Saturday, April 26, 2014

NY Puppet Library

Amalgamated Puppet Libraries

The Puppet Free Library in Boston will be open Tuesdays 2-7 PM after Feb. 19 For an appointment at another time, call 617 536-3355 ext. 26.
The Puppet Lending Libraries are stocked with parade puppets and banners, twenty-foot tall Big City and Mother Earth puppets, twelve-foot dancing cats, enormous flowers, puppet horses for children to ride, and a wide variety of dragons. All these elements are loaned out to enliven school and community events, neighborhood parades, celebrations, and demonstrations in the cities of New York and Boston.
The Puppet Libraries began in Boston, as the Back Alley Puppet Theater, and, later, the Puppeteers' Cooperative created numerous parades for the First Night Grand Procession over the years, starting with First Night's inception in 1976. These puppets were loaned to the public in an informal custom which was gradually formalized as the Puppet Library in around 1995. In 2003, the Puppeteers Cooperative, in collaboration with Flying Bridge Arts, opened the New York Puppet Library in Red Hook, Brooklyn, using the overflow of puppets from the Boston library. In 2004, Prospect Park, in return for a yearly series of free outdoor performances in the park, allowed the library to move into the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Prospect Park, where the original puppets were joined by puppets created for a yearly pageant commissioned by the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival and other New York events, as well as more puppets from Boston. For a happy period, see: Life in the Arch
Dragon section, Boston Puppet Free Library library dragons
The Puppet Free Library is located, by the kindness of Emmanuel Church, in the basement of 15 Newbury Street but is entered by the back door. This is in public alley 437, between Newbury and Commonwealth streets, in the block between Arlington and Berkely,
It lends puppets and banners in the Greater Boston area.

Open by appointment in April - May of 2014

For more information, call Sara Peattie at (617) 263-2031, or (617) 536-3355 ext.26.

The New York Puppet Library is currently open by appointment only

Call Theresa Linnihan, at 718 853-7350 We have a new space, in conjuction with Puppetry in Practice , in the Arts Lab at Roosevelt House at Brooklyn College. If you have an unused empty space, even a temporary one, in the New York area, and think that you might like a puppet library, contact Sara Peattie at
If you have accumulated enough giant puppets that you find yourself lending them out, join The Amalgamated Puppet Libraries! Send information and a photo to:
Puppeteers' Cooperative Home Page


Thursday, April 24, 2014

William H Whyte Findings

  1. Location—How far will people walk to urban parks? “The effective market radius is about three blocks”.
  2. “Supply creates demand”—The more quality parks, the more users
  3. Sociability index – The more groups, the more people. “The high proportion of people in groups … is often because they have decided to go there.” Choice is one measure of success. Groups of people attract more people than singles do.
  4. Women—“If a plaza has a markedly lower than average proportion of women, something is wrong…Women are more discriminating.”
  5. Peaks—“80% per cent of the total hours of use will be concentrated “ between 11 am and 2 pm.
  6. Off peak uses are revealing—When there are lots of sitting choices, those picked reveal what is most popular.
  7. Men—Tend to take the front row seats.
  8. Lovers—Also out tend to sit in front.
  9. Self congestion” – “What attracts people most…is other people”.  People speak of “getting away from it all” but “what people do reveals a different priority.” People hold conversations in the middle of sidewalks, “they sit in the mainstream” of plazas. They favor crowded places.
  10. Other Cities —Behavior in the largest cities (eg. Copenhagen, Tokyo, Milan) reflected New York’s findings.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Activities Recreation for Adults

We do not need meaningless plaza  containing  a handful of benches. " 
-Chelsea Resident 1968 

As shown in the entries on the 3 Minute Park, Chelsea does a really good job of giving residents a place to sit within 3 minutes of wherever they are in Chelsea.  But when people get to those spots many people  find nothing of interest  to do in them except sit.

I was at  Union Square park  talking to a young fellow  and he said to me that" there's a playground for the kids and seats for the old people but nothing for us".

  I'm bored silly  too.  I have a park right down the block from where I live, but I rarely  go there because it offers no reaction activities that are of interest to me.  Instead I go to parks that are over  1/2 mile away from  me that do offer activities that do interest me. But because of the distance I do not go as often as I would like.

