Last Saturday, I joined a team of hardy New Museum staffers to throw our annual Block Party. The Block Party takes place every year in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park, traditionally on the hottest day of the summer. Visitors to the event enjoy a full schedule of performances, tours, and art workshops that we present in partnership with great neighborhood organizations like the Bowery Poetry Club and the Lower East Side History Project. This year might have been the steamiest (95 degrees, oy), but it was also our most popular Block Party yet, with more than 2,300 neighbors, art lovers, and families joining us in the park!

A standout at this year’s event was Postcards to AZ, a project by Benj Gerdes and Jennifer Hayshida. The artists invited visitors to write postcards to their neighbors in AZ affected by the imminent implementation of SB1070 (an Arizona law that allows police officers to check the immigration status of any person stopped for a separate cause). For the project, Gerdes and Hayshida created postcards depicting several historic sites of immigrant protest and resistance in NYC’s Lower East Side. If you weren’t able to join us at the Block Party, swing by the New Museum’s lobby today, July 29th, where the project will continue for one more day. Completed postcards will be sent to a network of community-based organizations in AZ and displayed publicly.

The driving force behind the Block Party is Cris Scorza, Manager of Tours and Family Programs at the New Museum. Four years ago, fresh out of college and happily clueless, I joined the New Museum team as an intern in the Education Department. The Museum’s building at 235 Bowery was still a hole in the ground, and my very first project was helping Cris organize “Countdown to Downtown,” our inaugural Block Party. Cris wanted to throw an event that would introduce the Museum to our new neighbors in the Lower East Side. We encountered some hiccups, from learning the hard way about the nuances of NYC park permits, to concerns that the noise involved in setting up our tents would scare the caged birds that locals bring to the park every morning! In the end, we successfully (and quietly) set up for the event, and by the close of the day we’d personally met hundreds of our new neighbors. I’m so happy that our first neighborhood meet-and-greet has snowballed into the annual Block Party, and am already looking forward to next year.

Thanks to Whole Foods and Goldman, Sachs & Co. Community Teamworks for supporting this year’s event with mountains of snacks, cool drinks, and helping hands!

–    Annie Wachnicki, Marketing Manager

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Annie Wachnicki

// From our friends at the New Museum

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