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Photograph of a community fridge full o ffresh food. On top of the fridge, a sign recites "Free Food" in colorful letters

Revised Project Proposal – NYC Community Fridges Archive

Team Members and roles

  • Elena: Project Manager, Outreach, Omeka Developer
  • Allison: Outreach, Omeka Developer
  • Jean: Research (esp. found images), Writer/Word-Editor
  • Lola: Research, Omeka Developer
  • Senom: Research, Omeka Developer

Abstract

Our project NYC Community Fridges Archive will create an archive that preserves the histories around local community fridges installed in New York City facing food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis. Though, back in February 2020, an anarchist community A New World in Our Hearts initiated the use of a community fridge to share the city’s extra food with those in need, multiple local communities, after that model, have implemented their own fridges (amounting to 75 in the New York metropolitan area as of November 2020) to provide fresh, free food to their communities amidst the pandemic-inflicted food scarcity. Beyond food, these fridges have been providing places for locals to come together and heal through literary and artistic activities in enduring communities they have organized. We see this community-based practice around NYC community fridges as a new form of activism arising in the city and our digital archive thus strives to collect and represent visual, oral, and otherwise textual histories of that resistance. Our project is first and foremost to assist precarious local communities in preserving their histories, to create a playbook for building community around food security. To do so, our archive will emphasize relationships between people that form a collaborative structure of a digital humanities project. With that goal, we will use the open-source platform Omeka which can display an interactive map to each fridge’s information. Our website will serve both as an archive and an ongoing platform to further support solidarities and memories surrounding NYC community fridges.

Environmental Scan

The Community Fridge Archive aims to become a comprehensive historical record of solidarity fridges, as an example of community mutual-aid initiatives during the pandemic. This public archive will provide primary sources to future academics and the public about the communal response to the pandemic, food security, infrastructure and any themes that historical distance inspires. The oral histories will highlight the voices of the community that has built around community fridges, providing a space where participants can share their perspective directly as an antidote to media narratives which have focused narrowly on the role of the anarchist collective. This project also aims to promote the community fridges as an additional public and easily accessible source of information for the community.

Community fridges continue to grow in number and attract more attention, but there are no public efforts (in NYC) to build an archive or oral history project similar to the Community Fridge Archive. While our search for projects similar or related to the Community Fridge Archive will continue, there are no plans for discovery in the next week. The following projects inspired the creation of the Community Fridge Archive in their attention for local communities, activist stance, and focus on care.

A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland

This digital archive collects and shares accounts of police brutality as they are experienced by citizens of Cleveland, Ohio. It was organized in 2015 in response to the “pandemic level” police violence, to collect community testimony of these events and counter the police narrative that allows officers to escape accountability.

Preserve the Baltimore Uprising: Your Stories. Your Pictures. Your Stuff. Your History

Started in April 2015, Preserve the Baltimore Uprising is a repository of digital material about the civil response to police brutality in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. The project has extended to include testimony of protests against police brutality, vigilantism, and racial injustice and inequality in Baltimore.

Queer Newark Oral History Project

The Queer Newark Oral History Project is a community-based and community-directed initiative and supported by Rutgers University-Newark. Founded in 2011 by Darnell Moore, Queer Newark preserves the histories of LGBTQ people and communities. The local community can get involved by volunteering to conduct interviews, transcription, website development, and design.

Technologies

Omeka Classic will be used to build, store, and manage content; HTML/CSS to build a website; Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for public outreach; Trello, Zoom, Slack, and Google Drive for team work/collaboration. Our team members are proficient in HTML/CSS, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Trello, Zoom, Slack, and Google Drive. The team members responsible for Omeka will be completing tutorials and workshops to gain proficiency.

Group Management

  • Email: for updates and communications
  • Zoom: for weekly meetings (Thursdays at 5pm)
  • Trello: the team will report to the project manager on Trello by posting on their progress, asking questions, and/or making comments.
  • Slack: for fast, everyday communication
  • Google Drive: for keeping our forms and materials as well as for recording the summaries of the meetings for our future reference.
  • Phone: as last resort if someone disappears or is unresponsive.

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