​#GovIsland365: What We Learned From New Yorkers By Thinking Outside The ‘Cube’

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For years, Governors Island has been a summertime destination for the arts, relaxation, recreation and play for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Today, the Island is moving even closer to a 24/7, 365 day-a-year future.

Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City announcement earlier this year officially ushered in a new and unprecedented chapter for the Island’s storied history: year-round activation. In thinking about the Island’s next chapter, the Trust for Governors Island and NYCEDC launched #GovIsland365, a community engagement campaign to solicit feedback about how people would use the Island once it opens year-round.

The campaign kicked off on September 2 and garnered feedback from New Yorkers through two components: an interactive art installation and an online survey.

The results of the campaign are summarized below:

The Cube

An interactive chalkboard installation designed by NYC-based artist Amber Rae was on display at Soissons Landing through the month of September. Attracting thousands of visitors, the Cube elicited over 300 ideas from a wide range of people on how they would imagine working, learning, and playing on the Island as a year-round destination. Ideas reflected the diversity of Governors Island’s visitors, but could largely be categorized into four main themes:

  • Active/Outdoor Recreation
  • Cultural Enrichment
  • Professional / Academic Development
  • Reflection and relaxation

Of course, there were the occasional young doodlers who loved sharing their artistic expressions on the Cube!

Online Survey

Over 1000 people took the survey, offering insight into how they would use the Island when activated as a year-round destination.

A snapshot of survey-takers:

  • Nearly 75% were between 18 – 50 years old
  • A variety of industries were represented, with the most responses coming from those in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media fields as well as education.

Feedback was wide-ranging, but some key insights emerged:

  • Support for year-round activation: The vast majority stated that they would visit the Island year-round

“Governors Island is an amazing oasis in NYC and should really be open year-round for everyone to enjoy”

  • Interest in professional development options: 2/3 of survey users expressed interest in having more corporate and artist retreat options. Short-term skills training was another expressed preference.
  • Open to the idea of more schools on the island: Over 75% of survey respondents were open to the idea of adding more schools to the Island, with 77% holding particular interest in “fun classes” such as cooking or arts subjects, with an emphasis on youth programming.

“Why not make Gov Island a safe place for kids to find out more about what they want to do as young adults? Why not help kids get ready for the future by thinking big?”

  • Need for more convenient transportation: Over 50% reported that limited transportation would be their main deterrent to visiting the Island. Other potential deterrents include limited food, drink, retail options and indoor space.

New Yorkers also stressed the importance of preserving and enhancing Governors Island’s open space.

“Governors Island needs 2 things: decent places to eat and decent bathroom facilities.”

The Trust for Governors Island and NYCEDC thank everyone for their feedback and active participation in the campaign! Amid all the ideas, one thing was clear: Governors Island is a treasured City resource that must remain accessible to all as an escape from the hustle and bustle.

As we advance towards shaping the Island’s next chapter, feedback from the cube and survey will help inform the vision for Governors Island as a place for prosperity, one where economic opportunity comes together with innovation, education, and creativity.

“Governors Island is a treasure for the whole city, and it’s ready for its next great chapter. It’s going to be an incredible year-round magnet for culture and innovation.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, State of #OurCity Address, February 4, 2016