There’s a disproportionate number of Cleverhooders engaged in making a difference in the way things work. It may be just a coincidence but our capes seem to appeal to an extraordinary number of people with a positive rain-or-shine approach to life. Our capes cover a number of designers, architects, astrophysicists, planners and unusual thinkers from all over the world. There is a theory that clothes can make people smarter (embodied cognition), but we can’t take all the credit.
One (at least) Cleverhooder created a biotech cluster. While that may sound delicious to some, that’s not a synthetic nut log, but an incubator for emerging scientific businesses. In 2013, Christine Kovich and her partner launched Harlem Biospace. It is in the old Sweets Building but their confections now include antimicrobial polymers that keep your socks bacteria-free and such. The New York Times said: “For the neighborhood, the incubator represents a new front of economic investment in a place that for decades struggled to restore the economic and social vitality that defined Harlem in its heyday.”
“Harlem Biospace is located in an area that is full of promise. However, most students in the local elementary schools fail the Common Core Math and ELA tests,” said Christine. “Poverty and unemployment is high, as is recidivism. We determined that the way we could make the most impact is by launching an education initiative which aims to connect the community to the cutting edge biotechnology going on inside our lab.”
Tapping into their available talent, Christine and the team then developed HYPOTHEkids — after-school and summer programs for kindergarten through high school students. It’s proven to be a positive development. “Every student that has completed the Hk Maker Lab high school program has gone on to college,” said Christine. “Our objective is to help more students earn a four year STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree because a STEM degree is a ticket out of poverty.”
Community note: A student who completes a STEM degree will, on average, earn 26% more than their peers even if they do not go into a STEM profession.
STEAM the Streets is another program that’s blossomed from Harlem Biospace. It’s about getting people to talk about the science all around them. It’s not just happening inside a lab. “We are popping up in all five boroughs: at street fairs, DOT road closures like Summer Streets, public plazas, farmers’ markets, community events, etc. It’s a way of bringing HYPOTHEkids programming to more places in NYC,” Christine said.
Cleverhooders may appreciate that weather and climate is part of the curriculum in the Hk Summer STEAM program for elementary students. And high school students are designing solutions for global health problems and the impact of climate change. That’s good to see.
Christine is smart, active and innovative. Her rainwear of choice?
“I am an urban cyclist and the Cleverhood is always in my backpack,” says Christine. “It’s also safer for me to wear a Cleverhood (no umbrella) when I walk my kids to school. My hands are free and it covers my backpack and laptop. Plus my kids are wearing their Cleverkids rain capes.”
We have to wonder: Do Cleverhoods attract an unusual number of unusual thinkers? Or do we just meet more people who are undaunted by a rainy day.