighbors transform them into something better:

The Keap Fourth Community Garden in South Williamsburg was a vacant lot two years ago that we noticed was part of an Urban Renewal Plan and designated to be Open Space. The 596 Acres team put signs on it and helped folks get together and they got no resistance from the relevant agencies. It has been transferred to Parks and there was a formal ribbon cutting on June 4, 2014, more than 20 years after the lot was planned as Open Space.

The Edgemere Urban Renewal Plan (Queens) contains dozens of lots planned as Open Space. Last year, we put signs on the set of the lots that was designated as the Edgemere Urban Renewal Park in the plans. Today, neighbors who saw these signs are running the Edgemere Farm.

Sara Grady

Farm Leather

Project: Farm Leather from the Hudson Valley

Goal: I am trying to create a supply chain that will produce locally grown, locally tanned leather – and my goal is to create objects from that leather.

My motivations are:
1. To see that the hides from animals raised on local farms (for meat) are better utilized and appreciated,
2. To establish a link between an under-used local vegetable tannery with nearby farms and their animal hides,
3. To tell a rarely-heard story about this process and reveal lesser-known aspects of farming, craft, design, and manufacturing.

Needs: I have accumulated a group of leather samples from small batches of hides I’ve had tanned over the course of a year. The next step of my process is to create prototypes of objects from this special leather. I would like to do this in collaboration with a leather artisan (I have identified two that I could work with) and together explore what this leather is best suited to make. My intention is to embark on a series of design/craft iterations that will test different methods of treating and using these leather samples, with a goal of identifying the most unique, most appropriate uses. My ultimate goal is to create seasonal editions of objects from this locally grown, locally tanned leather, and to reveal the story of their creation.

I have already paid for: a number of fresh hides, the expenses of transporting them from the slaughterhouse to the tannery, and the tanning of those hides into leather. To date I have already spent approximately $1400 on these initial steps.

Next, I want to produce a series of prototypes, in collaboration with an experienced leather artisan, that will explore:
• surface treatments (colors and patterns made with natural dyes) and
• construction techniques for a range of objects.

There are two general categories of objects I hope to create:
• utilitarian (knife rolls, gloves, cases/bags, table surfaces, etc.) and
• fanciful (jewelry and decorative objects).

I would like to create three prototypes in each category for a total of six objects. My estimates have determined it will cost $200 per object to commission this fabrication. That will result in a total cost of $1200 to complete this phase of my project.

Timeline:
In the near-term, my goals are to:
1. prove my concept and refine my process
2. document and tell the story of this project

Over the next three months, I will:
• complete my design sketches for possible prototype objects,
• identify and hire a leather fabricator to work with,
• schedule and hold a series of meetings with the hired artisan in which we will plan our collaboration, outline our process, and identify the objects to be made,
• create / critique / iterate the objects through a series of patterns and samples, resulting in a group of finished object prototypes.

During this process, I also intend to:
• document the tanning and manufacturing process, in anticipation of “telling the story” of these objects and the leather from which they are made,
• assess the viability of replicating these objects in a series of editions over the longer-term,
• identify places in which these objects might be shown, sold, shared, and used,
• improve my system of transporting hides to the tannery.

The broader, long-term goal of my project (over the next 1-2 years) is to create an ongoing system of supplying this local tannery with locally grown hides – and ultimately to create a series of seasonal editions of objects that make use of that leather and express the story of this process.”

Description: I work for an agricultural non-profit organization that operates creative programs to support a sustainable food system in the Hudson Valley. We are based on a working farm where animals are raised for meat, following sustainable and humane practices. Through my work, I have become acquainted with the supply chains around livestock farming and meat production. And I have become curious about how to better utilize all parts of these animals, as a matter of respect, appreciation, and conservation.

A significant part of an animal is its hide. When transformed into leather, it is something that can endure and be used and appreciated over a long period of time. Given that we invest tremendous care and resources into these animals that yield sustenance and nourishment, it is meaningful to me to be able to retain the animal’s hide for the creation of leather objects that can tell an unexpected story about farming, animal caretaking, and our food system.

Typically, local farms have their animals processed at regional slaughterhouses where the meat is hung and then cut and often frozen as individual packages (to be sold at markets and retail outlets). The inedible parts of the animal are picked up from the slaughterhouse for disposal or rendering (into dog food, compost, waste, etc.). As part of this “waste stream,” hides are aggregated into the anonymous commodity leather supply chain – most likely to be tanned by conventional tanneries (using heavy metals like chrome) and then shipped to manufacturers of mass-produced goods (in places like Bangladesh).

