community

Have Your Voice Heard With Participatory Budgeting

Real Money, Real Power: Participatory Budgeting from PBP on Vimeo.

Cycle 7 of NYC’s Participatory Budgeting initiative has begun! And Council Member Stephen Levin is riding high after Cycle 6’s success in District 33. “Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.” That is, you directly decide which of the proposed projects you feel should be funded and the popular vote wins. Projects are funded until the available money runs out. That funding comes directly from our district’s “discretionary funds” budget. Council Member Levin put aside $1.5 million for us last cycle and he’s doing it again this time.

Community members meet with District 33 Participatory Budgeting Coordinator Benjamin Solotaire last year.

Earlier this year, 3,789 people voted on which projects submitted by the community they would like funded. The winning projects include bus clocks with live, up-to-date arrival times at 12 stops along the B62/B32 bus routes; a STEAM Lab for Samuel Dupont Elementary School/P.S. 31 (75 Meserole St); and upgraded electrical wiring at Monitor School/P.S. 110 (124 Monitor St). With Cycle 7 ready to begin, there are a few ways to get involved. One is to submit your project idea–here are some winning ideas from other districts (26, 34, 35, 36, and 39). It’s an opportunity to get creative and really think outside of the box. What would make our community better for everyone? To begin that process, you can email District 33’s Participatory Budgeting Director Benjamin Solotaire ([email protected]). Or you can show up at 6:30pm tonight for the first Participatory Budgeting meeting at our district office, 410 Atlantic Avenue. Later on this year there will be opportunities to present your project to the Participatory Budgeting Committee with the top projects being voted on next spring. Here’s your chance to make a difference in the District 33 community.

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Cat-Calling All Feline Friends: The Greenpoint Cat Club Meets Tomorrow!

stray catDo you want to help every stray cat you see? Does the sight of whiskers make you go “awww?” Well, you’re not alone! The Greenpoint Cat Club meets once a month at Archestratus (160 Huron Street) to discuss issues and solve problems on behalf of the feral cats of our ‘hood. You already know that many local residents try to help the outdoor kitties. Bowls of cat food are tucked away in corners all around our neighborhood waiting to feed the hungry masses. We’re a sympathetic bunch!

There are over 50,000 stray cats in New York and hundreds in Greenpoint, presumably subsisting on kielbasa scraps and other fallen Polish delicacies. One of the major problems facing our community is that when people move, they sometimes sadly leave their house cats behind to fend for themselves. This is cruel behavior, as domesticated cats are not equipped to care for themselves in the wild. The streets are very dangerous for feral cats, and the best you can do if you find yourself in the sad situation of having to give up an animal is to find them a new home. Muddy Paws (447 Graham Ave) pet store has adoption events every Sunday from 2pm-5pm and you can find someone there who will help you find the resources you need. Continue reading

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Showdown: BBQ, Takedowns & Cooking In Greenpoint With Jenn de la Vega

Jenn de la Vega, photo by Collin Clark

Baste it, taste it and tweak it again. Showdown is a cookbook about feeding the conversation along with the person.

This week, we sat down with Greenpointer and self-described “meat-head” Jenn de la Vega to talk about how competing (and winning) local competitions sparked Showdown, the cookbook.

GP: Hey Jenn! Tell us about Showdown.

De la Vega: Showdown is a compilation of 100 recipes I’ve entered into competitions. It’s not only about the ones that won. I think the big part of the story is the failure and journey along the way, building a strange cooking career out of competition, creativity and personal challenges.

GP: Did you always want to be a chef?

Jenn breaks out into a big grin.
De la Vega: Actually, I never had intentions of being a chef. Continue reading

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Coffeetalk: Meet The 94th Precinct Monday May 8th

Meet The 94th Precinct 5/17

Have you been feeling frustrated with Greenpoint’s local Police Department? Earlier this year, Greenpointers protested in front of the 94th Precinct following offensive statements the Captain made regarding the department’s approach to rape cases. And a few weeks ago, a woman was reportedly raped inside a port-a-potty on Banker Street. The location of that incident is right next to some warehouses, but within spitting distance of local bars Northern Territory (12 Franklin St) and Greenpoint Beer and Ale (7 N 15th St), leaving residents concerned not just about the matter in question but also for their own safety. At first, no charges were filed due to “inconsistencies” in the woman’s story, but then following community outrage and a candlelight vigil, the DA stepped up to get involved.

