north brooklyn

L-Pocalypse Pre-Show Countdown: L to close for 15 weekends prior to “official” shutdown

How is this weekend like Christmas? No L!

In fact, the MTA announced on Saturday, The L train will not run between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 weekends between now and April, when the agency plans to usher in L-pocalypse.

While North Brooklyn has been aware of, and preparing for, April’s planed 15-month suspension of service through the Canarsie Tunnel with a litany of enterprising, madcap solutions, commuters were entirely unaware of the MTA’s pre-show closure countdown.

Now, purveyors of L-ternatives will have to fire up their tanks earlier than expected, because the first of the 15 weekend closures will take place this weekend (from 11:30pm Friday, August 10 – 5am Monday, August 13th). 

The other 14 weekend closures will take place throughout October, November, February, March and April.

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What’s New For Maker Park

A rendering of the tanks, transformed. Via Maker Park

Maker Park, the proposed 7-acre waterfront space once home to Astral Oil Works and now within the larger scope of Bushwick Inlet Park, has been aiming to bring art, education, community and performance to the Williamsburg waterfront by adapting industrial infrastructure since 2015. Now, the team behind the reimagined industrial-space-turned-community-hub is moving forward with a whole new vision based on open dialogue, communication and feedback from the community.

Since their December 2016 design display for Maker Park, Stacey Anderson and Karen Zabarsky, co-founders of Maker Park, and the project’s Executive and Creative directors respectively, have taken the past year to listen to the community. Each time, they heard community members call for open space, and environmental remediation of the land.

Stacey and Karen touted North Brooklyn’s “Civic Warriors,” who have worked so hard to get the city to deliver on the full 28-acres Mayor Bloomberg promised for Bushwick Inlet Park in 2005. They hope that Maker Park will be one feature of Bushwick Inlet Park, which they aim to incorporate into the community’s vision for the park space as a whole.

Given the increased density that Bloomberg’s 2005 rezoning has engendered, open space is a paramount concern on the North Brooklyn Waterfront. In order to increase green space, Maker Park will no longer advocate for repurposing the  3-story brick factory building on the site, and will instead focus on remediating the 50-foot decommissioned fuel tanks that speak to the land’s long and sometimes painful industrial history.

The Maker Park team hopes to honor the community’s complex relationship with the tanks, and the industrial history they represent, while also reinventing them in “playful and contemporary ways” that will make them available to the community as a resource for art, education and performance.

The idea has successful precedent. For example, in 2017, the Mapo Oil Depot in Seoul, South Korea was repurposed as Mapo Cultural Depot Park; the site’s oil tanks are now used as exhibition spaces and concert halls.

To make sure our own tanks here in North Brooklyn will be a safe and sustainable asset to the community, the Maker Park team is working with environmental lawyers, scientists and architects on a preliminary remediation plan, which they will make accessible to the public.

Ultimately, Stacey and Karen said, they hope Maker Park will help transform the tanks into something “beautiful and green,” which will be “literally creating new life.”

For on-going updates on all things Maker Park, you can follow the project on Instagram @makerparkBK

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Traffic Study Meeting Thursday 6/7

traffic study meeting

For two years, the NYC Department of Transportation has been studying traffic patterns and issues in North Brooklyn. Now they are ready to release their findings to the neighborhood in a meeting where they’ll talk about planned changes and improvements. The meeting is happening this Thursday June 7th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, at PS 84 (250 Berry Street). See you there!

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Curb Your Enthusiasm: The DOT’s Traffic Study is Out

Study Area via The DOT

Two years ago, the NYC Department of Transportation began conducting a Traffic Study to assess street safety conditions in North Brooklyn. The study focused on issues like street design, traffic flow, public safety and environmental impact, and was funded by Councilman Stephen Levin’s office. To complete their findings,  the DOT solicited community input, and received over 400 unique comments and suggestions from North Brooklyn residents. Now, the DOT is back in our part of town with suggestions gleaned from the study. The agency presented its findings to BK Community Board 1 on April 10th.  Continue reading

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Vote For Your Favorite Participatory Budgeting Projects April 7-15th!

NYC Participatory Budgeting

The old adage tells us that “you can’t fight city hall.” Often, in New York, it can feel like it’s residents vs. the City, but sometimes, Gotham and its elected officials are on the same page. One of those times is during participatory budgeting, when “community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.” It’s a rare instance when the City Council gives New Yorkers “Real Money. Real Power.” to improve their communities. So get ready to wield that power, because the next participatory budgeting vote will take place April 7th- April 15th!

There’s a million dollars on the line, and you can vote for up to 5 projects that will receive the funds. The proposed projects call for improvements to schools, parks, libraries, public housing, and other public or community spaces subject to “discretionary funds.” All projects were suggested by community members, and the winners will be chosen by the community!

Out of 150 proposed projects, neighborhood volunteers whittled the choices down to 9 projects you can vote on, based on “equity, feasibility, cost, and need.” And it’s not to late to help out! If you’d like to volunteer as a poll worker, you can RSVP here!

Read on for your 2018 PB Projects and voting sites!  Continue reading

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Armory Week: North Brooklyn Artists and Galleries

Spring is approaching, and you know what that means- it’s Armory Week in New York! In addition to The Armory Show, the other fairs VoltaSPRING/BREAKArt on Paper, NADA, Independent, and SCOPE are happening all around the city. Our team at Greenpointers created a road map highlighting some North Brooklyn artists and galleries that will be exhibiting throughout the week, along with when and where to catch them. Enjoy!

