The following proposal was commissioned for Care for Hudson Square, a recovery initiative in partnership with Hudson Square Properties and Hudson Square Business Improvement District to reactivate the public realm with a placemaking installation. Urban Design Forum invited proposals to strategize using the streetscape as a site for cultural reawakening after months of social isolation on three possible sites in Hudson Square.
Against the rush of the 24 hour news cycle and whiplash politics of the day, Dash Marshall proposes a slow space for Hudson Square. Viewsstand brings Hudson Square’s history into dialogue with the present by creating a newsstand on Little 6th Avenue and converting the street to a plaza of reflection and conversation.
It is a simple newsstand and some tables. Perhaps a pot of coffee on brew. A person to chat with about the weather, the neighborhood, or a book you’d like to read. And, each week over four weeks, the Viewsstand will embrace a theme to spark ideas and exchange about our collective future. We imagine exploring the themes of new manifestos, new joys, new forms of mourning, and a new, ever-evolving New York City itself.
The structure is minimal. Where a building has walls, we will have layers and leaves of media: notes and notices from the community, as well as Viewsstand’s own rag, the Viewspaper. We’ll publish archival texts from New York elders and ancestors that echo and inform the happenings of today; pieces commissioned from notable authors, including those from Hudson Square; and voices crowdsourced from New Yorkers through social media and at the Viewsstand itself.
We’ll highlight views on BIPOC experiences, gender-inclusive perspectives, and paths to redesigning the systems of everyday life. This is work that’s both deeply relevant to the nation, to Dash Marshall’s ongoing exploration of ‘civic futures,’ and to Public Policy Lab’s mission to humanize governance. In addition to distributing printed views, the Viewsstand will host small events on the weekends. For example, live interviews to collect manifestos, a silent disco to spark joy, an orphan houseplant exchange for mourning and remembrance, and voter registration tools for a new New York.
These events will draw neighbors and prompt contributions of views on the week’s theme. Weekend programming can also be hosted by Hudson Square institutions such as the local public library and Fire Museum. The Viewsstand will be a place to reflect, listen, and imagine:
We imagine families making a pilgrimage on the weekend, to get out of the house and have a new outdoor destination.
We imagine essential workers who need a break, some fresh air, and a distraction. We imagine Chinese American immigrants feeling welcome in America and Black New Yorkers feeling heard and hopeful.
We imagine a pavilion that breathes with the consciousness of the neighborhood. We imagine a city that remembers 2020 as a beginning rather than a collapse.