The development of downtown Jamaica is no longer limited to new buildings and facilities. A website dedicated to revealing community art and neighborhood loyalty is making a buzz.
Queens Royalty, the site launched earlier this year, came from “a desire to counteract some of the negative perception of downtown Jamaica,” said Felicia Tunnah, executive director at the Jamaica Center BID, the group that sponsored the project.
“The idea is to celebrate the history but also celebrate the people who are here now and who are doing great things,” she said.
The Jamaica-centric site features residents, the “unsung greats,” and their stories, as well as photos of both local celebrities and community members. It also focuses attention on iconic buildings throughout the neighborhood, such as the landmarked Jamaica High School.
“They are our neighbors and loved ones, who always push forward and reach back. They are our elders and youth, who have experienced history and beckon the future,” the website’s description says.
Brian Tate, creator and producer, wanted a heavy emphasis on the area’s youth.
“Sometimes, the young people are seen as a problem. So I wanted to start there,” he said. “The youth aren’t a problem. They’re the future.”
Queens Royalty commissioned four acclaimed photographers – Barron Claiborne, Delphine Diaw Diallo, Russell Frederick, and Jamel Shabazz – to capture a mix of local artists, entrepreneurs, students, and families.
Tate said he wanted to make these people “a part of the story, to shape what the story is and how that story is told.”
“I think there’s a lot of love among the people in Jamaica,” he said. “It’s just having a vehicle for them to express that. It’s promoting a place from the inside out.”
To make the vision a reality, Tate and the BID partnered with Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, NYC Small Business Services, the Economic Development Corporation, Borough President Helen Marshall, the 165th Street Mall and Sutphin Boulevard BID.
Tunnah said the website is “a place for people to share their own stories and really just to continue the dialogue and celebrate what’s happening here.”
Visit www.queensroyalty.org to discover more and submit a story of your own.
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