Meet the Turkish Immigrants of South Brooklyn: Experience the culture and taste of Turkey

By Yasin Akdag |

According to the World Population Review, New York City is home to the second-largest number of Turkish residents in the United States, amounting to 33,686 individuals or 0.17% of the state’s population. (Who beats us? New Jersey.) In South Brooklyn, you will see neighborhoods with tight-knit Turkish communities. This is especially true for Sheepshead Bay, which is packed with tempting Turkish bakeries and restaurants that will entice you to visit.

The major migration waves of Turks to America began in 1820 and lasted up until through 1970’s, with migration still happening today. Modern Turks are known to be influenced by Western culture, with economic and educational opportunities motivating them to emigrate to the United States.

Here are just two Turkish restaurants of note:

Safir Bakery & Cafe

Photo by Yasin Akdag.

Safir Bakery & Cafe, located on Kings Highway, is the perfect place to sample Turkish cuisine. Hatice Sirin, who is the manager of Safir Bakery & Cafe, welcomes you to try their Turkish delicacies. “American people like our breakfast items and also the dessert is more than 15 or 20 kinds of baklava pistachio, walnut, and hazelnut kinds,” she says. Turkish baklava goes perfectly together with a cup of Turkish tea. Feel like a king or queen while devouring an Ottoman-themed royal breakfast.

New York City’s Turkish community is growing and continues to grow, especially on and around Kings Highway. Hatice is the perfect example of a Turkish migrant who came to the area, intending to contribute to society, and started working at the bakery when it first opened 6 years ago. Having arrived here 17 years ago, she believes that in the Turkish community of Brooklyn, everyone is looking out for each other: “Yes, everybody likes each other, everybody helps each other…Our neighborhood is very quiet and clean and safe. [There are] many Turkish restaurants, Turkish markets, Turkish cafeterias–like us,’’ she says.

One regular Safir customer, Eyip Cowen, often visits accompanied by his cute puppy named Harley. Cowen, who was born in Mersin, Turkey and grew up in London, has been in New York for 40 years and found success by importing women’s shoes from abroad. He travels back and forth every day to his Manhattan office, on Fifth Avenue. He makes sure to stop by Safir Bakery & Cafe for the freshly made food and hospitable staff.

Cowen argues that Turks flock to South Brooklyn because family leads them there: “People grow their community, the community grows. It grows by family. If you have family here, then you come to join the family and it grows. If you don’t have family, you’re not gonna come. That’s what draws you here. Not just being Turkish, but if you have a family.”

Beyti Turkish Kebab

If we head farther south to Brighton Beach, the atmosphere changes noticeably. This area is known as Little Odessa for its noticeable Russian population, but Turkish restaurants and shops are also prevalent. The beach and lively shops and restaurants make for an attractive summer destination.

Here you will meet Sadik Cicek, who brought his cooking culture with him from Hatay, Turkey and owns the restaurant Beyti Turkish Kebab. Sadık used to work for a family in Saudi Arabia as a cook for 10 years, from 1991-2001, and then his partner moved to New York City to study for 4 years and brought Cicek with him. Upon completion of his Master’s, his partner returned to his country, while Cicek chose to stay here. He has been in the States since 1997 because he saw opportunities and wanted to achieve his American dream.

By 2010, Cicek saved up enough money to open up his own restaurant, and then he brought his family here in 2011. Cooking has been a tradition in his family for generations and customers love his authentic Turkish touch.

“What I learn from my city, I make here the same way,” he says. “I didn’t change it. That’s why my customers like my food.”

In 2023, Turkey was the victim of a major earthquake, where more than 50,000 people lost their lives. The ground swallowed entire cities across southeast Turkey, affecting 11 Turkish provinces.

Unfortunately, Cicek’s city, Hatay was among the provinces that took a hard hit.

“After 2023, my city had an earthquake and many people died,” Cicek says. “I lost 45 people I knew, mostly my friends.”

Turkish politics have also driven more Turks to leave the country. Some choose South Brooklyn as their new home. The aforementioned are only two of the many Turkish businesses that make up the Turkish community in South Brooklyn. Come visit and explore more.

Photo by Yasin Akdag.


