NYC students attempt to revive stoop culture

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A trio of freshmen at a New York design school say that residents aren't taking advantage of a valuable and countless resource found all around the world: stoops.

A "Sit Here" flier on a New York stoop

In Sit Here, a campaign inspired by a recent class project, Sarah Feldman, Chelsea Briganti and Essence Rodriguez are using fliers placed around New York to encourage residents and visitors to get to know one another on their stoops.

This campaign aims to address the decreasing culture of social interaction formerly known as "Stoop Culture".

Wikinews got a chance to talk to Sarah Feldman, web designer for the project. Feldman is also responsible for getting different news sources to contact the team, such as the Brooklyn Papers and New York Magazine.

Wikinews: When your group started this project, did you ever expect it would get this much publicity from the press and the public?
Feldman: We had no idea how popular this would become. We just thought it was another usual school project we had to do. The Brooklyn Record saw the topic about our website I posted on a Park Slope message board. They talked about it and put our URL on their site. Then The Brooklyn Papers found us on the Brooklyn Record. A lot of press found us because of the article in the Brooklyn Papers. We didn't know if it was just the Internet that caused all the fuss, but then a blogger on OnlyTheBlogKnowsBrooklyn and some photographer on Flickr found our fliers!
Wikinews: You originally started this project in New York City. If you could run this project in any other city (or country) in the world, which one would it be, and why?
Feldman I'd run this project in my hometown, Houston. Now there you will find few people outside. For one thing, it is hot and we are known for one of the most obese cities in the USA. Houston has also coined the term "The Driving City": no walking...just driving. If you ask my friends there, " wanna go outside and sit?" They'd look at you funny and say "Can't we just go see a movie or go on Facebook?"
Wikinews: Your fliers are bright green, which makes them very noticeable. Out of the thousands of people who see your fliers each day, how many people do you think actually sit down and talk?
Feldman: Not enough. Most of the time the people who I saw sitting were either outside of a bar or kids playing ball. But I rarely saw any kids except on Sundays in Park Slope outside. Probably they were watching TV or on the Internet. Chelsea noticed this first. She came up with the idea when she saw an elderly man sitting on his stoop by himself. She started talking to him about his life there and he brought up the topic of less socialization with neighbors.

Sit Here has been noticed in at least 15 different news sources, including Wikinews.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.