north brooklyn

NYC Mesh Brings Internet Service Alternative to Greenpoint

(courtesy of NYC Mesh)

NYC Mesh, an alternative non-profit internet service provider, is hosting its first Greenpoint meetup tonight for those interested in helping to bring the internet service provider to the neighborhood.

The meeting and info session take place tonight (5/15) at 238 Franklin St. at 7 p.m., RSVP here.

NYC Mesh is working to bring what it calls quick and affordable internet, it works a web of wireless connections from a ‘supernode’ that connects locally to rooftop antennas.

The concept is modeled after the Spanish “Gulfi” service where equipment and installation come with a fee, but after that customers do not receive a monthly bill. Continue reading

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Vermicomposting, Dirty Circus, Elsewhere Rooftop Opening Weekend — What’s Happening, Greenpoint? (5/15-5/21)

WEDNESDAY 5/15

*DIY spring planter: clay hand building class @ Manic Ceramic (395 Graham Ave), 7pm, $50, Each student will receive a slab of clay in which they will be taught special techniques in pottery wet clay hand building. No experience necessary, Buy Tix
♫ AfroBeats @ Bembe (81 S. 6th St), 9pm, FREE, the best of AFROBEATS and GLOBAL RHYTHMS with live percussion all night long, More Info
* Intro to Vermicomposting: A ‘WORMshop’ for New Yorkers @ AgTech X (40 Bushwick Ave) 630pm, $29, Buy Tix
♦ DOOM! the show we are hosting @Muchmore’s, 6pm, FREE, DOOM! (the last improv team you’ll ever see) is hosting a night of variety performance, More InfoTHURSDAY 5/16 Continue reading

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The Settlement House’s Long History and Continuing Role in North Brooklyn

The original Hull House in Chicago (courtesy of University of Alabama)

Local settlement houses have a long and honorable history in North Brooklyn and they have served as a cultural and educational oasis for generations of local youths. Still, many people might not fully appreciate the historic and current role settlement houses play in our area.

Settlement houses first appeared in England in 1884. Several young graduates from Oxford and Cambridge saw that the working class had little access to education or to culture, so they opened the first settlement house and hoped to share their knowledge and culture with their low-paid, poorly educated neighbors. The idea quickly spread to America where millions of illiterate, or semi-literate, immigrants with little or no English language skills began to populate the nation’s cities.

Many middle-class Americans feared that these immigrants and their children posed a danger to American culture and democracy. Something had to be done to help “Americanize” these newcomers and the settlement house quickly became the answer.

In 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded the famous Hull House Settlement House on Chicago’s west side. Hull House served the needs of recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and it served as a model for approximately five hundred similar institutions that sprang up around the country.

Two settlement houses based on Hull House were founded in North Brooklyn. One was funded by Brooklyn’s richest man, Charles Pratt, on the ground floor of his model apartment building, The Astral Apartments, which still stands on Franklin Street and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The settlement house in the building ran a kindergarten, English language classes, home economics courses and civics classes for many of the newly arrived immigrants from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Italy.

The Astral in 1903 (Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Social Museum Collection): Caption states: “Greenpoint Settlement in South End, 85 Java Street. Settlement end of Astral Building eleven flats – for work of settlement Resident’s Apartments, fifth and sixth floors.”

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996 Manhattan Avenue Blights Street With Garbage Ahead of Demolition

996 Manhattan Avenue

As plans for a new mixed-use development loom, the existing building at 996 Manhattan Avenue has become a magnet for garbage and vagrants, according to multiple neighbors who said their complaints to 311 have yielded no action on the cleanup from the developer BHLD Capital.

The Huron Street side of 996 Manhattan Avenue

One woman who lives on Huron Street near 996 Manhattan Avenue said that she regularly sees people hanging out on the side of the building under the scaffolding, which received a summons from the Dept. of Buildings for lacking proper lighting. A second summons for the strewn garbage on the property from the Department of Sanitation was visible on the outside of the building on Monday afternoon.

