A couple weeks ago I was notified by Kenny Medrano, Director of Finance, Community Organizing, and Participatory Budgeting in New York City Council’s District 26 that I was selected to receive an award from Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer for my community work with Queenscapes. The recognition, while I was immediately extremely grateful for it, really shocked me. The idea of being honored for something I genuinely enjoy doing and have a real passion for, is still settling in.
My first question to Kenny, after the shock & awe subsided was, “What do you need from me?” I figured his request was simple enough, “Send me a bio.” So I sent out the standard 3 line copy that I have been circulating all year.
Kenny responded quickly with, “I need more.” After wrestling with it for a while, I came up with this:
Being a proud product of a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, provided the ideal foundation for Adolfo Steve Vazquez to flourish in a multicultural Queens. Vazquez’s love for Queens started with his adoration for the hometown New York Mets. His loyalty and appreciation to the borough only strengthened as he moved multiple times as a kid, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Astoria Houses, then Saint Albans.
Upon graduating Long Island City High School, he found a passion for writing. He left L.I.C.H.S as the Editor-In-Chief of their school newspaper “The Skyline” with the intention of creating his own Queens based gazette. However it wasn’t until 2014, after marriage and children, and understanding the value of raising a family in today’s Queens, that he finally thought of an idea that made sense.
The Queenscapes project was a personal venture he created as a means to fully discover his hometown with his two young sons, Roman and Saul. The objective was simple, travel to each and every neighborhood and sub-neighborhood in Queens and document what he learned onto the social media app, Instagram. Very quickly the project caught on, and became popular to not only Queens residents but also with people who grew up here and/or had appreciation for the World’s Borough.
Without prompting, the community rallied around the idea of Queenscapes, and birthed a bunch of Queens based grassroots movements. Today, Queenscapes is a full fledged community organization that looks to shine a light on the undiscovered and underappreciated areas of Queens through photography. Since late 2015, Queenscapes has either created or collaborated on over 30+ events all over Queens.
With his community collaborative exhibits he gives a chance to every Queens resident or visitor with a camera phone and a unique perspective, to be represented. This past November their #QU4PR benefit helped raised over $2,300 for Hurricane Maria relief victims in Puerto Rico.
To RSVP for event on Monday night on October 15th 2018, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a DM with your full name on our Queenscapes Instagram page.
Words and photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez