City Seed Final

Everything came together and CitySeed launched our first event on April 21st in preparation for Earth Day 2016! It was amazing to spend time with NYU peers planting microgreens and basil in up-cycled dining hall containers. We had a solid attendance; even Peter and the Dean of Tisch, Allyson Green, came and planted #CitySeeds! A reflection and photo slideshow of our first event is available on the home page of our website!

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Our website highlights our inspiration for starting the company, as well as instructions for making your own #CitySeed, and a little about us and our mission. You can contact us through the website as well.

We are so lucky to have been a part of an amazing class with such insightful and innovative peers!  We appreciate all of the positive feedback and tips you have shared with us! Thank you so much!

Jacob Fertig (co founder and overall just an awesome human being) and I believe our company will continue to host events and develop our products! We are looking to speak with the NYU Office of Sustainability over the summer and plan ahead for next fall. In the mean time, check out our website for updates and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

 

Idling Campaign: An Extension of George Pakenham’s Idle Threat

Reflecting on my final project and looking back on my previous posts, I realized there has been a slow development in my views. In the beginning, I felt that many of my posts were reaction posts to the shocking and horrific issues that we learned about for that week, as was the case of my first post “Deeply Upsetting.”  Then came posts that either talked about what I do in my own lifestyle to help the environment, or posts that shared my opinion on environmental news.  In my post ” A Floating Wasteland too Close to Home,” I realized how serious the issues were that we talked about and how easy it was for them to become a reality.  After that realization and having George as a guest speaker in class, I realized that “Activism” is one of the most proactive things we can do to combat the destruction of the natural world.  Thus, going into our final projects, I decided to leave my original idea of writing short plays on oil fracking to pursue assisting George with his social media campaign.

On Tuesday May 3, 2016 Sam and I presented our final project to our Green World class. Our project shared our efforts in developing a social media campaign for George’s movie, Idle Threat, but also described our in-person flyer campaign and community outreach. We also included an educational section as a way to continue our agenda of educating people on idling and the senseless damage it causes.

Social Media Campaign

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The social media campaign was a crucial element to our project because it was an area where George’s movie needed the most support.  For any movement  or activist, social media is essential for getting word out to the public. Thus, Sam and I decided to do a campaign across two platforms, Twitter and Facebook.  We felt that both platforms would help us reach different audiences and that the form would force us to promote Geroge’s content in different ways. I took over the Twitter and Sam took over the Facebook. We received advice on how to manage social media accounts from a contact of George’s.  We both tried to diversify the content we put out to include news on Idle Threat, progress of the 717 bill, and environmental developments specific to idling.

We also shared photos and videos of our in person campaign.

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Our in person campaign consisted of posting anti-idling flyers in public NYU spaces and also personally handing them out in front of Tisch. We also had a community outreach plan in which we reached out to NYU’s Office of Sustainability, NYU’s Oxfam America Club, NYU’s Greenhouse community, 4th Street Coop, etc.

Lastly, we had our field research and recording in which we went out around Greenwich village and recorded idlers we saw. We even timed the idlers to see if they were breaking the 3 minute law.  Some of the videos we took were shared on social media.  The most important thing for me though, was that it reinforced how serious the issue is, and how it is going on before our very eyes.

I am very proud of this project, not only because I felt like I made a difference and assisted a truly great activist in their work, but also because it helped my progress as a green activist myself.  Doing the work first hand, and struggling to get the word out made me realize how vital it is to keep trying.  I can’t wait to hear the progress on Bill 717 and hope to keep in contact with George and Sam and continue to fight idling.

 

#STR8OUTTAFLINT – FINAL

I DID IT! MY PERFORMANCE HAPPENED!

I was lucky enough to get space at my acting studio on Thursday April 28 for my performance art piece #STR8OUTTAFLINT. I had to perform it with fluorescent lights and minimal set and prop pieces but nonetheless, it happened!

There were around 15 audience members for the performance and it was interesting to hear afterwards how some people had no idea that the this was such a huge crisis, which was shocking to me because for months this water crisis is all I’ve been able think about it.

