Ariana Faye Allensworth
Staying Power: A Participatory Research Project
- The Resident Association of Lafayette Gardens, Inc. of NYCHA
- Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP)
- Lafayette Gardens Community Center
- Oral History
- Radical Mapping
Staying Power explores the past, present, and possible futures of NYCHA through the lens of residents raised and living in public housing. The project combines photovoice – a research tool that uses photography as a form of inquiry – and oral history interviews to build community power and raise consciousness about what residents have, value, and want. Many cities throughout the United States have taken major steps to downsize their public housing stock. The narrative of public housing’s failure and dysfunction have been essential strategies employed by federal and local authorities to justify the sale, redevelopment and, in some cases, demolition of public housing. Although NYCHA remains as one of the largest public housing stocks in the United States, its future remains uncertain as government officials roll out plans to address the authority’s capital deficit amounting to an estimated $32 billion. The devastating conditions many NYCHA residents live in has been well documented on local and national news outlets. However, we would be remiss to let this narrative of failure and decline be the only account of life in public housing. Staying Power aims to use photography and storytelling as tools to assert the ways in which people can be materially poor yet have abundant lives rich in memory, culture, values and systems of care. It additionally serves as a repository for community wisdom in a moment when many residents feel their voices aren’t being adequately included at the decision-making level. Over the course of her residency, Ariana is collaborating with youth and the Lafayette Gardens Resident Association to visualize and archive their lived experiences in public housing.