Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront, home to hundreds of artists and arts organizations, is rapidly developing with projects, such as the New York Wheel, Empire Outlets, Lighthouse Point, Urby, and the proposed Bay Street Corridor rezoning.
In the midst of this change, Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island’s Waterfront, a project of Design Trust in partnership with Staten Island Arts, aims to shape and communicate a vision for culture that supports and promotes the area’s unique cultural communities, develops art and cultural initiatives, and strengthens the relationship between the cultural sector and owners and stewards of property.
Design Trust and Staten Island Arts, working with local residents, artists, civic activists and small business owners, developed an initial set of design and policy recommendations outlining strategies for neighborhood revitalization, sustainability, and equitable economic development, released in March 2017.
Staten Island Arts then issued a call for pilot projects to test ways of promoting exploration of the waterfront and Bay Street corridor, organizing unique events of scale and regularity, and activating existing, underutilized public space, among other strategies spelled out in those recommendations.
We announced in July 2017, to pilot two of the six finalist proposals from this call. All six finalist concepts can be viewed in an exhibition, entitled Future Culture: Connecting People and Place on Staten Island’s North Shore, at ArtSpace @ Staten Island Arts through December 9, 2017.
SELECTED FUTURE CULTURE PILOT PROJECTS
Court Yard Fridays
Kevin Washington, Lynn Washington, and Homer Jackson
Court Yard Fridays is a concert series held in the Court Yard Garden of the old Supreme Court Building that will engage Staten Islanders through cultural sharing, and will activate this underused space to reveal opportunities for further cultural, social, and educational engagements. By bringing together notable artists of varying musical backgrounds, this event will engage diverse communities and build connections across the North Shore as a whole.
“There’s something more going on than retail malls, the wheel, or hotels they’re going to build. With some creativity we can find really positive activities,” said Kevin Washington.
Volker Goetze with Alassane Drabo, DB Lampman, Lina Montoya, Jeremy Munson, Sam Samore, Arthur Simms, and Scott Van Campen
Sonic Gates connects North Shore locations between the St. George Ferry Terminal and the Clifton SIRR station by way of interactive sound sculptures that help people navigate and appreciate the spaces they occupy. The sculptures promote exploration into the St. George, Tompkinsville, and Stapleton through an exciting multisensory experience and intuitive way finding between the sites.
“Staten Island has around 500,000 people but it’s a small town. Everybody knows each other and they help. I don’t think any other borough could create this kind of thing because it’s too big,“ said Volker Goetze.
FUTURE CULTURE PILOT PROJECT FINALISTS
Diane Matyas and Kristi Pfister
Flyaway Home, a three-part project, progresses large-scale metal nests attached to buildings, two dimensional birds silhouetted on facades, and a sunflower planting site along Bay Street in order emphasize the parallels between the coming and going of birds and people. Flyaway Home is conceived and designed to emphasize Staten Island’s unique characteristics of nesting (home space), nature (greenspace and fauna), and the daily movement/flocking of commuters, visitors, and Islanders.
“Being part of a process of nurturing your neighborhood, making it beautiful, following up on the history of other people who tried to do that, saying that this is your neighborhood and you should care about it…You can make a difference,” said Diane Matyas.
For Birds, Bees, Butterflies, and Busses
Kaja Kühl, Zhen Quan, Dissa Raras, and Paul Wang
For Birds, Bees, Butterflies, and Busses celebrates biodiversity on Staten Island through four installations along Bay Street that would raise awareness about species that populate the area and encourage more biodiversity by serving as a hospitable urban habitat. Built with sustainable materials near bus stops, each sculpture would represent a unique species and encourage humans to learn more about the ecosystems of Staten Island.
“A lot of the times you don’t see what you’re losing until you realize it’s too late. Then you have to relocate the things back that were originally displaced by urbanization. And that takes even longer than how you kicked them out originally,” said Paul Wang.
New Earth Resiliency Training Module (NERTM)
NERTM promotes the education and development of individuals and communities through workshops that emphasize the improvement of skills and spirit. Focusing particularly on youth engagement, the Rites of Passage workshop would help the North Shore community to rethink their relationship to place by highlighting how an individual’s transition between moments in life connects to the development of the community at large.
“Development doesn’t have to be tangible, development could be making the space better, making the community stronger, tighter instead of just keep on building and building. You could be reusing and repurposing and opening up spaces that have been tightly controlled,” said Tattfoo Tan.
The Mystic Portals of MERC
Kelly Vilar and Ray Zwaryc
The Mystic Portals of MERC connects the creativity of working artists and the imagination, memory, and hopes of community members to build and design boats at eight locations along the North Shore. The boats emphasize the community’s rich history as a Maritime corridor and voyage forward to promote inclusive and sustainable development along the shore. This proposal will meet the objectives of the MERC (Maritime, Education, Recreation and Cultural corridor) plan.
“I really believe that Staten Island can be a model in the future for a lot of things. We can be a model for private development for public-private partnerships where we really do something that contributes to the education, wellbeing, and economic development of the people that live here already,“ said Kelly Villar.