Generation Preservation Project


Statement from the creator of the project, BPL librarian Philip Bond:

The goal of the Generation Preservation Project was to capture and preserve a moment in time for the multi-generational families that live in Brooklyn.  This photo-documentation project visually narrates the significance, history, and diversity of “families” in Bedford Stuyvesant and provided an opportunity for the community to be an intimate part of the African American Heritage Center through their participation and the Center’s exhibition of the portraits at the end of the project.

The idea for the Generation Preservation Project came from a combination of ideas and events that coincided with my first year working at the Macon Branch.  The renovated Carnegie building had just reopened after celebrating its centennial year. With the opening of Macon, Brooklyn Public Library revealed the new African American Heritage Center, a separate space that offered a collection of books, resources, databases, and programming centered around the African Diasporic experience.

I wanted to create a project that would involve the community and use inexpensive, everyday technologies to preserve a great moment in time.  This project would capture all of the elements that were at the core of the mission and purpose of the Heritage Center, to preserve the cultural heritage of the residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant.  From here the idea of the Generation Preservation Project was created.

Using a digital camera and portable printer, we turned Macon Library’s historic fireplace into a backdrop for a family photo-shoot.  The project consisted of taking digital photographs of mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons, families, and friends; and preserving the digital image of the picture in hard copy, j-peg file, and/or CD-ROM. A copy of the picture was given to the family in the format they chose.  A photo exhibition of the project was displayed in the Macon Branch featuring some of the families who participated in the project.  The GPP will also be added to the Brooklyn Collection at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, to be archived for the families of Bedford-Stuyvesant and New York City.

Amazingly, 37 families showed up and participated in the Generation Preservation Project.  Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers, sisters, friends, as well as families with four generations all came out to take advantage of this great opportunity.  This project was a huge success because the community recognized its importance and showed up to participate in it. People requested that it become an annual event and part of Macon’s community programming.  The project continued in the spring of 2011 with another photo-shoot and the opening of the Generation Preservation Project Exhibition, which showcased ten families featured in the first project.  The exhibition was showcased in the children’s area surrounding the fireplace where the photo-shoot took place.