The other fifth bid - then and now
I first met Joanna and Mark of The Other Fifth (BID) during the early days of the pandemic when Brooklyn and NYC was the epicenter. Joanna contacted me and inquired if I could photograph the two of them on their "front stoop:" Fifth Avenue. Of course! I remember that day well: barely any cars on the road, and I didn't have any store-bought masks yet (the one I wore that day was my grandmother's silk mask with pony-tail holders as ear straps).
One year later, I photographed and interviewed Mark and Joanna again. For their first interview, check out The Front Steps Project BOOK by Shrutti Garg and myself!
Thanks to all of my "One Year Later" families who contributed to The Other Fifth, to directly help local businesses! Make a day of it and visit FIFTH AVENUE OPEN STREETS - now open SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS! Lots of beautiful shops, live music, great restaurants and open space to bike, walk, run and play!
Here are Mark and Joanna's interview from April 2021:
How has the role of The Other Fifth changed since last year?
We've always tried to put our merchants first and that's where you caught us last year when you took our photo; visiting whomever was open to check on them and help in any way we could. As the year wore on, we spent every day helping businesses navigate the rapid changes we were experiencing (literally night and day) and offered help to anyone who asked, including businesses in Manhattan. Our jobs obviously became more physical when we started open streets. We each spent over 300 hours working at open streets in 2020, moving barricades, blocking cars and in some cases, getting into dangerous situations with angry motorists who didn't like the street closed. We definitely have more danger in our lives than we did a year ago.
What big lessons have you learned since March 2020?
One thing that we clearly saw is that many small business owners are not fully versed on the huge number of rules and regulations that the city and state have in place and the city and state have done very little to help them understand these rules. It seems like it's easier to just inspect and fine businesses, instead. We've also seen a lot of businesses get surprised by the terms of their leases. We definitely learned that there needs to be more education, openness and transparency to help small businesses thrive in 2021 and beyond. Of course also learned that closing 5th to traffic generates community health and happiness and a lot of money for our businesses.
What are your hopes for The Other Fifth in the next 12 months?
We want to see our commercial district and the small businesses throughout Park Slope grow and thrive. Actually, we want to see businesses throughout the City recover and thrive! We want to see empty spaces fill and our open streets full of locals, as well as visitors from throughout the city and country. We would love to make 5th Avenue's Open Streets a tourist destination and we will be working to make it a great place to visit.
Here's a link to the official page for The Other Fifth.