May TongnokLeslie and I were stunned to learn that a new friend and fellow New Yorker passed away unexpectedly on Friday. May Tongnok was many things, including a dedicated volunteer at the Uni Project. We will miss her deeply.

May hailed from Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand, and she studied at SoA+D School of Architecture and Design. She recently moved to Queens and began volunteering with the Uni in 2015.

It says something about May that she joined Leslie and me at our final 2015 deployment on Halloween in Brownsville. The weather is always brisk at the end and start of the Uni season, so Leslie and I usually handle these outlier deployments alone. And then, May offered to join us at our first 2016 deployment, until Leslie insisted she stay home because the weather was so windy and cold. She relented, signing off “OK Leslie, see you next time!”

According to a friend, one of May’s dreams was to work with the Uni in New York City after hearing about us from afar. Thinking of May, we’ll keep trying to create something beautiful in New York, no matter how temporary or fleeting our moment on these streets may be.

Our 2016 season is dedicated to May Tongnok. Peace.

May Tongnok

May volunteering in Brownsville Brooklyn, Oct 31, 2015.

May Tongnok at the Uni

May, in a photo of the Uni in midtown Manhattan, taken by Leslie on a day they worked together.

We're getting a "new" name... Street Lab.

The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a nonprofit launched in 2006 in Boston, where we created community-oriented programs for public space. In 2011, we migrated Street Lab to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The Uni began as a single, portable reading room and has since grown into a city-wide initiative offering more than 700 days of pop-up programming in 150+ public spaces across the city. In 2019, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all this work together going forward, with much more to come.

For now, details about our programs are available here on the Uni Project web site. Soon, that content will move to www.streetlab.org. Thanks for sticking with us!