996 Manhattan Ave. summons
996 Manhattan Ave. summons

“I called the developer last week and spoke to the management company and they said that they would take care of it but the garbage is still there,” the Huron Street resident said.

Huron Street side of 996 Manhattan Ave.

Jungle Cafe was the former groundfloor tenant at 996 Manhattan Ave. and has since relocated to 131 Greenpoint Ave.

The existing three-story building at 996 Manhattan Ave. is slated to be demolished for a seven-story development by BHLD Capital, who neighbors say is not doing their job to keep the site in order until work begins. Continue reading

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Dharmahuasca, PHYSICALITY, Mother’s Day Rally — What’s Happening, Greenpoint? (5/8-5/15)

WEDNESDAY 5/8

*Dharmahuasca: Buddhist Dharma, Ayahuasca, and Sacred Medicines @ Park Church Co-op (129 Russell St), 7pm, $20, learn about sacred medicines with the practice of Buddhist Dharma, Buy Tix
♫ The Dandy Warhols @ Brooklyn Steel (319 Frost St.), 7pm, $35 Buy Tix
♫ Delicate Steve with The Muckers @ Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway) 9pm, $15, Buy Tix
* Community Reiki (105 Grand St.), 7pm, $40 – $70, a monthly, sliding scale Reiki clinic serving North Brooklyn in the Community Room at Grand Street Healing Project., More Info

THURSDAY 5/9 Continue reading

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Greenpoint Oil Vapor Meeting Prompted by Multiple Complaints

(courtesy of Timothy Krause/Flickr)

A group of Greenpoint residents have reported smelling oil and petroleum vapors recently in their apartments and will hold a meeting this week with local elected officials and concerned neighbors to “work toward a solution.”

If you live in the vicinity of Freeman, Green, and Huron streets and would like to learn more or share your story a meeting hosted by the North Brooklyn Neighbors will take place at the Dupont Street Senior Housing Center (80 Dupont St.) on Tuesday, May 7th, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Both the city Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have been investigating the potential source of the alleged vapors and conducted sewer inspections in Greenpoint last week, according to Benjamin Solotaire of Council Member Stephen Levin’s office.

The agencies sampled the air at six manholes and found one manhole on Freeman Street that has evidence of petroleum product. Here are the full details: Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Sustainable Work Blooms at Greenpoint’s Flower Clvb

Flower Clvb at the Greenpointers Spring Flower Power Market
Our Thursday Spotlights often feature the multitude of painters, ceramists, and cartoonists in our colorful neighborhood. But Greenpoint’s cultural scene reaches far beyond visual artists, and florist Grace McDonald more than proves that with her small business, Flower Clvb. A sustainable, creative medium, floral designs are a vital part of many a celebration, as Grace below outlines. Get to know her work — and favorite flower — below!
Greenpointers: How long have you been in Brooklyn and where is your businesses based out of?
Grace McDonald: I have lived in Brooklyn since 2013 and I am a studio florist based in Greenpoint.

Flowers is such an interesting and lovely medium, how’d you get into this type of artistry?
I come from an arts administration background where my primary duties involve connecting contemporary artists with youth. Floral design combines my love for art, nature, and coordinating as I administer an experience for clients that brings out the full expression of who they are. Working with my hands and in a medium that grows from the earth is deeply satisfying to me.

What kinds of requests would you say make up the bulk of your business?
Most of my clients are brides, however I am beginning to receive more inquiries from companies who are interested in planning a fun team building activity or who need flowers for corporate events.

Where do you source your flowers from?
During spring, summer and fall, I try to source as much of my flowers as possible from local farms and supplement with beautiful blooms I find on the 28th Street Flower Market. There are also great local blooms at certain wholesalers at the market as well. During the winter months, I primarily buy from the 28th Street Flower Market or from a local wholesaler in New Jersey that is often able to find me blooms that are American-grown, if not local. I have also found the Union Square Greenmarket to have really incredible and affordable local flowers in the summer.

