Rockefeller-Funded Exhibition and Workshop Series Uncovers Socially Innovative and Sustainable Activism in Williamsburg and Greenpoint

Amplifying Creative Communities: North Brooklyn
November 11–20, 2011
[email protected]
2 Kingsland Avenue @ Maspeth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 10, 6–9 pm

NEW YORK, October 17, 2011—The DESIS Lab (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) at Parsons The New School for Design presents Amplifying Creative Communities in NYC: North Brooklyn from November 7–20 at [email protected] This exhibition and workshop series, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s New York City Cultural Innovation Fund, are part of a two-year, design-driven initiative aimed at helping neighborhoods and communities to support social innovations that create a more sustainable New York City. These activities range from healthy and local food initiatives, to environmental efforts, alternative modes of transportation, and sharing economies such as co-housing, food cooperatives, and bartering.

"This project evolves from the basic principle that sustainable social innovations are present in hidden, less evident forms in cities around the world through the efforts of individuals or small, self-organized groups that seek to improve their lives and environments through collaboration," said Eduardo Staszowski, director of the Parsons DESIS Lab.

For the past year, graduate students and faculty at Parsons have been working in North Brooklyn to interview local civic leaders to uncover these types of activities. The results of this research will be shown in the exhibition, highlighting local challenges and the response of the North Brooklyn community.

"The exhibition is designed as an open studio for workshops with community residents, designers and academics," said Lara Penin, an assistant professor at Parsons and principal investigator of the project. "Workshop participants will be informed by the work displayed throughout the gallery space and at the same time will be invited to add their ideas and comments, which will ultimately become an integral part of the installations."

The exhibition and workshop series are presented in collaboration with St. Nick's Alliance, IDEO, ioby (In Our Backyards), Green Map System, and the Cornell University Interaction Lab. The series includes a workshop series facilitated by the design consultancy IDEO where Parsons MFA Transdisciplinary Design students will design scenarios, service ideas, toolkits, and policy recommendations around the areas of social innovation identified in the exhibition, as well as a workshop led by Geri Gay and Laura Forlano of the Cornell University Interaction Design Lab as part of the NSF VOSS project, Design Collaborations as Sociotechnical Systems. Designers and social scientists will explore emergent forms of design collaborations as well as the methods and tools that enable them.

In addition, the following events are open to the public:

  • On November 12, the online micro-philanthropic initiative ioby will launch its "Recipes for Change" toolkit, which will enable community leaders to propose and implement sustainable initiatives in their neighborhood. RSVP:
  • On November 16, Green Map System, an organization that utilizes mapping to promote sustainable community development, will host a workshop for the North Brooklyn community. RSVP: [email protected].

For more information about this exhibition and workshop series, please visit

During the course of the Amplifying Creative Communities exhibition, the Parsons DESIS Lab will partner with Shareable to present Share NYC (November 19-20). This conference brings together students, social innovators, designers and entrepreneurs to explore the sharing economy and learn from those who are pioneering new ways of working, living, consuming, and creating. For more information, visit

Parsons DESIS Lab, housed in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons The New School for Design, brings together faculty and students from across the disciplines at Parsons and The New School to research, promote, and amplify community-based solutions for sustainability in New York City. The lab is the coordinator of the U.S. chapter of the DESIS Network, a global consortium of design schools, private companies and nonprofit organizations that support the use of design to generate social change. For more information visit

Parsons The New School for Design is a global leader in art and design education. Its School of Design Strategies offers a range of programs that apply design thinking to study the intersection of cities, services and ecosystems. This includes undergraduate programs in Design and Management, Environmental Studies, Integrated Design, and a graduate program in Transdisciplinary Design. Launching in Fall 2012 are new graduate programs in Theories of Urban Practice and Design and Urban Ecologies; also in development is a Master of Science in Strategic Design and Management. For more information, please visit

[email protected], part of St. Nick's Alliance, is an innovative 4,500-square-foot multi-arts space in the former outpatient building of the Greenpoint Hospital. The programs are tied thematically to the North Brooklyn community and provide many ways for the community to participate in the realization of the work. For more information, please visit

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Media Contacts:

Deborah Kirschner
[email protected]

Kate McCormick
212.229.5667 x3794
[email protected]

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