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Selfies for Social Change: Bridgeport Smilebooth Promotes Community

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 11, 2014 7:30PM

Photo credit: Seth Anderson

[Editors note, 1/17: We received word from the artist that this project is still seeking funding and is not in fact already up in Bridgeport. We apologize for any confusion our original post caused, we've updated the post to now reflect this information. And look forward to hopefully seeing it soon in Bridgeport!]

Something new will be popping up in a small lot on Halsted and 34th Streets in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and its goal is community awareness and togetherness. Just outside the public library, visitors will see a giant camera, on it one simple word inviting people in: Smile. Step inside and you’ll be able to do selfies the way we did them before we had the phone booths in our pockets, and you’ll also get a print to take along with you on your way.

On the face of it, it’s simple, but when Jacquelyn Astorga puts up the booth, she has more than quick snapshots in mind. At the same time the picture’s being taken, it’s also being displayed on a large screen.

The idea is to introduce people to the neighbors they may pass by every day. On her blog, Astorga talks about Bridgeport’s culture and its diversity but also its history of racism and segregation. "This neighborhood is culturally rich and well known for its diversity however, has an unfortunate history of segregation and racism," Astorga wrote. "The goal of the pop up will be to engage residents of the neighborhood and show them just who their neighbors are."

With the booth she hopes to break through the isolation of every day life in any neighborhood,people passing through without noticing others. She hopes as people "show off their best side" and get ready for their closeups, other people in the neighborhood might recognize their bartenders, waitresses or doctors, and it will bring the community together in a fun way. When this project becomes a reality, if you're in the neighborhood with a little bit of time to spare, be a part of this community project and strike a pose, then take a moment to see the people who came before you.

This project is still in the works and seeking funding to become a reality but we hope to see this fun community project come to life soon!