Making a change in a public space can be really complicated. You don’t usually know who to talk to or who owns what! Where do you start if you want to add a bike lane, or put in a public plaza on your block?

To find out, CUP teaching artist Douglas Paulson worked with students from Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and College Now at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The group examined public spaces on their block, and interviewed an MTA representative, the executive director of a nonprofit organization, and a community board member.

The group broke down the interviews and illustrated conversations between community members to show step-by-step processes to go through for making changes in public space. To share what they learned with others, the illustrations were turned into a colorful and interactive website called Block Party.

Click here to see the website!

What people are saying

“In a way this project changed the way I think about government. I used to think that whatever the government says, goes. Now I know that it’s really the people who can decide what is best for the city or community.” — Amy Ford, student

“We had engaging sessions that allowed you to think about the world around you.” — Marquise Mack, student

“I learned how to be more professional, not to be scared around new people, and learned who owns the city.” — Jason Williams, student

Resources & Links

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City is a non profit organization whose mission is to provide children facing adversity in New York City with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 mentoring relationships with adults that change their lives for the better, forever.

College Now is a free City University of New York program designed to prepare NYC’s public high school students for success in college.

Borough of Manhattan Community College is one of twenty-three colleges within The City University of New York, BMCC shares CUNY’s mission to preserve academic excellence and extend higher educational opportunity to a diversified urban population.

Funding Support

Major support for this project was provided by the CUNY College Now Program. Additional funding was provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Tristan Cimini, Ellen Hailey, Laura Hansen, Neighborhood Plaza Partnership; Molly Hollister, Manhattan Community Board 6; Steve Scofield, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Stephanie Yee


  • CUP
  • Teaching artist
  • Doug Paulson
  • Project lead
  • Pema Domingo-Barker
  • Project support
  • Valeria Mogilevich
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
    • Students
    • Brion Beaufort
    • Erick Cayo
    • Amy Ford
    • Marquise Mack
    • Aaron Modoo
    • Celina Muñoz
    • Macy Shields
    • Sharay Wade
    • Jason Williams
    • Associate Program Manager, Education Initiative
    • Talisa Torres
    • Director, Education Initiative
    • Diana Noriega
    • Borough of Manhattan Community College
    • Director, College Now
    • Pete Williams
    • Web programmer
    • Jeff Lagasca