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Sarah Rooney and Briana Calderón Navarro met at a mutual friend’s rooftop in July 2020. “We were at a Paperboy Prince party, and we just instantly hit it off,” Rooney shares. Both had thrown themselves into the food-rescue and organizing community at the onset of the pandemic, and eventually they began driving around together, delivering surplus food to community fridges across Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. With neighbors struggling to qualify for unemployment or stimulus funding, the community of what Rooney calls “folks doing fridge work” was rapidly growing. With time, it was clear to both Caldéron Navarro and Rooney that a physical space could really anchor their work and establish it as a long-term project. At the time, there were plenty of mutual-aid groups occupying abandoned commercial buildings or gardens, but they were often met with city bulldozers or eviction notices. So the activist duo—backed by a large community of mutual supporters—started pitching local landlords. Met at first with laughs and resistance (which they attribute to aspirational anti-capitalist goals and being a women- and queer-led community), the group eventually got the keys to their new home base on April 1, 2021. They called it Collective Focus, hoping the name would highlight how together they could recenter the basic needs, professional aspirations, and personal joys of their neighbors.
From day one, the collective’s intention was to build out a colorful, vibrant, inviting space. The goal was for the space to starkly juxtapose the lead paint coming off of the J train’s infrastructure and other objects of Broadway that, by government design, have been neglected. So the team started painting—and that’s when they started catching eyes. Last spring, creative Baron Davis was walking past and started chatting with volunteers creating murals outside. “They invited me back to paint the [nearby] benches,” he recalls, “and I’ve been involved ever since.” Beloved local Terry Lee—dubbed the godmother of Collective Focus—was similarly taking her routine stroll when she first encountered the space. In her 63 years living in the neighborhood, Ms. Terry, as she’s known, has seen this space exchange hands countless times, though she’s never seen such a positive reception from community members. She attributes that trust to the 40 hours each week that the space remains open to the public, as well as the warm comportment of the volunteer staff: “We let [everyone] know that they are just as important as we are,” says Lee. That’s because the goal of the space was always that it be supported, conceptualized, and fostered by the entire community, which is why Rooney and Caldéron Navarro don’t claim any sort of CEO status—everyone is equally behind the aptly named entity.
When you walk up to the corner, you immediately spot orange and purple fictional characters adorning four fridges, with flowers hand-painted by local eight-year-olds that, like Davis, joined in the fun while passing by. Hart Street’s wide sidewalks have allowed Collective Focus to host events, which is how local performers and creatives like Crystal Hart got involved. “It’s from our instinct to create that we all got together,” Hart says, sitting across from me in the space’s recording studio. Hart lives right next door, and she says Collective Focus sprung up at just the right time. “I got curious,” she continues, “and I came and read poetry for the first time at an open mic almost exactly a year ago.”
Suitable for Women/Men/Girl/Boy, Fashion 3D digital print drawstring hoodies, long sleeve with big pocket front. It’s a good gift for birthday/Christmas and so on, The real color of the item may be slightly different from the pictures shown on website caused by many factors such as brightness of your monitor and light brightness, The print on the item might be slightly different from pictures for different batch productions, There may be 1-2 cm deviation in different sizes, locations, and stretch of fabrics. Size chart is for reference only, there may be a little difference with what you get.
- Material Type: 35% Cotton – 65% Polyester
- Soft material feels great on your skin and very light
- Features pronounced sleeve cuffs, prominent waistband hem and kangaroo pocket fringes
- Taped neck and shoulders for comfort and style
- Print: Dye-sublimation printing, colors won’t fade or peel
- Wash Care: Recommendation Wash it by hand in below 30-degree water, hang to dry in shade, prohibit bleaching, Low Iron if Necessary
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