Monday night (May 8) is your chance to connect with the 94th’s newly established Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs), Officer Rivera and Officer Molina. Their role will be to engage the community and address concerns—and also likely they will attempt to placate the many fired-up Greenpointers, any of whom are connected and fueled by local message boards. Perhaps what has been most frustrating to residents is the seemingly poor communication (or lack thereof) from the Precinct when troubling incidents are reported both in the news and via social media. In short, let’s hug it all out. Or at least try to.

WHAT: Meet the 94th Precinct
WHEN: Monday, May 8th @ 7pm
WHERE: Greenpoint Loft, 67 West Street, 5th Floor
Food and refreshments will be served.
Continue reading

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3 Neighborhood Lit Events To Spring You Forward!

ArchestratusWomensTable_Greenpoint_Greenpointers_ChelseaFonden
Archestratus -Women’s Table

Despite the news of each new piece of horrendous legislation, it’s been helping me to remember that reading and writing are a form of social justice. April is National Poetry Month, and as celebrated poet Mary Oliver wrote in her new book of essays, Upstream, “…The poem was made not just to exist, but to speak—to be company.”

This spring, let your community be your company. Greenpoint is brimming with writers and artists who are using their voices to build spaces where you can share, listen, learn, and make a plan for moving forward; keep reading for three places you can join in the conversation.

Continue reading

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Friends of Greenpoint Library Meeting This Saturday 3/25!

photo via Friends of the Greenpoint Library
photo via Friends of Greenpoint Library

Did you know that the mural on one side of the Greenpoint Library (107 Norman Ave.) is the work of artist Leslie A. Wood, and its installation in 2013 was made possible by the Friends of Greenpoint Library?

Come by the library on Saturday, March 25th from 10:30am-11:30am to learn how to join Friends of Greenpoint Library. Meet your neighbors, plan special events, and brainstorm ways to support the Greenpoint Library and its community. A branch library can have a greater impact when it has an active and vibrant friends group. If you love your local library and want to be more involved then this is the place for you!

RSVP to the Facebook Event
Continue reading

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Struggle to Find Money for Holiday Lights Reflects Changed Greenpoint

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-10-28-39-pmDonna Siafakas, the owner of Peter Pan Donuts & Pastry Shop (727 Manhattan Ave.) and Nick Giannios, owner of The Greenpoint Floral Company (703 Manhattan Ave.) are two long-time local residents and successful Manhattan Avenue merchants who are trying to give back the community at holiday time, but they’re learning that things ain’t the way they used to be.

Siafakas loved the holiday lights that used to signal the start of every holiday season on Manhattan Avenue. She related to me how local merchants used to all chip in and collect money for the lights as a thank you to customers who supported local businesses. In those days, Manhattan Avenue business owners were locals with families and had deep ties to the community. Years ago a civic minded local Jewish merchant used to organize the lighting drive and collected the money, which most local store owners were only to happy to contribute.

Giannos and Siafakos have tried to keep the tradition alive, but times have changed and so has the willingness of merchants to fund the holiday lights. Siafakas said that she was shocked by the resistance to contributing for the avenue lights. She does not want local shoppers to chip in, and feels that it’s a way for store owners to show their love for the community; but fewer than half the businesses have contributed so far, and some shop owners told her outright that they would not contribute because they did not celebrate the holiday season. Continue reading

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New Women Space: An Awesome Place for Women

New Women Space - Williamsburg
Photos via New Women Space

New Women Space (188 Woodpoint Road, 1A) is an amazing new event space in Williamsburg created for women to connect with other women and build community. Founded by two women intrigued by collaboration and community—Melissa Wong of Up Speak, and Sandra Hong of Girl Party—New Women Space currently has a variety of offerings, and will be evolving to include even more.

