Feeding the Soul of Urban Art and Community Projects

March 1, 2010 by

Brooklyn Grange believes roofs are ideal urban farm sites with potential to feed, employ, educate and unite communities

Take a group of local food enthusiasts, mix in some serious fundraising, add over 45 pounds of donated pork from Brooklyn-based Heritage Foods and fresh masa from Nixtamal in Queens that ends up as tamales, then bring in lots of beer contributed by Brooklyn Brewery, and you have the recent fundraising feast I attended in the basement of a church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Volunteers assemble over 800 tamales served with black bean salad

More than 300 people gathered at the non-profit event organized by FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics), a recurring public dinner designed to use community-driven financial support to “democratically fund” new and emerging art and community projects. At each FEAST, participants pay a sliding-scale entrance fee for which they receive a locally culled supper and a ballot. Diners vote on a variety of proposed projects which are displayed on bulletin boards and whose creators are present around the room to promote them.

Proposals ranged from the local rooftop farm Brooklyn Grange, to a line of beauty products aiding communities of the Yucatan Peninsula, to a proposal for tiling showers at the Metropolitan Pool.

At the end of dinner, the proposal receiving the most votes is awarded grant funds collected through the entrance fee and the work is then presented during the next FEAST.

Camper Kart, past FEAST grant recepient

Past grant winners have included Green My Bodega, a project that project experiments with city food infrastructure and addresses the lack of fresh, local food made available in the convenient and ubiquitous neighborhood bodegas already serving huge parts of the communities of New York City; and Camper Cart, a pop-up camper affixed to a shopping cart which investigates habitats and housing, recycling and ecology, exploration and mobility.

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