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In Spring 2020, the Queensbridge Houses were at the epicenter of the COVID 19 pandemic, encircled by those New York City neighborhoods with the highest rates of infection and death in the nation.  The Jacob Riis Settlement House, located at the heart of the Queensbridge Houses, transformed from a community center into a COVID testing and food distribution center.  With tourism virtually non-existent, nearby hotels opened their doors to homeless families and adults.

​In May 2020, the pain and despair of the pandemic was compounded by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.  Protestors met to express their anger in neighboring Queensbridge Park.  Make-shift memorials sprang up on street corners and in parks.

​Our students set about to document this unique moment in history.  In August 2020, they published a "zine" with photographs they had taken, found photographs, poems, prayers and inspirational sayings that had helped them through these dark times


The zine is now in the permanent collection of the New York Historical Society as part of their History Responds initiative and in December 2020 was featured on the blog of the

In October 2019, our students participated in a community-wide photography exhibition focused on everyday life in Queensbridge.  The exhibition featured over 130 large vinyl photographic posters and lamppost banners displayed in nearby QueensbridgePark and on fences and lampposts throughout the Queensbridge Houses.  The photographs were taken by Queensbridge residents, including our students, and post production work was done by the teaching artists of 5 Corners Collective.

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