Looking back to envision a thriving BedStuy
The Sankofa Residency is a multi-phase project that is both rooted in the history of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY, and an afro-futurist imagining of BedStuy moving forward. Taking the Ghanian concept of Sankofa-looking backwards in order to move forward-this project will use research, oral history, and collaborative imagining to facilitate a plan for residents, businesses, and stakeholders to emerge from COVID in a place of healing, thriving, and progress. In collaboration with local business LifeWellness Center, the project will culminate in an interdisciplinary immersive dance experience that transforms the partnering business into a living gallery of the past, present and future of that business placed in the context of the journey of BedStuy. This exhibit’s goal is to share lessons, resources, make connections for mutual growth and invite those in attendance to envision and work towards a thriving community.
We did our research and noticed some big gaps in information about BedStuy in the 80s and 90s. To fill those gaps we invited long time residents and information holders of BedStuy to share stories about our beloved neighborhood. They shared the 'tea' as and gave advice on how the past could illuminate a bright future for BedStuy.
Where can we go from here? This arts based workshop winvited and intergenrational group of folks newer to the neighborhood to digest the insight learned through the previous phases to help us fish out the lessons and discover how we can use that information to shape the future. Through dance, writing, and drawing we imagined future BedStuy and what part we could play in manifesting that future.
The Film/ Culminating Performance
Using all the information gathered from the previous Phases, a collaborative team of professional artists transform spaces into a living gallery of the past, present and future of the journey of BedStuy. The goal of the showings and performances are to begin the process of sharing lessons, resources, make connections for mutual growth and invite those in attendance to envision and work towards a thriving community.
Creative production by PMMDC. This project was made possible through The Neighborhood Project with 651Arts in partnership with LifeWellness Center and The Laundromat Project through the Bed-Stuy Create and Connect Fund. Kendra J. Ross was a 2020 Resident Artist of The Neighborhood Project and a 2022 BedStuy Artist in Residence with the Laundromat Project. The Sankofa Residency is also supported by GREEN / ARTS LIVE NYC which is made possible with support from New York Community Trust and Con Edison’s Arts Al Fresco Series, administered by City Parks Foundation in collaboration with the Horticultural Society of New York, New Yorkers for Culture & Arts, NYC Department of Transportation, OpenCultureWORKS, and Street Lab.