The BAiP Founders Oral History Project Debuts on Wednesday, October 16
At some point, I am going to write long about BAiP. There are a lot of angles about this organization that would make good blog fodder. One of the most compelling is how deep its grassroots have dug in as if it's always been here. Another is how its existence was catalyzed by two block associations pooling resources to make the initiative known ten years ago as it started up. Originally a community tucked inside the community of the Block Association, BAiP has grown to cover well over a half mile squared.
I know college-age students who are envious of the depth and breadth of connections fostered by BAiP's members. That reaction is always sobering to me because no matter how "connected" we all are with technology, nothing replaces the person-to-person experience of sharing meals, books, walks and many other pursuits together right in the neighborhood. It is not an age-group specific yearning. We all need it and we all stand to benefit from knowing our neighbors better for lots of reasons.
I've written about David Reich here before, and it's hard to speak of BAiP's 10th anniversary without acknowledging the incredible work that David did, first from his perch as head of this Block Association, and then heading the steering committee that would eventually become the non-profit known as Bloomingdale Aging in Place. As a founder, among many other efforts, he laid down the communications systems that have proven to be BAiP's enduring but virtual infrastructure. Of course David was far from alone in building the initiative, but he was the undeniable organizational engine.
To recognize the decade gone by and recommit to BAiP's mission of creating connections, throughout the fall, its members are finding dozens of ways to mark the birthday as well as to look forward to what is to come. One of those "BAiP@10" activities happens this week: "How a Community Blooms: An Oral History of BAiP."
This event is a debut of sorts. You see, a few years ago, one of BAiP's activities groups took up a training in the art of oral history, in a workshop led by neighbor Pat Laurence. Once trained, the group members turned to exploring progressive movements on the Upper West Side and set its sights on compiling an oral history project on BAiP's founders, how and why this organization materialized, and then how the founders oversaw its organization and sought to carry out its mission. There were many people who poured love and sweat into laying down just the right tracks, several of whom have long history with this Block Association. Some of these neighbors were interviewed in two lengthy oral histories over the past two years, with interviewers trying to understand the "special sauce" -- the secret to BAiP's success.
This project is now nearing completion, having documented some of these early voices and perspectives in an archive consisting of audio recordings and transcripts, photographs, a timeline, press clippings, and much more. The collection is open to researchers and producers for future study and/or documentation of progressive, grassroots movements on the UWS that have taken hold. The collection illustrates how community members have come together and assisted one another as older adults. In sum, BAiP represents an early, ahead-of-its-time community response to issues around aging that are now part of the state and national dialogue.
This BAiP Founders Oral History project comes alive on Wednesday, October 16, 6:30 p.m. at Hostelling International New York, 891 Amsterdam Avenue at W. 103rd Street, in a program presented by the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group and conceived by BAiPers Pat Laurence and Nancy Macagno (who also wears the hat of a BNHG Planning Committee member).
It is free and open to the community. Come check it out!