Is everybody bored in our parks? No. Large numbers of people are perfectly satisfied. But the ones that aren't satisfied are the ones that don't use the parks. If a park doesn't meet your recreation  needs, you may not use it or use it only infrequently. What's needed is to offer activities that meet the vast majority of everyone's recreation needs. Trouble is with the exception of Bryant park  most of our parks in CB4/CB5 have chosen not to offer activities recreation.

Lack of Money for staff and lack of room, seem to be two of the reasons given  for not having  activvities recreation.

I mentioned the lack of activities to several larger BID/Parks Conservancies and was told things like  "we have no room"  This is not true.  Lets look at several  case where there is room, and see how this can be duplicated elsewheres.

Bryant Park has room for a games area and offers over 35 games. Plus a reading room, and ping pong.  While visiting Bryant park I ran into a fellow who came down from the Bronx to play here, because it was the closest location  that had a facility.

 They are a very rich park, with a lot of staff. but its also possible to do something with sless wealthy parks  with smaller staff.

This is an indoor games atrium at the Bank of Americas building that supplies chess tables but no chess sets or other games.
  A Games cabinet(below)  can easily be added to this atrium, making it far more useful for the community. 

This is Herald Square park, there is room for an outdoor games cabinet here

In the park is  a manned  visitors information booth. I sat down nerar it and watched the number of people that stopped by and asked for information. It was an average of  of 4 people per hour when I was there. What this means is that the person behind this booth hand out games, and/or keep an eye on an outdoor reading room cabinet.

Will there be losses of people stealing games and books? Possibly, but there are already people stealing chairs that cost $200-400, and what done is to consider this part of the cost of running these parks.

Here are 13 spaces in CB4 that either have staff or are locked where this could possibly  work::

Outdoor Spaces
Herald Square Park
Greely Square park
Flatiron Plaza
Chelsea Triangle

Indoor Spaces
 Bof A Atrium

Locked Spaces
Alices garden
Bob's Park
Threasas park
Juan  Alonso park & Community Garden

Oaisis Community garden
Astros Dog Run
Clinton Community garden
Fulton senior Center garden

Moore Thoughts

Clement Clark Moore Park is a wonderful little neighborhood  park in Chelsea, that is great for kids but for teens, adults.and seniors offers little more than a bench to sit on

Here are several low cost ideas to transform it to better meet the recreation needs of all age groups

Moveable seating and tables
-Benches are great for sitting, but lousy for socializing or playing board games. Adding Moveable tables and chairs  will allow seniors to better socialize  this park.

Fixed bench seating at around edges of space at Chelsea's Clark Clement Moore Park. No social seating is available at this park.  The sitting portion of this  park has a great deal of  empty space, which is of no use to users of the park.

 Here's another Moore Park, Moore Homestead Park in Elhurst Queens. It  offers social seating in the form of   fixed tables and chairs that are far more accommodating to the conversation and recreation needs of these seniors. Note the seniors here are playing board games, not a possibility at  our Moore park. The type of seating used here  is not reconfigurable.
 Moore Homestead Park

           The best type of social seating  is the moveable  tables and chairs  that can be found at Flatiron Plaza,. This is "have it your way seating"  that enhances conversations and other recreational activities. This seating can also be easily moved when a community function requires a open space. 

Flatiron Plaza seating link

 Moveable seating at Chelsea's 14th Street Park

For more information of the importance of movable seating click here Tables & chairs: Seating then engage seniors

Outdoor reading room (aka Read Fi Hotspot)
 Chelsea is a library poor community. By adding outdoor reading rooms to our parks, we can create more reading recreation opportunities in Chelsea for both kids and adults

                                    A low cost outdoor reading room module can easily be installed on a park bench
As part of Park Chelsea's Citizens Committee of NYC grant, we're installed  a Outdoor reading room at the Elliot Chelsea houses. along with the reading  room container, they'll be getting 100 children's books.
For kids books work just fine in an outdoor reading room. For adults rather then books  we will be stocking the out  door reading rooms with a variety of magazines.

  For more pictures of outdoor reading room possibilities click here Outdoor Reading Rooms aka ReadFi Hotspots

For more thoughts on transforming our parks check out: The Park Chelsea plan 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Signage that reveals Secret parks

Numerous private enteties have made deals with the city to create Privately Owned Public Spaces.

The original POPS law did not include any obligation to reveal the public aspects of these spaces, so for many of the earliest opened spaces no signage exists that they are public spaces. For POPS opened under amendments to the law ,the signage is generally minimal and is not very visible from the street.