“New Women Space is a response to the idea that women are asking for things. Women are amplifying their voices in the workplace and at their dinner tables,” says co-founder Melissa. Continue reading

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Sunday Snaps 10/09 – “Been Here a While”

halina
Halina, of Sky Flowers (164 Driggs Ave.), is originally from Warsaw, but has lived in Greenpoint and provided beautiful flowers at her store for almost twenty years. Of the Polish penchant for flowers, she says: “If you go to Poland, you will see beautiful gardens everywhere, it is part of the tradition.”

This week’s photo essay focuses on people that have been in Greenpoint a while and have stories to tell about it. Whether they remember movies at The Chopin Theater or when McGuinness Boulevard was still cobblestone, these folks are everyday guardians of the neighborhood’s history and traditions. If you are lucky enough to see them walking down the street, say hello, politely ask them about their memories of the neighborhood, and get ready for the best history lesson of your life… Continue reading

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Are You a Concerned Greenpointer Following the 2 Assaults Last Week? Join the Community Meeting this Thurs (9/22)

The corner of Driggs and Sutton.
The corner of Driggs and Sutton.

Last week, we received several messages from concerned community members about two assaults in Greenpoint. A possible rape that occurred just two blocks from McGolrick Park happened around 2:30AM on September 13th. The next day, a woman reported that she was knocked to the ground by a group of teenagers nearby around Driggs and Humboldt.

If you are a Greenpoint resident and are concerned about these recent events, we encourage you to join this Thursday’s (9/22) community meeting at the Park Church Co-Up (129 Russell Street) at 7:30PM.

The meeting description reads: “A number of violent and harassing incidents have happened recently around our community. This is a meeting to discuss how to proceed in creating a safer neighborhood, sharing concerns and brainstorming impactful solutions. We will not solve this problem overnight, but solidarity will help us to move forward.”

According to Gothamist, the details of the incidents are still “thin and preliminary” and DNAInfo reported that no rape has been reported as of Monday according to Pete Rose of the 94th precinct. That said, we as Greenpoint residents are incredibly alarmed by these assaults.

Here is the Facebook post that’s been circulating, purportedly from a friend of the victim:

“hello to my nyc community – I just ran into an old friend who had a beyond horrible thing happen to her a few days ago and I must spread the word. She was walking to the deli on Sutton street bt driggs and nassau, near mcgolrick park, and was attacked and raped by a group of teenagers who stabbed the side of her neck with a knife. She is beyond lucky to be alive. I haven’t heard anything or seen any signs around the neighborhood about this, so I am using facebook to spread the word. I know a lot of you live in that area, and you should be aware of this! Please be careful out there! And if anyone has any information that may be useful in this – if you have heard other stories like this in the past few months – anything! just let me know and I will pass it along to her so she can get it to the police.”

The North Brooklyn Community Facebook group was abuzz with this news. On Saturday, 33rd District Councilman Steven Levin had this to say:

Hi all, Just a quick report regarding the assault that was posted about by Amy Franklin on Sutton Street this week. I was very concerned to read about this incident on this page on Thursday night. I was in touch with multiple NYPD personnel on Friday, including the 94th Precinct. They confirmed that there was an incident that was reported matching the description of this incident. They also assured me that there are detectives conducting an investigation currently. That investigation is not concluded yet so they can't comment on any of the specifics. If you have an information related to this incident, please reach out to the 94th Pct. Detective Squad at (718) 383-8495 or the main line at (718) 383-3879. Also if you or someone you know has been the victim of rape or sexual assault, you can call the Safe Horizon Rape and Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7 at (212) 227-3000. From Safe Horizon: -You are not alone. -You are not to blame. -You do not deserve to be treated in this way. -You have rights. -You can get help. If anyone wants to share anything confidentially with me, please feel free to private message me. Thanks, Steve
via Facebook

The NYPD has an interactive crime map of the city you can view here. Again, it bears repeating that if you or someone you know has been the victim of rape or sexual assault, you can call the Safe Horizon Rape and Sexual Assault hotline 24/7 at (212) 227-3000. If you have information related to the incident, reach out to the 94th Precinct Detective Squad at (718) 383-8495 or the main line at (718) 383-3879.

We will continue to update as we learn more. In the meantime, if you have any tips or other concerns, please comment or email us directly at [email protected] (Erik), [email protected] (Megan), and [email protected] (Julia).

Related stories:
When Greenpointers Groped in Public Search for Recourse

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