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.

 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

What to Do in Brooklyn this Summer?


Because of the coronavirus outbreak many plans and events have been canceled. There is so much that we are unable to do in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.  But summer is still here, kids still need entertaining and adults still need a break. Here, we take a look at some of the options for those living in Brooklyn during the pandemic this summer.

How about taking a stroll to a Farmers Market?  This way you will get the kids out of the house, be able to purchase some wonderful fresh produce and support the local economy which will be particularly welcome during this tough time. Many local Farmers Markets are following the government guidelines with their opening, offering hand sanitizers on entrance, encouraging customers to social distance and wear a mask. Check out: Kensington Farmstand, Prospect Park’s Greenmarket and the Hattie Cathan Community Market.

Talking of fresh produce, why not take this to the next level and take the family fruit picking?  Church Fruit Farm has a great reputation for a wonderful variety of not just the traditional fruits found at fruit picking places but also ones less readily available, like yams…and lots of them!  In addition there are many organic options and Kombucha on tap!

And if you really want to keep up the outdoor, produce and nature theme, take a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The 52 acre space re-opened just a week and a half ago and is ready for your enjoyment!

Yes it’s a hard time.  Yes things are unprecedented. And yes it’s summer and the kids are home and everyone wants to go out and do something.  But there really are many ways around it all as we have described above.

Monday, August 10, 2020

New Local Dog Park

 

There has been such a huge change in our everyday lives due to COVID-19 and all the restrictions that have come with it in the fight to flatten the curve. All of this can feel not only overwhelming but quite depressing due to the effect this has had on important social behavior.

So when there are new developments, they are even more welcome than normal.  One recent local example of this is the opening of the Kensington Dog Run. Located at Brooklyn’s Backyard at the Parade Grounds, local dog owners are very happy with the new area that opened in July.  It is particularly good now since there are so many dog owners in quarantine in the Kensington area (along with Ditmas Park, Flatbush and Windsor Terrace). 

It’s very nice too.  There is water on tap and built-in bowls for the canines a well as dog-friend astroturf – the first of its kind in an NYC dog park.  It is a project that has been several years in the making and is very good for community bolstering.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Walking Through Brooklyn


Follow ActionKid as he “walks through” Greenpoint from WNYC Transmitter Park to McCarren Park with comedian Tom Delgado who is also a tour guide.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Jayme Albin, COVID-19 and Infant Daughter Yoga Moves


Everyone is facing horrendous challenges from the coronavirus outbreak.  Financially it has resulted in severe monetary losses for too many hard working individuals; emotionally single people living alone are facing tremendous obstacles and couples in already unstable relationships are wondering when – or even if – their situation will improve. The elderly – a demographic already struggling with isolation – are becoming increasingly anxious and even more cut off from society at large, to name but a few.
And then there are our infant daughters and sons; the toddlers demanding even more attention from their overly-frazzled parents.  Some are “lucky” and are trying to work under unprecedented conditions; others have lost their jobs and are seeking new employment in an uncertain economy and have kids who are not in a structured educational environment anymore. 
In this article, licensed clinical psychologist, cognitive behavioral therapist and New York-based yoga instructor Dr. Jayme Albin talks about how yoga has helped her, her infant daughter and her child’s immediate circle of friends.  On how to do this at home, Albin gives the following tips:
“First, I find that working in small groups – coronavirus restrictions undertaken – works really well for little kids.  I’m talking your infant daughter and then maybe one or two (maximum) other friends in your immediate capsule. One-on-one is fine also but I've seen more success with more than one kid due to the potential for interaction.”“Second, you want to keep it as simple as possible. Don’t try anything too difficult.  Your main aim is to get them moving, let them enjoy music, let them do something different and perhaps most important – especially during COVID-19 times – let them giggle.  It’s less of a priority to get them to become yoga masters!”“Third, find a simple online video to learn the most basic yoga poses for children.  After that it should be much easier to figure out your own workout routine, based on what works best for your small group.”  “Fourth, smile!  I so often see yoga instructors who look downtrodden.  The power of yoga is often behind the instructor’s attitude.  Make sure yours is a happy one!  Good luck!”
While Jayme Albin got her training in Kundalini Yoga, she specifies that when it comes to working with kids – or in fact anyone new to yoga – a lot of it is trial and error; you have to see what works best for your audience.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Keeping Busy – and Safe – Over Summer


