Chelsea Uni, a student-led Uni.

Where: Chelsea, Manhattan (New York City)
When: Wed May 29 and Sat Jun 1 (detailed schedule)

Uni by students

Chelsea Uni is a Uni reading room initiated by middle and high school students in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and led by the Avenues School. Students will create daylong experiments in creative community building that combine access to books with other civic, educational, and recreational activities. The goal is to meet people, learn something new, have fun, and consider how strategic public installations can create rewarding encounters. A longer-term goal is to document and evaluate the project so it can be repeated by other students and schools.

In addition to a great collection of children’s picture books for browsing, Chelsea Uni will feature:

  • cubes curated by local schools, organizations, and companies;
  • lessons, lectures, art activities and fun events; and
  • Unimeets, a chance for participating groups to meet, learn from each other, and discuss their passions.

Cube Curators:

  • Avenues classrooms, K through 8th grade
  • Future Project students @LAB school
  • Hands on History group at PS11
  • Centre for Social Innovation
  • Friends of the High Line
  • Various local art galleries
  • Story Store

Unimeets hosted by:

  • Kidz Theatre
  • Avenues Drama Club
  • Future Project students @LAB school


Here are some details about the Chelsea Uni, provided by the teachers and students involved:

What does it mean to curate a cube in Chelsea Uni? How do I do it?

The cube should contain books or anything else (articles, pictures, maps, legos, documents) that speak to who you are/what you stand for/what you want others to know about you as a class, group, or individual. Share your passion!

As a classroom, select books you read or items you created this year that you’d like to share with others. Be prepared to discuss what you like about these items, or why they’re cool.

As a company or organization, which books speak to your group’s vision, passion, or field? What is cool or crucial about your field that students or adults might want to know?

As a gallery, books about and pieces of art would be welcome! You can come speak about them at a Unimeet!

If you are interested in contributing to the creative community building atmosphere, fill the cube with something else: a game, a map, photos, art, instructions. If your contribution cannot fit into a cube, feel free to suggest a side installation, performance, activity, or art piece– we are determined to consider all options in our effort to create an attractive, fun, multi-purpose installation.

Cool! How do I sign up to curate a cube?

Email and the students will get right back to you.

Beyond curating a cube: Unimeets

Consider participating in a Unimeet, an appearance at which you can share info about your cube to an interested audience! Many locals might want to learn more about local companies or organizations and the topics about which they’re passionate.

For classrooms, unitmeets can bring together students from different schools to talk about books and ideas they love. It’s a chance to meet on neutral ground, talk about books and simply get to know your neighbors.

For art groups, it’s a chance to conduct a small-scale public performance, or lead an impromptu installation or exercise.

For companies, you can share your business inspiration, your crazy entrepreneurial story, your big vision for revolutionizing your industry… or talk about your company in a creative way, based on books that have inspired you.

For nonprofits, a talk about the role you play in community-building would be particularly appropriate.

What happens at these Unimeets?

Learning. Discussion. Fun. Exploring. Hanging out. It’s entirely up to you,  and we have suggestions ranging from simple cube-sharing, to pre-planned activities around a theme that might resemble fun sharing activities from class.

What’s the point of this?

Working from the original Uni goal of providing a portable public reading space, Uni Chelsea attempts to let students design an experiments in creative community building. So one goal is to consider how strategic public installations can create rewarding encounters. Another student goal is to create a model out of this experience and share it so that any school can undertake similar projects in their neighborhood.