Our founding mission is “to advance public knowledge about the meaning of place, foster connections and understanding between people of diverse backgrounds, and inspire and reflect a culture of community participation through providing welcoming, well-researched, inclusive, and engaging educational experiences and resources to people of all ages and abilities.”
Turnstile Studio allows us to extend this mission beyond the programming we currently operate in New York City. We are always looking for partners and clients who share these values, and we seek to share the depth and breadth of our experience and expertise to support cultural sites, community-based institutions, economic development organizations, and other non-profits, in their efforts to more effectively engage the public.
We provide consulting services to support the capacity-building efforts of organizations to more effectively welcome, engage, and inform the public through placemaking and civic participation projects, public programming and tours, and educational, interpretive, and wayfinding resources.
Thanks to the diverse talents of our team, who combine decades of experience in a range of fields, our core competencies include:
- Organizational capacity-building for public engagement
- Staff training and professional development
- Research and content production
- Visitor services and engagement
- Accessibility training and technical assistance
- Visitor wayfinding: mapmaking and place-based interpretation
- Development and evaluation of tours and public programs
Below you will find examples of our past projects – please contact us if you would like more information about our practice at Turnstile Studio.
Training and Assessment for Institutional Capacity Building for Accessibility
Turnstile Studio is currently serving as a primary consultant on Expanding Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Welcome, a three-year project that aims to set a new institution-wide baseline for inclusively welcoming and serving visitors with disabilities to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In Year One (2019), Turnstile Studio is conducting a baseline assessment across all visitor-facing departments through focus groups, surveys, and workshops; supporting the formation of a best practices working group and an inter-departmental task force; designing and facilitating accessibility training workshops and materials tailored to each department for all front-line staff (security, visitor services, education, horticulture, etc.); and providing analysis and recommendations for short- and long-term capacity-building efforts.
Historical Research and Archival Materials for Marketing and Placemaking
In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Turnstile Studio produced a comprehensive research document about the site’s history, along with archival photographs and other materials for use by the New York City Economic Development Corporation for marketing, education, and other materials. This package included dozens of high-resolution, public domain images of the Brooklyn Army Terminal and New York Port of Embarkation, an annotated timeline of key milestones in BAT history, facts and figures about BAT for use in social media and other marketing, and information specifically relating to manufacturing and industry from BAT’s history to draw past-present connections to current uses.
Professional Development Workshop and Capacity-Building Resources
In the spring of 2017, Turnstile Studio was contracted by Green-Wood Cemetery to develop and conduct a customized professional development workshop for their tour guides and staff with a focus on techniques and best practices for providing an inclusive and engaging experience for all visitors. In addition to the training workshop, Turnstile’s team produced capacity-building resources for the institution, including training materials and resources for future workshops, as well as a report with recommendations related to visitor engagement on tours of Green-Wood based on tour observations, assessment of online and printed visitor materials, and best practices across the museum and tourism fields.
Designing for Public Engagement: Tour and Professional Development Workshop
In 2016 and 2017, Turnstile hosted a Food Cart Tour of the Financial District at lunchtime, followed by a two-part professional development workshop for Public Humanities Ph.D. Fellows at Humanities New York that explored the challenges and opportunities of creating publicly accessible resources and programming with community partners, informants, and collaborators. Using the food cart tour as a common reference point, combined with a series of facilitated activities, workshop participants shared ideas, questions, and concerns about their respective community-oriented projects, learned about and discussed logistical and ethical considerations for designing and implementing public-facing projects, and reviewed project management tools that support facilitating mutually beneficial collaboration with community partners.