In my curiosity about what happens to the hides of meat animals raised in this region, I discovered a family-run tannery right here in the Hudson Valley! To my surprise (and chagrin), I learned that they are not connected to any local farms, despite being located in a farming region. That is because there is currently no link that will transfer hides directly to the tannery from the slaughterhouses in a manner that retains knowledge of the farms from which the hides came. The facility is owned and operated by a father-son team eager to share their skill and craft, and they desire to be connected to local farms via the type of project I propose. They are enthusiastic collaborators, and I am thrilled to embark on this exploration with them.

Before entering this field of food system work, I worked as an educational media producer. My background is creative: I have also worked as a graphic designer, a costumer with the circus, a director of music videos, a writer, and more. Recognizing I had a strong desire to do work that resonates for me personally I chose to put my talents to work by actively supporting the production of sustainable food. It has been a journey in which I have been immersed for the past five years. I have gained knowledge and confidence, and I have achieved a role of leadership in a robust organization, a process that has been all-consuming and has limited any creative independent pursuits – until now. This project unites my skills and passions and a summer stipend will allow me to launch it into reality.

Victoria Linchong

Walk mood board

Project: A Walk Around the Block

Goal: A Walk Around the Block is a web series that brings attention to the history of the East Village as an enclave for immigrants, artists and activists. This is the East Village I love, which is rapidly being eradicated through gentrification. Every New Yorker I know feels the loss keenly. The idea for the web series is a simple one: in each episode, I go for a walk around the block with a longtime East Village resident who’s lived on that particular block for at least 15 years. That’s all it is: a walk around the block. But in each block, there is at least a hundred years of history. And in the East Village, the history is about direct action, community resistance and countercultural arts. It’s also a history of working class immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy, the Ukraine and now the Middle East. Through A Walk Around the Block, I hope to raise awareness of this essential part of the East Village and perhaps help preserve it from the ongoing assault of fancy new bars and high-rise condos.

Needs: We shot six episodes and I went to the Municipal Archives and the NY Public Library to research the blocks that we walked. Now I need to edit the footage and make it available online. With a stipend of $1,000, I would worry a lot less about paying rent and be able to dedicate three weeks to doing this. I also would give $300 to someone who knows Dreamweaver to help create a website. My idea for the website is a map of the East Village / Lower East Side with blocks that will change color once you hover over them with your mouse, indicating that they are linked to a video. Click on a block and the episode will come up. I might monetize this so I can keep the web series going, but I will first need funding to put the website up.

Timeline: For each episode, we shot about an hour’s worth of footage. This footage needs to be edited down to a 6-10 minute episode. I believe each episode will take me between 3-4 days to complete. I am hoping to do finish all the episodes this summer and send out a press release at the end of August to try to get media attention. I’ve gotten some press in the past from EV Grieve and The Villager. I’m hoping that other New York-centric bloggers like Curbed, the Lo-Down, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and Gothamist, will also write about the series and drive people to the website. I am hoping to release the web series in September or October. My idea is to space the series out so there is a new episode once a week for six weeks. The web series would continue to live online and hopefully generate enough attention and interest that I could shoot some more episodes for a second season. Eventually it would be fantastic if nearly every block in the East Village were covered.

Description: A Walk Around the Block is a web series about the Lower East Side / East Village by Victoria Linchong, a filmmaker and theater producer who was born in the neighborhood. It’s a simple idea: Victoria takes a longtime East Village resident on a walk around their block. A hundred years of history are revealed as they say hello to shopkeepers, reminisce about long gone stores, check out the street art, poke through community gardens, and gaze at the architectural curiosities of this unique neighborhood.

The premiere season, for which the $1,000 stipend would be used, will be comprised of the following episodes:

BACK ON THE BLOCK — 11th STREET BETWEEN B & C
In 2009, Victoria first took a walk around her block and documented her connection with the shops, the school, and the many community gardens. Three years after she was evicted, she is back on the block, surveying the changes that have occurred and saying hello to old friends who have remained. Special double episode, combining the original walk around the block in 2009 with a walk around the same block in 2014.

HOLY CANNOLI — 10th STREET BETWEEN 1ST & A
Victoria and photographer Richard Sandler walk around his formerly Italian block, finding not only the world’s largest cannoli, but also traces of Jerry Rubins, Basquiat and the Beastie Boys.