Functional Sculptures: Interview with Artist Cec LePage

By Meagan J. Meehan |

Sculptor Discusses the Nature of Art and Design

Cec LePage was born in Canada and since the early 1980s, New York City has been her home. In her Bushwick studio she creates artwork that is both decorative and functional. Decorative vases and candle holders rendered in vibrantly-colored Lucite are Cec’s unique and signature approach to the material, yet she also creates sculptural artworks for gallery exhibitions and charity events such as Postcards from the Edge, which is hosted annually by the Visual AIDS charitable organization. Cec has always been driven to express herself visually and gleams inspiration from life. Feelings and emotions—both pleasurable and devastating—inspire her to create mixed-media work which seamlessly combines detailed painting with sculptural elements.

Cec recently discussed her work and career via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in art and which artists are your biggest influences?

Cec LePage (CL): My creative juices started at a very young age. I don’t recall a moment when I wasn’t busy entertaining myself with art supplies or making do with what was in front of me.

One time in particular held significance and resulted as the catalyst to my path. My father turned up one day with a 4×8 foot slate blackboard he acquired from a school renovation and he made it clear that I was to draw on this surface only and not the walls. I was so overcome with joy that the walls of which he spoke were immediately forgotten. I think I was 3 1/2 years old. Artists that have made an impact on me are wide ranging from The Surrealist to Early Christian encaustic portraits done by Anonymous. Too many artists move me to name one in particular. I love art that gives me breath, a painting or sculpture film or dance that pulls me in has an exit for the takeaway.

MM: You moved to New York in the 1980s…how was the art scene back then different from the scene today?

CL: New York in the eighties served up an ocean of opportunities, collaborations. The nightlife was extreme and obscure in the offerings from the creative approach mailed invitations and themes, a lot of themes and it was an affordable decade somehow, we could do it all. Places like Canal Street were chock filled with unusual stores which sparked fashion trends to countless options of material to build with. Canal Street Surplus launched a plethora of possibilities let alone countless carriers.  It was definitely a favorite as on could find anything there in limited amounts and the unique stock was constantly changing. And of course, Canal Street Plastic was my favorite where I had the run of the place, an open credit line and was allowed to use their equipment, which would be unheard of today. It was a time where on a dreary summer night the rain blended with the soothing sound of Saxophone being played from an open window, echoing through the cobblestone streets of SOHO. It was an intense time it was a time of love and melancholy it was a time of great creativity and a time of great loss. AIDS hit the likes of a squall at sea, drowning so many beautiful creative people and scaring our lives. It changed all of us, AIDS changed NYC.

MM: Your studio is in Brooklyn, so how does the borough influence your creativity?

CL: Always being a Manhattan Island girl where art studios became smaller and unaffordable, I found myself in beautiful industrial Bushwick with a view of the Newtown Creek and its constant avian flight, from sea gulls to geese to ducks even the occasional Egret is spotted perching on an old boat bumper. I am happy to report that I really love it here. People take a moment to talk to one another, they are genuinely interested and interesting. I love running into a random pop-up gallery and invited to enter even though it’s not yet open to the public. I love hearing bands rehearsing in a distant warehouse, some of which are extremely impressive. I love hearing a live soulful voice booming vocals from a studio that has me shaking a leg at 10:00 am and moves the elderly man walking behind me to join in, both of us snapping fingers to the beat.

These random moments take me back and fill my heart with joy.

MM: You are a designer of vases and candleholders and more. So, how did you get into design and how closely do you feel art and design are linked?

CL: I don’t think there’s a separation between art and design as the two live side by side simultaneously living in each other’s spheres. Whether sketching out ideas for a painting or sculpture, one is designing the projected possibility of what is to be created. As the old adage goes “What came first the chicken or the egg?” Designing began at the age of 14-15 years old creating cloisonné enamel jewelry starting what one could call commerce. It carried itself to acrylic jewelry the rest is history.

MM: Be honest, out of all of your creations, do you have any particular favorite piece? If so, which one and why?

CL: Insofar as my favorite piece… the last one I made is my favorite.

MM: What would you say has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?

CL: One of my big accomplishments is to have always lived on what I love to do. Having a gallery for twenty-five years, using the space as both a lab and social platform. Making a living in the arts can be a rocky road at times but that’s all part of it. The biggest accomplishment is yet to come.

To learn more about artist Cec LePage, follow her via @lepagenewyork and visit her official website:


A Review of MyssTic Escape Room in Park Slope

By Aaron Gold |

Photo of the reviewer in front of the escape room

The atmosphere changes when you walk down the stairs to MyssTic Rooms, an escape room in Park Slope. The style is almost Sherlock Holmesian with a big leather couch and a chest you lock your valuables into. I’ve done quite a few escape rooms in my time, as well as worked for a couple of them. Aesthetics are crucial. You want to set the right mood for your customers, intriguing them to a mystery while looking professional and assuaging any idea that they’re about to be underwhelmed. Mystic Rooms on 794 Union St. accomplishes that with flying colors.

