So, what made you decide to intern with The LP? How does the internship relate to your studies?
I chose to intern here because I want to help communities around New York with art, while developing job skills for any career I have in the future.
Do you have your own creative practice? If so, tell us more!
I like to draw and enhance photos.
Can you tell us about an artist or project that has inspired you?
In my last year at the Junior scholars program in the Schomburg Center, my magazine group (which produces yearly magazines addressing the program) had the chance to make unusual books. Some of the books we made included pop-up books, and a book hidden inside an ostrich egg. I made a book with former pill capsules in a medicine bottle. After we were done, the librarian in charge of archives in the Schomburg library, archived our books.
What is your favorite… film? …album?
I don’t have a favorite film. There are too many films that I love. Same with albums as well.
I like Malaysian, Thai, and Italian food. I also like cheeseburgers, pizza, or things that involve cheese.
Where do you do your laundry?
My mom does laundry at this laundromat up Ralph Ave. near Rite Aid.
In your opinion, why does art matter?
Art is one of the best ways to express yourself. Art can tell a story and connect people. Art is subjective, so there’s no real right way to doing art.
Maat Silin is from Brooklyn, NY. She is a freshman at College of Staten Island. Her intended major is Communications: Digital Media and Design.
Our Development & Communications Intern Kevin Chen just sent us some reflections on his experience with The LP this fall. Read on for more.
I remember my first couple of days interning with The Laundromat Project clearly. It was the weekend of Field Day, and, as expected, everything was hectic. A kind of hectic that refused to sit still and moved ahead of itself. At once, the excitement of the upcoming events spilled backwards in time and infused me with a peculiar mix of anxiety and eagerness. The energy of the office, however, channeled my uncertainty into unbridled enthusiasm. We had a lot to do, and we knew it. But at the very least, we were going to have fun. Within the first few hours, I knew I was going to like it here.
Interning here has been everything I expected. I initially said that I wanted to work with The LP because of its mission. I hoped to gain practical experience in art administration and community building through an organization that was active in neighborhoods across the entire city. Looking back, I can see how I’ve grown from that first day. Managing social media and the blog has taught me not just the mechanics of content creation, but also creative ways of broadening the organization’s reach through digital media. Assisting with the People Powered Challenge allowed me to envision alternative forms of fundraising centered on social networks. Working with an incredible group of people has left me with countless memories of laughter, joy, and Beyoncé.
But I think what’s equally important is what I didn’t expect to gain. I’ll admit that I harbor a considerable amount of anxiety over my academic and professional future, stemming from both general uncertainty and from forces largely beyond my individual control: race, class, sexual orientation, and so on. Hearing about the staff members’ pathways to working with The LP, however, reassured me that there actually are infinite possible trajectories to non-profit art administration and community building, and that mine can be anything but “traditional.” Furthermore, supporting programs that center on communities of color on modest incomes has allowed me to expand my notion of creativity and art beyond the institutional confines of four walls into multidimensional public spaces. On a personal, political level, working within The LP’s core values, engaging with various artist projects, and simply learning about community mapping by virtue of proximity to The LP has forced me to critically confront my own role in gentrification, especially as a student of an institution that actively transforms its surrounding neighborhoods. All of these things I’m still working on, but now with the experience of my internship with The LP.
As I move forward, I have no doubt that I’ll carry forth the insights I’ve gained here and continue to grow academically, professionally, and personally. And of course, I’ll come back when I can to help out, grow love, and jam to Beyoncé.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Chen is from Houston, TX. He is currently a sophomore at Columbia University, where he is studying anthropology. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kxchen926. Read The LP Interview with Kevin here.
Mural at The Point CDC (940 Garrison Ave., Hunts Point, NY): Photo
Our 2014 Program Intern, Serena Adlerstein, contributed this guest blog post on community resilience after attending the Municipal Art Society’s Summit for New York City.
Last week I attended the 2014 Municipal Art Society’s Summit for New York City. One of the first panels I saw was entitled “Community Based Resilience: Developing Innovation Networks from the Ground Up,” moderated by Mary Rowe. The speakers included Councilmember LaToya Cantrell from the New Orleans City Council, Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, the founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, and Kellie Terry, the Executive Managing Director of The Point.
Rowe first asked the panelists to define community resilience. After a reflective pause, Councilmember Cantrell asserted that it is when a community lifts themselves up when nobody else cares what happens to them, when neighbors join together to find solutions even when the government and public eye has no regard for their future. Taylor and Terry nodded in agreement.
The panel continued as the three speakers traded stories of their communities creatively problem-solving, using their existing assets, and creating solutions to the barrage of social inequalities that each community faces respectively, be it lack of funding after Hurricane Katrina in Broadmoor, New Orleans, deficient economic development in Hunts Point, or the failure of the government to invest in pubic housing in Queens. Each panelist spoke proudly of the strides their community had taken without assistance from the government or other outside investors, but there were still many daunting challenges that “kept them up at night.”
Each speaker lamented that the gravest danger facing his or her community was a fear of being displaced from the home that they had worked so hard to improve. “Victims of our own success,” they agreed. Better schools, more cultural centers, neighborhood beatification, these results of long-fought battles are now not reasons to celebrate, but to fear rapid gentrification.
Gentrification, more specifically real-estate-driven development that out prices and displaces longtime residents, is far from a new topic of conversation for me or anyone else in New York. What I had neglected to consider, however, is that the process may not only begin with artists moving into a neighborhood, or with developers targeting specific areas near subways lines, it may also be the result of powerful community resilience, with the rest of the city noticing after the fact. Community resilience is both a necessary solution to societal neglect, as well as the possible reason for those same community members’ displacement. In either scenario, it seems clear that the structures of power do not care what happens to the people in these communities, which are predominately low-income and working class communities of color.
The question that then arises for me is what I can do as somebody clearly participating in the process of gentrification, a young, white upper middle class college-educated transient renter living in Bushwick (for now). As new residents, how can we not only fight to preserve affordable housing, but also pay homage to the struggles and successes of our neighbors, those who have lived in the area for years and have made the effort to improve it for themselves? What successes might I not be noticing due to lack of time spent in the neighborhood, or differing cultural perceptions of progress? Which ‘improvements’ came from the community, and which from outside developers for the newer residents?
A community must be resilient when those in power don’t care enough to help. The strides that a community can take on their own can be incredible, as evidenced in Broadmoor, Hunts Point, and Urban Upbound’s work in different neighborhoods in Queens. When their accomplishments could be their own demise, however, it is everybody’s responsibility to recognize what those communities did for themselves, respect their efforts, and collectively problem-solve to ensure that they do not become “victims of their own success.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Serena Adlerstein is a senior at NYU and a founder of Know Your City, a student group interested in educating the NYU student body about the implications of gentrification, tenants’ rights, and affordable housing.