A collage created by yours truly via http://www.straightouttasomewhere.com
A collage created by yours truly via http://www.straightouttasomewhere.com

My inspiration for this particular project came from a couple different sources. The first one was from Beyonce. (I know, cliche) When she released her song “Formation” and the music video earlier in February, she caused so much controversy around the topics of racism, police brutality and cultural celebration. Even her Super Bowl performance was bashed by commenters on social media. But on the other hand, she got America to start having a conversation about topics that need to be discussed in order for us to move forward as a nation.

Another inspiration for the project, particularly for the form of the project, came from the works of Sarah Jones and Anna Devere Smith, which I talked about in one of my early blog posts. These are performance artists who specialize in creating one woman performances, in which they portray a variety of different characters. I used their character creation format to develop my own performance art piece.

As we all know, the Flint Water Crisis is an environmental issue that has been going on for quite some time now, nearly two years at this point. And after doing an extensive amount of research on this topic, I realized that this is not a problem that is going to be fixed overnight or in a couple of months.

Therefore, the urgency of the crisis motivated me to move forward with the creation of my project.

On top of doing research for my weekly blog posts, I also decided to use some of my devising tools to create this piece. I have a pretty heavy background in devising performance and I wanted to make use of some these tools.

I watched a lot of videos and documentaries that were filmed by Flint citizens interviewing other Flint citizens. I wrote down quotes that they would say that I thought were interesting or thought provoking.

After writing pages of quotes, I decided to take a closer look at their language to see the perspective they were approaching the crisis from. While some citizens were more concerned about the health and well being of their families, some citizens were more concerned about the financial aspect of the crisis.

I decided to create a conversation between these different perspectives to see if this would shine a light on a new idea or a larger issue.

I was also interested in imagining what I would do if I had no access to clean water through my faucets in my apartment. What would my life be like if I were to live off of bottled water?

This inspired me to create the first section of my piece which was basically me pouring bottled water into different bowls and pitchers for different daily uses. I also labeled each object with a purpose, for example, shower or hot water or tea or brushing teeth etc.

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For the underscore, I used Billie Holiday’s version of the song “Strange Fruit”, which then transitioned into a video footage from msnbc with Gov. Rick Snyder addressing the Flint Water Crisis.

My next section was an explosion of quotes and characters. I made us of the quotes that I collected from interviews and created different characters that were all Flint citizens. For my underscore I used SBTRKT’s new song “LET THEM IN”. The mystical and electrifying the beats of the song helped illuminate the undertones of the pain and struggle that each citizen was going through.

My final section was a political rally inspired by the one and only Queen B.

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I created original choreography to Beyonce’s “Formation” and created a semi-celebratory, semi-politically charged demonstration of the power that the citizens of Flint have to rise above this tragedy and how we, as citizens of this country can stand by our fellow brothers and sisters in Flint to help them during this difficult time.

In case you were wondering, yes, I did have hot sauce in my bag.

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The final picture on stage was four chairs that had signs on them that read “BLACK LIVES MATTER”, “FLINT LIVES MATTER”, “CLEAN WATER”, and “HUMAN RIGHTS” with the American flag draped across all four chairs.

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Over the summer, I am planning on further developing this project from a 15 piece to hopefully a 45 minute piece and after going through several drafts, I might submit it to several solo performance festivals across NYC. I wish I had the opportunity to do that this semester, but unfortunately with the limited resources and time constrictions, it didn’t work out.

What I took away from this project was a new found sense of power within myself and also the realization that I can use my power to inspire and empower others as well.yv5em

SEEGREENNYC- Final Update

GClogoSEEGREENNYC is an experimental viewing experience aiming to bring awareness to environmental issues in New York City. Through a dedicated VR viewer such as Google Cardboard or the web browser, New Yorkers can learn about areas in their home that are threatened by pollution or are in the process of recovery, as well as how one can get involved in making our city more green.

