Lowline Launches Young Ambassadors Program, Community Engagement Committee
It’s been a busy summer for the team behind the Lowline, the proposed park that would be created in an abandoned trolley station below Delancey Street. Here’s an update on what they’ve been up to in recent months.
Just today, the Lowline opened applications for its new Young Ambassadors Program, a six-month long paid mentoring experience for high school juniors. Here’s a description of the program from the organization’s news blast:
Young Ambassadors will gain experience in teaching and communicating science, serving as docents and leading interactive educational sessions focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) at the Lowline Lab. Young Ambassadors will benefit from career workshops and networking opportunities with the Lowline’s core team and city-wide collaborators—gaining exposure and experiential learning opportunities in STEAM career pathways. In addition, each Young Ambassador will receive a $1,000 scholarship for their participation in the program.
Also this summer, the Lowline established a Community Advisory Committee. The board, made up of Lower East Side residents and community leaders, met for the first time on June 13. A second meeting is scheduled July 25 (see flyer below).
Earlier this year, leaders of several community-based organizations raised concerns about the Lowline proposal during meetings of Community Board 3. They called for more engagement with the local community about the vision for the underground park [some of them remain adamantly opposed to the proposal]. While the community engagement committee had been in-the-works for some time, it’s one way the Lowline organization is addressing the concerns.
According to minutes from the first meeting, committee members include representatives from organizations such as Henry Street Settlement, University Settlement and Fourth Arts Block, as well as tenant leaders in the immediate area. Among the resident groups participating: reps from the Grand Street Guild apartments, Seward Park Extension and Vladeck Houses. At the June 13 session, there was a wide ranging discussion about the programming, design and governance of the Lowline.
Back in November of 2015, the city’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC) solicited ideas for the underground trolley site. The Lowline submitted its proposal as part of that process and the organization’s leaders have been meeting with city officials to answer questions and provide additional information. A city spokesperson tells us no decisions have been made as of yet, although EDC officials are scheduled to update Community Board 3’s land use committee on the topic next Wednesday evening.
On June 7, the Lowline hosted a “garden party” at the Lowline Lab, the temporary exhibition space that’s been set up inside a former building of the Essex Street Market. The organization’s co-founder, Dan Barasch, told guests that the lab has served an important purpose. “We’re really proud,” he said, “that (the Lowline is) no longer (just) an idea. The Lowline is now a tested, science-based approach to solving one of the biggest problems we face in New York City: a lack of public space for all.” The lab, which is only open on weekends, has attarcted 60,000 visitors and has proved,” said Barasch, “that the underground park can be a place of “inspiration, of learning, of peaceful reflection and of community.”
Also at the garden party, the Lowline honored Nasir Mouzon-Cooley, a local teenager who has participated in the organization’s Young Designers Program. Mouzon-Cooley connected with the program through the Educational Alliance. In remarks prepared for the fundraiser, he said, “I am proud of the fact that I was given the chance to share my vision of what the Lowline could be for my community… Being part of the Lowline project was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so happy I was able to share a positive part of my life with you all.”