CULTURAL ORGANIZING: COMMUNITY-BASED ARTS & ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION
ECOLOGICAL CITY is a community-based arts and environmental action project to develop and bring together climate resiliency and ecological sustainability initiatives within the network of community gardens, East River waterfront and neighborhood of the Lower East Side in New York City.
EARTH CELEBRATIONS [EC], a not profit organization founded by artist and community organizer Felicia Young on the Lower East Side of New York City in1991 with a vision and mission to engage communities to generate ecological and social change through the arts, directs this neighborhood-wide collaboration. Ecological City applies our creative strategies developed for over 25 years, utilizing art, community-engagement, partnership building to impact issues including climate change, river restoration, waste management and the preservation of community gardens, parks, and a healthy urban environment. Our Save Our Gardens project (1991-2005) was a 15 year large-scale collaborative art project that mobilized a local and citywide grassroots effort leading to the preservation of hundreds of community gardens on the Lower East Side and throughout New York City. Our Hudson River Restoration project (2009-2012) applied this creative model to engage community in the restoration efforts of the Hudson River estuary and revitalization of the waterfront in Downtown Manhattan. EC recently applied its creative strategies to a global context, initiating the Vaigai River Restoration Project (2014-2015) with an international and citywide collaborative art project and environmental action project that mobilized an on-going effort in the city of Madurai, South India to restore the river, in a severe crisis due to pollution, waste dumping, and the drying effects of climate change.
CREATIVE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
9 months of community engagement planning/design sessions and workshops (9/2017-5/2018) engage gardeners, river-based groups, community centers, schools, youth and residents to collaborate with artists and environmental experts to develop visual art, giant puppets, costumes, performance, dance, music and poetry/spoken word works addressing climate resiliency and ecological sustainability plans, initiatives, issues, policies and solutions.
WORKSHOP SESSIONS are offered free of cost, Mid-February – Mid-May 2018 including 45 Ecological Art Workshops led by 2 Artists-in-Residence (puppet/sculpture & costume/fiber arts). 10 Artist and Community Partner collaborative projects with 100 workshop sessions in visual art (visual art, music, dance, performance and poetry/spoken word).
WORKSHOPS CULMINATE IN PUBLIC THEATRICAL PAGEANT – PROCESSION WITH SITE PERFORMANCES
The artistic works are featured in a culminating procession with site specific performances through the community gardens, neighborhood and East River Park waterfront, bringing together a visceral experience, vision and collective action for a sustainable future for the Lower East Side, and its contribution to city and global climate challenges.
PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS include: LUNGS (47 Loisaida Urban Neighborhood Gardens-Garden Rising Project), Green Map, Lower East Side Girls Club, Sixth Street Community Center, Loisaida Center, GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side-Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project) LES Ready, Lower East Side Ecology, Solar One, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, FAB, Hunter School of Community Organizing and NYU-Tisch Art and Public Policy Dept. Numerous groups and residents will be invited to join.
PERFORMANCES EXPLORE CLIMATE RESILIENCY & ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY SITES, INITIATIVES, ISSUES, PLANS, POLICIES & SOLUTIONS
Partner organizations, schools and community service centers in collaboration with artists and environmental experts create performances featured at specific gardens, neighborhood and waterfront sites exploring climate resiliency initiatives and ecological sustainability issues and efforts.
ECOLOGICAL CITY aims to increase community engagement bringing together a cohesive climate resiliency plan including initiatives such as Gardens Rising, implementing green infrastructure and storm water capture systems within the 47 LES community gardens to increase permeability and mitigate effects of flooding which severely affected the neighborhood in Hurricane Sandy. The project also works in partnership with GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) leading efforts on the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project for the city. Their collected data is part of phase 1 which will be interpreted by community participants through the phase 2 creative engagement phase with the Ecological City pageant project.
ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY initiatives and creative work will be developed exploring green energy, community solar, local organic agriculture, permaculture, butterfly gardens, composting, grey-water recycling, carbon pricing, bio-degradable packaging, plastic free zones, waste reduction and sustainable steward rewards initiatives. With the re-designed East River Park set to begin construction, the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a comprehensive flood protection plan with proposals under review, along with housing redevelopment on the LES, it is a critical time for the community to reaffirm their vibrant culture, garden network, interests to remain residents and put forth and strengthen their grassroots urban model of climate resiliency and ecological sustainability.
ECOLOGICAL CITY – PROJECT TIMELINE:
• September 2016 – May 2017: Funding secured (several small grants have cycles that extend beyond these dates…) EC has been establishing community partnerships and an Advisory Committee for the development of the project.
• May 2017 – August 2017: Project production begins with partnership building and community- engagement through outreach presentations, public meetings, initial planning workshops. Open call for artists.
• September 2017 – October 2017: Selection of artists to lead a series of 60 workshops conducted from November 2017 – May 2018, engaging community participation in various arts/media to develop visual art and performance projects. Artist and Community Partner Collaborations will develop site-performances and visual art for the pageant.
• November 2017 – February 2018: Community-engaged design and planning workshops.
• March 2018 – May 2018: Art production through Ecological Art Workshop Series & Artist and Community Partner Collaborations.
• May 2018: Culminating Ecological City Pageant.
Earth Celebrations cultural organizing (community-based arts and environmental action projects) have been extensively covered by local and international newspapers, TV news, radio, academic journals, books and film documentaries.
SLIDE-VIDEO: EARTH CELEBRATIONS – OVER 25 YEARS OF CULTURAL ORGANIZING PROJECT TO GENERATE ECOLOGICAL & SOCIAL CHANGE
Interview with Felicia Young, Founder/Executive Director of Earth Celebrations and director of the Ecological City project discusses 30 years of cultural organizing projects to generate ecological and social change.