Monday, November 7, 2011

Ask: Wongoers, Myrtle Avenue Birdtown

That's Wongoers-- Jennifer Wong and Daniel Goers-- above. They did this awesomely cool thing in Brooklyn back in 2010 called Myrtle Avenue Birdtown. They used their design, engineering, carpentry, and social skills to build a bird sanctuary (which also became a community sanctuary) by putting up fifty plus bird houses in Fort Greene.  They attracted local residents to get involved with the birds and their spaces by offering a birdhouse building workshop!  The project was a way for art, nature, and community to intersect.

 The idea came to Jennifer after Daniel made a few birdhouses for her. She saw a call for submissions for a project of this nature and thought that the birdhouses would be a perfect way to unite community around nature and art.

LOVE it when beautiful, meaningful ideas intersect. I wrote to them immediately when I read about this project, even though it's no longer up, because I just had to feature it.  I mean--birds, birdhouses, design, community... so, so cool.

a giant thank you to Wongoers for taking the time to answer some questions our Ask feature today!

That's Jennifer (above) making birdhouse kits for the workshop.

Jenn has a website about her many projects and creative endeavors, called Mochi Machine (love it! the name and the namesake!)  Jenn is also a photographer.  Here are some of her beautiful photographs:


And Daniel is currently working on a new business, Autumn Workshop, featuring some of his new designs; as well as a project called Scrap Ecology at Brooklyn's Saffron:

(image1, image2, image3, image4)

Interview time!  Let's hear from Wongoers!

1. In your birdtown description you say that Wongoers is 
--a collaboration between a stuffy engineer and an eager designer. 
 So, who is who?
In that description, I am the engineer and Daniel is the designer.  Most people assume that Daniel is the engineer, which I expected since society typically assigns gender roles to careers.  It's always fun being able to bend people's expectations.

2. What other projects do the two of you have going on now or in the future? Any more collaborations for public consumption?

I don't have plans for projects in the future at the moment.  I'm currently dabbling in upholstery and jewelry making, and hope to pick up screen printing. Daniel is mostly working on his own company, which you can read more about here and here:  

3. I love the thought behind Birdtown. I think my favorite element is that of unifying nature and  city living. Did you have a favorite aspect of this project: teaching, community, the birds, design, working with your hands?

My personal favorite aspect was that of community.  Watching people in the neighborhood check out the birdhouses then proceed to have a conversation with strangers about them was exciting for me.  I love the idea that art can bring people together.  I talk more about all that here.

4. Any tips for people who might want to arrange a Birdtown in their neighborhood-- where to go to find out about grant opportunities and how to apply?

 Tips for people who'd want to do a similar art project is to be active within their community.  Opportunities pop up all the time and the best way to find out about them is word of mouth, community newsletters, and non-profit websites.

5. For others wanting to make their own bird houses from found materials, any advice on where to look for materials for the project?

Go walking around on the streets the night before garbage day!  People throw out tons of awesome old materials you can use for birdhouses.  Or try to find a friendly neighborhood carpenter/woodworker/designer.  They may have some scrap wood that they want you to take off their hands.  :)

6. Your three favorite birds:

 I have favorite families and genera of birds, rather than species.  I love crows and ravens and many birds from the Corvus genus, hornbills and toucans from the Bucerotidae and Ramphastidae families, and kingfishers from the Halcyonidae family.  But I also love many birds of prey, pelicans, owls, and hummingbirds.

7. Anything to say about the importance of integrating the natural world with our day to day lives?
I think that it's important that people integrate the natural world with their day to day lives in order to better appreciate our humble beginnings and the importance of preservation.  However, my feeling is that preservation rather than integration is most important.  Loss of natural habitat for plants and animals is happening at an unmeasurable rate all around the world.  The more this happens, the less chance future generations will understand and experience the natural world as it should be.  My hope is that integration of the natural and urban world helps breed respect for nature and ultimately leads to preservation! 

8. Name game time!
Please help me create two names by answering the following questions:

Name number one:
1. For the first name--What is a bird whose name you love as much as birds, themselves?

Aves (the name of the bird class - I've always loved the sound of it) 

2. For the middle name-- the name of a person (first, middle or last) who spent a great deal of time or energy helping you guys make Birdtown so fantastic.

Bluedorn (the last name of one of our interns)

3. For the second middle name-- a word from the world of carpentry/architecture that you find beautiful in sound or meaning.

Name number two:
1.For the first name-- another bird whose name you love as much as birds, themselves?
Halcyon (the genus of tree kingfishers) 

2. For the middle name-- another word from the world of carpentry/architecture that you find beautiful in sound or meaning.
Teak (a type of wood)

3. For the second middle name-- another person (first, middle or last) who spent a great deal of time or energy helping you guys make Birdtown so fantastic.

Willow (the last name of our contact at the Audubon Society)

Two beautiful names!
Aves Bluedorn Joinery 
Halcyon Teak Willow

Thanks, Wongoers! I had such a great time talking to you. We can't wait to see future projects and best of luck to you both in all of your current endeavors!

names from today's post:

Additional favorite combos from today's names:
Saffron Carpenter
Teak Corvus
Autumn Aves
Myrtle Joinery
Daniel Kingfisher

I'm very excited about Wednesday's post, you guys! There will be some delightful surprise news and more lovely, chirping art. Stay tuned!

 Any favorites from today's lists? Any combos you'd like to see out there?

Aren't these birdhouses fantastic? What's the last thing you built?  Have you ever made anything from found materials? What are your favorite ways to bring the outside world into your home environments?

Happy Monday!

1 comment:

  1. Another great interview! When it comes to bird names, I love the names Lark, Dove and Sparrow. xo.