We took on the Montauk Project room, which was like embarking on our very own Stranger Things. The puzzles were challenging and clever, without ever taking gigantic logic leaps; everything flowed well. Solving puzzles to earn the next clue was a blast, and the game really rewarded you for paying attention. Teamwork was crucial for escaping on time, but no one felt their role was boring.

Everything felt creepy without being scary, so your younger ones will have a good time as well. With some word-based clues, it may be tricky for non-fluent English speakers, but as long as you have at least one person on your team who is fluent, everything should be manageable.

There’s a lot to harken back to what it was like to be a kid in the 80’s/90’s, including cassette tapes, board games, and an aesthetic that can only be described as of the time. I loved how varied the challenges of the puzzles were. Without giving anything away, we were challenged sonically, visually, and outside-of-the-box thinking was absolutely necessary.

Our cluemaster, Laura, was happy to accommodate our desire to only be clued when we ask for it, and she provided a very fun atmosphere, entrenching us in the lore without bogging us down with 10,000 things to remember.

One thing that set Montauk Project apart from many other escape rooms was that the smells changed depending on circumstances. It was a subtle yet palpable touch to creating the atmosphere that we all appreciated. If you’re looking for a challenge that will push without overwhelming you, I cannot recommend MyssTic Rooms enough.

CUNY Declares Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year and Diwali Official Holidays

Following a vote by the CUNY Board of Trustees, CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez today announced that CUNY will become one of the first universities in the nation to designate Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year and Diwali as holidays on the official school calendar. The move aligns CUNY with public schools across New York City for the first time.

Illustration by Christine Stoddard.

During the Spring 2025 semester, CUNY will not hold classes on January 29, 2025, in honor of Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar calendar, an important cultural holiday for many Asian communities. Nor will classes be held on March 31, 2025, for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. Likewise, classes will not be held on June 5, 2025, for Eid al-Adha, known as the Feast of Sacrifice, which falls during the summer session, or on October 20, 2025, for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

“With this vote, the Board of Trustees has taken an important step to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at CUNY,” said CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William C. Thompson Jr. “For an institution like ours, whose students observe many faiths and mirror the great diversity of our city, we are pleased to assure them the freedom and flexibility to celebrate with their families and communities during these important days of observance.”

“As one of the largest and most diverse public universities in the country, CUNY has a responsibility to represent and reflect its diverse religions and cultures,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Students who observe Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year or Diwali will be able to honor those traditions without worrying about their schoolwork. I’m proud to see CUNY advance our commitment to inclusivity.” 

“I am glad to see our University ensure students do not have to decide between attending their classes and observing their traditional holidays,” said Trustee Salimatou Doumbouya, chairperson of the CUNY University Student Senate (USS). “This decision represents the tireless advocacy of CUNY student leaders. As the student trustee on CUNY’s Board, I voted and advocated for these changes. I am proud that our university is committed to celebrating the rich diversity of our students, faculty and administration. This decision to formally recognize Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year and Diwali is a huge step towards equity. It’s a historic win!”

The announcement brings CUNY in alignment with New York State law and New York City Public Schools. CUNY is closed for widely observed federal holidays such as Christmas and Juneteenth. In addition, CUNY’s 25 colleges do not hold classes during Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The Brooklyn Downtown Star/Greenpoint Star reached out to CUNY campuses in Brooklyn for a response. Emailed statements from the campuses that replied are as follows:

Russell K. Hotzler, President, New York City College of Technology, wrote: “We join in commending the Chancellor’s February 14 announcement, following a vote by the CUNY Board of Trustees, that CUNY will become one of the first universities in the nation to designate Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year and Diwali as holidays on the official school calendar.

The announcement and CUNY’s alignment with New York State law and New York City Public Schools further affirms and strengthens City Tech’s long-standing commitment to equity and inclusion among our richly diverse College community representing abundant religious and faith traditions. City Tech is proud of the diversity reflected in our student body, faculty and staff, and the College attempts to go beyond what is mandated by law to promote an atmosphere conducive to mutual respect in a harmonious learning and working environment.”

