Street Lab Teens activating streets, supporting small businesses, strengthening NYC neighborhoods

Jun 15, 2022

This summer, fifteen New York City public high school students accepted into our Street Lab Teen program are working with Street Lab to enliven Open Streets along small business corridors in four neighborhoods: Elmhurst, Sunset Park, Bed Stuy, and Harlem. Teens are completing a four-part curriculum that lets them learn about each community, interview a local shop owner, and create collaborative chalk murals highlighting what they learned. 

During the first week, Street Lab Teens get to know the custom designed stencils in our Street Marker kit by creating vibrant geometric patterns and large animal murals. Week two: teens walk the block, taking note of the sights, sounds, and smells of the street and photographing patterns and details that catch their eye, and then they capture those images in chalk. Week three is a highlight: an opportunity for a conversation with a local small business owner. Teens prepare questions and conduct the interview, integrating quotes into a large street mural completed on the fourth week.

On Woodside Avenue in Elmhurst, Queens our first cohort of teens have completed this four-week curriculum, and they are now taking their new skills to deployments all over the city. Check out photos below and watch for Street Lab teens in more neighborhoods in the months ahead!

Street Lab Teens is supported by The J.M. Kaplan Fund, and Street Lab is focusing on these business corridors as part of our Streets Alive initiative, supported by a grant from the NYC Department of Small Business Services, with additional support from the ABNY Foundation.

Street Lab Teen Aayan chalks a glass of cool Thai Iced Tea

Street Lab Teens talking to P’Noi the owner of P’Noi Thai Thai Grocery, a grocery specializing in Thai ingredients which has been on the block for 12 years

Shop owner P’Noi mentioned that she’s always wanted to hold free lessons on how to make Thai Thai Tea—here Street Lab Teen Hang represents that dream

Meanwhile in Sunset Park and Bed Stuy, teens are gearing up for interviews with neighborhood bar Judy’s, local store and tortilla shop Tortillería La Malinche, and Tumbleweed General Store. And in Harlem, we’re welcoming our newest cohort for their first deployment on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Stay tuned!