Sunday, January 3, 2021

Brooklyn 2021


Let’s face it.  2020 was a wash out.  The good news is we can only go up right?  Brooklyners – like the rest of the world – missed out on so many great things but hopefully 2021 will be a lot better. And we’ll probably appreciate it a lot more as well.

In 1968 the first black woman (from Brooklyn) was elected to the House of Representatives.  2021 will see a monument going up in the area.  Shirley Chisholm will be recognized for eternity in the local park where she has been honored.  Local artists artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous have been chosen to design the monument for Prospect Park’s Parkside Entrance.

There is some more good news vis-à-vis rezoning.  Thanks to the emergency order issued by Mayor de Blasio the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (used to review and process public land use) was halted in March.  The two re-zonings currently in process are Brooklyn’s Gowanus and Manhattan’s SoHo and NoHo.  It is hoped these will be certified and that the ULURP process will begin this month.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Building Botanics in Brooklyn

Botanical gardens come in all shapes and sizes.  That is obvious from Brooklyn.  One just has to take a look at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which has been in existence for over a century and spans 52 acres.  But botanical gardens need not be so big actually as Raphael Steinberg of Raphael Steinberg Landscaping has encountered in his work.  One of the main criteria for a gardener to consider in the initial planning is sizing but so much can be done within all shapes and sizes.  It is just a matter of correct planning.  Is the area they have to work with merely a small patch of a rooftop garden, a large industrial space or something in between?

What are botanical gardens exactly?  The dictionary definition is “an establishment where plants are grown for display to the public and often for scientific study.”  Education through experience within a botanical garden setting is a wonderful way for kids (and adults) to become familiar with greenery and plant life.

“What I really enjoy when clients request a botanical garden is the amount of leeway that is available.  Such gardens provide so much Zen for the client, as well as a natural education for those curious enough to ask,” Raphael Steinberg explained.

Botanical gardens are far from new. In fact, they have been around since about the 16th century.  Initially they were used for medicinal and research purposes.  Today though the more common uses are educational, as a sanctuary and a space to create new plant life. Botanical gardens are often found in community centers, offering locals the chance to view stunning ornamental plants arranged in a way which depicts special relationships.  Before a landscape gardener designs one, they need to be aware of the main purpose of the client.  Some ideas include: the preservation of a collection; an exhibition or a private Zen area.

Whatever you decide to do ultimately, it is important to consult with a professional landscaper who has had experience in the design, building and maintenance over some years of a botanical garden and has examples to show you.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Gaming Fundraiser Comes to Bushwick

There hasn’t been much opportunity for fun in Brooklyn over recent months.  But now, Bushwick bar Wonderville has managed to jump through the coronavirus restrictions to offer a virtual gaming fundraiser this coming Sunday.

Starting at 12 on December 20, the games will be available until midnight and will stream on Twitch in conjunction with Death by Audio, a nonprofit organization partnering in the game-a-thon fundraiser.  Also featuring at the event will be Minecraft customized live concert streaming, game developer interviews and much more. Brooklyn state senator Julia Salazar is also due to make an appearance.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The David Prize Recipients

 Two Brooklyners received the  David Prize.  Established in 2000, this prize – awarding $200,000 to each winner – is a “celebration of individuals and ideas to create a better, brighter New York City.”

It was Dr. Suzette Brown – a pediatrician and COO at Strong Children Wellness and Domingo Morales who learned about composting from his work at Green City Force – both hailing from Brooklyn who received the grants.  Brown has been working on ways to bolster the healthcare system and Morales on sustainable composting in disadvantaged communities.

Brown’s organization has been implementing her healthcare system approach of “reverse integration” which has resulted in the provision of a “one stop shop for kids and families where not only can they get their physical needs met and their primary health care needs met, but they can also benefit from a range of social services.” She was inspired to do this when she worked with a single homeless mom trying to escape her domestic violent situation without any support. Trying to navigate the social services system during such a challenging time is close to impossible and with the additional coronavirus situation, things became even worse.

