© Joel Gordon

Hillary: “I had always put up elaborate decorations on the house for Halloween, but it was only when COVID happened that I began putting up messages. The neighborhood felt bleak during the lockdown, so I stuck up a “Hang In There NYC” sign. People started coming by, and we began meeting neighbors and conversing with people we had seen every day for years but had never spoken with before. As issues evolved, I started switching out the messages to comment on social issues, send out words of encouragement, and offer something fun to passersby to make them stop and look up from their phones. Over three years, I’ve been updating the messages I design, which I send out to get printed. I have even been asked on two separate instances to help people in the neighborhood stage marriage proposals, which was such a privilege. I love how the messages encourage people to interact with one another. That sense of community is what’s so unique about the West Village—that feeling of small New York.”

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