Recently the High Line hotel wanted a loading spot and in return for this said they would add a sign to their garden that  it is public. Here is the garden. See the tiny sign...

 It says Please enjoy our garden.  I suspect not many people passing by will see this sign.

Below is the Archstone Clinton

 The area on the right is supposed to be a public area. there is no signage to that effect. In2011  CB4 complained to the City Planning Commission about  Archstone  not living up to their public space agreement. The last timein 2013  I was there they were still not living up to the agreement.

In these and other 100 other spaces, it's hard to force the owners of the space to live up to their agreements.Or to put up signage where there is no agreement.  But what can be done is to place signage on city property letting the public know that the spaces are public.

Permission Spaces: Giving strangers permission to talk to each other

If you have a dog or baby  strangers  will talk to you. Otherwise  strangers do not usually talk to strangers. We''ll create permission spaces that allow this...

Talk to me bench signs: 
 Talk to me signs on a few benches in each park will give neighbors permission to interact with whoever is sitting on the bench with the sign.
Activities partner bulletin boards
  Posted in parks these bulletin boards will help residents find play partners.

Getting A Bus Shelter for every bus stop in New York City

Recently we had a Citybench installed at 25th St and 8th Ave bus stop.

  Older adults   sit on it as they wait for a bus and really appreciate it's being there. Many people  would  have preferred a bus shelter there , but it ain't gonna happen for several reasons .

- Lack of room
 A bus shelter takes a certain minimum amount of space 
and that space is not available  at this site .Community board 4 had asked for over 50 bus shelters in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen all were turned down due  space issues and we suspect hidden issues.


In 2005 NYC signed  a contract with Cemusa to install 3200 bus shelters in NYC. In 2013 an additional 200 shelters were installed. We now have somewhere's around 3500 bus shelters.

3500 bus shelters  may seem to be a large figure but it's not because there are over 15,000 bus stops in NYC. That means over 10,000 bus stops have no shelter.

Now if Cemusa could sell enough advertising to populate 15,000 bus shelters then I suspect we'd have 15,000  as we don't have 15,000 I think there is simply not enough advertising to support this number.

NYC has a bus shelter monoculture. Only one bus shelter model  that it installs the   Cenusa shelter, that comes in several different lengths and widths.. I don't know the actual cost but having looked at a number of shelters I'd  say a minimal  figure is  $30,000.At that  figure 10,000 shelters  would cost $300,000,000 (that's three hundred MILLION dollars) . If we add maintenance costs to the shelters it's a lot more.

The Cemusa shelter is tightly couples. All elements (seating, wind and  rain protection) reside in one package that takes up a lot of room. and will not fit at anty of the 52 locations we requested them at.

Alternative bus  shelters to the Cemusa bus shelter

I know our contract with cemusa does not preclude pplacing benches at bus stiops, but Does our contract with Cemusa preclude the installation of any other bus shelters at our bus stops? I don't know but even if it didn't installing shelters at all our stops would still cost a great deal.  A enclosed shelter that cost just $10,000 installed would still cost $100,000,000 to cover all bus stops and this figure does not cover the need to clean the shelters on a regular basis.

Is it possible to create a  bus shelter that  has a near zero footprint and costs a minimal amount?

The answer to this question is yes.

Near Zero Footprint
Here's a bus shelter design  that is being used in santa Monica California that has a near zero ground level footprint.


 One of the great things about this design is it's modular. In a location with little  room. a Single module has a very small ground level footprint, while offering both seating and rain protection. And unlike traditional bus shelters which are a one piece retungular object  the iifferent parts of a San Diego shelter can be mixed and matched and do not even have to physically connect.

 Big Blue Bus Shelter by Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects and Bruce Mau Design

(picture ) show pictures...
Because of the NYC subweay this sportlike many on 7th ave could not support a Cemusa shelter. It could support a Santa Monica style shelter.

There'sseating and  rain protection in the santa monica shelter but no wind protection..  The west side is getting a new 12th avenue bus line. It's very windy near the river, so you would not place one of these there. However inland where days that are both rainy AND  windy are rare they will protect MOST of the time. Now given that 10,000 bus stops offer no shelter at all, and that implementing  a design that protects peiople in all 10,000 stops  under all conditions all  of the time ain't gonna happen. A design that protecta  all  of them under most conditions all of the time is a pretty good deal.

  low cost?

