Bridget Bartolini
New York City.

I say I’m from NYC and most think two things:
1) glitz and glamour
2) crime and violence

Two cities - two extremes.
But that’s not what life is like
for the people who live, grow, love
this wonderful, complex and beautiful place.

My name is Bridget Bartolini.
I’m a third generation New Yorker.
My family has lived
in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens
through the years they saw neighborhoods shift
German/Jewish to Irish/Italian
I grew up hearing my grandparents tell
of people raising pigs in their apartments
and lit bonfires in the streets

1982 was the year I was born
and born I was into a rainbow
I grew up in South Richland Hill, Queens
"The boonies" some might say
But I loved it -
going to class every day
My friends were from all over
I never thought about the diversity
just always knew it was there
So much difference and so many experiences
co-existing in a beautiful place.

In high school I left Queens
having tested into a magnet school
Stuyvesant was completely different
to what I had known
10 stories high with elevators?
My old school didn’t have bunsen burners
I felt like my peers had been groomed for this
I hadn’t even known about this place until
a teacher recommended I try

I got in, but was labeled “remedial”
I wasn’t dumb
but I *was* behind
And this opened my eyes
for the first time
To the inequity in resources:
What neighborhood you are in
determines what you have access to
and in my neighborhood
"Making it" meant getting out
But did it have to?

As a graduate student
Hope Leichter came into my life
with her I studied stories -
How we learn from stories,
attain more nuanced understandings
of others from stories,
and how stories create a basis
for human empathy.
As a student I started Bronx Stories
my first effort with neighborhood storytelling
"Thank you for making the Bronx relevant
for something other than conflict and violence”
was the response.

These experiences (and people!) inspired
the storyteller in me to believe
in the transformative and connecting power
of the stories we ALL have to share

As an adult I discovered
"The Laundromat Project"
One project among many
which deeply influenced the
The me I want to be:

The Laundromat project
not only brought art into the lives of people
who aren’t able to frequent cultural centers
But also supported fellowships
That allowed me to develop my craft
and enforced my commitment
to the ideals of neighborliness
and work propelled by love

… which leads me to where I am now
Still a native New Yorker
who passionately loves her city
but also a socially engaged artist,
founder of the Five Boro Story Project
working to make New York - all of it
a better place to live.

LINDA’S COMMENTS: I was introduced to Bridget through our mutual friend Michelle (who has just begun her PhD in anthropology at Columbia). Knowing I am rabidly curious (alright, maybe not *rabidly* but close to it) about people with a serious passion and putting that passion into action, Michelle put me and Bridget into contact. The piece above is adapted from a phone conversation I had with Bridget, shortly after, during which I was simultaneously inspired, impressed… and renewed in my own efforts as a fledgling “socially engaged” artist. Bridget’s continuing journey with the Five Boro Storyt Project is one too follow. I’ll be keeping tabs for sure.

BRIDGET BIO: Bridget Bartolini is a native New Yorker who passionately loves her city and wants to make it a better place to live. As a socially engaged artist, her creative practice is grounded in storytelling and community education, and partially inspired by her frustration with the lack of cultural programming in areas like where she grew up in Queens. In 2011, while pursuing her Master’s Degree in in Community Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, she began producing public programs that pay homage to the people and places in New York that are often overlooked. In April 2013, Bridget launched the Five Boro Story Project to create community storytelling programs that bring New Yorkers together through personal stories and art inspired by their neighborhoods. These programs aim to strengthen community connections, preserve local history, and challenge stereotypes of marginalized neighborhoods in New York City. Since then she has produced storytelling and arts events throughout NYC’s five boroughs.

(*) The FBSP will be our next featured#thursdayproject! But for those curious now:
- Website:
- Facebook:
- Twitter:
- Instagram:
- YouTube:

- Hope Leichter:

- Shansi Fellowship:
- Masters in Community Education (Columbia):
- Bronx Stories (originally Bridget’s Thesis project and now run by the Bronx Museum):
- Laundromat project:

#Repost @gcatpace
Looking for a #volunteering or #servicelearning opportunity for your #civicengagement course? WE ARE LOOKING FOR DEMOCRACY COACHES! A Democracy Coach is a college student who teaches an #actioncivics course twice per week in #NYC public schools. Democracy Coaches teach students how to address community issues such as college readiness, sexual assault, police brutality, and LGBTQ awareness. A Co-Democracy Coach can be requested to divide the workload and teaching schedule. Interested in learning more? Visit for info and to fill out an application. Questions and concerns can be emailed to #leadchange #paceuniversity #paceu #paceunyc #tgif #happyweekend

Sotheby’s director of the department of printed books and manuscripts Dr Philip Errington poses for photographers by holding a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” (AP/Matt Dunham)

According to the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, reading the fantasy series significantly improved young readers’ perception of stigmatized groups like immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and refugees. The social psychology paper employed three studies, analyzing Italian fifth graders and high school students, as well as, British college students.

Read more from the study here.

#Repost @gcatpace
A lot of sweet things that happen at our board meetings: donuts from our program coordinator @irfan.ayisha, beautifully printed Democracy Coach recruitment flyers, and a reunion meeting that specified goals for this semester. We are on the hunt for changemakers interested in teaching political advocacy twice a week in NYC public schools. All majors are welcome, we love meeting new people! An interest in #socialjustice activism is key. #LeadChange and visit: #paceuniversity #paceu #paceunyc #pacebound #volunteering #civicengagement #servicelearning #DunkinDonuts

<3gov is a text message based platform designed to better connect and create two-way communication between local government and residents. It’s a tool used to keep people engaged in the civic process. More than a quarter of Americans don’t have internet access at home, so utilizing text-based tools would be more inclusive.

Discovering <3gov among the other civic engagement tech apps we found inspired us to start our Twitter chat series, #NYCitizenChat. Tweet us this Thursday at 1pm to discuss the future of online activism.

Phipps Neighborhoods Career Network program in the Bronx. #AmericanHistory #Building #developing tomorrow’s leaders. #Activate Your Life! #engage #inspire #educate #communicate #civicengagement #participationingovernment #participateincommunity #choice There is more work to do. #onerace #humanityforall #communityfirst

TALKPGH begins this Saturday, April 6th, in Pittsburgh, PA.

What do you think about your neighborhood? TALKPGH is Pittsburgh’s first mobile talk show. In April 2013, a truck configured into a mobile talk show set, will drive to each of the city’s 90 neighborhoods to interview residents about their area. The purpose of TALKPGH is to collect Pittsburgh residents’ stories, opinions, and thoughts about their neighborhoods. These interviews will be compiled, available online, and played at special feature presentations throughout the city. This project is an outreach effort of the ARTPGH & DESIGNPGH components of PLANPGH, the City of Pittsburgh’s comprehensive plan for growth over the next 25 years.

You can read more about TALKPGH in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article

And: if you haven’t already heard of it, you’ve got to check out Conflict Kitchen, also devised by Pittsburgh-based artist Jon Rubin