Summer is often a challenging time to keep our kids – and ourselves – busy.  This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic it’s even harder. But with an emphasis on maintaining social distance and keeping as safe as possible, various organizations and individuals have been thinking outside the box to try to make some kind of entertainment/events happen.  Here, we take a look at some of the examples.

On July 17, Kaskade is bringing REDUX 004  to the Brooklyn Village.  The following day, there is an opportunity – over a two-day period online – for virtual speed dating! And only half of you has to look good!  There will be a host to guide participants through the virtual event.  And the there is the Virtual Speed Business Networking event that will take place on July 21, between 7pm and 9pm offering participants a structured way to meet accomplished professionals in a variety of industries.

On July 23rd Kat Herzlinger will be appearing in Brooklyn (location to be determined) and on July 28, The Moooks will be performing from 10.30pm-1.30am at Brooklyn’s Primitive Heart, where they will be performing original arrangements along with classic Jamaican music.

It’s not an easy but we have to find some way – however small – of making ‘summertime…livin’ easy.’



Monday, June 22, 2020

Kensington, Brooklyn: What a Great Neighborhood


Kensington Brooklyn has always had a lot to offer.  Now it seems that even people not looking to live there – but to invest in property ownership – are catching on.   With its vibrant mix of different cultures (including Bangladeshi, Chinese, Latin American, Orthodox Jewish, Ukrainian to name but a few), real estate investors are seeing its potential and looking into developments.

And why not?  It’s a beautiful place, featuring a lake, horseback riding, baseball fields, tennis courts and more.  It is great for families, has good schools and a positive buzzing environment.  With a newly opened middle school (on Caton Avenue), more people are moving in.

This is great news also for local business owners.   Although on the one hand rent is getting more expensive, on the other hand, more customers are being brought in. and for residents it’s good too as with new people brings new services and a younger vibe. Locals say they love it due to the suburban and close-knit neighborhood feel that has been created over the years and is developing even more so, now.



Saturday, June 6, 2020

Coronavirus Chronicles: Keeping up the Kensington Culture


Although they are still having to “stay home” those in Brooklyn are not reneging on their commitment to local culture. Thankfully the annual DanceAfrica weekend from The Brooklyn Academy of Music is still taking place… and be even better and longer than usual.

Rather than a weekend in person event, it has been going on for three weeks already and will continue for another week. The virtual event has comprised of many dance performances, music events and culturally-rich sales in jewelry, apparel and more.

DanceAfrica was established over 40 years ago and today it has a large place in local culture throughout North America as well as the Carribeean, Europe and South America. New Yorkers have traditionally attended events as part of a reunion of sorts.

Some of this year’s events have been:

a)      Mikki Shepard talk The Early Years with Charmaine Warren, a dance historian.  Shepard was the producer of the original 1977 DanceAfrica event.
b)      Omar Victor Diop’s display of works.  This photographer from Sengal was a virtual artist in DanceAfrica four years ago.
c)      Dance Party
d)      Live Broadcasts with Tosca and Maria Stuarda

Friday, May 22, 2020

Affordable Local Housing

Thirty-seven affordable new housing units have been put in a lottery in the Brownsville neighborhood.  The eight floor building – known as Edwin’s Place – has set prices which begin at just $666 a month.   There are 26 one-bed units; 9 two-bed units and 2 three-bed units.  Prices are capped at $1,279 per month. The building – currently under construction – will comprise 24-hour security, a computer lab, garden, laundry room, storage for bikes and a workout room.   Architects are Robert A. M. Stern and Breaking Ground developers.  In 2018 the land became an LLC, having previously been an HPD. Housing unit applications must be submitted by July 8, 2020.

