When Covid-19 hit, I decided to launch a project where I could have a creative outlet while shining the light on local people doing good things. So I created My Local Heroes, a celebration of Brooklynites who hold down the fort and make lives better with little fanfare and a lot of heart and smarts.
I started by asking our mail carrier if I could take her photo and write a post about her. I then moved on to write about a boutique owner who has been sewing beautiful fabric face masks, a woman running an after school art program for youth in Red Hook, and a young woman, who, while running for local office, has been delivering food to residents in public housing. I shared the posts about these individuals on various neighborhood-based Facebook groups, as well as with local publications. The people reading the profiles were excited to see folks who they knew being recognized.
Looking back on the years that I was a student at Trinity, I can see the roots of the My Local Heroes project. One of the reasons I chose Trinity is that I wanted to go to school in an urban setting and get involved in the community that surrounded the campus. I led the Community Outreach Program, and both took and designed classes that were about progressive American social movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, and the Peace Movement. I was interested in learning more about how everyday people–not just people with formal titles or positions–make change. At the time, there was a lot of student activism on the campus and other campuses across the nation, so experienced first-hand how our generation could have a voice and an impact on issues like racism, sexism, homophobia and poverty. Learning was not just about studying; it was also about doing, moving, participating, organizing and community-building.
Covid-19 has necessitated that we, as a society, pay closer attention to those near us, our neighbors, local businesses, and essential service providers, and recognize the value that each person brings to the table. We are being asked to look out for each other, support each other, and cheer each other on as we work to get to the other side of this. I hope that my project can, in some small way, further this effort.