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        Community News

        #ArtatAscendant

        AND’s Public Art Initiative seeks to bring together artists, youth, and East Harlem residents through collaborative art-making, neighborhood beautification, and community activism. We do this by incorporating publicly accessible art on AND’s current properties and future developments.
        AND partnered with Groundswell and the Ali Forney Center to co-create a mural on the fence of the development site. In August, clients of the Ali Forney Center met with the selected artist from Groundswell, Dakotah West, who conducted a visioning session for the mural. A community paint day was held mid-October, and the mural was completed and installed late-October. The visual vocabulary, color palette, text, and title came directly from the youths. Transition Goals is based on the clients’ messages for the next generation of queer youth and installed on four panels on a fence at 244 E 106th Street. Each panel expresses a distinct quality of water embodied in human form, juxtaposed with a line of a poem that speaks to the fluidity, monumentality, labor, ephemerality, and grief of transitions and changes: I would be water flowing
        in one direction.
        I would be a tsunami.
        I would be sweat.
        I would be mist.
        I would be missed.
        The result is a spirited and dynamic mural filled with symbolism about hope and aspiration in the face of change. Water is life, and life, like water, can take many forms. Strength and vulnerability radiate from the mural, affirming and celebrating the transformative forces of life. The fifth panel contains the title, painters, and information about the proposed building.
        As one of  NYC HPD’s three ShareNYC pilot projects, this site will be developed into high-quality supportive housing for young adults ages 16-24, with a particular focus on the needs of LGBTQ+ young adults. Our shared housing project is designed to encourage a sense of community and create a home-like environment, transforming the empty lot into a 10-story new construction with 33 rooming units of deeply affordable housing.
        Committed to saving the lives of LGBTQ+ young people, in 2002 Carl Siciliano founded AFC in memory of Ali Forney, a homeless gender-nonconforming youth who was murdered on the streets in December of 1997 at 22 years old. Since AFC’s launch with just six beds in a church basement, the organization has grown to become the largest agency dedicated to LGBTQ+ homeless youths in the country — assisting over 2,000 youths per year through a 24-hour Drop-In Center which provides over 70,000 meals annually, medical and mental health services through an on-site clinic, and a scattered-site housing program. AFC’s mission is to protect LGBTQ+ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.
        AND partnered with Thrive Collective in Fall 2021 for a Beautify NYC grant funded mural project. The mural “The Inside Look” was completed in October 2021. “Overall the theme the students wanted to focus on was community and bringing people together. Throughout the design, everything is connected from left to right with various forms of energy and action. At the center is a globe with positive words to connect and inspire. It takes a lot of scenic elements you’d find in Harlem put together in a more fantastical way to emphasize musical and cultural roots as well as growth, connection, and positivity despite the hardships we’ve endured as a community.” 
        – via Thrive Collective
        The Ascendant Heritage Apartments are four, five, and six-story apartment buildings serving low- and very low- income residents.  After years of use, these buildings required a new round of renovations to make them more comfortable, functional, sustainable, and resilient to climate change. The rehabilitation, which was completed in 2020, did not require our residents to relocate or their rents to increase.  In August 2021, Affordable Housing Finance Magazine nominated Ascendant Heritage for it’s 2021 Reader’s Choice Award for Best in Preservation. Thanks to our amazing supporters, we won!   The project was featured in their July/August 2021 issue.
        Learn more about Thrive Collective and their student-centered programming at https://www.thrivecollective.org
        Cicely Tyson, legendary multi-award-winning film, television, and theater star whose career spanned more than 70 years, passed away on January 28, 2021. In her honor, AND partnered with Groundswell to produce a mural for 178 E 100th Street, Tyson’s childhood home. In the coming months, AND will share more about Tyson’s life, as well as opportunities to engage with the visioning process to bring the mural to life. MORE MURAL NEWS COMING SOON!
        Ascendant is proud to own her childhood home at 178 East 101st Street, offering East Harlem ten affordable apartments within the 110 year old structure. We are currently working with local officials and community members to co-name East 101 Street from Lexington to Third Ave as Cicely Tyson Way and to officially landmark the building with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee. We are thrilled at the opportunity to celebrate her life and passion for East Harlem.
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