March 6-12: SPRING/BREAK Art Show (4 Times Square)     

Hiba Schahbaz and her The Garden installation, courtesy of Greenpointers
  1. Hiba Schahbaz (Bushwick): The Garden curated by Field Projects; Room 2362; also exhibiting at Art on Paper with Sugarlift; Booth 417

    Carolyn Salas, Caryatid, no. 1, 2018, hydrostone and steel, 10×7 feet, courtesy of Greenpointers
  2. Carolyn Salas and Maureen Cavanaugh (Greenpoint): Here Now curated by Adam Parker Smith; Room 2370
  3. Brian Willmont (Greenpoint): Milk Thieves curated by Alison Sirico; Room 2374, and Human Now curated by Kara Brooks; Room 2319

    Alexandra Fanning and Kawita Vatanajyankur video installation, courtesy of Greenpointers
  4. Kawita Vatanajyankur: Rituals of Otherness curated by Alexandra Fanning (East Williamsburg); Room 2232

    Macon Reed and Helen Toomer, A Pressing Conference, courtesy of Greenpointers
  5. Macon Reed: A Pressing Conference presented by Helen Toomer (Williamsburg); Room 2221; Daily performances will take place at 1pm and 4pm

    Caris Reid and her paintings, part of Crystal Visions, courtesy of Greenpointers
  6. Caris Reid (former Greenpointer): Crystal Visions curated by Sarah Potter; Room 2364/2365
  7. Eric Lee Bowman (Greenpoint): What’s Past Prologue curated by Kristin Sancken; Room 2369

Continue reading

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Before L-pocalypse: A History of Transit in North BK

B.R.C.C. Crosstown Trolley, Via the Transit Museum
B.C.R.R. Crosstown Trolley, Via the New York Transit Museum

As the MTA’s planned 15-month suspension of L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan draws near, all 200,000 daily riders of the L-pocalypse have been asking the same question: how will we get across the river? Brooklynites have been asking that question for generations, and personal ingenuity, along with municipal planning, has yielded several answers. All we can say for sure is that this is not the first time aggrieved Greenpointers have been up in arms over inadequate inter-borough transit. I’m just glad we don’t have to take a rowboat.

The rowboat commute was the first in a line increasingly efficient methods of getting from Greenpoint to Manhattan that includes horsecars, trollies, ferry services, elevated trains, and the dawn and growth of the subway. Step in, stand clear and read on for a history of transit in North Brooklyn.   Continue reading

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North Brooklyn Angels Take Flight Against Food Insecurity in Greenpoint

The Angelmobile!
The Angelmobile! Via the North Brooklyn Angels’ Facebook Page

North Brooklyn Angels, a hyper-local, volunteer-powered, non-profit, mobile hunger program has spread its wings in the neighborhood. Built on the direct action of neighbors helping neighbors, North Brooklyn Angels is working to fight hunger, food insecurity, and poverty in North Brooklyn, and help build an equitable, diverse neighborhood. They have served over 16,000 hot meals since they began operating last June. Since January 2nd, North Brooklyn Angels has been cooking all of its meals in the newly opened commercial kitchen in the basement of Mount Carmel Hall.

North Brooklyn Angels is a small organization with deep local roots hoping to make a big impact. Executive Director Ryan Kuonen explains “The program was a dream of a Greenpoint old timer, Neil Sheehan. Born and raised here in a large Irish Catholic family, he has spent his life feeding people. He teamed up with local Episcopalian Pastor, John Merz, who was running a soup kitchen that was going to be displaced from its physical location. He has been a big part of Occupy Wall St & Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and was really motivated to be part of a mobile soup kitchen project.” Kuonen joined the project in 2016, and is the only full-time employee. Claudell Lewis, Alan Minor and Felice Kirby work part-time, and volunteers provide the rest of the energy, serving, cooking, and even driving North Brooklyn Angels’ beautiful blue truck, known as the “Angelmobile.”

The Angelmobile is a 40-foot food service truck equipped with office space. With it, North Brooklyn Angels hopes to “create a busload of hope, love, & nutrition, serving people hot, healthy meals at strategic locations around the neighborhood and providing a mobile office space for the many wonderful charitable & human service programs already operating in the neighborhood.”  Continue reading

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Volunteer Opp: Open Space Alliance is Seeking a Volunteer Coordinator

If you’re interested in North Brooklyn parks and have some time to dedicate to a good community cause, then this gig with the North Brooklyn Open Space Alliance might be for you!

The Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn is seeking someone to manage the growing group of generous, dedicated volunteers working to make their neighborhood parks and community better. The Volunteer Coordinator is a new position and is responsible for recruiting, training, supervising, rewarding and retaining the individuals belonging to OSA’s Volunteer Corps. The Volunteer Coordinator will help volunteers engage in opportunities that meet their interests. He / she will track volunteer performance data, and create program reports for the community, the OSA board and staff and its funders. The commitment is 10-15 hours per week. The role is ideally suited to a retiree or a homemaker willing to make a long-term commitment. Experience managing individuals and/or a team is required. Experience managing volunteers is preferred. Please contact OSA Executive Director Joe Mayock if you’re interested in learning more.

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Horrific History Lesson: Working Conditions at The Domino Sugar Refinery

Although the former Domino Sugar refinery on Kent Avenue does not lie in Greenpoint, the building and the firm that ran it, Havemeyer and Elder, cast a long shadow over local history. Having spent the summer researching the plant for my upcoming book The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King, it is hard to express how much suffering is associated with the refinery.

The plant, which was opened in 1858, employed thousands of Greenpointers over its almost a century-and-a-half of existence. Much of the reason that we have a Polish population today is because the refinery had a policy of hiring Slavic men, principally Polish, who could not recount to outsiders the misery that working in the plant entailed. They worked in horrendous conditions that we can scarcely imagine today. Continue reading

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