Community Heroes NYC is a community-based public art project that celebrates the everyday heroes of our neighborhoods — and is now looking for your Fort Greene heroes!

Photo courtesy Community Heroes NYC

Community heroes, those everyday local residents who make an impact in their neighborhood, too often go unmentioned and remain unseen. Community Heroes NYC, a local art project, wants to change that by celebrating these everyday heroes and their stories with public photo exhibitions. And this summer, they will honor Fort Greene’s heroes in Commodore Barry Park and Fort Greene Park.

Community Heroes NYC, the so aptly named project, was founded in May 2016 by freelance artist and educator Jasmin Chang, and activists Zac Martin and Darrell Cheng  — who also co-founded Trellis, a nonprofit dedicated to address criminal, financial and racial injustice with a network of local churches, neighborhood groups, schools and social agencies. Inspired by Peace Fest, an annual Memorial Day event in Fort Greene Park that honors peacemakers, the three Brooklynites partnered with the festival organizer, the Ingersoll Community Center and Family Support and Resources, to highlight six heroes in Fort Greene. The team took their photos, printed their portraits on banners and displayed them at the event.

“Peace Fest was a fantastic event, and our hero banners were well received all around. Many of the heroes and photographers brought their friends and families to the event,” says Jasmin Chang. “People simply walking through the park stopped to view the banners. Our exhibition at Peace Fest made us realize the potential to expand our project to other neighborhoods and communities.”

Photo courtesy Community Heroes NYC

Since then, the project’s goal has been to highlight the everyday citizens that make an impact in their neighborhood with their faithful, stable presence and their work to strengthening and supporting their community. But there is more to it, as Chang shares.

“Our central goal is to create opportunities for neighbors to work together and celebrate one another. It’s important that the final exhibition is displayed in a public space, so many can see these great stories and be encouraged to take ownership of their neighborhood.”

In January, Community Heroes NYC launched the new Fort Greene round for which the organization is now accepting nominations and submissions until May. But who qualifies as a hero?

“Heroes are people who have made an impact in their community. They are people who would likely hesitate to call themselves a hero, but if they suddenly disappeared or moved, their community would feel their absence deeply,” explained Chang. “They are known by their neighbors.”

Community Heroes NYC considers many factors in selecting the heroes, such as the frequency of nominations and the story provided for why this person is a community hero. The team also appreciates the help and input from diverse neighborhood leaders to help steer this process.

Photo courtesy Community Heroes NYC

After the final selection is made in May, the trio will organize the photoshoots in June, and then design and produce the banners in July. Come August, the exhibition will go up in Commodore Barry Park and in Fort Greene Park, celebrated with an opening ceremony. The exhibition will kick off with 20 heroes total — ten in each park.

“We will certainly have an opening event that will be a walking tour and celebration in the parks,” said Chang. “Over the next year, we will add heroes every few months, holding space for neighbors to continue nominating heroes.”

Aside from the upcoming exhibition honoring Fort Greene’s heroes, the trio is also working on other projects, including a teen journalism program in Red Hook. Long­term, they hope to make Community Heroes shareable with organizations and artists around the city to celebrate the heroes of all New York City neighborhoods.

For more information and to nominate your Fort Greene hero, go here.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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