Some food for thought in empty plaza


It wasn’t the holiday spirit that moved Janeva Zetz, a senior at The Cooper Union, right, to set up a free food table for several hours last Sunday. Rather, it was the sterile, empty space across the street from her school that inspired her to offer free food to any and all passersby. Having strung a “Food for Nomads” banner across the entrance to the plaza, Zetz said of the space, “This is a void, so I’m using food to bring people together.” Her table was filled with quiche, cornbread, chicken, sliced meats, sweetbreads, brownies and biscotti, all donated by local businesses, including the Asian Pub, Karen’s on Astor, Cafe Habana, Kurowycky butcher shop, 17 Bleecker Cafe and Parisi Bakery. The two-hour-long project, which she’s using to fulfill her “Censorship in Modern Society” course requirement, has a larger purpose: Zetz thinks the recently opened plaza to the south of the Design for Living building, like other spaces throughout the city, needs to be energized. “The interpretations are endless,” she explained of her endeavor. “Finding empty urban spaces and activating them, reactivating them. It was about making them work.” She explained her project to building management, which agreed and even provided a table. Zetz posted signs along the Bowery, and a steady stream of people lined up to have their plates filled.