Sunset Park BID starts ‘beautiful’ revolution
Business leaders encourage shoppers to take selfies with signs
Shoppers hurrying in and out of stores on Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park in recent weeks might have noticed new signs on the streets reading, “You are Beautiful.” The signs, which started going up before Christmas, are not part of an advertising campaign.
Instead, the posted messages are part of a new “branding” project sponsored by a local economic group designed to boost the morale of shoppers.
The Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID), an organization of building owners and merchants on Fifth Avenue, is encouraging shoppers to take selfies next to the signs to demonstrate the power of self-affirmation.
“We are encouraging local residents to take selfies of themselves under the signs as a way of affirming the beauty that each of us possesses; each in our own way,” BID Executive Director Renee Giordano said in a statement. “In a society that is always evaluating us or categorizing us, it is important for us to know how worthy and wonderful we each are.”
The BID worked in partnership with leaders Sunset Parker, a Facebook group founded by Giordano’s husband Tony Giordano to erect the small white metal signs in English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. The translations reflect the cultural diversity of Sunset Park, a community with large Asian and Latino populations.
The BID is asking shoppers who take selfies to share them on the Sunset Parker Facebook page, the Sunset Park BID Facebook fan page or on Instagram at #SunsetParkProud.
The signs can currently be found at three locations: 4706 Fifth Ave., 5116 Fifth Ave. and 6301 Fifth Ave.
The “beautiful” idea originated with Tony Giordano.
“Many years ago, I was at a conference. The group was overwhelmingly white male professionals, in suits, in their late 40s or older. A young Puerto Rican in jeans stood up and said ‘It is important that you tell others who you are, if you don’t, others will define you according to their own assumptions.’ Those words have stayed with me all these years. They are so simple and so true,” Giordano said.
“On my Sunset Parker page I try to build ‘community’ by having members share stories of the past. In this way, we let others know who we are and we learn who they are. But at one point, I saw a common thread. Through all of our differences, we want to be liked, we want to be appreciated and we want to help others. I thought it was important to ‘advertise’ or state it in a simple, clear way — ‘You Are Beautiful,’” he said.
The idea led to a discussion on the Sunset Parker page with members tossing around suggestions on the design of the sign.
Within weeks, the signs were ready to be unveiled.
“We are only putting up a few signs at first. We want folks to have a sense of discovery. We would like them to be surprised and interpret it on their own,” Renee Giordano said. “Hopefully word will spread and it will become a Sunset Park ‘thing.’ In the spring, we will follow up with small signs in the windows of stores along Fifth Avenue.”
Former BID President Delvis Valdes said the board of directors immediately saw the value in the project.
“When Renee came to the board of directors with the idea it seemed so simple, yet powerful and we quickly agreed to move forward with it,” said Valdes, a lawyer. “It is an important message of universal significance and presenting it in four languages acts as glue pulling us together as a community.”
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