Monthly Archives: March 2009

Our Local Reps React to the Proposed Budget Cuts

Last week I attended the Society for Clinton Hill monthly meeting because Letitia James was scheduled to present about the Mayor’s proposed budget (and Sisters of Mercy were scheduled to speak about their plans for the site).  However, schedules being subject to change, the SOM decided not to show up, but NYS Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries spoke along with Ms. James.  Here’s a quick summary of what I learned.  I should preface this by saying I have a very intimate knowledge of the City’s budgeting process, as I spent several years working as a budget analyst for the Mayor’s budget office and at a City agency.  As a result, I became extremely cynical about our local politicians because I learned firsthand how they grossly spin facts in order to appease the voting public.  To be honest, I was not expecting much from Ms. James or Mr. Jeffries.

However, I was very impressed with both of their command of our local issues and what appeared to me to be a genuine, passionate commitment on their part to the needs of our community.

Summary of Hakeem Jeffries’ remarks:

Income Taxes:

Although we find ourselves in difficult times, the middle class and the poor should not have to bear the burdens of the sacrifices that need to be made, and  he supports an increase in the income tax of the wealthy in this State (in opposition to our Governor).

MTA cuts:

The MTA has serious credibility issues, especially given that not too long ago they were found to be keeping two sets of books.  It is not a cost efficient agency, and the proposed cut to the B25 bus line does not make any sense.   The G train serves the neighborhoods that are showing the most growth in the City, and therefore should be maintained at current service levels.

Summary of Letitia James’ remarks:

The Bailout:

Disgraced AIG gave Barclays $400 million to purchase the naming rights of the proposed Atlantic arena.  ‘Nuff said right there.

Budget cuts:

The police department will not hire the previously planned 1,000 officers.  The 88th precinct is already down in staffing, so this will not help matters.

A reduction of 15 EMS tours and 1 firefighter from each fire company.  Also not good.

Libraries will be cutting hours and laying off 170 employees.  35 libraries will reduce hours to 5 days a week.  Museums and cultural institutions will be reduced by 20%, on top of a 14% cut that was already taken in November.  Very bad.

The proposed cut of the B25 line:  the rationale was for this was that the C line goes along the same route.  However, this does not help the elderly or disabled for whom it is difficult to take the subway (mayven aside: there are certain days when I’m tired or have a lot to carry when I wonder how anyone who is NOT absolutely physically fit negotiates the NYC subway).

Federal stimulus funds will only go for brick and mortar projects, which will help the construction industry but not the City or State budget woes.

Neither had a lot of time for their remarks, and there weren’t a lot of time for questions, but the audience seemed very receptive to and appreciative of their efforts.

Volunteering around Clinton Hill

This is the first in a series on ways families can make a positive contribution to our community through volunteerism.  Our fair borough offers so much to its residents, and here’s a chance to give something back to Brooklyn while teaching our kids to be responsible world citizens.

In celebration of the crocuses, tulip shoots and forsythia blooms I’ve seen emerging in the last week or so, this set of volunteer opportunities has a hooray-for-spring theme:

First off, the Fort Greene Association is sponsoring an initiative called “Green Fort Greene & Clinton Hill.” Part of this effort includes putting up signs that say “Do not place unsolicited advertising materials on this property” at neighborhood residences. Children and/or their parents can become block chiefs, going door to door on a block to get signs put up. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact info@greenfgch.org, call Marcus Attorneys at (718) 643-6555 or stop by 13 Greene Avenue. You can read more about Green Fort Greene & Clinton Hill at www.greenfgch.org.

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Also in keeping with our spring theme, a group called 21st Century Plowshare aims to “sow wildflower seeds on every single patch of abandoned soil in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed Stuy this April. By early summer, there should be so many wildflowers growing in the untended treepits, vacant lots, half-built developments and other tiny scraps of neglected soil in Bed Stuy that the whole neighborhood effectively turns into a meadow.”  This mission caught the attention of Bed Stuy Blog a while back (http://www.bedstuyblog.com/2009/03/09/the-bed-stuy-meadow-project/). I like the concept of a flower-blanketed Bed Stuy so much that I thought it bore repeating here.  If you’re interested in getting involved, check out www.21stcenturyplowshare.com.  And, come to think of it, there are some empty lots in Clinton Hill/ Fort Greene that could use beautifying too…

Or, you could combine community service, recycling and spring cleaning by making a donation to the Salvation Army.  Drop off is at 22 Quincy Street, right near the Broken Angel site.  Don’t forget to get a receipt—there’s nothing wrong with getting a little tax deduction while performing a good deed!  It’s open most days, but you may want to call 1-800-SA-TRUCK before heading over.

And lastly, now that warmer weather is headed our way, the days of stoop sales and lemonade stands will soon be upon us.  Why not help your kids run one of these and donate the proceeds to a good cause?