Ten thousand shelters of the Santa Monica design will still cost big bucks. Is it possible to implement a similar design at a fraction of the cost? yes. by piggybacking on existing infrastructure?

Bus stops have poles with information for riders.

bus stop pole and guide-a-ride schedule box

By adding San Diego style umbrellas to them we don't have to put in new poles to create a single module bus shelter umbrella.  In Raleigh, NC  this was added to a bus stop pole.

Guerrilla Architecture: Bus Shelters in Raleigh


The raligh awning is not solid, here's an example of one that is that was installed on a pole byour own  34th Street Partnership,( the origibnators of DOT's Citybench)
launch photos
santa Monic styler Citclers could just as well be added to these poles. 

     !           !      !     !
(show block where multiple poles can all get umbrellas attached)

     __       __    __   __
     !           !      !     !

Modular Toolbox

Currently NYC offers  one bus shelterdesign  and one  bench design for all bus stops. Both of these are one design fits all solutions.  To offer shelter and seating at all 10,000 stops with we need a selecctions of designs with different foot prints and costs
\, so that no longer will people be told "it don't fit" and the city can afford to do all.

Wwhat's needed is   Multiple solutions athat can be mixed and match together

 As I stated before we have 10,000 bus stops without shelters To put standard shelters in all 10,000 bus stops is way too  expensive and in many cases there's not enough room. By creating a toolbox of  many low cost modular designs that piggyback on existing infrastructure we can do this.

Here's several more  possible designs that could be part of the toolbox

Citybench seating Module
 We  have citybenches at some of our  bus stops.   They are the first module that would be in this toolkit

How does wind flow in an urban street canyon? I susoect it will


 The branding banners that BIDS put up have no function other then orenementation

What about some "windshield banners at bus stops"

Combined zero footprint windshield
seating, rain, wind

 Tree Pit Seating Module
  A  Cemusa bus shelter cannot go wthin 5 feet of a tree pit A  citybench  cannot go wthin 3 feet of a tree pit . At bus stops The Myrtle Ave BID  the myrtle avenue tree pit guard is the bench  allowing for placement in spaces where  no  Cemusa shelter or citybench would be allowed. .. By turning the treepit into the seating we essentially create a  near zero footprint seating. module.

The folks at Softwalks can up with a great idea to dual purpose sidewalk sheds by adding seating to them
Our second prototype

many fire hydrants have

By attatching seats to these poles we once again piggybacxk on existing infrastructure, to create a low cost,  seat that only minimally adds another piece of frrniture to a sidewalk.


 "Larger, more destination-level parks get the bulk of city capital funds, while smaller, neighborhood parks are left to scrape by." Holly Leicht  of New Yorkers for Parks

We've spent 1/2 billion dollars on destination level parks  in Chelsea,   yet  we've not create parks that meet the real needs of seniors, east Chelsea residents and other age/location  groups.

Park Chelsea has  got a Seed grant from Citizens Committee NYC that will pay for some demonstration projects on adding facilities to our parks to better meet community needs. It not a lot of money so, BIDS and Conservancys will pay for their own installations,, we will Kickstarter for Donations, and ask the City to chip in for larger items. here's what we'd like from the city...

here's what 3 million dollars can get us for neighborhood parks
200 sidewalk parks = $400,000
20  Block Park (aka /block community spaces  parklets )@50,000 =1 million
20  transformations of   our centralized park/plazas/POPS  into swappable parks @50,000 each
=1 million
part time recreation specialist  at every park =$500,000

So 3 million dollars (the cost of one new supermarket sized  centralized park)   gets you 220 new  convience store sized parks and 20 park  renovatuions.

The Park Chelsea Plan  will truly turn our public spaces s from parks for some of the poeple some of the time to parks for all of the poepl all of the time.

Parks that are NOT Boring

This park is boring!”
We were at the local park in a flash. “Look how great this playground is,” I said with an air of naïveté. According to my adult mind it had everything a kid could want: swings, a slide, some monkey bars and pole or two. What’s not to love?  And look at the pretty colors too! Again, I marveled at my own brilliance and prepared to sit down in victory and read my book while the kids played. Then I heard, “This park is boring!”

 this wasn't...
...We pulled into the seventh park and at this point I was a broken man. But something was different about this one. My kids did something that they didn’t do at all the previous parks; they ran excitedly towards the playground. I caught a glimpse of the playground myself, and began running right behind them.
I was in awe. Here was a playground that didn’t follow the same formula that we had been trudging through all day. The entire playground was designed to look like we were in the Old West. There was a three-story barnyard, a general store and even a sprinkling of rocking horses to add to the theme. My kids were playing on the structures, but were also playing with their imaginations. They were wrangling cattle, protecting the barn from the Indian invasion (I know it’s not “PC”, but they’re kids), and I was inspired to jump right in along with them and play too.

