‘The complexity of community life today presents problems so difficult that we believe woman need a special kind of network to empower and support us becoming strong, effective, and efficient leaders.’
Jan Peterson, NCNW founder
The Neighborhood Women (NW) Legacy Project intends to highlight the role of grassroots women’s leadership in the historical development, growth and vitality of their communities.
In 1974 after the conference of women neighborhood leaders and community organizers in Washington, DC, it was decided that the office for the National Congress of Neighborhood Women would be located in Williamsburg-Greenpoint (NWWG), where it has remained until present. NWWG has empowered local, poor and working class women to become community leaders. The work of each one of these women in the area has had a profound effect in the improvement of the community as a whole. In this light, the NW Legacy Project will start Phase One at a local level by honoring the important legacy and role the organization and its women activists have played in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area. This first phase is intended to set a precedent that may be replicable in other areas to honor the larger role the NCNW has played at a national and international level.
The NW Legacy Project is divided into three complementing sub-projects: Demarcation of the Urban Landscape, NW Leadership Walking Tour and NW Website.
The three sub-projects contribute to the following goals:
- Disseminate the grassroots women’s organization and initiative to shape community change in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area.
- Honor at an individual level the work of the women activists, members of NW Williamsburg-Greenpoint.
- Create permanent methods of commemorating women’s role through demarcating the urban landscape.
- Facilitate Neighborhood Women and the Williamsburg-Greenpoint community to network and share their stories.
- Attract and inspire young generations from the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area to actively participate in the transformation of their community.
- Set a precedent for a legacy neighborhood project and move towards possible facilitation of phased development of a model citywide.
A network of permanent signage on important sites linked to women activists will commemorate the role grassroots women have played in the transformation of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area. This permanent record will help preserve NW’s history and encourage a younger public to actively engage in improving their community. Neighborhood Women Houses (NWH) will have three plaques in each building: Neighborhod Women Houses, the name of the building and a brief history of the significant role of each woman activist. The Neighborhood Women Living and Learning Center (NW LLC) will have a plaque with the history of the organization, while all other sites will honor each woman by having one plaque with their history and role as woman leader.
The project will also create permanent records of the stories of significant NW leaders. Women will be interviewed to create audio recorded narratives of their role and contribution to neighborhood development. The recordings will be transcribed into a written narrative and report. These materials will contribute to the writing of the plaques and will be preserved as part of the Neighborhood Women Archive at the Sophia Smith Collection.
The NW Leadership Walking Tour intends to facilitate introduction and engagement of local community members, as well as a citywide audience, to the significant role of key grassroots women leaders in the evolution and development of Williamsburg-Greenpoint.
The NW Website intents to disseminate to a worldwide audience the grassroots women’s organization and initiative to shape community transformation.
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Neighborhood Women partnered with artist Jill Sigman on her project Hut #7 at Arts@Renaissance from St. Nicks Alliance for the NW Legacy Project. Students from Wesleyan University with the guidance of Jill Sigman and anthropologist Gillian Goslinga, recorded the oral histories of Jan Peterson and Tish and Guido Ciancotta. This collaboration introduced the students to the history of the community of Williamsburg-Greenpoint, and allowed community activists to learn from a younger generation and share their stories.
NW would like to thank everyone who has participated on the NW Legacy Project!
Jan Peterson, Christine Noschese, Juanita Orengo- Rodriguez, Mildred Tudy-Johnston, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, Maria Bautista, Janice Tudy-Jackson, Frank Lang, Sabrina Salahuddin, Steve Chesler, Rafael Gamo, Lacey Tauber, Kaitlin, Griffin, Jill Sigman, Gillian Goslinga, Susana Arellano and Wesleyan University students: Abigail Baker, Emily Trambert, Stephanie Aracena and Emma Kingsberg.