Dr. Suri Duitch, Interim President, Kingsborough Community College, wrote: “As an institution supporting students from many places and faiths, I’m glad that we can recognize and celebrate their diversity. By designating Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year and Diwali as holidays on the academic calendar, we are taking a significant step toward creating an even more inclusive campus environment. Students will have the opportunity to explore different traditions, histories and values, and foster a greater appreciation for our diversity. I want Kingsborough students to be seen, heard and valued; this designation is an important step forward for us in making that happen.”

Brooklyn College President Michelle J. Anderson wrote: “Over many years, our Student Government advocated strongly for this change. I am proud to have taken their lead and advocated for it as well. Designating Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year, and Diwali as official holidays throughout CUNY—like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Christmas—speaks to the pride that we have in serving our tremendously diverse students, staff, and faculty. Congratulations to all!”

Celebrate Black History Month at the Brooklyn Children Museum’s Black Future Festival

By Kendra J. Bostock |

Photo credit Winston Williams / Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) will honor Black History Month with a week-long celebration, Black Future Festival: We Da People. Taking place during the DOE Midwinter Recess from February 18 to February 25, the festival is presented in partnership with guest curator Kendra J. Bostock and STooPS.

Black Future Festival is a week of reflection and future-forward fun, inspired by the national celebration of the African Diaspora and Black History Month. Families are invited to visit the Museum for a one-of-a-kind experience to envision a future that learns from the values and lessons of Black past, present, and future. Each day of the festival features a wide-ranging array of exciting programming, including live performances, dance programs, storytelling workshops, cultural experiences, art exploration, and more.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum is proud to present Black Future Festival: We Da People in collaboration with our talented partners, Kendra J. Bostock and STooPS. As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important for our youth to learn about the resilience, triumphs, and contributions of Black individuals throughout history and in their communities today. We hope to inspire young people in envisioning their own futures, as well as work towards a future where these contributions are recognized and celebrated every day,” said Dylan House, Director of Public Programs at Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Black Future Festival: We Da People will pay homage to the role of art-making in the Black-led social movements that have shaped Brooklyn as we know it today. The program’s vibrant and varied workshops will feature dance, storytelling, music, poetry, and visual arts based in Afrocentric values and principles. Select dates feature live dance performances produced by KJB Works and performed by dancer, choreographer, and community organizer Kendra J. Bostock. This multidisciplinary all-ages dance piece will take families on a multisensory journey using everyday items from our lives as portals to Black past, present and Afro-future.

“I am so excited about the partnership between Brooklyn Children’s Museum, myself, and STooPS. Having such an important institution embrace a much younger organization is a great example of a Black Future — giving space and highlighting Black art, voices, and community,” said Kendra J. Bostock, Founder/Director of STooPS and choreographer of KJB Works’ Portals: Doors to the Black Past and Future performances.

“When I think about the Black Future, I imagine a time where the values, contributions, and lifestyles of Black folks are honored and amplified,” Bostock continued. “As I reflect on Black-led social movements that have paved the way for our present and future to exist, it has not been about overtaking but making space. Carving out liberatory spaces where Africanist principles such as community, self-determination, and collective reliance can be at the forefront. These are concepts that we can all embrace, regardless of race, that will lead us to less oppression. This festival is about sharing the beauty and power of Blackness and cultivating a new generation who can move us towards an Afro-future. A future where Blackness is embraced as the change-making force it has always been.”

Additionally, New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) will be at BCM to showcase an exclusive collection of family-friendly, award-winning short films. These films feature historically underrepresented communities and stories that foster curiosity and empathy.

Daily programs will be replicated twice each day of the festival, in the morning and again in the afternoon (10 am–1 pm and 2 pm–5 pm). Visit to view the program schedule for each day.


Portals: Doors to the Black Past and Future

This multidisciplinary dance performance looks at everyday items in our lives that serve as portals to the Black past, present, and Afro-future. KJB Works transports us across time and space using her Sankofa process, inspired by the Ghanaian Akan term for “looking back to move forward.” Performed by Kendra J. Bostock, Brittany Grier, J’Nae Simmons, and Kimani Fowlin.

2/24, 2/25 at 11 am–11:45 am and 2:30 pm–3:15 pm


Build Your World with Fabric

Did you know there’s a bit of an artist in all of us? Let’s make cultural masks using materials like cowrie shells, yarn, pipe cleaners, tape, raffia, and construction paper. Creative minds are working hands! Led by Ramona Kearns.

2/22 at 11 am– 1:45 pm

2/23 at 12:15 pm–1 pm


Remembering and Transforming: Storytelling

Journey with us as we tell stories of the past, present, and future. We will listen to stories of Bed-Stuy and remember ancestors who created a path with their legacy. Together we will bring our stories to life and create movement for the journey ahead. Move to the music and create a collective poem. Led by Wema Ragophala.