INSPIRATION
As I have mentioned previously, the inspiration of my final project is personal, despite the objective nature of the project. I grew up in New York City, where there isn’t much opportunity to connect with the outdoors, and when I started meeting people from all over the world in college, I realized that those from cultures that emphasized a greater connection to the land (such as the Western United States) were more in tune with environmental issues. Around the same time, I developed a love for the outdoors myself, and I started studying in NYU’s Environmental Studies department to learn more. I was surprised by how little my fellow native New Yorkers and I knew about global and local environmental issues, despite having attended a rigorous high school rooted in math and science, and I realized that the first step in fostering a care for the environment is through building an awareness for what the environment even entails.

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As a visual artist, I knew I wanted my final project to rely on images to convey information, and I started brainstorming for a method of delivery. At first, I was considering making a photo book documenting places in New York City that related to some sort of environmental problem or solution. However, when Peter told us that we were to impact at least 10 people with our projects, I realized that a digital medium would be best suited for widespread sharing of information. I decided to choose virtual reality (VR) for the challenge of working with a new medium, as well as for the ability of VR to plant a viewer in a specific environment, which I thought would help to cement the information I was to convey.

RESEARCH
My research for this project was twofold: (1) I had to figure out what information I wanted to share, and (2) how I would technically accomplish this.

I tackled the first problem by thinking about what I already knew versus what I didn’t. I had previously written about two Superfund sites in New York, Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal, and definitely wanted to include these in my project. This also led me to discover that there is an additional Superfund site here that I didn’t know about–the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site in Ridgewood. I was also introduced to the research of NYU Professor George Thurston in my environmental systems science class the previous semester, and wanted to further research the issue of air pollution in the South Bronx.

At this point, my list looked pretty negative, and I wanted to find some instances in which environmental issues were being attended to. I learned about how the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is part of an initiative by the National Park Service (NPS) to bring the outdoors to urban dwellers, which I thought was a nice story to parallel my own. I also wanted to raise awareness of how connected we actually are to our environment even if it doesn’t appear so, and researched how we get our drinking water in New York City. This brought me to the New Croton Water Filtration Plant project in the Moshulu Golf Course, and I was also pleasantly surprised to learn about how the project is an example of how clever architecture can be used to incorporate useful but otherwise obtrusive structures into our limited landscape.

I also wanted to visit the Freshkills Park in Staten Island and NYC’s largest green roof at Javits Center, but unfortunately, both of these places are under construction and I was not able to secure access.

Google Cardboard Kit by D-scope Pro

As for the technical side of the project, I quickly decided that Google Cardboard would be the best option because of how cheap and easy it is for a viewer to buy one, as opposed to a higher-end device like Oculus Rift. The original Google Cardboard was actually sold out when I was beginning my project, so I settled for the D-Scope Pro Viewer, which only cost me $17. I then needed a way to photograph photospheres (essentially 360° panoramas) that I would view using Cardboard, and found out that the Google Street View app is an easy way to both record and view these panoramas! Street View also gives the creator of the photosphere the option to publish to Street View, which is also linked to Google Maps, and I knew that it would make sharing the project much easier.

PROCESS

Stereoscopic view of a small residential area on a corner on 132nd Street in the South Bronx
Stereoscopic view of a small residential area on 132nd Street in the South Bronx.

My process involved physically getting to each location, photographing it with Street View, and getting all of the visuals plus short write-ups up on a website that I coded for easy sharing. I also wanted the panoramas to be accessible to those without VR viewers, so I used a script called WebVR to embed them for web viewing.

CHALLENGES
Aside from not being able to photograph Freshkills Park and Javits Center’s greenroof, I struggled with the limitations of the Street View photosphere stitcher. The app does not recommend photographing things in close proximity to the camera due to optical distortions, but this was impossible to avoid in the city, and I ended up getting glitches in the panoramas. In the future, I would like to experiment with more specialized camera equipment, as well as with 360° video (with audio!) to make the experiences even more realistic. I would also like to work more with people that are impacted by these problems or are involved with the solutions and incorporated more personal anecdotes on the webpages.

