Kickstarting Urban Renewal with an Underground Park

An underground park in Manhattan is turning to Kickstarter to build the public support it needs to make the pipe dream a reality.

We’ve been in love with the idea ever since it surfaced last fall: a four-season underground park beneath the hectic streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The concept for the “Delancey Underground” has been drifting around design blogs and New York publications for months now, making lovers of innovative urban space salivate. Now the founders of the project, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, have turned to Kickstarter, not only to raise funds, but to prove to local government that the public is serious about making the project a reality.
If this is the first you’ve heard about it, the Delancey Underground is a concept for transforming a defunct trolley terminal for streetcars coming off the Williamsburg Bridge into public space. The design would preserve the hub's unique, turn-of-the-century features, including cobblestones, rail tracks and vaulted ceilings, while integrating green design technologies, like fiber optic cables to bring natural sunlight underground. The space is nicknamed the "LowLine," a below-ground version of the beloved High Line, the park installed in abandoned tracks high above New York's Chelsea neighborhood in 2009. If all goes well, the space will become home to more than just park-goers on a cold or rainy day. Think art installations, farmers markets, and concerts.
"This space will be more than a space," the founders wrote on their Kickstarter. "It will generate community, and it will inspire in the way beautiful environments can inspire."
Since the fall, Barasch and Ramsey have already entered conversations with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, who owns the site and would like to see it put to good use, as well as local community groups. They’ve been perfecting the solar technology that's key to the project's success and working on a feasibility study. But it's essential to demonstrate to the city and MTA how badly the public wants this project, and installing a full-scale model of the Lowline to raise awareness is the next step.
They created their Kickstarter campaign just a week ago, and already they're at 60 percent of their $100,000 goal. Check it out here.
Image courtesy of Delancey Underground\n
via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

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The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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