the Harlem House Project: Defined and Solidified
The tHHP logo and content section has been hanging out on this site's home page for a while now. It was there before I was totally sure of what the Harlem House Project would be... before I knew how it would be executed and who would even be interested outside my modest circle of friends. Looking back, it being there served as a sticky note and constant reminder that I just needed to move forward and eliminate the fear associated with exposing an idea to the world.
No need to get into the gentrification piece here. The neighborhood is undergoing an evolution not unlike its many throughout history. Whether it is seismic enough to undo generations of culture and history, we'll see. New folks with new intentions arrive every day. No doubt, some aspects of the community will flourish because of this. One thing, an important thing, that will have a hard time growing along side this evolution is a sense of community. I'm not talking about community in the sense that everyone needs to say hello to everyone on the street. That's not really the New York way, but more of the empathetic understanding that being in the same boat manifests.
Now, there's an academic and democratic process to facilitating dialogue and understanding, but I thought it'd be interesting to finesse the process a bit and hopefully arrive at the same conclusion through far less formal means. The Harlem House Project at its core is about bringing folks together in the most intimate setting, not the community center or the coworking space or the restaurant or the classroom. Chatting it up with a neighbor over home cooked food is where we can really get into the meat of discussion and hopefully build some form of understanding or at least an appreciation.
So, that is one aspect of tHHP, linking the community. The other is just to satiate my own desire to hear and feel the energy of guttural party energy in Harlem. I feel like while Harlem is growing in many areas, the nightlife scene is pretty stale. There are a few bars like Red Rooster or Shrine or maybe Gin Fizz that bring it on a consistent basis, but I've always felt that there was still a gap. I wanted to hear more genre bending music, DJs that took chances and played new joints. The classic, late 90s hits are okay but Harlem is supposed to be at the edge or at least I thought it should be.
tHHP 001 was a great start. Even though it was around 20 degrees that night, a crew of 25 folks came out to eat, drink dance and connect with one another. Some knew of each other but most did not. Our first menu consisted of vegan lentil soup with french bread and grass fed beef sliders with hand cut fries. Fallou made the tequila punch that seemed to evaporate within 20 minutes but there were plenty of wines and brews to keep the night sustained. I think we ended up staying a bit later than originally planned, but it was well worth it.
The next Harlem House Project is in the cards for April 22nd. The location will be new along with a few other aspects, but we hope to build on the energy that was palpable at Judy's last month. I expect there to be more people, more connections, better conversation and more feelings of empathy gained. I think it'll be fun.
If you'd like to grab a spot for tHHP 002 [click here]