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Pratt Institute Green Week

photo by campra

photo by campra

This week, Pratt Institute holds its annual Green Week celebration. There will be several free events open to the public, including lectures, informational sessions, and giveaways. Especially of interest to the community may be a few events on Tuesday and Friday of Green Week:

  • Tuesday is going to be a FREE HELMET giveaway from the NYC DOT. This giveaway is intended to not only encourage more sustainable and green modes of transportation such as skateboarding and bicycling, but also to encourage keeping your own safety in mind. As good quality, well-fitted helmets can be expensive, the DOT has agreed to distribute and custom fit helmets free of charge! This may be particularly interesting to parents because children’s heads grow so rapidly that it often gets quite expensive to keep buying a new helmet every few years. Pratt will be offering all helmet sizes – including toddler! The giveaway is from 11am-3pm in front of Pratt Studios on the main campus located at 200 Willoughby Avenue. Anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent of guardian present to sign a waiver.
  • Additional events on Tuesday include: a performance by a solar-powered band, Solar Punch. They will be performing from 12-2pm in the same location during a ribbon cutting ceremony for newly-installed, student-made bird feeders and bird houses. Light snacks will be served.
  • On Fridays, both a Free Market and a Green Market hosted on the campus. From 11am-6pm there will be vendors from various local organizations selling green and sustainable foods. Adjacent to that event will be a Free Market co-hosted by In Our Hearts. This event will include free services, entertainment, and lots of clothing, canned goods, art supplies, etc. All participants should feel free to bring items of their own, and expect to find some treasures to take home with them.

For more detailed and comprehensive information about events going on during Pratt’s Green Week, you can visit the website at www.sustainablepratt.org/greenweek

Call for Music/Band Submissions

It’s no secret that our neighborhood is full of talented musicians, artists and writers. As a new CHB contributor interested in focusing on music and culture in the hood, I would like to start profiling local bands and music projects.

Do you live in Clinton Hill, Fort Greene or Bed Stuy? Do you have a band? A free jazz trio? A hip hop group? An experimental electronic noise project that incorporates the sounds of 60s Brazillian Tropicalia? I want to hear about it!

Send information, mp3s or links to a place where I can hear your music to justonesweetsong at gmail dot com. Be sure to let me know if I can post an MP3 or if you have a show (in the hood, or otherwise) coming up.

Frank White: Reincarnated

Good news – Frank White hasn’t left us after all!

I just received the following email:

Sunday March 29, 2009 5:00 pm EDT

For all things to grow, they must evolve.

This axiom has become the primary motivation behind Frank White’s transition from café to full- fledged gallery/design space.

Situated just a few doors down from our original location, we’ve streamlined our space and refined our mission to provide a creative outlet for emerging and established artists, authors, lecturers, brands, products, and events.

What to expect:

Exhibitions (art + graphics + product)
Film Screenings
Open Discussions
Fashion Exchange
Art Lessons (adult + children)
Intimate Performance

The space will also house the offices of Sun in Leo marketing|pr| events, soulwerx design/media, and RoaringBull Publishing and provide the following services: art licensing, Loft paintings, murals, publishing, brand strategy, marketing, P.R., and product design.

We extend our deepest gratitude and acknowledgement to our friends and family who have made Frank White an award winning venture and please know that although the waffles are gone for good, Frank White will continue as THE social and artistic destination for the progressive and global in Brooklyn.

Stay tuned to the spring 2009 re-launch and calendar of events.

Reminisce with images from our past: http://gallery.me.com/suninleony
Visualize the future.

Frank White Design Gallery
926 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
718.622.0840

I’m very excited to see what the new space will be like.  It did seem as though their strength was fun film, media and cultural events, so perhaps they’ve found their groove and are moving forward.  Though I wouldn’t be opposed if they decided to bring the waffle bar and the wallpaper with them!

Memorial for Bob Guskind

Several dedicated Brooklyn bloggers have been working together on a memorial event to remember and honor Bob Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge.  Details are now available:

A memorial gathering to honor the memory of Robert Guskind will be held from 2 pm to 5 pm Saturday, April 4 at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 4th Avenue between Union and President Streets in Park Slope.

Please RSVP if you can. (There is an opportunity to sign up to speak.)
If you’d like to make donations in Bob’s memory, four charities have been designated.
For updated information, please check Gowanus Lounge.
Bob, we will miss you and your enthusiastic dedication to the borough of Brooklyn.

Karaoke Wrapup

Thanks to all who attended last night’s karaoke event, and special thanks to Michelle at Mirrors for hosting us!

I think the best part of the night was the local blogger turnout:

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We also had some amazing singers, especially Kristin and Africa:

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Stay tuned for the next neighborhood blogging meetup…

PS011K's 2nd Annual Silent Auction

Working in arts/education I am reminded everyday by two things that NYC public school’s seriously lack: money and the arts.  However, something that makes any school better (and my job easier) is a dedicated P.T.A.

While walking on Waverly the other day, I noticed a poster on the door of PS011K advertising their second annual silent auction that is sponsored by their P.T.A.  Well, I decided to spread the word via CHB in order to help out 11K and their wonderful P.T.A.  Schools, just like everyone else right now, are feeling the hurt in their wallets and it’s evident when speaking to some teachers.

Recently, at work, I spoke to a teacher of a school that the non-profit I work for has partnered with for a couple of years.  When I asked her if they were going to continue with more programming this year she vehemently (and as new yorkerly as possible) informed me that they had no money and that I should call Bloomberg and ask for relief.

Anecdotes asside, here are the details for the event and it sure does sound like a good time:

PS011K PTA’s 2nd Annual Silent Auction

April 24th 6-9pm
Lafyette Presbyterian Church
85. South Oxford st.

Raffles, Food, Drink
Babysitting Provided
Live Entertainment

Wine Tasting by Gnarly Vines

$10 at the Door
$20 for Wine Tasting

REMINDER: Karaoke Night TONIGHT

Hope to see you all tonight:

Mirrors on Grand
7:30-ish

Karaoke songs are free of charge (unlike some of the major places in the city like Sing Sing).

karaoke_night

There are plenty of songs in the songbooks, and don’t be afraid to ask for a newer song that’s not yet in the book – my experience last time was that most current hits are available!