Posters, street art and murals continue to pop-up around the city in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the signs in Greenpoint have their own local flavor.
A row of posters plastered on wooden boards near McGolrick Park draws a connection between Black Lives Matter and the 1980’s Solidarity movement in Poland.
At the top of the poster, the red logo for “Solidarność” (meaning solidarity in Polish) references the 1980’s anti-authoritarian movement in Poland. Underneath the logo is a black and white photograph of a person wearing a face mask, holding up a fist in protest. On the bottom of the poster the words “Black Lives Matter” are written in thin black letters. Since their posting, the posters have been defaced and torn down, but their remnants are still legible to passersby. For some Greenpointers, though, the meaning of the signs might still be hard to decipher.
Solidarność began as a worker’s strike at a Gdansk shipyard in 1980 and grew to become a massive labor union with 10 million members. Solidarność was also a social movement that fought against authoritarianism and eventually led to democratic elections in Poland in 1989. Continue reading →
The ever-evolving nature of Franklin Street hasn’t quite changed during our pandemic — if anything, the main drag’s gotten a little more illustrious. The jeweler Macha Studio has now opened at 135 Franklin Street, carving out a home of its own after being a member of the rich creative community at 67 West for years and years. For this Thursday Spotlight, we caught up with Bernice Kelly, founder of Macha who discussed the thrills and challenges of making a leap during this time, how she ethically and locally sources her raw materials, and what creations are most popular at the shop. The store is now open, but — per Macha’s Instagram — Zoom appointments are also on the table!
Greenpointers: Congrats on your new store on Franklin! When did you officially open there, and has it always been the dream to have your own brick and mortar?
Bernice Kelly: Thank you! We opened as soon as it was allowed, June 11 I believe for pick-ups. We had a bunch of engagement and wedding rings that were waiting for their prospective owners for months and, yes, I have been looking for the right space for quite a few years.
What a time to open a store. How have you and your business been during COVID? I imagine rather busy with opening the shop.
Right?! We signed a lease just before COVID came to light and I was determined not to give up on it. We had a quiet couple of months, but without that I don’t think we could have focused on building out the space. Thankfully that kept me sane. Continue reading →
The Watching New York candid street fashion series from Greenpoint-based photographer Johnny Cirillo is emerging once again from quarantine. Cirillo hit pause on the series back in March, much like the rest of NYC, during the initial pandemic outbreak.
Now that New Yorkers have adjusted their styles and outfits to incorporate masks and face coverings, Cirillo is back on Bedford Avenue observing the styles on the other side of the park for Episode 33:
Outdoor tennis enthusiasts in North Brooklyn will have to wait another season before the courts at McCarren Park are uncovered. McCarren Tennis Center, which pitches a weatherproof bubble over the public tennis courts every October through April, will be keeping the temporary structure up all summer, a representation from NYC Parks confirms.
The good news: Covered court usage is free. On the off-season, McCarren Tennis charges for court time, though this summer, access to the courts is bookable online, and free.
Typically, New Yorkers must purchase an NYC parks tennis permit for free access to six of the seven courts, while the seventh incurs a charge for lessons and clinics by McCarren Tennis pros, but in 2020, permits have been cancelled and all play is free.
The McCarren Tennis bubble did not come off the courts this spring, due to the pandemic pausing the construction industry. Once construction resumed, McCarren Tennis and NYC Parks mutually decided to keep the bubble on.
Is this indoor activity safe when so many indoor gatherings are still banned? Though gyms and fitness centers still cannot reopen, indoor sports, including tennis, have been permitted in New York State as part of Governor Cuomo’s Phase III of the reopening plan.
A “Say Their Names” memorial for victims of police brutality has popped up on the fence of 50 Kent park in Williamsburg.
Portland was home to the first “Say Their Names” memorial earlier this year and inspired similar displays throughout the country. A 50 Kent version features 187 portraits accented by bouquets of flowers.
“I wanted to put up the installation to continue bringing awareness to the injustices towards the black community,” said Joyce Kam, who organized the 50 Kent memorial.
On Friday, Mayor de Blasio announced the addition of “Play Streets” to the Open Streets program, which is meant for New Yorkers to have more space for recreation while social distancing this summer.
Play Streets will start to roll out next week primarily near NYCHA developments and will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. for children to participate in arts and craft activities and sports. North Brooklyn’s only Play Street so far is Humboldt Street from Moore to Varet Street.
The McCarren Park gathering will host a black-owned business night Saturday at 7 p.m. with local businesses owners speaking on their experiences in the neighborhood. A screening of the school-to-prison pipeline documentary “Notes From The Field” will follow at 8:30 p.m.
How do you have Brooklyn Charm without a Brooklyn location? That’s a question Brooklyn Charm (145 Bedford Ave.) owner and founder Tracie Campbell has been asking herself after making the tough decision to shut down her New York City locations amidst the pandemic. The biggest reason: New York rent is just too high.
Brooklyn Charm started in 2007 as an online store, soon becoming a brick-and-mortar fixture on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, a space to take jewelry-making classes and shop for jewelry supplies. The popular brand continued selling online, and opened stores in Japan, Copenhagen, Manhattan and Ventura, California, the home of Brooklyn Charm’s new headquarters.
“Things are quasi normal here,” Campbell says of the conditions that allow her business to thrive on the West Coast. The entire street her shop is on is shut down, so vendors and restaurants can display wares outside, and attract the type of foot traffic Brooklyn Charm thrives on.
