Garbagia Island Promo 1


“Garbagia Island” is a dystopian representation of the Island of Puerto Rico and it’s current economical and political situation. The story goes along the lines of pirates arriving to an island full of trash, and discovering magical creatures made out of garbage. What it seemed to be a simple pile of waste becomes a fantastical tale for the pirates to appreciate. The pirates who are already filled with music and celebration unify forces with the creatures and people living in the island. The moral of the story is creating consciousness and renaming waste into resource and emphasizing people’s creativity as a tool for recovering gradually from the crisis. We will use historical LES “nuyorican” and LES characters like Carmen Pabón, Jorge Brandon, Bimbo Rivas, Pedro Pietri, Sylvia Rivera, Petra Santiago, Chino García, Silvia Rivera, Adam Purple as inspiration.

Currently the island of Puerto Rico is facing a huge colonial consequence. The people are finally noticing the impotence and fragility of our economy and political situation. It’s very important now to point out to the solutions, more than the problems or flaws. Similar to the self-help spirit of the early residents/founders of the Loisaida neighborhood, the project will emphasize the history of pirates around the Caribbean and their challenging attitude towards how we re-define either/or dichotomies such as: garbage/ treasure, waste/resource, empty lot/green haven, fiscal crisis/ sustainable opportunity, forced migration & displacement/ community building. This way we use our creative thinking into problem solution and acquire a more optimist view of our situation.


The summer program will be developed in two weeks during July, creating an open platform for the community to participate in an integration and creative process. We will have open workshops five days a week, for the community and will have arranged visits from summer camps around the Lower East Side. They will all take place between Loisaida Inc.Center and La Plaza Cultural. During the workshops we want to educate the community about re-purposing waste into materials. They can be a tool for developing kids motor skills and adults perspectives and creativity. All the efforts will be directed into the final activity, it will take place at La Plaza Cultural. The activity will be compound of a fashion and creature show. We will have a live pirate band, a pirate host and a DJ. This activity will be a community celebration for the outcome of the workshops and will be open for the public. After the activity we will do a symbolic peregrination to Carmen Pabón re-opend garden as a showing of our support and admiration for Carmen Pabón’s legacy. We want to stand out community awareness of current legal garden’s risk and motivate people to take action in democratic process.


The 2016 Summer Program was composed of a two-week intensive open workshop accessible to the general public. There were five distinctive workshops oriented toward  various neighborhood summer camps and school groups. Screening projections and other audiovisual material was used for educational purposes to project the history and important people of the Loisaida (Lower East Side) Community. The final activity was open to the public and it culminated with a pirate fashion and creatures show highlighting the re-purposing of “trash” and the use of recyclable materials.  See pictures below!

Garbagia Island Pirate Fashion & Creature Show:

Press release:
Garbagia Island Pirate Fashion & Creature Show
July 30th, 2016 – 6:00 pm at La Plaza Cultural de Armando Pérez Community Garden.

NEW YORK, NY, JULY 25 2016– Loisaida Inc. has produced a new summer program titled “Garbagia Island” which recasts the current fiscal crisis of Puerto Rico, and the new creative diaspora stemming from the Caribbean island with a direct lineage into the previous generations of immigrants’ foundational work of the Loisaida ethos. The outcome intends to present a forward-looking merger of eco-urbanism and art-based community making anchored on Loisaida’s history of place-keeping efforts and the re-generative spirit initiated by the community garden movement.

The Garbagia concept is borrowed from long time LES resident and community artists, Rolando Politi, who is a main collaborator in the project. A pirate motif will also serve as fun story-line and metaphor for shifting outdated value-judgements of waste into hidden-treasure, conquistador into fellow-traveler, displacement into refuge-builder, fiscal crisis into sustainable opportunity.

Organizations that have benefitted from the workshops and are involved in the initiative are East Village Community School, Corner Stone at Campos Plaza/ University Settlement, Lungs Working Students Program, Sixth Street Community Center After School Summer Young Program and NYU Urban Journalism Program.

The culmination of this collaborative community project will be an Up-cycled Costume & Fashion pageant as well as pirate show that will take place at La Plaza Cultural on Saturday, July 30 at 6:00 pm. To learn more visit:

Pedagogical Benefits:

Participants developed a socio-political approach and learned about crucial contributors to the history of the LES through active participation. Directed with a pedagogical perspective into recreating what important key people (yet invisible to the mainstream narrative) did for our neighborhood. This created awareness into reusing waste and reconstructing its concept into resource. Also pointing out the use of communal spaces for the benefit of the community.

We empowered participants to be active in their communities. The art workshops are beneficial for trans-generational bonding, mental health, motor skills and cognitive development in younger participants. Infusing the creative act with social contemporary issues at stake in the neighborhood and the larger world of many residents, creates empathy, conviviality and a sense of urgency to make a difference.

Garbagia original trailer:

Loisaida’s First Summer Program was made in collaboration with La Plaza Cultural & the Museum of Urban Reclaimed Space and with your support, thank you.