2/22 at 12:15 pm – 1 pm

2/25 at 4 pm–4:45 pm


Afrofuturistic Comic Covers

Join us in ColorLab to design your own Afrofuturistic comic book cover, inspired by the work of author and illustrator, John Jennings.

Thru 2/25 at 10:30 am–12:30 pm and 2:30 pm–4:30 pm


Moving Stories: Dance

A movement experience that includes various dance forms from the African Diaspora (traditional African forms, modern, jazz, Afrobeat). Led by Carmen Carriker.

2/23 at 12:15 pm – 1 pm


NYICFF in Your Neighborhood

New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) presents an exclusive collection of family-friendly, award-winning short films. Whether dreaming up the fantastical, like a spider’s goal to capture the moon, or the practical, like a young animator’s future stardom, these shorts are sure to enchant and delight all audiences (but especially our youngest!).

2/20 – 2/23 at 10:30 am – 11:20 am and 3 pm – 3:50 pm


Adinkra Portals: Visual Art

Adinkra symbols were created by the Akan people of Ghana. The symbols represent qualities of character and life principles. This workshop is inspired by Lorraine O’Grady’s 1983 “Art Is…” performance, in which parade marchers framed bystanders in gold frames, transforming them into a piece of art to behold. Participants can make a frame from repurposed materials, decorate it with adinkra symbols, and then take a picture with it, framing themselves as a work of art adorned by a collection of powerful symbols. Led by Pia Monique Murray.

2/22 at 4 pm–4:45 pm


Connecting to Ancestral Intelligence: Plant Allies For Children

This workshop is an opportunity for children to explore plants as allies through sensed understanding. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about plants that surround them every day and create a winter plant snow globe of their favorite plant ally. Led by Renee K. Smith.

2/23 at 11 am–11:45 am


Keep On Moving: Dance

Join KOM3 from the Breaks Kru in his invigorating “Keep On Moving” dance workshop. Geared towards kids, this dynamic experience redefines dance education by infusing Breaking with engaging games and exercise routines. Discover a workshop that not only teaches the art of Breaking but also cultivates a love for movement and a healthy, active lifestyle in a safe and inclusive environment. Led by KOM3.

2/22 at 2:30 pm–3:15 pm

2/23 at 4 pm–4:45 pm


Lyrical Liberation: Music/Poetry

Ella Baker said: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest!” Take a music and poetry journey as we sing and create music together. Led by PitsiRa Ragophala.

2/24 and 2/25 at 4 pm–4:45 pm

Partnership with Tony Hawk to Build State-of-the-Art Skateparks in Brooklyn and the Bronx

By Stefanie Donayre |

Brooklyn’s skateboarding scene is set for significant upgrades as plans for improving recreational spaces in Brooklyn have been unveiled. In a collaborative effort to construct and enhance skateparks in both Brooklyn and the Bronx the City Council, The Skatepark Project (TSP)— formerly known as the Tony Hawk Foundation, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the New York City Parks Department, and The Pablo Ramirez Foundation have revealed details about their upcoming groundbreaking initiative, The Brooklyn Skate Garden.

In his third State of the City speech, Mayor Adams announced a $24 million project to develop the Brooklyn Skate Garden and fund a new skate park in the Bronx’s Soundview section, along with renovations for two other skate parks: Brower Skate Park in Crown Heights and Bronx Skate Park in Allerton.

“The Skatepark Project works to equip low-income, under-resourced communities with safe, free, and inclusive skateparks,” said Benjamin Anderson Bashein, TSP’s Executive Director, in an email interview. “We believe skateboarding to be a life-changing sport, one that is empowering for young people looking to build confidence and participate in their community.”

Lorne Michelle proposed the Brooklyn Skate Garden in memory of her late son and skateboarder, Pablo Ramirez, with the support of The Pablo Ramirez Foundation. This partnership aims to create a new recreational space for skaters of all ages, aligning with the foundation’s mission of promoting skateboarding and community engagement. The skate park will feature custom concrete design and security lighting, alongside upgrades like stadium seats and water fountains. The project also plans to include new amenities such as community gardens and event areas.

According to Councilwoman Crystal Hudson’s email newsletter, the proposed design covers ten percent of the park’s 7.79 acres, totaling 40,000 square feet. She believes the skatepark, despite being in Mount Prospect Park, will enhance everyone’s experience without negatively impacting the park or its visitors.

