Uptown Summer 2016: Vacant Buildings Vanished Dreams

Our ten students worked as Neighborhood Storytellers and Environmental Stewards. This summer, youth created documentaries on abandoned buildings, which were featured in the public art project Breathing Lights.

In our 6th year of collaboration with Rensselaer County Summer Youth Employment, each day we held a planning meeting, then spent the morning working greening our block in the Collard City Growers gardens. The youth arranged special community gardening activities in Spanish and English with “Español en el Jardín “workshops. At lunch we ate healthy meals that feature our urban homegrown harvest.

Our afternoons were spent producing original media, which were premiered by Neighborhood Ambassadors in community walking tours, featured in the Breathing Lights project.

Uptown Summer 2016 Youth Documentary series: “Vacant Buildings, Vanished Dreams”

Musical concert at Freedom Square: Mamadou Kelly

The Uptown Summer 16 youth supported the production of the outside community concert, with free food and art activities, at Freedom Square on Saturday, July 23, 2016, feturing Malian guitar virtuoso Mamadou Kelly performed at Freedom Square in Troy NY on July 23, 2016 as part of a US tour that took him from from New York to Los Angeles!

Uptown Summer 2016 projects included:

  • Youth Media Sanctuary – sponsored by Breathing Lights – multiple productions (see above) + Brenda Ann Kenneally’s “Story Candles”
  • WOOC community PSAs – sponsored by Drug Free Community Coalition
  • Garden and infrastructure maintenance
  • Signs for Collard City Growers gardens – identifying signage plus small stories
  • Workshops –Hudson River estuary actions – video and/or audio – sponsored by the DEC and NEA – (could include “Floating Islands” with RADIX, Jillian Hirsch “Sturgeon”)

Uptown Summer 2016 projects were funded by:

  • Breathing Lights — Youth Media Sanctuary — with Media Producer/Mentor
  • DEC grant — year 3– with Environmental Steward Gardeners/ Mentors
  • DFCC — Community PSAs (:30 – -2:00) — with Radio Outreach Producer/ Mentor
  • NEA ARTWORKS “Urban Art Reclamations: Our Upper Hudson Heritage” and DEC “Hudson River Estuary”– Environmental Justice workshops

Uptown Summer 2016 Participants


SYEP Coordinator:

Alan Thorne


Jamel Mosely

Kathy High

Andrew Lynn

Troy Pohl

Branda Miller

Steve Pierce


Christian Grigoraskos

Azure’ Keahi

Jillian Naveh

Rebekkah Rice

Kitchen Sanctuary:

Jonathan  Segol


Julia Cavicchi






Spanish garden workshops:

Phillipe Colon

St. Wayne




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We use art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression.

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