Morales has been through the system himself, having grown up in foster care.  He is seeking to increase sustainability in Brooklyn and at the same time, help less advantaged communities. The grant he receives will be put toward the establishment of composting sites, and the creation of educational opportunities.  He explained:

“For the communities that don’t have the resources to pay, the idea is to just build them the best compost system that they can have and then figure out how we can work other forms of sustainability into that site.” 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Escaping at Home

While the coronavirus continues to ravage our lives, we take a look at one educational and relaxing way you can escape the craziness in the comfort (and safety) of your own home…reading!

Thanks to funding from the Greenpoint Community Environment Fund, a new local library has opened.  The Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center is offering a socially-distanced service for all locals. The Brooklyn Public Library leadership has engaged in the renovation of all of the libraries.  Over the next five years, it is hoped that at least a third of them will be redeveloped.

But meanwhile, thanks to the fantastic architectural work of SCAPE as well as the design from Marble Fairbanks, what is on offer is phenomenal.  Double in size of its predecessor, the 15,000 sq. ft library has both an indoor and an outdoor space along with a grab-and-go service to limit the spread of the coronavirus.  According to CEO and President of the Brooklyn Public Library Linda E. Johnson:

"The new Greenpoint Library models the enormous potential of public libraries in the 21st century. With the help of our partners, from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to Marble Fairbanks, we created a space for everyone in the community that is as inspiring as it is versatile. In 2020, in Brooklyn and beyond, we need more libraries like this one: that make vital knowledge and beautiful design accessible to all, that empower people from all walks of life to come together and build a more sustainable, more just world."

Monday, October 12, 2020

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Pre-pandemic you had normalcy in the restaurant business. Pablo Rojas and his partner Roxanna Mejia were both working in their fields; one roasting chickens and the other baking breads in local eateries. Then COVID-19 came and everything went sour. They were determined that they would not follow suit and started going back to their Mexican roots vis-à-vis a culinary tour.

Fast forward (not too many months) to the creation of  Gastronomy Underground.  Featuring Condesa Brunch Sunday, Taco Tuesday, Date Night Friday and so much more the establishment offers free delivery to Central Brooklyn, Downtown, West Brooklyn and South of Prospect Park, with aims to expand in the near future.

And what makes the duo such culinary experts?  They come from different regions in Mexico, broadening the scope and taste of the Mexican cuisine they create.  They want their clients to be able to truly experience the food culture’s diversity which often operate underground and are not known widespread.  There is such a scape between “the newly established fine dining scene [and] the unregulated street stalls.”  And in terms of the actual food the due believe that:

The dichotomy found in Central Mexican Cuisine and the Mexican Northern Kitchen is best embodied in our creative team and delivered right to your home.”

They will also try to combine their Mexican cuisine with other food cultures, fusing the influence of one with the other in an attempt to “redefine the cuisine of a conquered nation and explore its conflicts while also honoring our Pre-hispanic roots and traditions.”

Friday, September 25, 2020

Like Music to their Ears…


A new school has been setup that will begin student enrollment in the fall of 2021. The school – entirely focused on entertainment and sports – is called Roc Nation School of Music, Sports & Entertainment.  It is a conglomeration of Long Island University-Brooklyn and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

Students who wish to participate in this unprecedented venture will be able to choose from undergraduate degrees in music; music technology, entrepreneurship and production; and sports management.  According to Roc Nation CEO, Desiree Perez:

“Pursuing higher education is an investment in one’s future. This partnership, envisioned alongside [LIU President Kimberly] Cline, is a true investment in our community and young people in Brooklyn, in New York City and beyond. We’re excited that the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports & Entertainment will provide unique insight, knowledge, and experiences for students and introduce the world to the next generation of unmatched talent.”

Twenty-five percent of students will be eligible for a Roc Nation Hope Scholarship.