Enduring Cultures in a Changing City

Preservation is the practice of managing change. — The Atlas of ReUrbanism

With New York City in a constant state of change, how can the field of preservation be expanded to be a more multivocal, equitable, accessible, and inclusive framework for supporting diverse layers of history and culture in our city? What implications could such a shift have on our urban policy?

Historic preservation has traditionally been practiced with strict rules for maintaining material integrity tied to a specific place and time, most often through a singular perspective. However, a sense of place involves a larger set of narratives and layered histories. As our built environment shifts to adapt to our climate crisis, address our housing crisis, and deconstruct the legacy of racist planning and marginalizing policy, how can the field of preservation evolve to do more than one thing for more than one purpose? How can preservation practiced in non-traditional forms provide the opportunity for our urban fabric to be flexible, adaptable, and reflect layers of history to support multiple communities over time?

Join us for a dynamic session and learn from practitioners across New York City who are creatively building ways to support historical and cultural heritage in the ever-shifting landscape of our city. Each guest will share a short presentation on their impactful work followed by a moderated discussion and audience Q&A.

This event is free but requires advanced registration. Please consider making a donation to MAS upon registering to support our Enduring Culture initiative.

Read more about our guest speakers below.

This event is part of The Municipal Art Society’s Enduring Culture Initiative, a multi-year effort to develop an expanded and multivocal historic preservation vision for New York City. Read more the Enduring Culture Initiative.

Tuesday, May 21
12:00 PM — 1:30 PM

Zoom Webinar


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  • Kamau Ware and his work: Buffalo Sonnet: A digital comic book inspired by San Juan Hill. Photo: courtesy of Kamau Ware.
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  • Shelley Worrell and I AM caribBEING map. Photos: courtesy of Shelley Worrell. Modifications: photo cropped.
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  • Queens Memory Project group photo. Photo: courtesy of J. Faye Yuan.
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  • 1977 cassette tape of a DJ Kool Herc party with notations/tag in his hand. Photo: Pete Nice.
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  • Delma Palma with community members. Photo: courtesy of Delma Palma.
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  • Dr. Amanda T. Boston, an assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a visiting scholar at New York University’s Urban Democracy Lab. Photo: courtesy of Amanda T Boston.
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Kamau Ware, Black Gotham Experience
Kamau Ware is a multidisciplinary artist, historian, and walker. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Ware moved to New York City in 2006 and applied his work as an artist and curator to develop a unique approach to visual storytelling, coined StoryStyle that softens the threshold between artist and audience. After establishing his visual storytelling lab in 2008, Kamau Studios, he began working on what would become the Studios flagship project – the Black Gotham Experience (BGX). BGX launched the summer of 2010 as a series of walking tours and has expanded to a series of immersive experiences celebrating the impact of the African Diaspora on New York City. BGX has been based in the Seaport District since 2017. Kamau Ware is a sought-after voice to fill the visual abyss of Black New York history, illustrating powerful stories that exist outside of public consciousness. Ware has received prominent commissions to create works across mediums by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, BRIC Media, No Longer Empty, New York City Public Design Commission, The Shed, The Apollo Theater, The Tenement Museum, and Creative Time. He recently published a digital comic book titled Buffalo Sonnet commissioned by Lincoln Center for Performing Arts that was referred to as “magical” by Comics Beat.

Shelley Worrell, I am Caribbeing
Shelley Worrell is a cultural entrepreneur born in NYC and raised between Brooklyn & the Caribbean, Shelley Worrell created caribBeing, spearheaded the designation and development of Little Caribbean, and is the head of Caribbean Partnerships for the US Department of Commerce. Worrell has produced 400+ immersive experiences in partnership with top corporations and cultural institutions including James Beard Foundation, Google Arts & Culture, Studio Museum in Harlem, and VoX Media. Her multi-platform & cross-cultural activations have been featured by Black Enterprise, NBC, and Hyperallergic; and she has been personally profiled in The New York Times and Good Morning America. Worrell holds a BA in Cultural Studies from CUNY, Brooklyn College and an MA in Media Studies from the New School.

J. Faye Yuan, Queens Memory Project
Born in Shanghai and raised in the American Midwest, J. Faye Yuan is a bilingual curator, producer, and editor of creative nonfiction films and audio documentaries. Her work takes a character-driven approach to exploring socially relevant issues related to historical memory, diaspora identity, and climate activism. As part of the last generation to remember a time before the Internet, her stories are often tinted with a longing for connection beyond the digital universe. She is currently the curator for the Queens Memory Project – a community-led archiving program supported by Queens Public Library and Queens College. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, she hosted its award-winning podcast about Asian immigrant communities in Queens. A proud resident of Astoria, she likes to host dinner parties in her backyard garden.

Pete Nice, The Hip Hop Museum
Prime Minister Pete Nice is currently the co-curator of The Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx. He was a founding member of the Def Jam Recording group, 3rd Bass, founded the 1990s record label Hoppoh Recordings, and was the executive producer and manager of the rap group KMD which included the late MF DOOM. In 1987 he started his career in Hip Hop by establishing the first Hip Hop radio show on WKCR in New York City. Nice is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Columbia College/Columbia University. He is also an Emmy nominated writer and producer and has published two books.

He has recently published a book covering the illustrated history of Hip Hop Flyers from 1983 to 1992. And he is a co-executive producer of the A&E Networks series “Hip Hop Treasures.” This series features the discovery and donation of artifacts and memorabilia of the culture’s history that become a part of the Hip Hop Museum’s collections and archives.

Delma Palma, Empire State Development
Delma Palma is Vice President of Design and Construction at Empire State Development (ESD)—New York State’s economic development corporation. She is a licensed architect and certified planner who guides the design vision for the State’s real estate development projects to meet New York’s ambitious housing and climate agenda. Prior to ESD, she was at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), leading several design studios to implement capital projects for the country’s largest public housing portfolio. While at NYCHA, Delma led the production and release of the internationally recognized Connected Communities Guidebook, and NYCHA’s first large-scale open space masterplan. In 2020, Delma was a finalist for the Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize, awarded to extraordinary New York City public servants who have led outstanding high-impact work in government, and in 2022 she was awarded the Carmen Villegas Award for women strengthening and preserving affordable housing. Her work focuses on housing as a catalyst for community development.


Amanda T. Boston
Dr. Amanda T. Boston is an assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a visiting scholar at New York University’s Urban Democracy Lab. Her research, writing, and teaching focus on twentieth-century and contemporary African American history, politics, and popular culture. Her current projects explore gentrification’s racial operations in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York and their role in the making and unmaking of the borough’s Black communities. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Africana Studies from Brown University, as well as an M.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Political Science and African & African American Studies from Duke University. Amanda is also a member of the Municipal Art Society of New York Board of Directors.

Visual Capture

Zara Fina Stasi, Good for the Bees
Zara Fina Stasi founded Good for the Bees to use art to help people thrive. She does this through visual capture, murals, painting, and illustration. Her work has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report and she has worked in Mexico City, Shanghai, London, Hong Kong, Rome, Beijing, Amsterdam, Bogota, and throughout the US. She brings 10+ years of experience using art as a positive tool for change. She is passionate about addressing our climate crisis, empowering others, transforming spaces, and creating community – through her different art mediums. Zara graduated Magna Cum Laude from William and Mary with her BA in Studio Art and History. She has consulted for Columbia University’s Digital Storytelling Lab and for William and Mary’s Entrepreneurship Center. She is a national Madewell Hometown Hero and a Nest Guild member.