We have equipm,ent like swings, and jungle jyms in playgrounds that help kids with certain physical skills . But there are other skills that kids could learn, if our playgrounds were equppped for them to learn other skills such as  creativity, art, music, language skills, cooperation, theater

Click here for a variety of solutions on these skills

Reading skills
Artistic skills

“Unwittingly, creative risk had been engineered out of play,” Mr. Rockwell said. Fixed equipment was set up once, designed against lawsuits and to require virtually no oversight by park employees.
His  young son and daughter instructed him in what mattered when it came to play:  “My kids were much more interested in what happens if you turn something upside down. They like the box the toy came in much more than they like the toy.”
From that came the idea of loose parts, and pop-up playgrounds that could be assembled quickly, at low cost. Kaboom, a nonprofit organization that helps build playgrounds, found in tests that “the kids played longer, harder, deeper with the loose parts,” Mr. Rockwell said.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Orgami USA Grow Orgami in Treepits

Every year Orgami USA comes to NYC at FIT. When it does there is not a lot of local NYC media coverage.

Here's an idea that would generate coverage, and would be fun for Orgami Usa participants

 Grow Orgami in Treepits

On 27th St FIT has numerous treepits. Trees grow in these but no vegetation.


How about growing Orgami in them for the weekend of the event.

Two years ago duruing Orgami USA  i did something similar at one treepit on 26th and 8th  and the Orgami USA people really enjoyed it.

In honor of Origami USA 2012 and Lillian Oppenheimer Origami Place was dedicated by Proclamation June 23-25 2012

A PROCLAMATION by the Park Chelsea Parks Commissioner,
recognizing “OrigamiUSA 2012” on June 22-25th, 2012.
WHEREAS, ParkChelsea is concerned about the lack of enough great outdoor activities in the Chelsea neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, the ParkChelsea's mission is to encourage and create more outdoor space activities in the Chelsea neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, in order to do so ParkChelsea partners with local institutions to create these opportunities; and
WHEREAS, Origami USA 2012 participants have promised to place several Origami creations at Park Chelsea's Park and Community Garden on 26th St and 8th Ave, NW Corner.
WHEREAS, Lillian Oppenheimer, storyteller, puppeteer and founder of the Origami center was a friend of Ranger Bob, Park Chelsea Parks Commissioner.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that ParkChelsea hereby officially recognize the OrigamiUSA 2012 to be in the best interest of the citizens of Chelsea and that henceforth the site of Park Chelsea's Park and Community Garden on 26th St and 8th Ave, NW Corner shall be known as Origami Place (in memory of Lillian Oppenheimer) from June 23,2012 to June 25, 2012.
Ranger Bob
ParkChelsea Parks Commissioner

Friday, April 11, 2014

Community Boards 5 -More Green Space

 CB 5 want more green space. This is great! But to repeat what I've said before, it not just creating more green space. It's about creating more green space that meets community needs

New Midtown Community Board Members Want More Green Space

By Mathew Katz on April 10, 2014 4:51pm 

 Jessica Borowick is one of six new members of Community Board 5.
Jessica Borowick is one of six new members of Community Board 5.

MIDTOWN — The new members of Midtown's community board want to use their influence to create and protect more parkland in one of the busiest parts of the city.
Six members were just appointed to Community Board 5 this week, and several said that creating more greenspace in the district was a high priority.
"There's very little space and there's complaints that there's nowhere to sit outside during lunch, there's no place to relax," said Alexis Saba, 29, an attorney at Paul Hastings. "You really do spend most of your day in this area that you work, so I just kind of want to make it a more peaceful place."
Jessica Borowick, 31, got her first taste of the board by attending its Parks Committee after work. A former legislative analyst for the city's Health Department, she grew fascinated with the diversity of issues and interests in the district, which runs from 14th Street to 59th Street.
"There's so many people mixing in this district in so many ways, it's pretty amazing," she said. "There's so many great public spaces too — the way they get used is an interest of mine."