“…it will bring a much-needed revitalization of the park that will keep a majority of the existing open space completely untouched and available for use- even during construction- for community events, pick-up soccer games, dog walking, and all the myriad activities for which our neighbors currently use the park,” said Council Member Hudson in her newsletter.

Although general design concepts for the Brooklyn Skate Garden are outlined, the precise design is still being developed and will be open to public feedback. TSP and the Parks Department will organize community discussions to ensure the project aligns with community requirements and preferences.

“We envision Brooklyn Skate Garden to be an eco-space that meshes sports, environmental education, and the arts, while promoting sustainability and volunteerism,” states the Brooklyn Skate Garden website.

Progress on the skatepark will be shared in Council Member Hudson’s weekly email, inviting the community to take part in the project set to be completed by 2027, according to Time Out. The Brooklyn Skate Garden’s announcement demonstrates the city’s commitment to serving the diverse needs of its citizens and marks a significant advancement in the development of inclusive recreational areas for Brooklynites.

Girl Scouts of Greater New York kicks off 2024 Cookie Season in Brooklyn

Local Girl Scout Ashleigh Flanagan was the top cookie seller in Brooklyn last year.

By Linnea Mumma |

Girl Scout Cookie Season is officially underway. Over the course of cookie season, Girl Scouts will collect orders for cookies from their networks through their online Digital Cookie storefronts, where customers can purchase cookies for immediate shipping. Customers can visit to find local troops to support. For those who prefer to pick out their Girl Scout Cookies in person, Girl Scouts across the city will host their in-person booth sales throughout March and April.

Ashleigh Flanagan, 2023 Top Cookie Seller in Brooklyn.

This year, due to the rising costs of goods and services nationwide, cookies in New York City will increase to $7 a box in order to better support Girl Scout programming. All proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program in New York City remain in the five boroughs to help fund the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, with a portion of each sale going directly to the troop to support their activities. The new price will allow a 50% increase in the amount of funds that go directly back to NYC troops, empowering those involved in the program to make the most of their Girl Scout experience.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in the world. It helps girls develop five essential skills that set them up for success: goal setting, decision making, money management, business ethics, and people skills.

“Every year, Girl Scouts across all five boroughs of New York City get to showcase their own businesses and learn how to deal with money, all while making new friends and meeting new people during Girl Scout Cookie Season,” said Meridith Maskara, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York. “I’m always so proud to see girls challenge themselves to reach new heights through their cookie goals. They always rise to the occasion and show off what it means to be a Girl Scout.”

Proceeds from the sale will also go towards supporting Troop 6000, which launched in 2017 as a first-of-its-kind program to serve families living in temporary housing in the New York City shelter system. This past year, Troop 6000 expanded to serve the influx of asylum seekers that came into New York City. Girls in Troop 6000 have their own digital cookie sale website, as well as in-person booth sales throughout March and April.

For those who want to support Girl Scouts and give back, boxes can be donated to service organizations to bring joy to those in need through the Gift of Caring program. This year, all donated cookies will be distributed to food pantries in NYC, providing a pick-me-up to families facing food insecurity.

“Being a top Girl Scout cookie seller gives my troop the money to do the activities we want to do, such as going to the Statue of Liberty, camping, and gardening. We also get to buy and donate needed supplies to our local homeless shelter with the funds that we raise from cookie sales,” said Ashleigh Flanagan, local Girl Scout and 2023 Top Cookie Seller in Brooklyn.

Girl Scouts who sell more than 500 boxes of cookies qualify to become members of Girl Scouts of Greater New York’s Cookie Executive Committee. “Cookie Executives” are invited to participate in regular professional development workshops, inform and plan the Girl Scout Cookie Program in New York City, choose incentives girls can earn, and more.

Avi Spatz, Julia Lin and Mai McCarthy claim the titles of top Girl Scout cookie sellers overall, having sold 11,763 boxes of cookies in total during the 2023 season.

The Brooklyn Downtown Star/Greenpoint Star asked last year’s top Brooklyn seller,  Ashleigh Flanagan, about how she succeeds in selling cookies and what the task has taught her. She responsed to questions via email, with assistance from her mother. Her answers have been condensed here:

“I make videos to post on my parent’s social media with my Digital Cookie link promoting my sale and knocked on doors in my Bay Ridge neighborhood. But my favorite way to sell cookies is to find a popular place where people are walking by and set up a pop-up cookie booth. I want inspire other Girl Scouts to know that anything is possible if you are willing to put in the work.”

