What A Difference A Year Makes- Growing Laurelton.nyc


Laurelton.nyc launched a little over a year ago and it has been a privilege of a lifetime for DIVAS for Social Justice to power it. In October 2015, The Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs sent an email out to community based organizations expressing how 400 neighborhood url, addresses had been set aside by the City of New York in hopes that community groups would establish online hubs for civic engagement, information sharing and economic development.

DIVAS for Social Justice saw the opportunity to power Laurelton.nyc as a perfect alignment with their community work. The mission of the organization is to encourage youth in underserved communities to use technology for social change in a holistic way. As an organization, the youth in our program have produced multimedia based community projects around the issues of environmental justice, gentrification, re-imagining communities and helping create platforms so that the young people we serve can see themselves as the future change agents of their communities.

With the launch of Laurelton.nyc, we were able to launch three youth citizen journalism teams at P.S 156, P.S 132 and the Linden SDA School. Students learned the fundamentals of community journalism and were placed in leadership positions to tell the stories of the Laurelton community.


In addition to providing a platform to teach digital literacy to young people we also opened up the site for contributors to write for Laurelton.nyc. We have been so lucky to have contributions from community minded residents like Anita Romero Warren and Cynthia Bernadine who shared their concerns for community improvement. Laurelton.nyc also has a vital component about the importance of health and wellness in our community with the writings of Cheryl Marbury Mitchell and Syntyché Francella. DIVAS for Social Justice served as a partner also to Laurelton Operation Clean Up and used Laurelton.nyc as a platform to promote the initiative to clean up Merrick Blvd and produce a mural in partnership with Habitat for Humanity NYC as a beautification project that represented the activists of the community and the beauty of the Tudor homes.

Local Activists pose with Habitat for Humanity NYC Mural Through Laurelton Operation Clean-Up

In October 2017, DIVAS for Social Justice was awarded The Best of Queens Award, through the Best of The Boroughs Competition voted by the public sector and judged by government officials. For 2018, we are looking forward to making Laurelton.nyc an interactive hub that serves as archival representation of the beauty of Laurelton.

Best of The Boroughs Award Ceremony









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Clarisa James
Clarisa James is the Co-Founder/Executive Director of DIVAS (Digital Interactive Visual Arts Sciences) for Social Justice. For the past seven years DIVAS has provided free or sliding scale technology training to youth in underserved communities in Central Brooklyn and Southeast Queens. Ms. James has been dedicated to youth development work for the past 15years in the roles of Teaching Artist, After School Director, Curriculum Specialist and artist. Her life's work encompasses empowering youth in underserved communities to use technology for social change and think critically about the issues that are affecting them most. For the past seven years Ms. James has facilitated workshops that help youth develop multimedia projects around environmental justice, housing, leadership development and reproductive justice. Ms. James holds an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College's Film & Media Department. In addition to DIVAS for Social Justice, Ms. James currently serves on the advisory board of the Children’s Cabinet, Office of the Deputy Mayor Strategic Policy Initiatives at City Hall. Clarisa James is full of gratitude to her parents for providing such a wonderful upbringing and having the foresight to move into the community of Laurelton in the early 1970's. Clarisa is proud to be a daughter of Laurelton.