In addition, 10 days ago a lottery for income-restricted units in Brooklyn was launched. The two buildings have been earmarked to make up for those 100 or so families/individuals who have been on the waitlist in the Crown Heights/Prospect Heights neighborhoods. The location – 816 Washington Avenue and 615 Sterling Place is in walking distance from the Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum, the central branch of Brooklyn Public Library, Mount Prospect Park. The construction was completed last year. Applications close June 12, 2020.





Friday, May 8, 2020

Seniors, Social Distancing and Isolation: Finding a Solution


Social distancing can be incredibly isolating for everyone but especially those who are not able to connect virtually.  That category of people is often the elderly population, many whom do not even own devices that can enable them to connect to the rest of the world.

Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, that problem may be solved.  With a program that has received $5 million in funding, 10,000 seniors who live in NYC Housing Authority units will be getting tablets connected to the web.  Initially this program will start in Brooklyn and thereafter be in other regions around NYC.  As well as providing the tablets to the seniors, they will receive help through the phone to guide them through the process of becoming web-savvy.

This announcement was given as part of a larger approach to the fight against COVID-19 which includes walk-in testing for the novel coronavirus at these housing developments as well.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Beer in Brooklyn?


A little over a month ago, permission was given by NY governor Andrew Cuomo for stores to sell alcoholic beverages “for takeout from the licensed premises or delivered to the customer’s residence.”    According to NYC Brewers Guild Ann Reilly, the NY State Liquor Authority responded to the challenge COVID-19 is posing for these businesses and substantially relaxed takeaway, to-go and packaging regulations.

One such brewery is Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing which is “aspir[ing] to connect people to each other over good beer.”  Since COVID-19 is preventing that possibility within the brewery’s bars, they are still committed to their customers in their homes.  They can buy beer for “delivery, shipping or no touch pick-up.”

Threes Brewing CEO and co-founder Joshua Stylman reported that because of what’s been happening, he had to lay off the majority of his staff.  Those who remained took a dip in salaries.  The work that is being done however is same-day delivery in New York City and shipping throughout New York State. Pickup is also available.

The NYC Brewers Guild is now regularly updating their website with information on what local breweries are allowed to do in real time.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Local Eateries Partner with the LEE Initiative


Chef Greg Baxtrom of Brooklyn’s Olmsted restaurant discusses how his partnership with The LEE Initiative is assisting his working since the Covid-19 outbreak.



Kindness in the time of COVID-19


There is a worldwide crisis.  Coronavirus.  COVID-19.   Call it what you will.  But while we are all scared and practicing social distancing and taking care of ourselves as best we can, we are faced with a choice:  will we be kind or selfish?  Look at what we can do for others (while being safe) or make like it’s not our problem?

Here in Crown Heights, some people are really focused on what they can do for others.  One example is the restaurant, The Bergen which recently began giving out free meals to children and their families in the local community.  Thanks to Ty Brown who owns the restaurant, these individuals are getting food.  And while his business is down, he is able to give out this free food thanks to generous donations from local New Yorkers.

Initially the restaurant was delivery free brown-bag lunches for school children but once schools closed they found another way to help.

There is always a way to help. No matter what the situation. It’s just a matter of choice.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Generosity in Greenpoint



These are hard times.  Really tough financially, emotionally, physically and more.  But then at other times you get to see the true kindness, the selfless actions, the people – even though they too are going through their own set of very harsh challenges – are reaching out to others and saying ‘here, let me help.’

That is what local Brooklyn landlord Mario Salerno is doing. He owns approximately 80 apartments and has told his tenants (around 200 in all) that he is waiving rend for the month of April as he just “wants everybody to be healthy.”

