2008-2012. Part of my work on the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation’s Freshkills Park development team was to develop a set of programs to make more legible, concrete and inspiring the massive new park site for new and potential users. I conceived and collaborated to stage art performances, tours, lectures, field trips, an annual park preview day, and a mobile app all focused on on this goal.
To complement these programs, I developed and designed a range of print and digital materials clearly explaining the history and infrastructure of the Freshkills Park site, the regulations and process governing it and the park development projects underway within it. Anchored by a set of visual identity guidelines produced by consultant Project Projects, I produced a range of materials to suit different contexts and points of engagement. I served as primary writer, editor and designer of these materials and products.
Sneak Peak at Freshkills Park, 2010 and 2011: An annual event I conceived and co-directed, conceptualized as a park preview event to allow the public to experience and be inspired by a 233-acre sector of the 2,200-acre site as parkland for the day, with many of the normal limitations on access and activity suspended. A number of programming and funding partnerships were forged with local organizations and businesses. Attractions included kayaking and canoeing in the site’s creeks, biking its trails, walking tours, public art installations, kite making and flying, food vendors, craft markets, live music, information fairs, composting and craft workshops, birdhouse building, pony rides, e-waste recycling and more. Most of these were first-ever activities in the history of the site. The event was a huge success and has become an annual tradition and a cornerstone of fundraising and constituency building for the park project.
Sneak Peak brought the New York Water Taxi to the site—the first time a passenger ship had docked there in over 50 years. This photo and the one above it by Michael Anton/NYC Department of Sanitation.
Walking Tours. I organized public walking tours of the site with experts: landfill engineers, landscape architects, artists. Here, the Department of Sanitation's Anthropologist-in-Residence, Dr. Robin Nagle, answers questions at the end of a tour.
PARK.A performance developed by choreographer Kathy Westwater and her collaborators, me among them, over the course of several intensive site visits and performed on-site.
Package Man Concert. Artist Randy Ludacer built an amplified guitar out of recycled packaging and then held a concert at the top of a landfill mound to perform his new album.
I am Within/Without.A sculptural installation by D.B. Lampman. The first art installation ever on site. Photo by D.B. Lampman.
Composting Workshop. Took place at the top of a 150-foot tall landfill mound.
Photographers' Tours. I led early-morning seasonal tours of the site for photographers, giving them time, access to and roam of the site they could not acquire otherwise.
Field Trips. To keep constituents engaged even after they had paid a visit to the Freshkills Park site (or if it was too far from them), I organized field trips to other sites with which Freshkills Park wished to build commonality. Featured here was a trip to the Parks' Department's Technical Building to see and hear about its 20 varieties of green roof technologies.
The Visitor Center. A temporary Visitor Center that currently serves as an educational stop on the site's bus tour and also as staging ground for events. I developed the content and managed the design for the exhibits.
The Daily Museum of Amazement
2006. To get acquainted and share our experiences of a common geography, I set up a daily archive and evening broadcast of phone messages left by residents of my neighborhood. In their messages, contributors were asked to report on amazing or inspiring experiences in their daily lives. They could listen to the evening broadcast via phone or web stream. About 50 neighbors contributed messages over the month, and 300 people listened to the broadcasts. I advertised for the Museum via hand-signed letters and various types and versions of posters. The web site and broadcasts are archived here.
2014-2016. The house I lived in was a cooperative: 20 of us shared a single household and the responsibilities for managing and growing as a residential community. After moving into the house, I conducted both formal and informal research on the challenges I and my housemates faced in operating as a household and as a communal group.
There were many commitments required by house membership: cooking, chores, committees, project oversight, workdays, even visioning sessions. It can be a challenge for 20 people to keep track of all of their responsibilities, to remain responsible to them, and to retain a sense of community and support with so many people and so much to do.
The house struggled for almost two years with questions of how to hold people accountable for their house commitments. Accountability checks dragged down weekly meetings, created resentments and did not address root causes of non-participation. Housemates were feeling alienated from one another by having the only house forum be a somewhat-impersonal 20-person meeting.
I proposed that we form 5 four-person groups of housemates called Pit Crews: groups whose job is to check in and do necessary maintenance on each other’s house membership. Pit crewmates could check in one-on-one with each other or as a group (say, over beers or out to dinner) about how they are feeling about the house, if there is support that one another need in the house, and if they are upholding the house commitments. Once a house member is behind in some house commitments by a requisite amount, a meeting facilitator could urge a Pit Crew to meet and, within a certain amount of time, come back with a Commitment Plan for the member in question. The Pit Crew (including the member in question) would then also be responsible for holding the member accountable for that plan. If no Commitment Plan was devised or the member was not successful in meeting the plan by a certain time, the Pit Crew could then be charged with conducting a Membership Review of the member and reporting back about its confidence in that membership, at which point the house could discuss it further.
The proposal was very well received, and we adopted the policy after a couple of months' discussion with housemates in various forums. It has been very popular thusfar.
The bedrooms in our house vary widely in size, noise, privacy and various amenities. Room pricing had initially been spitballed, with rooms of similar size grouped in rental tiers. Two years later, various housemates voiced complaints about the prices of their rooms relative to other people's. Concern for equity prompted me to initiate a process through which we could more democratically arrive at rents for individual spaces in the house.
The first step was a house-wide audit—allowing all housemates to evaluate each bedroom along a set of common, vetted criteria. Along with their audit forms, housemates filled out a form indicating the weight they wished to give each of these criteria.
I averaged all housemates' inputs for weighted priority of criteria and used these relative weights to divide up the monthly rent proportionally, to understand how much we should be paying in total for each criterion.
I tabulated average ratings for each person's bedroom on the various criteria, and used these average ratings and the weighted priorities to calculate a rent for each bedroom based on the survey data.
I offered the house a variety of ways to interpret the survey data and to calculate rent, in order to start a conversation about how the room rates might be adjusted. After several months of group conversation and further refinement, the proposed rates were adopted.