“I ❤️ NY” has become “We ❤️ NYC” as the city announced a new civic campaign to encourage community engagement and highlight the Big Apple’s most dedicated “do-ers” — including our very own Hell’s Kitchen Hero, Litter Legion founder Catie Savage.
Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and other elected officials gathered at a press conference in Times Square Monday morning to celebrate the launch of the initiative — which showcases the work of New Yorkers through digital and physical billboards from creative agency Founders that will be posted throughout the five boroughs. The leaders also announced a nine-month program called Spread Love NYC, created to provide New Yorkers with additional volunteer opportunities, including:
- An Earth Day kick-off of events in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks)
- Community cleanups in partnership with the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) across the five boroughs
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “MUSIC Under New York,” live-streaming auditions to allow riders to vote on which performers are authorized to entertain in subway stations
- Small business promotions and opportunities to support entrepreneurs, including “Shop Black” and a competition to identify the best menu items offered by local restaurants
When it came to highlighting New York’s most dedicated volunteers, local leaders like Catie and the Litter Legion served as a key influence for the design and content of the campaign, said Tanya De Poli, COO of Founders. “There were so many ‘do-ers’, but Catie was definitely one of the first stories that we were inspired by — it was an amazing story,” she told W42ST. The team at Founders hope that sharing the work of those who have already shown their dedication to the city will encourage others to volunteer (and if you’re seeking, opportunities, check out our list of where to volunteer in Hell’s Kitchen).
It was a sentiment that Mayor Adams echoed in his enthusiasm for both programs. “There are only two types of people on the globe: those who live in New York and those who wish they could,” he said, highlighting the city’s resilience through devastating events like 9/11 and COVID-19. “This slogan, this movement of we love New York is saying — we love each other and we love our country.” Governor Hochul agreed, adding: “This We ❤️ NYC campaign will help to capture that energy and preserve the city’s spirit by encouraging New Yorkers of every background to come together, get involved, and make a positive change in their community.”
The campaign is the newest iteration of the original “I ❤️ NY” slogan, created by illustrator Milton Glaser to help encourage city tourism amid economic instability of the late 1970s. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the slogan was revived as “I ❤️ NY More than Ever” and included in fundraising efforts for relief-related organizations.
Now, the “We ❤️ NYC” campaign hopes to encourage New Yorkers to take inspiration from the work already being done in their own communities as a reason to engage with their neighborhoods and give back. “We ❤️NYC is a 21st century version of the 70s campaign,” reads their mission statement. “Once again, New Yorkers are coming together to mobilize civic action and community engagement as the catalyst for a renaissance of the city and its neighborhoods. In many ways, the challenges facing the city today are more complex than in the past. The technology revolution has widened the skills gap, enabled remote work and disrupted basic patterns of urban life. Public safety has re-emerged as the top concern of New Yorkers, but with overlays of mental health, homelessness and racial justice issues that make solutions difficult. Whereas the city was a bargain in the 80s, today it is unaffordable for many current and would-be New Yorkers. Together, ‘WE’ can tackle these challenges and demonstrate, once again, that this is the greatest city in the world.”
It’s all a part of sharing what New Yorkers have already accomplished, and what progress can be made if more join in to help each other, said Mayor Adams. “That’s what this movement is about. New York. It is reining our spirit. When we start volunteering at a soup kitchen, like I do every Wednesday night at 9pm and help fellow New Yorkers who are homeless or don’t have a meal — it’s the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. When you are going through a difficult moment, one hour a week [of volunteering] with 8.5 million New Yorkers would turn around this entire city.”
And just before Anna Uzele — star of the new musical New York, New York set to open this spring in Times Square — got up to sing the city’s most well-known anthem of grit, determination, and resiliency, Adams emphasized the need to work together as a community to help each other. “When you donate time to each other, you are donating into the social bank of life, and you will be able to join the equity when you need it,” said Adams. “We took the ‘I’ out of ‘I ❤️ New York’ and we brought the ‘We’ in — because we’re in this together.”