The All Stars Project is one of the country’s most innovative and successful youth development programs. Its national headquarters is on 42nd Street. Each summer, All Stars CEO Gabrielle Kurlander leads a summer program for inner city young people aged 18-25 who have been leaders at the All Stars. The intensive program is called The Art of Painting the World in Different Colors, and helps young people become more worldly and use performance to succeed in diverse circumstances. I have been a supporter of the All Stars project since it was founded 33 years ago and have had the pleasure of doing workshops there on democracy, and city and state government.
When I visited the Clinton Park Stables a few months ago, and spent time with Stephen Malone, a second generation carriage horse driver and a spokesperson for the industry, I began to think about what a loss it would be to young people in our city for the carriage horses to disappear. For many young people, that would mean they would never see, touch or smell a horse, never hear the sounds of hoofbeats…. Steve spoke very passionately about the workshops he does for young people and how connected young people are to the horses in Central Park.
I reached out to Gabrielle Kurlander and asked her if she would be interested in having the young people do a workshop with Steve at the stables. She said yes, and so I introduced Steve and Gabrielle to one another.
Two weeks ago, Gabrielle invited me to join the young people at Clinton Park Stables, which is in my neighborhood. I was thrilled to spend a couple of hours with a group of young people from the All Stars Project in Newark, NJ. Steve is a wonderful host and gave us a tour of stables and an inside look at what it is to be a carriage horse driver, what the horses eat, what their shoes are, what happens to the manure, the history of the Teamsters, etc. After a wonderful briefing, we went upstairs to meet the horses and you could feel the energy amongst the young people shift… They never met a horse, and they got to feed them carrots, touch them and learn about their lives. At one point, Steve invited the young people to walk around the second floor and meet the different horses. Everyone was given carrots. It was wonderful. We met the resident cat, the field mice that also make the stables their home, and saw a horse getting ready to head out to the park. iPhones were snapping and the young people asked probing and interesting questions….what happened when a horse dies? How much money do you make driving a horse, etc.
Steve gave the young people a report on the fight to ban the horse carriage trade in NYC. At one point he thanked them for coming and said that they had done more then our Mayor by visiting the stables and taking a look for themselves.
It was a rich afternoon, fun, informative and a real cultural happening. Below are some images I took from our adventure. NOTE: To state the obvious, these horses are extremely well cared for, healthy and friendly!