Kickstarter Picks: Barns, Roving Libraries and a Gowanus Canal Clam Shack

Kickstarter is a Lower East Side-based startup that helps creative people “crowd-fund” their projects.

MetroFocus regularly highlights local projects that seem to make the best use of this platform and have the potential to leave a lasting impression on the New York area.

Rebuilding The Silent Barn

Young musician Erin Regan performs for an intimate crowd on the green office risers at The Silent Barn. Photo courtesy of G Lucas Crane.

The Pitch: The Silent Barn is an experimental art and music space in Ridgewood, Queens. According to sound artist and Silent Barn co-director G Lucas Crane, the two-story house is “about full immersion in art, culture and the stuff of life.” In this case, “the stuff of life” includes a video games arcade, a theater performance space, a museum of huge murals, a zine library and Crane’s bedroom.

The Silent Barn was closed after a recent theft of more than $20,000 worth of stereo equipment, and a group of volunteer artists have assembled to rebuild the venue. By co-signing a five-year lease, they hope to secure the Silent Barn as a permanent part of the New York City emergent arts scene. Extensive renovation plans aim to bring the building up-to-date with all safety regulations and install a dual-floor sound system and a rooftop garden.

The Uni: A Portable, Open-Air Reading Room for Public Space

A computer-generated plan of the Uni. Photo courtesy of The Uni Project.

The Pitch: The Uni is a “portable reading room for public space,” according to the project website. The proposed structure would be made from 144 open-faced cubes that would hold books and create a public space for reading, workshops, lectures and small film screenings.

“What gets placed at street level says all the world about our priorities as a society,” said Sam Davol, one of the project designers. “We’re looking to carve out a little space for books and learning.”

Each of the Uni’s cubes has a cone-like attachment that can be joined to create protection from the elements, or to create benches, tables, podiums and display surfaces. The designers hope municipalities, schools, libraries and other institutions will want to make use of  “The Uni.”

Littleneck: A Clam Shack Coming Soon to Gowanus

A photo rendering of the clam shack. Photo courtesy of Karisa Senavitis of Will Work for Good.

The Pitch: For those familiar with the body of water that separates Queens from Brooklyn and empties into the East River, the words “Gowanus Canal” are more likely to conjure images of oily green water than the menu of clam-inspired dishes a group of best buds plan to serve at their soon-to-open restaurant near the waterway.

Littleneck may be Brooklyn’s “first and only New England style clam shack,” according to the  project’s website. Whole-bellied fried Ipswitch clam rolls, lobster rolls, a full raw bar, burgers and ice cold beer will be on the menu.

The 1,200-square-foot space restaurant will use “as many reused, reclaimed, repurposed, and recycled materials as possible,” according to its Kickstarter proposal. Littleneck will also compost food waste and hopes to one day recycle fryer grease as vehicle fuel.

“We were at a point in our lives when we were ready to just jump in and totally commit to making this thing that we always talked about a reality,” said Aaron Lefkove, one of the creators of Littleneck. With an opening date set for Sept. 15, the creators hope to change the stigma around Gowanus and be a part of a positive wave of change for the notoriously polluted area.

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