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.
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.