Working in collaboration with the Cooper Square Committee, Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association, and Cooper Square Community Land Trust, I organized a team of student researchers in a four-fold process of advocacy and documentation. These include: a) Conducting oral histories with long-time Lower East Side residents and advocates for the expansion of a Community Land Trust, b) The production of historical reports on the Lower East Side’s recently deconsecrated Church of the Nativity and the life and impact of Dorothy Day, the church’s former parishioner, and the Catholic Worker movement on the Lower East Side, c) Data-driven research into the landholdings of the Archdiocese of New York, d) Promotional videos for use in community town halls. You can see the results of some of our historical research in The Loisaida Center’s 2019 exhibit Activist Estates: A Radical History of Property in Loisaida, based on a book by architect Nandini Bagchee. Other work appears in the journal article “Reusing Landholdings of the Archdiocese of New York for Low-Income Housing” in Dio Non Abita Più Qui: Dismissione di luoghi di culto e gestione integrata dei beni culturali ecclesiastici, ed. Fabrizio Capanni. Artemide Edizioni Press, 2019. You can find that article here.
The project has also evolved into a policy and research campaign to assist city officials in influencing the disposition of all properties in Manhattan being sold by religious institutions. As a result of some of this work, I am currently serving on Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s Task Force on Religious Facilities in 2019-2020.