The Originals

Ruth Sergel
2023 Fall Residency

The whole thing about ‘no affordable housing.’ This is it! They did this experiment in 1962. It worked perfectly. And they never repeated it. – Ira Glasser, Original Cooperator

The Originals is a documentary film based on oral history interviews with the original residents of Penn South, the affordable housing cooperative established by the ILGWU in 1962.

Two years ago current residents organized to preserve the story of Penn South through recording video interviews with the original cooperators. I was invited to collaborate in setting up the project and to create a short film. The story of Penn South is told entirely through the voices of the cooperators themselves. Collectively they paint a colorful portrait of the struggles and creativity in building a cooperative venture.

My work at Block House was to develop a distribution plan that reflects the social impact goals of our work.  Meeting with affordable housing activists, union representatives, labor organizers and progressive oral history practitioners, we brainstormed ways that the film might be useful for advocacy in their communities. The cooperators are a bold and engaged group who happily took advantage of the residency to try out different strategies for effective public engagement.



2023 Fall Residency
︎︎︎ Residency

2023 Fall Exhibition
︎︎︎ Exhibit

2023 Fall Open [Block] House Series
︎︎︎ Event

Institute for Public Architecture

45 E 20th Street Suite 500
New York, NY 10003

9 Nolan Park
Governors Island, NY