One of his tenants described him as “Superman…a wonderful man,” relating how she has been out of work since she had to close down her hair salon.  Even though Salerno is taking a big hit he explained:

“it was more important for people's health and worrying about who could put food on whose table. I say don't worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family."

One of his tenants said she's been out of work since she was ordered to shut down her hair salon. "He's Superman. He's a wonderful man," Kaitlyn Guteski told NBC New York. "It's a game-changer."

Then there are eateries which have just begun offering “pay what you want” and free meals and drinks.  There are at least three restaurants offering free food.  Brooklyn Sweet Spot is one of them which is giving out free lunch meals to adults and children on Friday. A couple in Greenpoint is trying to offer some help to those restaurant workers who have lost their jobs by giving them free meals as well.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Getting Out and About


It’s a beautiful day so why not get out and about in Kensington, Brooklyn?  Get rid of some of your tension and head out for a beautiful hike around some local neighborhoods.

There are a variety of local companies offering guided hiking trails including Gray Fox Guiding, Salt Marsh Trails, and Dead Horse Bay.  Book these and enjoy an opportunity to bike, hike and even do some yoga.  Check out Marine Park with the family.  Kids can see all different types of birds, crabs and tons of wildlife; parents can go hiking and grandparents can just relax in the sun at this waterfront park.

For a really challenging hike there is the outstanding Williamsburg Bridge Pedestrian Path.  Allegedly designed with inspiration from the Eiffel Tower, the bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world and one of the last ones that was built to be used by horse and carriage.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Possible Construction

Constructing a new space in Brooklyn Bridge Park – at the Fulton Ferry Landing Pier – is back on the agenda.  Last year the project – under the auspices of Starling Architecture – was presented to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) but not accepted due to fears that it would block downtown Manhattan as well as the surrounding waterfront.

“My question is, what is different now?” asked Moshe Victor Keinig, a retired architect who spends a lot of time in New York. “Much as this new construction would give, I’m concerned about what it would take away.  Once you start diminishing the importance of historic landmarks such as these by accepting this kind of construction, you bring the entire stature of New York into question,” Keinig argued.

There has however, been one significant difference since the original proposal was put on the table back in April 2019. If approved, the structure will be able to preserve the current pier sightlines by using slimmer supports and eradicate the 11-foot-tall hydraulic window walls and roof system.
“I guess if Starling Architecture is able to commit to these changes then we won’t have the problem of the obstruction.  I also like the idea of the new white, yellow and green color scheme and the retractable fabric awning and central bar,”  Moshe Victor Keinig conceded.  “It is so  important for all cities to be able to maintain their historic presence and much of this is architecture,” he added.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Fresh Start


Many people make new year’s resolutions at the beginning of each calendar year.  That can often feature healthy choices. Here we see how various local community organizations combined their efforts “to get a jumpstart” by offering families healthy food options.



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Brooklyn’s Bash: Beer, Bourbon & BBQ


If you haven’t already gotten your tickets for the upcoming local Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival, stop everything now and do so!  Happening this Saturday at the Brooklyn EXPO Center, located at 72 Noble Street, this year is set to be Bigger and Better than ever!

Now celebrating an entire decade of festivities, the 10th annual festival has a lot on its plate this year.  Every guest (VIP or general) will receive a souvenir glass and bag but for the VIP ticket you will also get access to the Beast Cage and Shrine of Swine whereby you can enjoy whole hogs in each session.  As well, you will be able to sample 15+ Southern Style BBQ dishes in an unlimited amount until 2pm! Smoked meats include those that are less likely to be seen on your typical BBQ menu like: alligator, bison, lamb and longhorn rounds! A real meat lover’s treat.

In addition, there will be Brewmasters and Pit Masters’ seminars (at the Tasting Theater) and an opportunity to rock out to all the DJs. For all you brave foodies, make sure you take part in the Bacon Eating Contest as well. All in all, it’s a great way to spend an evening