From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. yesterday, May 7th, the StreetFest transformed the Bowery and the Lower East Side into a dynamic green hub abuzz with activity. Tents lined the Bowery, from Spring Street up to Houston, with vendors ranging from Green Depot, which was upcycling plastic bottles into planters and selling seedings, to a crocheted room by artist Olek. Playlab’s bright blue and pink “worms” provided the tents in front of the New Museum, giving the whole event fun and playful glow. Brooklyn Grange handed out free fresh radishes and sold produce, the LES Ecology Center hosted a fun faux-fishing pool, and Seeding the City gave away free green roof starter kits. The Truck Farm, fulling sprouted with fresh veggies and herbs, was parked at one end of the festival while the solar powered Emergency Response Studio was in the middle. The impressive space, a converted FEMA trailer, is New York-based artist Paul Villinski’s permanent home and work space.
StreetFest extended into Sarah D. Roosevelt Park where Art in Odd Places displayed some odd art in public places. One woman, who could only be described as the Trash Queen, wore a gown create from refuse and proudly strolled along Chrystie Street. The Storefront for Art and Architecture took parked its Spacebuster truck in the middle of the basketball courts for an exhibit. It was pretty incredible to watch the giant plastic dome expand from the small vehicle’s back doors. Bus Roots, an organization that wants to put gardens on top of city buses, was on the scene with renderings of their design and mini-prototypes.
The low-waste aspect of the festival, which followed the Green Street Fair Guidelines created by GreenHomeNYC, was highly visible. The generators were basically billboards that said “You Are Looking at the Cleanest Mobile Generator in America.” Created by GreeNow, the energy-efficient generators run completely on biodiesel. Nearly every 20 or 30 feet, there was a set of four disposal bins, each with labels on top — compost, plastic and metal, cardboard and paper, and landfill — so you knew what went where. In case you were confused, there was a Festival staffer at every location to tell you whether or not your food carton was compostable (they were!)
Overall, the StreetFest was fun, informative, and inspiring. It was incredible to see thousands of people spending the day learning about how we can make New York City a better, more sustainable city. We know the Festival of Ideas wasn’t planned to be a recurring event, but we’re really hoping that the organizers change their minds!
All images © Jessica Dailey for Inhabitat