Are there any kinds of projects you love working on?
I love experimenting with challenging large-scale installations. I am always looking for interesting alternatives for installing without floral foam since floral foam is so bad for the environment. There is almost always a foam-free solution, it just might take a little time, creativity, and the hands of a great team.

One more question: what’s your favorite flower?
I absolutely love poppies. I love how hairy the stems are and how their blooms are often covered in little pods when you buy them. They are a flower that surprises you when they emerge from their pods and I think there is something mysterious and whimsical about them.

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Greenpoint Film Festival Returns Thursday 5/2 – Sunday 5/5

The Greenpoint Film Festival is back this week for its 8th edition with four days of film screenings — spanning topics from environmentalism to displacement and gentrification — and panel discussion with directors and local experts. Tickets are available here, along with the festival schedule which runs May 2nd – May 5th.

This year the festival kicks off on Thursday May 2nd, at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave.) with a 7 p.m. screening of “100/100” and “Rodney Dickson,” which invites the view to “look inside the studio, routines and life of Brooklyn-based artist Rodney Dickson as he works “along the edge” of art and seeks to push the boundaries of how it can and should be experienced.” A kickoff party will follow at the Wythe Hotel from 9 p.m. – 12 p.m.

On Friday night, a focus on experimental film brings screenings of  “Proliferation,” an isometric animation short, “Blue Reverie,” which presents commentary on internet personas, and “The Washing Society” an “intimate sociohistorical portrait of an urban laundromat using the people who worked there for decades,” from filmmaker Lynne Sachs.

The narrative feature “Doing Money,” kicks things off on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a drama based on a true story that tells the story of a Romanian Woman who is “snatched off the streets of London in broad daylight, trafficked through a series of pop-up brothels in the UK.”

The narrative shorts “Picket Fence” and “You Look Great” follow ahead of “Barney’s Wall” that recalls the life of Barney Rosset, “the American publisher of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, among hundreds of other subversive, radical and vital literary works.”

Saturday’s programming at the Wythe Hotel wraps with the documentary feature “Jacob,” that follows  Jacob M. Appel, who “is a recognized professor, doctor, lawyer, bioethicist, and published creative writer.”

Also happening on Saturday as part of the festival is the Pratt student film screenings taking place at Film Noir Cinema (122 Meserole Ave.) starting at 7 p.m.

The spotlight turns to the festival’s namesake neighborhood on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with the screening of a short on Manhattan Avenue’s Cato’s Army and Navy Store that owner Ed Veneziano opened over 40 years ago, and “A Letter From Greenpoint,” which traces Jonas Mekas move from SoHo after 30 years in the neighborhood to Greenpoint. Continue reading

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North Brooklyn Parks Alliance Hosts Spring Community Meeting 5/2

McCarren Park (courtesy of North Brooklyn Parks Alliance)

UPDATE: The meeting is being rescheduled: “Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this meeting is POSTPONED until further notice.”

The North Brooklyn Parks Alliance will host a meeting with local advocates and those interested in helping to support local green space on Thursday May 2, at the Park Church Co-op (129 Russell St.) from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

NBPA formed in 2003 with the purpose to increase and improve open space in Brooklyn Community District 1: Continue reading

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How McGuinness Boulevard Was Created

 

(via Forgotten NY)

Maybe it is just me, but I find McGuinness Boulevard ugly. Huge trucks and streams of traffic wiz by the four-laned, soulless traffic artery. The newer apartment buildings lack the quaint charm of many of Greenpoint’s other streets, but this was not always so.

McGuinness Boulevard (via Google Maps)

Once McGuinness Boulevard was not a boulevard at all, it was named Oakland Street; a narrow charming cobblestoned lane lined by wood frame 19th-century homes typical of our area.

Oakland Street would become a victim to a vision of New York City as a city of cars and trucks. The destruction of Oakland Street was only a small piece in the grand scheme of Robert Moses who built the BQE, the Tri-borough Bridge, and the Cross-Bronx Expressway. Thousands of homes across the city fell victim to Moses’ vision.

(NY Public Library archives – Greenpoint map 1880s)

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