Those of you familiar with the history of the site the Lab occupied during its time in New York likely shudder at the memory of its previous state: sandwiched between two buildings, a dilapidated pile of rat-infested rubble that neighbors described as a dark and depressing void on an otherwise cheerful street.
But if you’re familiar with the site, you may also be familiar with First Street Green, the group of immensely dedicated community members working behind the scenes to ensure that the lot doesn’t revert to its former state.
Instead, they hope to maintain a legacy of art, culture, learning, and public gathering in the space, which is referred to as First Park (the address is 33 East 1st Street, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side).
This Saturday, December 10, from 2 to 5 pm, they’ll be hosting a Holiday Wrap Up—part holiday/New Year’s celebration, part recap of the past few months’ progress working on the future of First Park, and part data-collection drive to solidify the community’s wishes for the space.
During the course of the Lab’s run, FSG ran a series of three events titled “What’s Next?” with the goal of mining the community for their visions of what First Park should become.
There they gleaned enough data to narrow the focus of First Park’s function. While some wished to see a garden, a playground, or a dog park, the thread connecting most of the visions leaned toward a unique and flexible space for arts and culture events like performances, lectures, workshops, and other gatherings.
Since then, FSG has worked closely with the New York City Parks and Recreation Department that controls the land, developing a partnership. While the space will be open to the public just like any other New York City park, the partnership will see FSG take the reins of the programming and become a conduit for cultural groups wishing to use the space for events.
FSG hopes to have a long-term plan for the park solidified by January, when they will apply for funding from the federal government for capital improvements to the site and programming funding for one year.
Before then, however, there are a few final details to nail out: exactly what type of programming does the community want to see? Yoga classes? Dance performances? Lecture series? Movie nights? Once a month? Three times a day? And at what times of the day? These types of things.
As per usual, FSG is wrapping this last bit of consultation into a fun, interactive event that is open to anyone with a stake or interest in the future of First Park.
Check out this great video of one of their What’s Next events to get a feel for some of the work they’ve already done.
And if you like what you see—or, better yet, if you don’t like what you see—join them at First Park on Saturday. Have your say (really, for once) in the final planning phase of what could become one of New York’s most unique, progressive and, well, public public spaces.