An Essex Street Market “Talk & Taste” event about food-based social enterprise
Many organizations are recognizing the value of entrepreneurship and culinary arts to inspire young people, build their skills, and equip them for challenges ahead. At this Talk & Taste event, offered in partnership with the Essex Street Market Vendors Association, we brought together three organizations that see the incredible value of food. The panel discussion included Lyn Pentecost, executive director of the Lower East Side Girls Club, and one of their longtime participants, Jocelyn. The Girls Club not only offers programs and facilities for young women to learn about cooking, but their La Tiendita stall in the Essex Street Market offers them the opportunity to learn the retail side as well, selling baked goods, aprons, potholders, and other textiles made by their participants. Jordyn Lexton is the founder Drive Change, a nonprofit that works with young people who have had contact with the criminal justice system, and operates for-profit enterprises run by their participant, including the Vendy Award-winning Snow Day food truck. Reconnect works with a similar population, helping young men in Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, and Williamsburg who have become “disconnected” to gain skills and confidence by running businesses, including the Reconnect Graphics print shop, Reconnect Café, and the Reconnect Bakery in the Moore Street Market. We were joined by Reconnect’s founder, Father Jim O’Shea, bakery manager Daytoine Shaw, and one of his bakers, Rayvon.
[UPDATE 7/10/17: We are deeply saddened to have to share the news that Daytoine Shaw of Reconnect Bakery passed away suddenly last week. Daytoine was an incredible baker, mentor, and friend, and we will miss him terribly.]
If you missed the event, you can watch the whole discussion below or on our Facebook page.
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An Essex Street Market “Talk & Taste” event about the baking industry in New York City
Baking is literally our bread and butter in New York City making up the majority of food manufacturing businesses within the five boroughs. On December 8th, 2016 at the Essex Street Market, members of the public joined us for a taste of bagels and fresh bread and a behind-the-scenes look at the baking industry. Guest speakers included Lee Wellington, Executive Director of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, Gene Davidovich, CEO of Davidovich Bakery, Uliks Fehmiu, Co-Founder & President of Pain D’Avignon, and the general manager from the new bread-themed Eataly NYC Downtown location. Moderator Cindy VandenBosch of Turnstile Tours interviewed panelists about what it takes to operate a food production and distribution business in New York City and the unique role public markets – like Essex Street Market – play in supporting the baking industry. This event was organized by Cindy VandenBosch and Lauren Margolis of the Essex Street Market Vendors Association.
If you missed the event, you can watch the whole discussion on below or on our Facebook page.
>> Continue reading
Engaging Guided Tours: Techniques and Best Practices
On October 28, 2016, Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours led a workshop at the City University of New York’s Center for the Humanities as part of Afterlives: Place, Memory, Story, a day-long conference hosted by the Public History Collective. This workshop introduced attendees to best practices in developing and delivering guided tour experiences that are accessible, engaging, and rigorously researched. Through case studies drawn from Turnstile’s extensive experience in the field, and through modeling practices, participants learned about strategies for developing content for place-based learning, storytelling techniques, group management, as well as other approaches to ensure that visitors have an enjoyable and educational tour experience that is meaningfully connected to the tour’s location.
Recommendations for Accessibility Strategies
Turnstile Studio was commissioned to produce an assessment with recommendations and resources for increasing accessibility for all visitors at The Ringling’s 66-acre campus, including the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Historic Asolo Theatre, Ca’ d’Zan mansion, and the Bayfront Gardens. The results of the assessment were informed by a review of visitor and training materials, a three-day site visit, meetings with department heads, and a survey conducted with more than 300 volunteers and staff. The final report included survey reports, as well as general recommendations in the following four areas: 1) Physical accessibility and navigation; 2) Visitor services and effective communication; 3) Institutional capacity building; and 4) Staff training.
Research supporting educational field trips to Four Freedoms Park using the visible landscape to tell the history of public housing in New York City
Turnstile Studio was selected by the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy to conduct supporting research for an educational program focusing on the history of social welfare in New York City. Using the landscape visible from the park, located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in the East River, we identified a series of structures that typified different modes of housing to trace the history of housing for New Yorkers in need from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Research included examining primary and secondary source materials from local archives, including the New-York Historical Society, the New York City Municipal Archives, the New York Public Library, and the La Guardia and Wagner Archives at La Guardia Community College.