Beyond Bricks and Mortar

Cynthia is leading a collaborative project called Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Stories of Community and Resilience that is partnering with the Hope Gardens Senior Center, Silent Barn, and Families United for Racial Economic Equality (FUREE). This collaborative documentary project between public housing residents and community organizations/volunteers seeks to highlight the lives and experiences of residents in public housing as they face the changes in their communities resulting from diminishing affordable housing stock and gentrification. We hope to inspire action towards preserving and improving affordable housing for our forgotten neighbors in public housing. Utilizing video and photography, Beyond Bricks and Mortar will foster intergenerational partnerships with youth, adults and seniors to collect and convey the stories of their lived experiences.

Visions of Greatness at BCC

Visions of Greatness at BCC: Rethinking Racial Disparities in the Hall of Fame is a new digital archival resource that features digitized archival documents, newspaper clippings, flyers, memorandum, photographs capturing the social impact this monument had in the Bronx, New York City, as well as the country. This exhibit examines themes of historical exclusion, diversity and achievement at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, a designated landmark of national importance, for the CUNY community, the New York City metropolitan area, and state. This exhibit will serve as a critical tool for students as they explore what thematic connections exist between the Hall of Fame’s past and BCC’s present by participating in nominating a “Great” into our featured “virtual” Hall of Fame. This exhibit was made possible by a grant by the Diversity Projects Development Fund of the University Advisory Council on Diversity (UACD), CUNY.

Whose Streets?! Our Streets!

This archival project will support Make the Road New York in the collective documentation of their own histories, and produce a digital platform to house these memories. It consists of a series of planning and skills workshops, followed by a series of oral history and archive sessions at community events. This project was made possible by the 2016-2017 Taconic Fellowship, Pratt Center for Community Development.

Cities for People, Not for Profit

As part of Cities for People, Not for Profit: Gentrification & Housing Activism in Bushwick, Cynthia interviewed artists, activists, and community residents in the neighborhood about their thoughts on gentrification/housing issues taking place in Bushwick, as well as documented what community activism efforts have been like for local organizations such as Make the Road NY and Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. She began the project in 2014 by collecting artists’ stories at Appalach-Wick, an experimental laboratory event in Bushwick that featured a group of like-minded local artists being asked to meet and create work in situ, but more importantly to interact with the hope that new connections and definitions of community will emerge. Cynthia is archiving and disseminating these oral histories in order to provide community members with resources on alternative housing strategies and community organizing efforts in the area.

WRI Voices

The WRI Oral History Project documents the history of the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI), a grassroots student activist and community leadership training organization located at Hunter College. The aim is to examine, via these oral history interviews, social movement activity at the level of a grassroots organization as exemplified by the WRI, which was developed to aid student welfare recipients to become agents of social change and actively involve them with policymaking.

About

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Cynthia is a media artist, archivist, and oral historian whose interested in creating interactive, participatory stories documenting social change. Using video to restore voices of collectivity, she casts a critical lens on political and societal norms surrounding identity, space, and community. Cynthia is a highly skilled and engaged producer, adept in oral history project design, digital project planning and management. Her interests include: producing compelling public history digital projects; merging socially-engaged art practices with participatory action research; community-based archiving and storytelling; and documenting social movements and student activism. Cynthia is an accomplished facilitator who brings together scholars, technologists, and artists to engage as a team in the planning and designing of open source, public history teaching and learning tool prototypes.

Cynthia has shared her extensive knowledge as an archivist, librarian, educator and oral historian at esteemed cultural heritage and higher education institutions such as the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro) at Hunter College, the New York Public Library, Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Historical Society, Vera Institute of Justice and Pratt Institute. Currently, she is the Head of Archives at Bronx Community College, which is establishing its first Archive.  This new Archive will document the vibrant history and mission of the college: to expand opportunities in higher education for the diverse Bronx community. This will include planning for the collection of oral history interviews, documents, and images from the community, as well as promoting the use of this content to the public with the creation of digital humanities initiatives and collaborations with local community organizations.

Cynthia is the founder of the WRI Oral History Project, which is documenting the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI), a grassroots student activist and community leadership training organization located at Hunter College that fights for equal access to higher education for welfare recipients. Working on this project set her on her path, which combines interests in storytelling, oral history and documenting activism, while also addressing trends in open access and media technologies. Since then she has also collaborated with the Occupy Wall Street Archives Working Group, where she conducted life history interviews with OWS occupiers, as well as with the Brooklyn Historical Society on “Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations,” an oral history project that analyzes mixed-heritage issues, cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity, and identity.

Cynthia’s current projects focus on issues arising from the lack of affordable housing in Brooklyn and on access to public higher education for first generation college students. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Create Change Residency from the Laundromat Project and the 2016-2017 Engaging Artists Residency which will be focusing on Housing Justice. Cynthia received her Master’s degree in Political Science from New School University and her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, with a certificate in Archival Management, from Pratt Institute.

For more on Cynthia’s varied professional pursuits and interests, feel free to connect via LinkedIn.

Other current obsessions include running, travel, and cooking at home with her son, family and friends.

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