Meet Matthew Zadrozny. He loves the New York Public Library.
On Saturday, he spent five hours handing out flyers on the street and talking to people about the library—specifically, the NYPL's plan to renovate the main branch and sell two other branches, which Zadrozny thinks will be "a disaster." He was recruiting participants for the "work-in" protests he's started organizing on behalf of the grassroots Committee to Save the New York Public Library.
On Monday, Zadrozny ate his lunch outside the NYPL's main branch on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, a place he knows quite well. There, on the steps of what he calls "the most important building in New York City," Zadrozny was approached by Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the popular Humans of New York blog.
"You want to photograph me eating chicken?" Zadrozny asked. "Yep," said Stanton. "Well, if I let you, I need you to help me deliver a message."
Zadrozny knew the nature of the opportunity he had at that moment. He had seen Stanton's website. He knew that this photo was going to be seen by thousands of people and that it would be accompanied by a quote. He wasn't crazy about the idea of this photo featuring him eating chicken—"I tried to get Brandon to take a different shot but he really wanted that shot," Zadrozny said later—but he decided, "all right, well, if he quotes me, then it's fair." And Zadrozny had spent so much time advocating and organizing against the library's proposed renovation that the right words were on the tip of his tongue.