Selling cookies helps me work on my business strategy skills.  I come up with ideas of new places to sell at, I practice my responses for when people say “no thank you” to me, and I sharpen my change making skills.”

Facebook Groups for Our Brooklyn Communities

By Stefanie Donayre |

Providing more than just a platform to post pictures, social media outlets like Facebook have created virtual communities that strengthened neighborhood dynamics. These groups provide residents with the platforms to share, exchange, and support fellow neighbors in their area. Below is a list compiled of active Facebook Groups that are relevant to residents, both former and current, of the North and Central Brooklyn areas:

“Greenpoint; Our Home”

This private group is dedicated to those who were born and raised in Greenpoint and its neighboring areas. From relevant memes, news articles, and pictures, the members of the group reminisce about the Greenpoint they knew growing up. This nostalgic group invites members to share their memories of family get-togethers, block parties, pizza shops, and more.

“Greenpoint Sharing”

Intending to build solidarity, minimize waste, and meet community needs through a collaborative network, the “Greenpoint Sharing” group is a source for reusing, sharing, and gifting items. Members in the group post free items they no longer need, and share curb finds and relevant links that may benefit others in Greenpoint.

“Greenpoint & Williamsburg Community Group”

Serving the people of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, this group is an outlet for neighborhood news, volunteer opportunities, events, and essential information. Like other neighborhood groups, this group allows business groups in the area to share details about their services but also works to organize public meetups at events based on their member feedback.

“Greenpoint Neighbors!”

Interactions from sharing local news and events in the area, asking, and answering questions, and building relationships with one another help foster a neighborly and polite environment within this group. Some of the group’s recent posts include promoting local clothing swaps, events, and furniture listings.

“Buy Nothing Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY”

Following the rules of the “Buy Nothing” community groups in other areas, this page operates on its members in the Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and East Williamsburg areas gifting and receiving items to their fellow neighbors for free. However, due to popular demand, the wait to be approved to join this group may take a while.

“Williamsburg Community Group BK, NY”

This community serves as a forum for Williamsburg residents to sell goods, share local news, and exchange ideas. It gives residents space to interact with one another, meet, and converse.

“Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY”   

This public group of 16.4k members is open to those who are either new to Bushwick, previous residents of the area, or are friends. While most groups allow small business to advertise their services or products, this group prohibits it.

“North Brooklyn Puzzle Swap”

If you have a passion for puzzles and reside in North Brooklyn, this puzzle community invites you to join their group to trade and share puzzles for free. Members can discuss their favorite puzzle brands, techniques, and thoughts on puzzle building and are invited to participate in the group’s in-person Puzzle Swaps and Picnic events.

“Williamsburg Weekly”

Williamsburg locals are provided with up-to-date information on the latest developments, from new restaurants, retail, festivals, hotels, and schools, in the area.

“You Probably Lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 80s If You Remember”

Sharing firsthand recollections of Williamsburg during the 80s, this group is dedicated to those who lived in the Williamsburg area during the 1980s. In each post, members share recollections and previous experiences from that specific era of the neighborhood.

“North Brooklyn Events”

Looking for the perfect activity in North Brooklyn? Look no further than the North Brooklyn Events group. The group’s members post and submit local events such as art openings, open mics, rallies, sample sales, and more. This group differs from other groups in the area as it focuses on only social, civic, and cultural events in North Brooklyn.

“North Brooklyn Community”

This group is dedicated to sharing up-to-date information on news and events in the North Brooklyn area with locals.

“Bushwick, Williamsburg, & Ridgewood Pet Sitting & More Exchange”

This group advertises pet sitting, daycare, walks, and check-ins for pet owners in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood. Group members can post detailed descriptions and images of their animals and list the services they provide or are looking for to reach interested group members. To improve the comfort and safety of both pet owners and those offering trade services, the group guidelines emphasize the significance of in-person meetings before scheduling an arrangement.

“Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn”

Providing information on relevant activities, businesses, and events all within Bedford Stuyvesant, this group aims to build community engagement. Bedford Stuyvesant residents are encouraged to join and visit the group often to stay up to date with the latest news.


This public group with 3.3K members consists of residents, former residents, and those who are interested in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The group serves as a medium for sharing information and experiences relevant to the Bedford-Stuyvesant community and engaging in conversations on local history, restaurants, and community events. Participating group members most recently posted about local music events, resourceful webinars, and medical mobile vans in the area.

