So here it is—my big plan. Drumroll please….. I plan to design and build a portable historical society that can navigate the bustling urban environment of today’s SoHo while showing a glimpse of its past. And today I am kickstarting a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding platform for creative projects.
Using unconventional media such as Viewmaster viewers and a smell station, I will chronicle the evolution of SoHo from rural farmland to high-end retail hub, charting its cycles of development and thus placing current day SoHo in the context of New York City’s history. When I was growing up here, I remember walking down desolate streets. There were no stores or restaurants, but I felt safe because everyone who lived here knew each other. I learned how to ride a bike in my house. And I also often slept in my coat because we didn’t have heat after 5 pm. When people think of SoHo today, they think of high-end shopping and expensive lofts. Nobody thinks of it as a tight-knit community where children roamed free and people actually knew and liked their neighbors. That was the SoHo of my childhood. That was the SoHo out of which ideas such as the adaptive reuse of buildings and loft living were born, ideas that influence how we live today.
SoHo currently has no neighborhood society dedicated to preserving its history, and I think it deserves one! Working in partnership with The Uni Project, a nonprofit dedicated to creating pop-up learning experiences across the city, I hope that this exhibition will be just the first step in finding a permanent home for The SoHo Memory Project. My long-term plan is for The SoHo Memory Project to have a physical space where people can come to learn more about our neighborhood. But before I can apply for grants to sustain my project for the long-term, I need to produce something tangible that I can bring to funders to demonstrate my knowledge and commitment. Help me create a pop-up historical society by donating today. And tell your friends, and ask them to tell their friends. If we preserve SoHo’s past, present generations will understand our neighborhood’s rich history, and this understanding will inform how we all shape its future.