Sunday, May 8, 2011

Festival Of Ideas For The New City

The Festival of Ideas for the New City is a new initiative in New York bringing Downtown organizations together to collaborate in harnessing the creative power of the community and to explore ideas to shape the future city.

The StreetFest brought together artists, small business and community organizations to showcase their innovations to make future city living more efficient, cleaner and more of it's citizens self-sustainable. Urban gardening, recycling and upcycling, composting, consuming organic foods and products and discovering and utilizing alternative energy sources were major themes of the day.

Artists of various mediums created and educated through their works. Artists participating in the Festival of Ideas also used any available space to display their work.

The Festival of Ideas for the New City StreetFest took place on Saturday, May 7, 2011 along the Bowery.

Liz Neves of Raganella

This is Liz Neves of Raganella. She makes all natural products: body  and foot creams, scrubs, deodorant powder, tea blends and cleaning products using and lavender, bergamot, peppermint and coffee. Her products smell really great too!

This is Cesar. He was my IdeasNYC buddy on Saturday. He sniffed and slathered on samples, including the sweet orange and vanilla body cream. Fellas, worried about using a product that smells too girlie? Don't worry, Cesar got you covered and voiced his concerns. Neves also produces custom-made products so you can get any scent you want and packages in upcycled baby food jars. She also teaches DIY workshops and parties. Find her on Etsy as well.

Local Color: check out these busts by local artists at the University Settlement at the Houston Street Center. The message of positive body image and basically being awesome, no matter who you are--love it!

Works in Progress NYC was on-hand screen printing free T-shirts with the Festival of Ideas for the New City logo on it. Their process was efficient and anyone who wanted a shirt just had to stand in line. Works in Progress NYC may be the answer I've been looking for. I'm in the market for affordable screen printing for my "Don't Pet the 'Fro" T-shirts...

Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw Chocolate

Fine & Raw Chocolate. Sounds sort of dirty, doesn't it? Well considering what chocolate does to me, it sort of is. And it's delicious. I had some of the sea salt bar after Cesar and I shared a Green & Black's Organic Bittersweet Dark Chocolate bar. No comparison. The difference in quality was... palatable. Visit Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw Chocolate. Don't be ashamed to salivate and moan. In fact, Sklaar encouraged it at the Festival of Ideas. Chocolate makes you feel good. That's something you can't deny.

Olek presents as part of the Bushwick Art Park 

Yes this is exactly what it looks like; people in crotched suits lying in bed. This is performance art is by Olek as a part of the Bushwick Art Park with Factory Fresh Gallery, Trust Art and Skewville.

Tae Won Wu iPad street portraits

Familiar with the artists in Times Square, Herald Square or on Central Park South that draw portraits? Tae Won Wu draws those portraits on his iPad!

This booth spoke to me. Any one who knows the most recent chapter in my story knows how I feel about housing, gentrification and the economy. GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side). If you're a New York City native, you've witnessed or have been a victim of gentrification. The Bowery, which was once a Skid Row of sorts is a prime example of gentrification gone amuck. GOLES has bee committed to housing and economic justice since 1977. They advocate for tenants who are being illegally evicted, fight for rent-stabilization and end displacement of low-income, longterm residents due to gentrification. The number of evictions in NYC has steadily risen since 2006. GOLES' Eviction Key exhibit and the neighboring display by Housing is a Human Right reminded me of the Faces of the Economy exhibit that opened last month. On June 15, 2011, the rent control and rent stabilization laws in NY will expire! Contact GOLES if you'd like to get involved.

"Got the Power" is brought to us by The Laudromat Project resident Bayeté Ross Smith. In this installment, Ross Smith is compiling a Bowery Mixtape: we chose a song, list the artist and our name, and it'll be added to the mix. Given that choice, I had way too many songs in my head. I was going to choose something by Jorge Ben Jor, then I thought "California Soul" by Marlena Shaw (Diplo Mix) but settled on "Look Up" by Zero 7. Yeah, when in doubt, there's always Zero 7. Once the Bowery Mixtape is complete, you can listen to it at: Got the Power.

What are your ideas to make the world greener? How about to make street fairs greener? Cesar took the GreenHomeNYC survey on which of his daily activities are green and how he could improve. GreenHomeNYC is a non-profit that facilitates the adoption of sustainable building methods and materials by owners of small residential and commercial buildings in New York City. They've also developed Green Street Festival Guidelines and Festival of Ideas is the third street fair to implement the guidelines. Visitors at the StreetFest were encouraged to write down their ideas and had their photos taken, Yours Truly included. After a brief brainstorming session, we settled on "Fair Trade Products Now!" I purchase raw shea butter regularly. As far as I know, it is a fair trade product, but all imported products that require local farmers hours of intensive labor should be fair trade. Photos of the visitors and their ideas will be posted on the GreenHomeNYC Facebook page.

"White Trash" by Edith Raw

Art in Odd Places - organized ingenious art in odd places. The day of the Street Fest marked the cut-off date for the 7th Annual AiOP Festival. The theme is Ritual.  Be sure to check out AiOP from October 1 - 10, 2011 along 14th Street from Avenue C to the Hudson River. Artists are encourages to submit their proposals to be a part of the next annual Festival.

The Festival of Ideas for the New City was a great event. Very easy to suffer from information overload! There are a tons of booths and projects that I couldn't include in this post so check the Festival of Ideas website for more information. Judging by the the success of the event, I see the Festival becoming an annual event. Twice a year wouldn't be bad either to allow folks a chance to visit all the booths and projects scattered throughout the LES, East Village, Greenwich Village and SoHo.

Check out my full Festival of Ideas photo album on flickr!

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