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Queens Courier — May 23, 2013

Kids learn lessons while building ‘Kitty City’ in LIC
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A group of children in Long Island City is helping create a purrfect city for the urban kitty.

Eighteen children have worked with urban planners and artists to build a small-scale city for kittens.

The group has met every Saturday this month at Flux Factory, an arts collective and nonprofit in Long Island City.

“It is the most adorable moment in contemporary art,” said Christina Vassallo, executive director of Flux Factory. “For us, it’s a way to understand an urban design class and also to help kids understand empathy and humane-ness in building cities.”

The exhibit, called “Kitty City,” has grown out of participants’ designs to take shape in tall structures.

The children, ranging from age seven to 12, have worked to include what they believe the kittens will need. The amenities include transportation, parks, housing, sources of food, water and clean sanitation facilities. One student even brought up the idea of a milk waterfall.

“The students want to do some wild things sometimes,” said project leader Douglas Paulson of Flux Factory. “In the bigger picture, I think it’s an introduction to civic engagement with talking about a city, what we want in it and establishing a common vocabulary of what makes up a city.”

The goal of the project is to teach children about urban planning and get them to face serious issues in a playful way.

Paulson said they have learned how to correctly use tools ranging from scissors to power drills. At the last building workshop this Saturday, participants will add final scratching posts, elevated platforms and kitty condos.

“I hope they will start to take an interest in how their cities are built and how they can affect positive change in their cities and just how to be good citizens,” said Vassallo.

“Kitty City,” made entirely of recycled and repurposed materials, is expected to be complete on June 1. There will be a ribbon-cutting event from noon to 6 p.m. at Flux Factory. For Animals, a no-kill South Ozone Park animal shelter, will bring 20 to 30 kittens to inhabit the city. Attendees will be able to apply to adopt the cats.

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