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Brooklyn Public Library holds a free version of the Met Gala called the People's Ball

Fashion and flair for everyone.

met gala people ball
Upworthy Photo Library

Something tells us Emma Watson would approve of this party.

Ah, the Met Gala. It’s the kind of fairy-tale ball Cinderella might find herself sneaking into, especially if the prince she seeks is into high fashion.

brooklyn library peoples ballHello stranger. Is that Armani?Giphy

Where, for a measly $35,000 (according to The Evening Standard) one can gaze upon celebrities walking the red carpet in outlandish ensembles both beautiful and bizarre. Some even come with a bonus political statement, free of charge.

That is, one could, if one were already on the guest list. The event is of course ultra-exclusive and by invitation only. Hence, why Cinderella has to go in disguise. Glass slippers and all.

But what if Cinderella was not only allowed to attend the ball, but allowed to attend for free?

At the Brooklyn Public Library, she can. Along with other New Yorkers.

(Yes, in this metaphor, Cinderella is from Long Island.)


On May 1, the night before the Met Gala, the Brooklyn Public Library will debut its third annual People’s Ball, described on its website as a “celebration of style, imagination, freedom, and you!”

The rules of the People’s Ball are quite simple. One, RSVP. Two, provide proof of vaccination. And three, “dress up in clothes that make you feel your most beautiful and authentic and walk the runway.” Basically, anything fancy and creative goes.

Where perusing through celebrity glamour shots can be entertaining, the People’s Ball aims to create a more immersive, accessible experience. One where everybody can celebrate their own individuality while walking their own runway.

The ball will also commemorate the BPL’s 125th anniversary and be hosted by authors Isaac Fitzgerald (known for his children’s book “How to Be a Pirate”) and Scaachi Koul (a senior culture writer for BuzzFeed News).

And talk about out-of-this-world entertainment: Guests will get to hear music from Rimarkable and Inyang Bassey along with viewing amazing modern-day circus acts from Opera Gaga and Paris the hip-hop juggler. Who even needs the Met Gala?

In many ways the BPL’s People’s Ball has extracted the very best parts of what the Met has to offer—the artistry, the fanfare, the glitz—and infused more humanity into it by tossing out the VIP list and opening it to everyone.

As the BPL’s Vice President of Arts and Culture László Jakab Orsós would gladly let us know, this is all part of the library’s inherent design.

“Brooklyn is home to some of the most diverse communities on the planet,” he told Public. “Over the past 125 years, Brooklyn Public Library has always been committed to embracing our incredible Brooklyn community. This event is a celebration of the best that Brooklyn has to offer.”

The BPL has led projects to honor that diversity and encourage more inclusion since its inception, including giving young adults and teenagers free access to banned books and providing healthcare programs and weekly adult learning classes.

A party where everyone is welcome, you get to dress up, dance, listen to cool music and be surrounded by books?! Dreams really do come true.

If you want to see what killer looks everybody sports at this shindig, you can check out the library’s Instagram page here.

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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This validates my burn out, right? #momtok #momsoftiktok #sahm #boymom #toddlermom #toddlersoftiktok #3under5

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