How might we design a school in District 1 so that our kids get what they need to flourish?

This past weekend, parents, teachers and local activists gathered at the Girl’s Club on Avenue D for a day-long “Community Engagement Lab.” Sponsored by Community Education Council 1 in partnership with NYCpublic, the event was designed to help create a vision for a new school on the Lower East Side. Throughout the day, participants talked about what’s working and what’s not working in the neighborhood’s public schools and came up with some priorities for the future. Read more…

The Lo-Down January 14th, 2014

“It was amazing, a good first step,” Donlan said. “When people were standing up and reading out [their ideas on the post-its], I literally had goose bumps

and tears in my eyes. It was just all so thoughtful and meaningful and informative.”

Kemala Karmen, co-founder of, which helped organize and run the event, explained its rationale.

“The idea is that you have this process, tightly structured, where everyone participates, but no one dominates,” she said. “It’s visual, it’s oral and the democracy is inherent in it.

“We’re sort of taking this into our own hands,” she added. “A school shouldn’t just be parachuted into a community. It should be evolved from community needs and wants.” Read more

The Villager January 16th, 2014

All photos by girlray