Mid-year update—dreams for our streets

Jun 16, 2021

Dear friends and followers,

Here’s a quick update on Street Lab at the halfway mark of 2021. To date, Street Lab has already popped-up a record 95 times on the street, providing reading rooms, play streets, and drawing studios across the city. And 150+ more deployments are scheduled in the next six months. In a few weeks we’ll hit our 1000th overall. The pace is breakneck, which is what we feel the moment calls for.

Each day that we’re on the street, we’re reminded of how much has been restored in New York City since the height of the pandemic, but also how much remains lost for some New Yorkers. So, as we help the city celebrate, we remain committed to finding ways for public space to include, connect, and lift up every one of us.

One community leader recently told Leslie: “When I saw what you created, it was exactly what I dreamed of, but never imagined possible. Somehow you created the dream in my head of what the city can be.”

That sums it up well: we’re out there to help people who have a dream for their street. And to make the impossible seem possible, for every neighborhood.

Thanks for supporting the work, and see you out there.

Leslie and Sam
Co-founders, Street Lab

Here’s what we’ve been up to in the first half of 2021…

To help take pressure off indoor spaces, we began our season early, deploying our no-touch obstacle course to Open Streets in February.

While indoor gathering remained prohibited, we re-purposed heated, curbside dining areas for events with The Chelsea Symphony and…

…Learning Hubs for NYC students to gather outdoors and get homework help.

As restrictions lifted, we re-launched our pop-up reading rooms, including a residency at Pier 35 in Lower Manhattan, and…

…re-launched our pop-up drawing studios, which are now moving across the city.

And new Street Lab programs like WRITE are hitting the street too.

We’ve made a place for new partners to join us, like jazz musicians from Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary….

…and story tellers from Drag Queen Story Hour.

We’ve gone where the need was greatest, setting up places for play and creativity for families waiting in line at a food pantry at the Queens Museum.

And we’re making sustained efforts in West Harlem, where our Learning Hubs are popping up weekly in three locations with partner HYPOTHEkids.

Street Lab Teens launched in May, offering paid positions to NYC youth to help design and implement new programs for the street.

And we’re engaging volunteers, like students from Barnard College who work alongside our staff in Morningside Park.

To increase our impact and fill the streets, we’re deploying up to three programs in each location, and serving up to four locations per day.

And we’ve scaled up in the shop too, fabricating a record 16 kits to date for other cities, so they can replicate our approach.

New designs are in the works, and New Yorkers will test them on the street in July when our programming schedule ramps up even more.

We now turn our attention to our critical summer season, when we use pop-up to bring opportunities for learning and creativity to streets near NYCHA public housing. Your mid-year donation can help support this work. Thanks!

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Special thanks to our citywide funders and partners: Con Edison, J.M. Kaplan Fund, Blackstone, Shippy Foundation, NYC Dept. of Transportation, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts.