In 2016, Voces Ciudadanas launched the Make Space for Quality Schools campaign to address school overcrowding in the Sunset Park neighborhood. The coalition of organizations organized by Voces Ciudadanas successfully pressured the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education to construct five new schools in the area.

Since then, Voces Ciudadanas has continued to actively work on creating community spaces for local immigrant communities to address the increasing inequalities in the neighborhood. This campaign to keep the Interim Sunset Park Public Library as a vital community resource is uniting again the community in search of a better future for all.
Studio 2 Project
The New School x Voces Ciudadanas

Sunset Park, Brooklyn is a historically immigrant neighborhood comprised of Latinx and Asian residents. As a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, the library is a critical community asset that acts as centers of learning, research, and discovery; they are crucial in promoting literacy, education, and intellectual liberty.

Since its opening in 1905, the library has undergone major changes. As demand increases, the library closed for rebuilding and is currently operating from an interim space in the former courthouse on 4201 Fourth Avenue, sharing the space with Community Board 7 and the NYPD office. Upon completion of the new structure, the library will move back to its original location, leaving the current interim library location vacant.

This ongoing project is in collaboration with local community organization, Voces Ciudadanas and aims to engage the community in unearthing possibilities and imaginaries to transform the space into a place for the local community.

1. Sociogram

In order to discover the relationships between various stakeholders within the community, we invited members of the community to participate in a sociogram workshop. They collectively mapped the social relations of the community and identify potential collaborators.  Approximately 30 community members were in attendance.

2. Oral History

As an ongoing endeavor, the collection of Oral Histories seek to highlight the voices and memories of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park residents who have been involved in creating community spaces for the benefit of all. Its goal is to foster community learning from past strategies, methods, and motivations to inform future imaginaries and concrete possibilities leading to the creation of new community spaces to address structural inequalities.

3. Public Faculty

A Public Faculty is a participatory technique that involves radical listening through interventions in public spaces. With the help of volunteers from Voces Ciudadanas, the voices of over 85 community members were inscribed in small pieces of fabric and connected with yarn. Residents’ needs and imaginaries were woven in public as a gesture of unity and empowerment. The outcome of this participatory research is presented in the report, which aims to inform the next steps of the visioning and design process.

Read the full report in English and Spanish

Final Report & Proposal

The new community proposal and stewardship model were presented at a Community Assembly. Drawing from the insights offered at previous community meetings organized over the few months and the input of Sunset Park residents, the research team presented potential scenarios for the community program, the organization of the space, and the leadership model of the space to be run by the community for the community.

Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes and Council Member Alexa Aviles participated in the session and shared their support. They incited community members to continue this organizing effort.

Voces Ciudadanas will continue the campaign over the summer, working with multiple civic groups and community organizations toward the re-programing and activation of the space in Fall 2023.

Read more on the project here