At the Hydrant is a photo essay about a block in Harlem during the Covid pandemic. It represents community spirit and creative improvisation. In cramped urban living spaces we faced new challenges from working at home to juggling online school and safe activities for our children. We were isolated and struggled mentally as we learned how to adapt and cope.

As part of the Open Streets program in New York City, this block converts the street into a public space. Three female community leaders began by developing activities for masked-up residents to safely use the street. When public pools and summer camps were closed, neighbors come together for play, cooling off, live music, outdoor movies, yoga, spiritual services, drum circles and theme nights while buffered by parked cars. A little oasis thrives while food insecurity, rebellion, homelessness and addiction trouble our New York neighborhoods during tough economic times. Besides play and socializing, a humanitarian component also strengthens the block. Neighbors volunteer to bag and stock the community public fridge on the block. Homeless outreach was coordinated at the park during the cold. This is a model of community building. 

My goal with this exhibition is to celebrate our resilience together and to inspire other communities to implement similar programs.

For information on these community programs follow Marcus Meets Malcolm at

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