Stories Project

Explore the stories of New York City.

Community leaders share thoughts about their work, their neighborhood, and how to build community.

Referred to as “Mother Earth” by the New York Daily Times, Ena K. McPherson is a retired financial assistant that holds the keys to three community gardens in Bedford-Stuyvesant. She also serves on the operations committee for the nonprofit, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, which holds the deeds to 32 gardens plots. Using gardens as a tool to strengthen and build community, she hopes to inspire and empower neighbors through horticultural pursuits. 

Named in 2012, alongside Beyonce and Oprah, Karen Washington ranked in Ebony magazine’s “Power 100” of influential African-Americans.  With her strive to make New York City a better place to live, Washington has worked with Bronx neighborhoods to run empty lots into community gardens, created a City Farms Market, and continues to speak out for garden protections and preservation.

Awarded the President’s Call to Service Award by the White House, Brenda Duchene’s founded Isabhalia Ladies of Elegance in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Seeking to provide the community access to affordable, fresh, and healthy produce, she turned to urban farming. She also focuses her nonprofit around engaging residents in a variety of different gardening and skill workshops.  

As the president of the Resident Association of Lafayette Gardens, Tyree Stanback seeks to create a positive difference in the lives of residents and the community of Lafayette Gardens. Support services and housing advocacy programs conducted by Stanback create a positive living environment and activate participation in the public housing community. 

Sheryll Durrant works alongside Kelly Street Garden Committee in providing opportunity for all community members to take part in gardening. Empowering and transforming the community of Kelly Street with workshops. Durrant seeks to change the narrative of Kelly Street into a healthy and sustainable environment and community.  Prior to moving to the Bronx, Sheryll was involved with Sustainable Flatbush in Brooklyn.

Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario has worked alongside several non-profit organization before creating her own, Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE). She uses art as a tool to bring awareness to communities and young people about local and global human rights challenges. ARTE works to empower youth to become social justice agents and to work towards creating a more equitable world for themselves and their own communities. 

Brooklyn native Amma Oloriwaa! works with Egbe Iwa Odo'kunrin Egbe Iwa Odo'binrin in preparing and empowering youth in New York City to assume age appropriate responsibilities. She works with families in neighborhoods from these so called “troubled and endangered” backgrounds and provides mentoring, workshops, and community services to them.

Rodney Deas, aka "Radio Rahim" is a long-time activist in Brooklyn. He has been in the entertainment industry for decades, involved in radio and producing; he was involved in the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement and co-founded the Paul Robeson Freedom School in Bedford Stuyvesant. 


Danielle Sullivan is an administrative aide by day, community organizer by night and parent to an amazing child with special needs around the clock. She unites parents from all walks of life and engages conversation about the needs, wants, and growth of our children.

Organizer, and preservationist, Zulmilena Then is the founder of Preserving East New York (PENY) an organization whose mission is to advocate for historic preservation for the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York and its subsections. From creating awareness of community changes to highlighting landmark-worthy buildings, Zulmilena and PENY are showcasing the beauty and the history of the neighborhood to empower the community towards protecting the endangered treasures East New York holds. 

Anthony Posada is an artist, activist, and lawyer. Aside from his job as public defender at the Legal Aid Society, he is the founder of Project Attica, an organization devoted to engaging youth and under-served communities in social justice issues through art-based activities. Anthony’s artivism stems from his passion and commitment to addressing mass incarceration among communities of color.

A multi-disciplined performing artist, Christine Yvette Lewis, is an actress, poet, musician, organizer, activist, and member of the Domestic Workers United (DWU). From advocating in Albany for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to hosting poetry Pop-ups in the Park, Christine amplifies the need for fair labor standards and a decent living wage, while advocating for power and respect for women who live and work in the shadows.