In anticipation of July 17th, the first anniversary of the death of Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer in Staten Island, WNYC has set up a unique way for people to voice their thoughts about the tragedy. The public radio station, collaborating with SHoP, an architecture firm, has bought an old vintage payphone on eBay and set it up in Staten Island to record the voices of passersby. They call it The Talk Box.
The phone offers visitors one specific question, “What Does Eric Garner Mean to you?” Since the project’s installation on Wednesday a minute’s walk from where Garner died, it has already collected a few testimonies. The payphone’s added ‘ON AIR’ sign is lit for most of the day, from 7 am to 11 pm.
“This is Mark on knowing Eric Garner and accountability:”
“Ben on finding a solution:”
“Amaya from Florida on being afraid to go outside:”
According to CityLab, around 30 responses had been recorded on Wednesday, with many more coming in.
WNYC plans to relocated its Talk Box to a series of different locations with a different question each time, posting to its Twitter when it’s time to move. On Friday, it will move to a Staten Island bookstore called Every Thing Goes Book Cafe. The Talk Box’s creators aimed to collect thoughts from people who may be too shy to call in themselves, to offer their payphone reporter to communities that do not receive as much coverage. The result, judging from the powerful responses already recorded, is moving, yet bittersweet. Eric Garner remains a heavy part of New York City’s memory, despite the strides society has made in the past year. Here’s to hoping WNYC’s newest reporter can shed a little more light.
Next, read about another WNYC’s innovative creations, a map that approximates subway travel times from virtually any point in the city. Get in touch with the author @jinwoochong.