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Multiple Directions for a New City

Festival of Ideas (21 of 56)
Phoenix Eisenberg

The range of life forms seen around the East Village and Lower East Side this past weekend was pretty astonishing, when you think about it: all the way from top-rank architects, artists, and scholars to bees and worms.

The Festival of Ideas for the New City hosted over 100 events, from small gallery projects to expensive international design competitions, and put a spotlight on this neighborhood’s enduring artiness, earthiness, and connectedness. Organized by the New Museum of Contemporary Art and ten other partners (listed at the festival website), the Festival was part multimedia art show, part kid-friendly community fair, part academic conference, part urban design charrette, and part intellectual pub crawl.

It’s easy to tire of the kind of NYC booster who constantly tells out-of-towners “you name it, we’ve got it here,” but during the Festival, particularly the Streetfest component last Saturday, the well-worn phrase really did apply. Humongous translucent bubble full of urban-design visionaries, some adrenalined-up enough to leap onto chairs and quote poetry? Check. Pop-up buildings resembling worms? Check. Person dressed as enormous yellow worm, hugging passersby at the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s table while her colleague Kaity Tsui, winner of the first-ever “Greenest New Yorker” award from the state’s “I Love NY” campaign in 2010, hands out “Hug a Worm” buttons and promotes home composting? Check. Eighteen-foot “Girlzilla” robot built by kids at the Lower East Side Girls’ Club? Check. Read more…

“Earthalujah!” Shouts Reverend Billy

Ian Duncan

With huge facial features, a mane of dyed blond hair and an immaculate white suit, Bill Talen looks every bit the televangelist. But he is not offering eternal salvation.

Mr. Talen is the leader of the Church of Earthalujah. Styling himself Reverend Billy , he delivers environmental rhetoric in the manner of a charismatic evangelical preacher.

Each Sunday through June, Mr. Talen will be lending his theatrical services at Theater 80 on St. Mark’s Place . Mr. Talen is supported by the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, who belt out songs Mr. Talen has written that relate to the church’s themes – the evils of capitalism, impending environmental disaster and the decline of neighborhoods.

That last will have particular resonance in the East Village. Read more…

A Guide To Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts

Sunbeam Candles at Sustainable NYCLaura Kuhn Looking for some last-minute gifts that are environmentally friendly? An option might be Sunbeam Candles, which are made from vegetables and beeswax in solar-powered factories.

The holidays mean presents but if the lack of green gift options has you seeing red, here are some last-minute sustainable solutions from East Village stores.

Sustainable NYC (139 Avenue A at Ninth Street), opened three years ago when owner Dominique Camacho, was renovating her apartment. “I’d been in retail almost 17 years,” she said, “and I got bored. I got really into re-using things in my apartment.” She took an energy and environmental design course and opened her store. Sunbeam Candles ($7.50-$17.50) are all made from vegetables and beeswax in solar-powered factories. “They’re also really good about packaging,” said Ms. Camacho of the company’s box-return program.

For a party gift, bring a bottle of wine and a Bitters and Co. Reclaimed Cork Stopper ($6.25). The company also makes sustainably-harvested Cork Coasters ($12.50). The store is also filled with decorations from compostable Oots Seed Ornaments ($3.50 each) that can be planted after the holidays to Laser-cut Ceramic Butterflies ($44.95) made from vintage china.
Read more…