Saturday, April 18, 2015

Right of Way Memorial for the Dead, 2014

According to Right of Way, 269 people were killed by cars in 2014 during the first year of Vision Zero in New York.  

“144 Pedestrians
20 Cyclists
95 people in cars
10 unknown
Right of Way remembers them with a large public art installation.”

Saturday April 18th, we’d memorialize those losses, meeting at Kent and South 3rd Street across from the old Domino Sugar plant.   

We would wheatpaste all morning long. 

I spent from 9:30 AM through 10:45 posting the black and white memorials of bodies in space, for those who died in January 2014.  One stroke paint of wheatpaste, then the image and the name, and then another layer of wheatpaste.  I did not recognize the names until we got to a batch of three people killed at the corner of 96th Street, in just one week last January.   Cooper Stock’s smaller size memorial struck me.  The nine year old boy was killed by a cab at 96th street as he walked with his father.  He died in his father’s arms.  There is always a shock of recognition in these moments.  I used to have it when I walked through the AIDS quilt of those lost to AIDS and recognized a friend or client.  And I felt it today. Its hard to see the enormity of the losses until you look at all of them together.

It would take those painting all day long to complete the memorial, with some strange moments  along the way.  As we were working, a truck crashed into the very building where we were hanging the memorials, damaging the wall, while demonstrating the dangers we all face in the streets of New York City.

Still we worked. And remembered.  And hopefully, the city can bridge the 269 death gap between the rhetoric and the reality of vision zero in New York city. 

Slow down everyone and look out for each other. Streets are for sharing. 

After Cooper was killed, his parents emphasized the point."It would give some meaning to this senseless tragedy if it serves as a reminder to people to drive extra carefully and give extra hugs to their children." 

Riding home I saw others out painting, reminding me that the city really is a mutable work of work, something we can impact and improve if we look out for each other, listen, speak loud enough, with enough paint, color, passion, and care. 

After all, we are all interconnected. Everything is  connected.

Finishing a five hour garden ride later in the day, I heard the activists were still wheatpasting when I got home.  Others had already been talking and tweeting about the memorial.

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Nice project by showing the number of people killed in traffic last year.
Memorial to those who lost their lives to motor vehicles.— with Rabi Abonour and Keegan at Williamsburg Bridge. photo by Jenn Maskell
Keegan The woman at the base of the scaffolding, handing us the artwork as we install it, is Franci Brenner, the mother of Matthew Brenner. We installed a memorial for him today, along with the other 263 people killed by NYC traffic last year. Seeing the magnitude of all those lives lost in one place is truly shocking, even to me.

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