Innovative Ideas Box hits the ‘Heights’

Interns help local students explore the technology component of the Ideas Box, a pop-up media center and library, at Hayden Lord Park on Wednesday, July 15.
Community News Group / Jaime Williams

The Bronx is now home to an innovative educational opportunity.

For the remainder of the summer, Hayden Lord Park is playing host to the Ideas Box, a pop-up media center and library from Library Without Borders.

Brought to the Bronx through a partnership between local arts and education non-profit DreamYard, Library Without Borders and the New York Public Library, the media center will facilitate summer programming in the park five days a week.

The modular device consists of six pieces that fit squarely onto two standard European shipping pallets.

The four main boxes include a component for laptops, a library, a cinema screen and an IT component, while the other two boxes become tables and chairs.

The Ideas Box contains 15 tablets and four laptops with a satellite Internet connection, 50 e-readers with 5000 e-books, 250 hard copy books, a cinema screen and projector with 100 films, and board and video games.

The mobile media center was developed by French designer Philippe Starck for Libraries Without Borders to provide vulnerable populations, especially those in refugee camps, with access to culture and information, said Patrick Weil, president of Libraries Without Borders.

To date, the Ideas Box has been used in Burundi and Jordan as well as by aboriginal communities in remote areas of Australia.

“These mobile centers have really been tools of and instruments of hope and connectivity for people in these camps,” said Alexander Soros, whose foundation was an early supporter of the project.

He was delighted that DreamYard and the NYPL saw the box as an opportunity to address needs closer to home.

“I think its really a testament to both the versatility of the Ideas Box as well as of these organizations in being able to recognize this,” said Soros.

At the unveiling of the Ideas Box in Morris Heights, the first use of it in the U.S., supporters gathered to celebrate the arrival of the project in NYC.

“I’m truly inspired by the innovated genius of this project that will increase library access for New Yorkers who need it most,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “This project shows our ability to solve real world problems in our city through design and innovation.”

The core problem the media center and related programming seeks to address is the disparity in educational programming young people in low-income neighborhoods receive in compared to their peers, who have access to camps and after school lessons in a variety of academic and creative subjects.

The media center will allow for multidisciplinary programming run by interns Tuesday-Saturday in the park.

“We can make a difference by investing in opportunities like this, where young people throughout the summer can be reading and learning,” said Tim Lord, president of DreamYard.

The interns, many of whom come from the neighborhood, seemed as excited about the box as the kids who will benefit from it.

Karen DelaCruz, who grew up near by, said she didn’t have any opportunities that compared to the Ideas Box when she was a kid, and she hopes her younger neighbors take full advantage of it.

“I hope the Ideas Box teaches you that learning doesn’t stop when school does,” said DelaCruz.

Jesica Blandon said she struggled to get excited about learning until DreamYard programming at her school introduced her to spoken word poetry, which she preformed at the unveiling. Finding a creative outlet changed her life, she said, and she thinks the opportunities afforded by the media center could do the same for younger kids in the neighborhood.

“I think that this can change the face of learning,” said Blandon.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at

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