Monday, September 14, 2015

Public Space Party Poetry Buildings #offandon

Early on Friday, a friend said to me that New York is now only a place for the rich.  There is no room for art here anymore.

You’ve hanging out with the wrong people, I explained.

The streets are teeming with people and ideas.

Clandestine Public Space Party invite.
Photo by Catherine Talese

At least that was the feeling the night before with Public Space Party’s poetry building ride and retreat.  We all went to see Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben speak.

 The Public Space Party went for an outing to the event at BAM.   It seemed like the whole city was there, thinking about the road to Paris and the steps ahead of the plan to meet for the climate talks in Paris.  I brought my kids to hear, sitting with my peeps.

 As the billing for the event explained. 

Join Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Reverend Yearwood, Cynthia Ong, Eddie Bautista, and other social movement leaders from across the world. Through a riveting multimedia presentation, they'll outline the depths of our current peril—and unveil a plan for how we can pull humanity back from the brink of catastrophe. 2015 was the hottest year on record, coming on the heels of the historic People's Climate March. With the United Nation Climate talks in December looming; moral leaders from around the work stepping up to call for urgent climate action; and social movements taking to the streets in record numbers - the task ahead of us is simple. Not easy, but simple. Fossil Fuels must be turned OFF, and clean energy solutions must be turned ON. Science tells us we must, and justice demands that we do it now.

“The ocean is not a junkyard,” one of the speakers declared.

“Lets turn off fossil fuels and turn on renewables,” they charged the crowd at BAM.

“We have this crazy idea that we can fight inequality and climate chaos,” Klein declared.

“Ten years after Katrina, 2015 was the hottest year on record,” declared McKibben.

Together they denounced oil companies. 
“These are rogue companies pushing the limit of the planet so we need to turn that off,” declared Klein. “There are other models to follow.  We are fighting and winning against Keystone.  A few months after the people’s Climate March, you beat fracking in New York State – a historic win.”

Many of the activists in the room had been part of that win.  Public Space Party members organized around the fracking campaign for years, later organizing the bike block for the people's climate march in New York last fall.

Our thinking was that we can occupy public space with other ideas, plans, and ways of being.
The streets are our greatest public spaces.  Its up to us to organize in them. Friday we'd get together for a Poetry Building Ride.

 The call for the event was simple:
We use theatrical direct action to highlight issues of sustainable urbanism, cycling, and public space. 

We ride bikes, hang out in community gardens, organize dance parties, read poems in publicly owned private spaces. In other words, we see public space as a place for democracy. Everyone is invited to take part in this public space party. 

Dress suggestion:
What’s your animal-act?
please bring an item or prop to help you perform the behavior of a selected animal; domesticated, extinct, mythic creature.
bring: a noise maker, scrap of fur, long sticky tounge,…
We meet at East Broadway and Forsythe under the Manhattan Bridge, deep in the heart of China town, just down the street everyone’s favorite bar, the 169.

Catherine ushered us behind an alley, inviting us into a secret world where public spaces become animated with colors and lights, words and bodies, poetry and clothes, skateboards and fashion shows as the sun sets on the city.

A small child looked at our flyer.

Olive joined us.

We rode through alleys, gazing at the sunset along the Manhattan waterfront. 

Skateboarders zoomed about.  Kids were organizing an impromptu fashion show.

We looked and rode, danced and conspired, letting words form their own kaleidoscope.  

Lights shone in the distance as I rode back home to holy Brooklyn. The world teeming with friends and ideas, plans and actions.  It was the first 9/11 in ages when I did not feel a sense of gloom. 

The world stands still with friends on "The Poetry-Building Ride" with Public Space Party.Photos and Captions by Catherine Talese 

What a great ride Catherine and Roy created, sharing unknown public spaces (and former public spaces reclaimed by the city as 'safe-zones' -- aka police zones post 9/11). We all discovered new arenas a play in our home city. Under-bridge skate parks, Chinatown chess parks, and this large spinning gyroscopic globe....Going to be a great autumn!  photos and captions by 
 Brennan Cavanaugh

Its going to be a great year for public space party, as we talk about a new model of being together in a sustainable city of art in the public commons.