In April 2017, the I Live Here project joined forces with others to create an event at Queens Museum, engaging museum visitors with hands-on activities celebrating migration and diversity in the borough. The other event partners were Queens Memory, Bridget Bartolini of the Five Boro Story Project and Fernanda Espinosa of People’s Collective Arts/Colectivo de Arte Popular.
Students at Queens College designed these beautiful banners, working with their teacher, the illustrator and animator Ryan Hartley Smith. First they designed patterns based on cultural artifacts at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum (located at Queens College), and then created original three-D typography spelling the words for “I Live Here” in languages spoken in Queens.
Thank you Ryan and his students!
Six banners created by graphic design students at Queens College
So far I’ve gathered 63 translations of “I live here” in languages that are spoken in Queens, New York City. Around 100 more to go! If you live in Queens and speak a language for which “I live here” is not yet available on this webpage please get in touch with the translation: annabel (at) ILiveHereQueens.com
Recently I met with two Daniels to hear about their language projects.
Daniel Kaufman is the Executive Director of the Endangered Language Alliance. There’s an excellent New York Times profiles of its work here. As ELA’s website says, “Hundreds of the world’s languages are down to just a few speakers, and a significant percentage of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages are set to vanish before the end of the century.” ELA works to document and preserve those languages – largely in New York City which is a major hub for them.
ELA recently launched a series of events called “Unheard of” featuring live poetry and oral literature in endangered languages. The first was in September at the Bowery Poetry Club on the Lower East Side. It focused on five Indonesian languages. Here’s Queens resident Rose Monintja reading at that event in her native language Tontemboan, which is spoken by around 100,000 people. She is reading a creation myth called “The Story of Lumimuut and Toar”:
I also met Daniel Bogre Udel of the Wikitongues project. Founded earlier this year, Wikitongues is gathering videos of people speaking all of the world’s languages.
Here’s an example of one of the many videos already on the Wikitongues YouTube page. Tatenda speaking Shona, a Zimbabwean language:
Watch this space for future collaboration between ELA, Wikitongues and the “I live here” mural project: as a first step we are hoping to record speakers of indigenous Mexican languages in Jackson Heights.