SOUL SURVIVOR — 7th STREET BETWEEN B & C
Victoria meets up with 7th Street Squatter Irene Baigorri and takes a walk around the block where two of the most contentious East Village community struggles were lost and won.

TWO OLD FUGS — 10TH STREET BETWEEN B & C
Victoria and housing activist Frank Morales reminisce about Diggers, dealers, dissidents, DAMP and the Avenue D Boys on a walk around his block.

LA LUCHA CONTINUA — 8TH STREET BETWEEN B & C
Victoria goes for a walk with actress/director Elizabeth Ruf and filmmaker Roland Legiardi-Laura on their block, which seems to be the immigrant epicenter of the old Lower East Side, with vestiges of former Irish, German and Jewish enclaves where Puerto Rican pride now runs strong.

PARADISE ALLEY — AVENUE A BETWEEN 11TH & 12TH STREET
Victoria and vocal acrobat Zero Boy invoke the Beats in the former Paradise Alley where they used to party and where he now lives. Meeting up with Jill Aserlind, they walk around the block and uncover a long history of other activists and iconoclasts on the block, from lady missionaries to solar power pioneers.

The Macktez Summer Stipend is a development grant to encourage one of the many imaginative people we meet and work with every day to finish their summer project. We evaluate applications on three simple criteria: originality, relevance, and conviction.

Stipend Archive

  • 2013 — Congratulations to Andrew Ellis, Summer Stipend Recipient
    Andrew is wrapping up production of Oakland: New Urban Eating. After adding some final touches, he is hoping to finish the whole project before the end of June and will most likely make it available as an ebook through Blurb.
  • 2012 — Congratulations to Sarah Nelson Wright
    Sarah and her colleagues partnered with a robotics lab at NYU to host an event (similar to the Newton Creek Armada project) on the Gowanus Canal for City of Water Day in July. This time, in addition to video, the boats sent live water quality data back to shore. In April, they curated a group show of projects about the Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal at Proteus Gowanus in Brooklyn. In May, we presented the Newtown Creek Armada at the Open Engagement conference at the Queens Museum.
  • 2011 — Congratulations to Mary Jeys
    Mary's Brooklyn Torch Project has been thriving since she received the Stipend in 2011. In August she will present the project at a conference on artists and communal exchange in Rotterdam with a group called Oblique International. She's also writing a book about her journey. Most recently, she convened a panel on the DIY economy at the Left Forum in NYC.
  • 2010 — Congratulations to Jack Shaw
    Jack received the 2010 stipend for his vision to create a waste-free product made out of its own packing material. The result will be The Light Box, a floor lamp or wall sconce incorporating its own packaging into the design and construction.
  • 2009 — Congratulations to Zoe Fraade-Blanar
    Zoe Fraade-Blanar received the 2009 stipend to map the difference between the news people are searching for and what journalists are publishing. Beautiful visual representations can show editors which hot topics are underrepresented by news sources, giving them the opportunity to generate readership by tapping unmet demand. The result was Current: A News Project her thesis project at NYU's Tisch ITP. Current is now being used at a large (unnamed) newspaper to help editors determine what stories to move to the front page of their website.
  • 2008 — Congratulations to Nicole Kenney for Before I Die I Want To
    Nicole and partner KS continue to grow the Polaroid project. Since the summer that they won the stipend, they have taken the project to India as well as hospice. Nicole is finishing a 1-year program in Documentary Photography at the International Center of Photography. She had an exhibition opening at ICP June 24, 2011 called "living in love, living in loss," an autobiographical exploration of the impermanence of marriage. Check out her website to see what she's up to now.
  • 2007 — Congratulations to Andrew Sloat for A More Perfect Union
    Andrew Sloat has been keeping himself busy, directing TV commercials and holding down a graphic design practice, as well as teaching at RISD. Last October he had a piece in Times Square.
  • 2006 — Christopher Allen and UnionDocs
    Christopher Allen and UnionDocs are busy with a new Summer Documentary Intensive program and their “Living Los Sures” project which premieres at a festival this fall. Two shorts from the larger collaborative project just won Best Short Documentary and Best Brooklyn Film at the Brooklyn Film Festival!
  • 2005 — Daniel Marr, Chinatown
    First of all, Daniel's changed his surname back to the one he was born with: Maher. When we last spoke to him, Daniel was writing songs for his seventh album.