I felt like such a hypocrite. Here I am in Queens, challenging the teens to find a sense of connection to their community, possibly eradicate their assumptions, and change their views about the place, while I think to myself 'me? Start a radio workshop in Queens? How dreadful! Love the kids, just not Queens - it's my least favorite borough.' Come on! Can Queens really be anyone's favorite borough? But after the 5 weeks long workshop, these kids and their stories about flushing made me reevaluate.
The Radio Rookies Short Wave stories even caught the eye of the 'Urban Omnibus,' a collective of artists, journalists, architects, planners, activists, scholars and citizens starting a dialogue on design and NYC. They tapped into Short Wave workshop's collaboration with the Mapping Main Street documentary project. Most of the Short Wave students go to school or participate in programs within the Flushing community so who better to tell the stories of Main Street in Queens than the kids who spend more than half their waking lives there. You can read Urban Omnibus article here.
Personally, doing this Mapping Main Street project opened up my own convictions against Queens. I've always been a huge despiser of Queens. Love Brooklyn! Hate Queens! I didn't have patience for the sporadic transit system and the most indirect street numbering grid system in NYC. I'm sure the city planners have very legitimate reasons for the designs, but it's very confusing. Here's a question back to Urban Omnibus why do you suppose there are duplicate street numbers with Drives, Streets, Places, and Avenues consecutively one after the other or it jumps? For example, 65th Street, 65th Drive, 65th Avenue one right after the other; not to mention a 208th street, followed by Oceanic Street and then 210th street, I get it Oceanic is 209th street (maybe?), but still room for panic. I would need bread crumbs or rather some yarn to get me out of the Queens labyrinth - well actually we have GPS.
Cheers to the Radio Rookies Short Wavers who've helped me see a better light. While this project connected the students back to their community, they've also helped connect me to this noble counterpart of Kings. After a 15 year long standing notion, I love Queens for Flushing, The Queens Museum of Art, Jackson Heights, LIC, Noguchi Museum, Astoria, Sunnyside and everything along the 7 line on the MTA. Maybe someday I'll venture beyond the 7 line, but, do I dare to get lost in Queens? Not quite yet.