Before the pandemic, sales at Brooklyn Charm’s Manhattan location in Chelsea Market were helping keep both New York stores afloat, but now, the multi-use shopping space is nearly empty of shoppers. “We had to close the Chelsea Market location because they weren’t offering a deal. We had pay more money for less time to be there. It’s a joke, paying rent in a city with no customers,” Campbell says. She notes that she knows of other businesses “shelling out hundreds a day” for space at the market, who are “barely making a single sale.”
“I didn’t want to put money in something I didn’t have faith would do well,” Campbell says. With Brooklyn’s slow decline in sales over the past few years, reopening the Bedford location would “financially destroy the business.” They could close, sell online and prioritize the Venture store, or file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The sunny West Coast seemed like the best option. She says that her landlord in Williamsburg had always given her a good market rate for the shop, and she felt well taken care of, but would need a 75% rent reduction to stay, way too low a price to ask for. Continue reading →
Isolating may be the overarching theme of 2020, and a new local business wants to help neighbors relax alone. Vessel Floats (101 West St.) is a spa specializing in sensory deprivation, isolation tanks. Each tank contains 1.5 tons of heated saltwater, so humans can easily float on top of it. The goal is for floaters to be able to completely unwind, feeling weightless without any external distractions.
A regular floating practice is said to help decrease anxiety, depression, lower cortisol levels (stress hormone), improve sleep, and be therapeutic in several more ways.
Floaters at Vessel have the option of a traditional session, which is completely devoid of light and sound, or Vessel Floats’ more structured audio journeys, which include sound baths and guided meditations. Controls inside the tank allow floaters to adjust the soft lights in the soundproof tanks. The tanks are full rooms with seven and a half foot tall ceilings, unlike the floating pods popularized online. The water itself is less than a foot deep, and it’s also safe to doze off while you float in the 93.5 degree Farenheit pool.
After a 60-minute floating session, guests can shower off, unwind in Vessel’s 750-square-foot, socially-distanced lobby or enjoy the spa’s outdoor seating with a gratis selection of coffees, teas, and more. Parties of up to four people can simultaneously book floating sessions, so they can unwind together before and after the solo experiences. All spaces are currently disinfected for COVID-19 protocol. Continue reading →
A new project at 17 Nassau Ave. aims to unite the community by offering free and readily available food items. The Greenpoint Fridge, which lives outside The Lot Radio, stocks fresh food for any neighbors who want or desire it. Food is provided from local community members and businesses, and volunteers from North Brooklyn Mutual Aid check in on the fridge twice a day to ensure it’s well stocked and sanitary. PPE is also provided near the fridge, so those using the resource can stay safe and protect fellow neighbors.
The Greenpoint Fridge is one of many community fridges stationed in Brooklyn over the past year. Kevin LaCherra, a North Brooklyn Mutual Aid coordinator, credits the anarchist organization In Our Hearts, for the inspiration. Along with many community members, he’d wanted to launch a community fridge in the neighborhood for a while, and once Champion Coffee donated the fridge and The Lot Radio agreed to pay the electric bill, a volunteer schedule and launch for the new project was a go.
Anyone can put food in the fridge, including restaurants who have end-of-day leftovers, farmers’ market stands with excess inventory or individuals who want to contribute. For now, uncooked meat and seafood aren’t encouraged, as they can leak on other fresh food and cause a potential hazard. The fridge has been very well stocked in its early days.
“There’s tons of ready made food in Greenpoint, that’s a big help to neighbors who can’t cook for themselves, or even people who can,” volunteer Manny Pokol says. “This time has been such a strain on our hierarchy of needs,” they point out, mentioning that even people who typically have the time and money to afford to cook meals, may appreciate the lifted strain every once in a while, and can, of course, pay it forward when appropriate. As a longtime Greenpointer who has struggled with food insecurity, Pokol feels the need for a resource like the Greenpoint Fridge in the neighborhood and notes that more may open, once space and donated fridges become available. Continue reading →
Summer movies in city parks seem like a distant memory, but several new drive-in theaters have made communal viewing possible in the wake of COVID-19. Now, Greenpoint Film Festival is latching onto the drive-in trend for the 9th annual Greenpoint Film Festival, which will screen 35 films between August 1st – 9th.
Films well be shown in the parking lot on Meserole Avenue and Jewel Street, hosted by Broadway Stages, and The Foundry LIC. The eight day event will showcase eight feature films and 27 short films. Special Guest Speakers and socially distant gatherings, which abide by state and city health stipulations, will also take place.
The line-up includes an opening night screening of the official Chuck Berry documentary Chuck Berry, the world premiere of before/during/after written by and starring Orange is the New Black’s Finnerty Steeves, the NYC isolation thriller Locked Alone, the U.S. premiere of wild grizzlies documentary Bear-like, feature documentary Microplastic Madness that follows Brooklyn kids as they face the global plastic pollution crisis, and short film American Marriage from Academy Award-winning Call Me By Your Name writer James Ivory. The full program is viewable on the Greenpoint Film Festival website, where tickets are also now on sale, starting at $20 per car.
Car ownership, or even a rental, won’t be necessary for those who want to attend the festival. Organizers have arranged for a row of parked, stationary cars to be available for those who need a vehicle seat. A dedicated cleaning crew will be appointed to consistently reset and clean between, before and after each movie screening.
In lieu of a traditional concession stand, Wilson Rivas Catering will provide food trucks. Bathrooms will be located outside the lot with a dedicated cleaning team servicing them regularly. Filmmakers and celebrity guests will be invited to participate in a drive-through green “red” carpet. Frontline workers are also invited to contact the festival organizers for complimentary tickets. Continue reading →