Van Alen Institute Explores the Urbanism of Hanging Out

The Van Alen Institute has announced its latest public events program, titled “HANGOUTS.” Starting today, the month-long series explores the past, present, and future of hangouts through individual experiences and the multi-faceted relationship between New York communities and their surrounding urban spaces. The full list of events follows below.


HANGOUTS! June 4, 2015: “In a medley of music, provocations, and presentations Van Alen will reflect on hangouts, exploring both personal experiences and physical spaces. How do communities appropriate urban space? How is the experience of hanging out different for different people? Patricipants will explore a series of questions in a night of fast-paced performance and conversation. These participants include: Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Young Men’s Ensemble; Dan D’Oca, INTERBORO Partners; Paula Z. Segal, Executive Director and Legal Director of the NYC Community Land Access Program, 596 Acres; Commissioner Mitchell Silver, FAICP, Department of Parks and Recreation; and more.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Van Alen Book Club – June 9, 2015: “‘The salesgirl, the landlord, the guests, the bystanders, sixteen varieties of social circumstance in a day. Everyone has the power to call your whole life into question here. Too many people have access to your state of mind.’ ― Renata Adler, Speedboat

Van Alen reads Renata Adler’s “Speedboat,” the cult favorite turned undisputed classic that reflects on what it means to be an urban American. Set in 1970s New York, “Speedboat” provides glimpses into the city of the past. Conversation led by Garnette Cadogan and Mimi Zeiger.

A BROOKLYN BARRIO: Living Los Sures – June 6, 2015: What makes a neighborhood? How do you gain a deeper understanding of a place?  You hang out! That’s what documentary filmmaker Diego Echeverria did when he made Los Sures in 1984. Echeverria chronicled the streets of Williamsburg’s Southside meeting people, being seen, building trust, and hanging out in a neighborhood that was then called one of the worst ghettos in the U.S.  UnionDocs, a Center for Documentary Art has also been hanging out on the Southside for many years. By obsessively exploring every aspect of Los Sures and documenting the longstanding Latino community as they fight displacement, UnionDocs has produced a multi-faceted project of their own, Living Los Sures. Using the 1984 film and this impressive body of new work as points of departure, Van Alen has organized a roaming celebration of local experiences across the barrio of Los Sures. Come immerse yourself in street life then and now.

WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME - June 10, 2015: When do you know that you’re a regular?  Between the crowds, chaos, and constantly changing neighborhoods, city life can sometimes feel impersonal—until you become a regular. You find a sense that you belong from that diner where you get your own coffee, the bartender who tells you your boyfriend is a bum, or the bodega owner who helps you quit smoking. In a night of storytelling hosted by 20-time The Moth StorySLAM champion Adam Wade, you’ll hear tales of being a regular from some of the most talented performers on the scene.  Participants: Michelle Levy, artist; TJ Mannix, actor, singer, improviser; Thomas Pryor, storyteller, photographer, and writer of Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts; Kathleen Spellman, stand-up comedian; and Adam Wade, 20-time ‘MOTH StorySLAM’ champion.

ON THE STREET – June 11, 2015: How will the streetscape look and function in 20, 50, and 100 years?  The urban streetscape is facing increasing demands for space from a variety of users – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, a spike in deliveries to homes and offices, food trucks, mobile commercial spaces, and more – without recalibrating the permitting or design. Join Van Alen for a series of presentations that ask urban planners, designers, architects, and others: What is the street of the future? Participants will review new visions for pleasant, productive streetscapes that balance the needs of transportation infrastructure, commercial activity, and residents young and old.

IN THE PARK: Play Pasts – June 13, 2015: What can we learn from play spaces of the past? How can old play spaces be updated to preserve original design ideas while keeping pace with ever evolving design standards and notions of childhood? Marie Warsh, historian and director of preservation planning at the Conservancy, will lead a tour of playgrounds in Central Park, reflecting on the cultural histories embedded in the landscape. Exploring changing notions of childhood and play, visitors will see the Children’s District, designed by Olmsted and Vaux; Heckscher Playground, the park’s first modern playground; and other play spaces that have undergone a number of transformations, including the newly-rehabilitated Adventure Playground at West 67th Street.

— Anna Kats (@coldwarcasual)

Image courtesy the Van Alen Institute.