“Bushwick Community”

Deriving from The North West Bushwick Community Group’s mission of voicing and supporting community needs with local non-profits and elected officials, this Bushwick group continues to be an outlet to address community needs. Group members tend to post items in need or small businesses, ranging from cleaning services to nail technicians.

“Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Brooklyn Neighbors”

This page provides an outlet for conversations on a range of subjects, such as local news, events, programs, food, culture, safety, and criminal activity. The group admin encourages local businesses and organizations to promote their events and activities in this group. Unlike most Brooklyn neighborhood groups, this community’s rules state that no commercial and real estate listings are allowed to be posted unless the group members are selling their apartment or home in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, or surrounding areas.

“Crown Heights Brooklyn”

As a resource for locals and companies located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, this group exchanges insightful information on small businesses and residents to foster community collaboration. Recently shared activities in the Crown Heights area include art exhibits, recommendations for eateries, and small business promotions from networking sessions to dog sitter services.

“Bushwick Mutual Aid”

From donating baby formula to sharing job opportunities, the members of the Bushwick Mutual Aid Facebook group actively support one another through neighborly assistance. A unique aspect of this group is their members’ volunteer participation and an active GoFundMe, to fund their efforts of securing a storefront to distribute weekly free hot meals and other items indoors during the winter instead of their primary location at Maria Hernandez Park.

“Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Community”

The Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Community group is a platform for members to advertise their services and skills to the Bedford-Stuyvesant community.

GLOwanus–Using Light To Influence Water Quality

Brooklynites can turn to this lantern made of recycled plastics the next time a city-issued waterbody advisory is issued.

By Lauren Peacock |

It’s scary to think that a combined sewer overflow (CSO) could be happening on your streets even when it’s not visibly flooding.

A CSO can be caused by as little as a 1/12 of an inch of rain and can result in sewage being carried into the Gowanus Canal, hindering clean-up efforts. At the time of a CSO, all water is diverted into the Gowanus Canal. By reducing water consumption, the CSO is reduced, keeping the canal healthier, cleaner, and vibrant.

GLOwanus was created to make NYC waterbody advisory alerts easier to understand for residents. When the city issues an alert for the Gowanus Canal, the lantern will emit vivid colors and continue to do so until the waterboard advisory is lifted. When the colored lights come on, this tells residents that they should be cutting back on their water usage, whether that be waiting to wash dishes, flush the toilet, or do the laundry.

GLOwanus was created by Francesca Bastianini (Sight Studio) and Steven Koller (Environmental Science and Policy PhD student), two fellows from Van Alen Institute’s Neighborhood Design Fellowship program, and was designed by artists Manav Singla and Ridima Jain.

The Gowanus Canals are a superfund site. According to Bastianini, this means that despite the rapid change and development of the neighborhood, it is still undergoing repair from a long history of pollution, and ongoing pollution from an overwhelmed sewer system.

According to Andrew Brown, the Director of Programs at Van Alen, when there’s no city-issued waterbody advisory, the light glows white. When an advisory is issued, the light flashes different rainbow colors. Each color doesn’t specifically mean something, but the rainbow colors are meant to draw people’s attention so that they realize there is a City-issued waterbody advisory, meaning there’s a good chance combined sewage overflow (CSO) has recently spilled or may soon spill into the Canal.

The lanterns are made out of recycled plastics, creating a durable and translucent product that transmits light all around and avoids creating new plastic. According to Bastianini, the prototype of the lantern was created from the VAI Gowanus fellowship in 2021, and the current product was completed in the fall of 2023.

Instructions for the open-source code and 3D printing for the lantern are available. Shiloah Coley, the Program Associate at Van Alen, says that providing this information to the public makes it easier for other communities and neighborhoods that are interested in creating a product like the GLOwanus lantern to do so.

“We learned so much working on this, and we want to make sure other communities and individuals have access to this knowledge and feel encouraged to build on it,” explained Coley.

Bastianini hopes that the GLOwanus lanterns will not only expand on a large public scale, but expand awareness, provide prompts and support for local advocacy, and keep “pressure on agencies to follow through with their local officials.”

Coley hopes the lanterns help Gowanus residents feel empowered by providing the information they need during a CSO.

“That way if they choose to, they can act and adjust their own water usage habits. It would be great to see other folks build on our open-source code to make light installations in other neighborhoods.”

Approximately 20 to 25 GLOwanus lanterns are left at time of press. If anyone is interested in picking one up, you can email Shiloah Coley at

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