Social Media for Social Change

24 08 2009

Mark your calendars folks. My friends at Sosauce just alerted me that on Tuesday, September1, they will be co-sponsoring and taking part in the New Media & Youth Action Conference next month. The conference will bring young people together for a free all-day community youth forum discussing important issues from health to cultural diplomacy. The goal is to give young people an open platform to discuss and learn about how they can get involved in and better their worlds. Sosauce co-founder Sean Pfitzenmaier will join other media and non-profit players, including Angela Atchison of E+Co and Richard Graves of Fired Up Media to speak to and empower young people.

The focus here is in my opinion a brilliant one: teach young people how to use social media networks like Sosauce to effect change in their worlds. If there is one thing I learned in my days as a tutor at the Harlem Children’s Zone, it’s that young people are addicted to social media. Though this was the bane of my existence when it kept them from focusing on the learning we needed to accomplish, if that obsession could be harnessed in a productive way, I think we are headed for a much better world. Thanks, Sosauce, and everyone else who is working to make that possible.

The conference takes place on Tuesday, September 1 from 10 am until 3 pm at the Interchurch Center in Morningside Heights (475 Riverside Dr # 530). For more information about the New Media & Youth Action Conference, please check out the official site, or if you’re a social networking addict, visit New Media & Youth Action on Sosauce or on Facebook.

September Highlights

7 10 2008

It’s definitely autumn in New York. The air is crisp, some leaves have started to change color, and I’m left bewildered and wondering what happened to September. Oh right, September was that quick little month during which I: started a new job at the Harlem Children’s Zone, scurried around Fashion Week, and curated a major literary extravaganza.

Somewhere between the sore feet and the frantic running, I managed to fit in two of my favorite things: travel and girlfriends. I got to take a little trip to the tiny town of Altoona, PA, where my dear high school friend Rachel, whom I hadn’t seen in a frightening five years happened to be for a wedding. My travel time of six hours each way about equaled the waking hours I spent in Altoona. The trip itself consisted of crashing the wedding, brunching and talking the following day at Friendly’s (east coast staple) followed by a long and thorough exploration of Target (more talking) before re-crossing the highway and returning to the hotel to lounge and talk some more. It was a simple trip and an amazing one, the kind that proves it does not matter where you are, or how long you travel, so long as it’s to meet a good friend.

And speaking of long trips, my lovely and amazing friend Liz made a huge one across the pond to visit me in New York. We walked all over town, gorged on sweets, and talked until it seemed we must have sucked the air out of the room. And still had so much left to say. It was fun to see New York through unAmerican eyes, but the best part was the realization that over a two week stint in Argentina I had made a lifetime friend. The wonders of travel.

Even more amazing, that in the midst of the chaos of September, I managed to fit in quality time with two amazing women and two great friends (old and new) who, in vastly different ways, are something of kindred spirits to me. I wonder what October will hold?

Eminent Domain

6 08 2008

This weekend, exhausted after a fun night out, I decided to take myself for a walk. I wandered aimlessly for some 30 blocks and happened upon the New York Public Library. This is not unsual. I’ve passed the library many times before. I’ve even pondered entering many times before. But what is unusual is that I, who love libraries (and New York, and history), have never set foot inside. Sure, I’ve visited several branches to check out books. But the real library, the one with the lions and the history, I’ve never entered.

As I passed the steps of that familiar building, the lions beckoned. And so, finally, up I went. Up and into that gorgeous, amazing library. I definitely kicked myself for not having come sooner as I reverently wandered through those halls, into massive, intensely quiet rooms lined with heavy, tedious volumes of women’s history and man’s history and no history at all.

I saw the map room, which is possibly one of the most awesome sights there is. A librarian was showing a visitor old maps of New York, of how Central Park was meant to look, and a giant globe made me long to go exploring. I also visited the original Pooh bear and all his friends, who sit on display for posterity to see. (While it was fun to see them there was something pathetic about these tattered and well-loved stuffed animals being confined to sit under glass.)

The highlight of the trip, however, was a photography exhibit, Eminent Domain, that explores the boundaries between public and private, and the nature of photography itself, through the beautiful and poignant images of five contemporary New York photographers. The exhibit explores gentrification and disappearance, mapping (and re-mapping) the boroughs of New York through exploration of their edges, changes over time, battles of heritage, and the sanctity, beauty, and poignancy of public spaces. All with in the realm of beautiful images.

The exhibit is on display on the first floor of the library through August 29 and I encourage all to pay it a visit.

Art: The Real Story

6 03 2008

I met up with some friends last night and told them about my evening at the Armory. The art part they enjoyed, but the real thrill was the party, which, who are we kidding, is the real story anyhow. No?

After all, the Biennial is as much about the social aspect as it is about the art. So now to tell, in true New York fashion, about the party, an event to see and be seen in its truest form. Celebrity sightings were limited, although Julia Stiles was about. As for the rest of the crowd? You don’t get more “artsy” than this, folks.

I saw men in top hats, men in tie dye, men in dresses. Berets were definitely a popular choice, and I think there were several young Allen Ginsberg types, and possibly one ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. My favorite was the man with the pink sport coat and matching pink head band a la Jane Fonda Sweatin’ to the Eighties.

As for the females, black was definitely the color of choice, and ranged in style from the tasteful black dress to the sparkly black cat hat. Yes, I said sparkly black cat hat (complete with ears). I didn’t see her talking to the woman in the dress made of feathers, but I expect if they didn’t know each other they became lifelong friends that evening.

Oh, and did I mention what the most popular installation was? I’ll give a hint: it was perhaps the most interactive room of all and its contents burn the throat a tad.

Interactive Art

5 03 2008

Tomorrow the Whitney Biennial opens to the public. In the event’s 74th year, the Whitney is trying something new. The museum has collaborated with the Park Avenue Armory and Art Production Fund (APF) to extend the event to a second venue.

Built from 1877-1881, the historic Park Avenue Armory is one of New York’s most beautiful (and important historic edifices). It originally housed the prestigious Seventh Regiment from which originated the National Guard. Its elaborate interior is the product of the 19th Century Aesthetic Movement, incorporating various historical styles and visual complexity.

From March 6-23, it will host will host Bienniel installations, many of which were designed specifically for this magnificent space. At their party last night I got a sneak preview. Aside from the ornate decor of the building itself (which includes mosaics and fireplaces designed by Tiffany and Co.), there were a few standouts. On the back wall of the massive drill hall hang facadeless neon signs, Gretchen Skogerson‘s examination of the “aesthetic paradox of disaster” in response to Hurricane Katrina desrtuction. Perhaps most poignant, however, is MK Guth‘s Ties of Protection and Safekeeping. Strung across and looped around the ornate Library/Silver Room are yards of yellow hair, with strips of red flannel hanging from them. Upon closer look each strip of flannel contains words: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; My family, my body, my freedom; Polar Ice Caps… The question all are answering? “What is worth protecting?” Guth braid’s the answers into the artificial hair, creating one long Rapunzel-style braid of dreams. The effect is nothing short of captivating.

Throughout the next couple weeks a series special events will take place at the Armory, some separate and many in tandem with the installations. The lineup includes run of the mill music performances and film screenings, and a variety of less than ordinary experiences. DJ Olive, for example, will be hosting Slumber Party 2008 to present his Sleeping Pill series which he calls “a balm for troubled times,” and Agathe Snow will hold Stamina: Gloria et Patria, dance marathon in the Armory’s drill hall. Did I mention the tequila tasting, hosted by Eduardo Sarabia? Talk about some potent art.