During the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, New York City became the default landlord of thousands of abandoned buildings.
There were many solutions sought to the housing crisis that was a part of the collapse, but none were as radical as 'squatting'. Taking over and living in abandoned buildings in the hardest-hit neighborhoods was a task taken on only by the most hearty - or the most desperate.
The stories of the squats and their role in the survival of the most (intentionally) marginalized neighborhoods is amazing. What began as the most radical of solutions to an ever-expanding crisis became a part of life for those in hard-hit neighborhoods like the Lower East Side.
When the city began to reemerge from the crisis at the dawn of the 90s, the then new-mayor Rudolf Giuliani and his chief of police, William J. 'Bill' Bratton took notice of the squatters and their now-valuable properties.
With an invigorated city willing to set aside the implications of his actions and motives, the administration set out to evict the squats. And they did so violently and militantly.
And so began the war for those homes. This is a telling of that story using interviews, archival footage and adaptation of work that was created at the very time of the battle.
What We Are Looking for and Why
We are looking for your help for three reasons.
One, participation. Purely and simply, we need you on board to tell this story. Without the help of others, we would not have been able to get this far and without you the story will remain untold and out of mind.
Secondly, we are looking to gather more pieces of that past and put them into this project. Whether through oral histories recorded or artifacts such as archival footage and stills, we need to pull the memories forward and add them to the narrative that will give it life.
Lastly, we have been given the opportunity to adapt a graphic novel as part of the story. Written by a seminal artist from the Lower East Side who lived this tale, this piece will add structure and give it a creative breath from the past that will pull together the memories, archival pieces and your participation to make the story come alive.
The Future of the Project
When finished, the piece will tell a story that is quickly disappearing from memory. Like many of the neighborhoods that once made up this city, stories about their history are being subsumed by a modern perspective. We are choosing to forget in the same way that we are choosing to live -without reference or forethought.
We will tell an important story that demonstrates the tangible aspects of action in your own neighborhood.
Risks and challenges
The largest challenge will be to get you and those like you involved. With participation and a community formed around the project, we will be able to add the polish and energy that will allow the story to be told.
It's a rare chance to be a part of reviving a piece of New York City history. We should enjoy that. It's going to be a hoot!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)