The only thing I love more than people who are passionate about a thing and then do something with that thing is when I am crazy about that thing, too. Oriana Leckert does exactly that with her online compendium of culture and creativity in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Spaces. As the creator and author, Oriana does an incredible job pulling together a lot of fun and extraordinary people, projects, and spaces. I interviewed her over email to learn more.
Jen Bokoff: Where did the idea for Brooklyn Spaces come from, and how’d you implement the idea?
Oriana Leckert: The idea came from a sort of horror, as I watched several spaces I’d adored disappear, that there wasn’t going to be a good record made of all the totally amazing things happening in Brooklyn these days. It’s kind of corny, but I feel like we’re living through one of those delirious moments of intense creativity, and that in five or ten or twenty years, people will want to know what it was like. I kept saying to people, “Why is no one taking pictures and writing this shit down?” And people kept saying, “Well, why don’t you do it?” So I reached out to a few friends who run spaces and asked if I could interview them. I was really nervous, because I’m not any kind of trained journalist. But I realized very quickly that if you take a person who spends a huge amount of energy and time doing something, even a somewhat vapid question like “So why do you do this?” will unleash a torrential response. It’s easy to keep people talking about the things they love.
JB: What are some of your favorite interviews or venues that you have profiled?
OL: One of the amazing things about this project has been that even the spaces I’ve felt lukewarm about covering have turned out to be just incredible. Everyone is so passionate and driven; it’s just endlessly inspiring. My favorite spaces, the ones I keep going back to, are the over-the-top ones, those that are really unusual or really immersive or really really creative. The Gowanus Ballroom, Red Lotus Room, Flux Factory, Rubulad, and House of Yes are all outrageous spaces run by incredible people. Books Through Bars, Bushwick City Farms, Film Biz Recycling, and Boswyck Farms are really inspiring projects. The Brooklyn Brainery is one of the Brooklyn-est things I can imagine. [Editor’s Note: Oriana and I met at the Brainery in my How to Be a Connector class!] The Lost Horizon Night Market and the Idiotarod are the kind of ridiculous spectacles that make living here the best best best. All the spaces I’ve profiled are wonderful, as are the zillions I haven’t covered yet.
JB: What have you discovered about Brooklyn that you still don’t quite believe?
OL: What an interesting question. It’s not an original discovery, but I am consistently stunned at how much focus and dedication people have for their projects. Brooklyn is just teeming with people who spend all their time creating communities and environments and beautiful things, often for, seemingly, no goddamn reason at all.
JB: How do you find the time to stay current on all of the latest happenings throughout the borough?
OL: Well I don’t sleep very much, and I read an insane amount of emails. I’m subscribed to every mailing list it’s possible to be on. And by now all my friends know that if they hear about something weird, they’d better make sure to tell me about it.
JB: If you could pick a dream space in which any activity could happen, where would it be and what cultural/creative thing would be going on?
OL: I tried to answer this question several different ways, and I realize that each one became impossible almost immediately. Honestly, my dream space is here, now, being in Brooklyn where all these things are happening around us, and we can all take advantage of as much of it as we can handle. On any given day you can go to a quirky class or an outrageous party or a reading or a performance or a film or a concert or an art exhibit, sometimes several in one evening. You can move in and out of different communities, volunteer for different causes, create an avant family for yourself of dreamers and revelers and coconspirators. There’s really nothing you could want that you can’t find here if you look hard enough, except maybe a super cheap place to live. It’s the most inspiring place I can imagine.
Tune in to the latest info from Brooklyn Spaces by checking out the website (on which you can sign up to be emailed about updates), using the calendar to plan your week (my personal favorite), or on social media (of course! Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). Oriana is also speaking this evening about Brooklyn Spaces at Animamus Art Salon; go see her!
Photos by Maximus Comissar