An exhibition by students of the City Studio at Eugene Lang College, the New School & Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, in collaboration with SPURA Matters.
The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) is the largest undeveloped city-owned parcel of land south of 96th Street, and it has been a contested site since it was cleared for “renewal” more than 40 years ago.
Please join us at a new exhibition by the New School’s City Studio, Exploring SPURA, which delves into the experience of living at SPURA now – the resources and restrictions – as well as the stories of today and the experience of the SPURA diaspora, displaced many years ago. The exhibition springs from the City Studio’s research in the community and hopes to continue encouraging productive conversation about the site’s future.
The question of SPURA is a timely one, as plans for its development are in discussion once more at the Community Board. Come join the conversation!
The 2010 City Studio creators of Exploring SPURA are: Sarah Charles, Jamie Florence, Leijia Hanrahan, Anke Hendriks, Lila Knisely, John Lake, Claudie Mabry, Katie Priebe, Adam Schleimer, Kaushal Shrestha, Emily Winkler-Morey and Hannah Zingre. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani is the professor and exhibition curator.
The City Studio course of the Urban Studies department, Eugene Lang/New School explores the life of a small urban space, through archival, ethnographic, visual and participatory research. SPURA Matters is a visioning project for the SPURA site to get people talking about SPURA’s future. It is a collaboration between Good Old Lower East Side, Pratt Center for Community Development, and Place Matters/City Lore.
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As part of the workshop that Jilly Traganou, Lydia Matthews and I ran this past week at the New School’s Design and Social Science seminar we asked participants to identify and diagram a time of compelling interdisciplinary collaboration. We particularly asked participants to identify the material and immaterial (social, cultural…) conditions that enabled this compelling interdisciplinary moment. The results were fascinating. Planning our workshop activity beforehand, we had to think of what our own answers would be to this admittedly difficult question.
I feel lucky to have had some powerful interdisciplinary moments in my education and teaching life (not least in my collaboration with Kaushik on Buscada), but the one that sprang to mind was one that has informed (and absorbed) much of my thinking over the past few months. I recalled the blackboard shown above.
It shows a portion of my start-of-semester working process with landscape architect Elliott Maltby to develop the syllabus for our Public Space Critical Studio + Practice-based Seminar which we are co-teaching this semester, Fall 2009 at the New School. Blue post-its are my methodological and ethnographic readings, green post-its are Elliott’s design readings. Many of our readings overlapped – and sometimes we would find the same readings posted twice, on both green and blue post-its. Though we had had conversations, this process made powerfully visible our own intersecting thinking, through our intersecting literatures. This process made it clear to us that we could indeed collaborate on the class, showing us that we had often come to similar ideas via different routes.
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At the New School, I teach a class in the Urban Studies department called City Studio. The goal of this class is to collaborate with a community organization and to understand a contested urban space. The outcome of this class is to develop a project for the public that helps the broader community visualize our contested site. In 2008 and 2009 we have focused on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) – located on the Lower East Side, and one of the most contested urban renewal sites. It is still the largest parcel of undeveloped land in NYC south of 96th Street, as noted by the New York Times, here.
Now, this year’s class is grappling with this complex site, and the new questions that have developed, as last year’s community organizing by SPURA Matters (a collaboration of community organizations including GOLES, Place Matters and the Pratt Center) has furthered the conversation in the community. So much so, in fact, that Community Board 3 has once again begun to consider the question of development at SPURA.
At this point in the semester, City Studio is starting to develop our research questions about the site, and how we might contribute to furthering the conversation. A brainstorming session in class, pulling from each student’s own research questions (defined in an earlier paper) resulted in some exciting connections – as seen here.
This week, our research groups present their work plans for public projects, and things will start to develop quite quickly.
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Just released, a new project designed & edited by Buscada!: The America Project: A Teaching Method for Collaboration, Creativity and Citizenship. Building on the work of Sekou Sundiata and dance & be still arts, this guide was produced by MAPP International, written by Kym Ragusa and edited by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani. It is a great resource for teaching and civic engagement.
Here’s the guide in process:
and in its completed form:
Read more about The America Project at: http://mappinternational.org/america-project
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