IMPACT
I published all 6 of my photospheres to Street View exactly one week ago. Rather than publishing as I finished them, I wanted to wait until they were all done so I could compare views between locations. The view counts to my profile as well as to each photosphere are as follows:

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I was really surprised that I had over 800 views to my profile and a total of 1,273 views across the 6 photospheres! However, I was aware that those who accessed my project only through Street View were not able to see the project in its entirety, so I also brought it to the gym that I climb at and shared my work with some people there.

Climbers at Brooklyn Boulders look at SEEGREENNYC
Climbers at Brooklyn Boulders look at SEEGREENNYC.

Overall, I had a lot of fun creating this project! I learned a lot by researching these locations, figuring out the technical blips of Street View, and trying to find the best way to code a website that would best display the information. I do hope to continue with this project in some way, and look forward to sharing it with more people.

Greenworld Greenthumb

For my final project, I chose to focus on gardening specifically urban gardening and even more specifically urban gardening for a small indoor space (like a dorm).  I believe in order to begin to make a change in the environment people need to simply care. I think a good way to encourage caring for the environment is gardening on a small scale. Seeing your plants grow gives you a real since of pride. You care for a thing and it is able to thrive.

My own plant's progress.
My own plant’s progress.

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I decided to have my subject take the form of a zine, a small self published booklet. I decided this was a good form for my final project because I’m not really social media savvy or have much of a social media presence. I thought I could do more with a physical form.

I began the process of making my zine by just brainstorming gardening topics I’d want to research and read about myself. 20160503_014234

Before diving into research I started work on a template for my zine on PowerPoint in order to know how many topics to include. Capture

I titled my zine “Greenworld Greenthumb”. My first zine covers the topics of “Plants to Purify the Air“, “How to Propagate Succulents“, and “Tips to Care for Your Succulents“. My second zine covers the topics of “Where to Find Plants in NYC” (I used my own research for this, visiting places all over Manhattan), “Making Your Plants Decorative” (I used my own experience and pots for this), and “Tips for Transporting Plants“. Besides the information present in my zines, a big focus for me were the images. I tried to include as many photos as I could fit and tried to use as many of my own images as possible. The first zine was mostly found images, which I credited in the zine or were creative commons, but I also included my own illustrations, plants, and polaroids. My second zine, because it was mostly my own exploration and experiences, had a majority of my own images.

The first edition.
The first edition.
The second edition.
The second edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I printed them in a little less than a half page size in order to be small and convenient. I printed them in black and white because it’s what I had available to me. One thing I included in my second zine that was not on my first is a QR code leading to my progress post. Once printed I distributed them in two ways. I put the first edition of my zine out at my dorm’s resource center (Rubin Hall) where residents could pick them up as they entered. They second way I distributed my zines (the second edition and a few left over first editions) was handing them out in Washington Square Park.

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I’ve learned a lot about plants in really diving into this project, and I came out with a couple new plants. I thought the zine making process was enjoyable and I could see continuing the process. I’ll definitely continue to garden in my window and care for my plants.

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CitySeed – Final Project Reflection

Everything came together and CitySeed launched our first event on April 21st in preparation for Earth Day 2016! It was amazing to spend time with NYU peers planting microgreens and basil in up-cycled dining hall containers. We had a solid attendance; even Peter and the Dean of Tisch, Allyson Green, came and planted #CitySeeds! A reflection and photo slideshow of our first event is available on the home page of our website!

cityseedaltdesignOur website highlights our inspiration for starting the company, as well as instructions for making your own #CitySeed, and a little about us and our mission. You can contact us through the website as well.

It has been a long journey to see our company blossom (botany pun). We are so thankful for our classmates and Peter for all of the positive feedback and tips you have shared with us! Thank you so much!

Co-Founders, Skyye James and Jacob Fertig
CitySeed Co-Founders, Skyye James and Jacob Fertig

Skyye James (my co-founder) and I believe our company will continue to host events and develop our products! We are looking to speak with the NYU Office of Sustainability over the summer and plan ahead for next fall. In the mean time, check out our website for updates and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

Microgreens
Our microgreens in up-cycled containers