The Uni on the Lower East Side

The Uni’s purpose-built structure and growing collection of browsing books for kids and adults make it possible to turn on a dime and create an outdoor reading room almost anywhere. On Saturday, with Sam on tour, I brought the Uni out of storage myself and drove it in a truck to Broome Street and Sara D. Roosevelt Park, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There, with the help of many volunteers, we set up the Uni as part of a free, family event called “Readapalooza,” sponsored by the early education organization Jumpstart.

Uni in the "pit" at Sara D. Roosevelt park.

The Uni is made to partner, and this deployment was a great chance to see how the Uni could provide a venue for some of Jumpstart’s literacy programs, such as inviting kids to read Uni books aloud with Jumpstart’s trained volunteers.

Some of Jumpstart's volunteers, reading aloud to children.

Two of my favorite books in use: Not a Box, and (in the background) a little flip book showing a view of Buenos Aires, day-to-night.

Tangram puzzles are always a big hit.

College students from Pace, NYU, CUNY and Stonybrook - all Jumpstart volunteers - help load the Uni back into the truck.

And that was it! Jumpstart registered 150 families over the event’s 3 hours, most of which each had two kids in tow.¬†Thanks to Jumpstart for inviting us and hope to see some of these folks again at our Uni deployments in other parts of the city this summer. Stay tuned.

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The Uni Project is the operating name (DBA) of Street Lab, a 501c3 nonprofit.