The Giving Shelf on Willoughby Avenue

The Giving Shelf on Willoughby Avenue

Starting some time in 2001 people in my Bushwick loft building spontaneously created a giving shelf. We slowly began leaving things for other people. Most of the time people picked them up. Among the items were books, kitchenware, electronics, DVDs, clothes and occasionally art work.

It was because of that shelf I felt part of a very localized community in an otherwise alienating part of Brooklyn. It was a very intimate exchange of objects we all lived with and shared. I still have a few items from that ledge, including a small oil painting of a nude model.

The building now has a myspace page, check it out here.

4 responses to “The Giving Shelf on Willoughby Avenue”

  1. Kim Holleman Avatar

    Jeff Pryne who is a recent addition to Willoughby Ave, has started a photo project on your “giving shelf”, what a great title…he was moved by similar reasons you listed in your post, and he is a professional photographer, so it was a no-brainer when he started to talk about how cool he thought it was that the shelf began spontaneously.

    I guess in about one year, he’ll have a hilarious and bizarre series of photos…the things I’ve seen and put on that shelf in 8 years…believe me.

  2. Amy Shaw Avatar

    Oh wow, this was totally one of my favorite things about 1085!! It was a miracle shelf: I could leave anything on it in the morning — books, magazines, shoes, sweaters, kitchen utensils — and by the time I came home that night it would all, or almost all, be gone. Recycling at its best!

    I still have Christmas ornaments, a pair of quilted pot holders, and a slightly chipped antique platter festooned with roses that I picked up there. Though many things I picked up eventually made their way back to the giving shelf…!

    Great name for it, Hrag. Ah, memories…

  3. hv Avatar

    I miss that shelf so much. It is a beautiful thing. I wonder what happened to some of that stuff. I do remember some thing would disappear and then reappear ages later…it was so quirky.

  4. […] used to live in a loft building in Brooklyn where all the tenants spontaneously created a “giving shelf” where we would leave things for one another (art, books, appliances) so the idea of art […]

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