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 | [email protected]

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 www.brooklynkids.org/black-future-festival to view the program schedule for each day.

PROGRAMS

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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]

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 www.girlscoutsnyc.org/findcookies 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 | [email protected]

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.

“Bedford-Stuyvesant!”

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 | [email protected]

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 [email protected].

Vibe and Vibrancy: Interview with Artist Fred Bendheim

Artist Describes Shaped Paintings and Public Art Designed by Intuition

By Meagan J. Meehan | [email protected]

Vividly colored shapes and overlaid hues are combined to create eye-catching and vibrant sculptural paintings which first take root in the mind of artist Fred Bendheim who subsequently brings these abstract visions to life in his Prospect Heights studio. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Fred apprenticed with artist Philip Curtis—a founding artist of The Phoenix Art Museum—when he was a teenager. Fred then attended The University of California, Davis, where he studied art with William T. Wiley and Wayne Thiebaud before earning a B.A. in Art from Pomona College. He started his career as a professional artist in San Francisco, California, and exhibited his unique pieces at SFMoMA.

In 1984, Fred moved to Brooklyn and has stayed in New York ever since. His work has appeared at The Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, The Montclair Art Museum, The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Museum of Costa Rica, The Neiman-Marcus Collection, Bradley International Airport, The Brooklyn Public Library, Sotheby’s Realty and many more. Fred is also a muralist who has completed four public murals—including two large painted murals in Brooklyn. His artworks can be found in South Korea, Costa Rica, Italy and Germany and he is presently represented by several New York galleries including Julie Keyes Fine Art, 490 Atlantic Gallery, and 440 Gallery.

As with many artists of the modern age, Fred also holds a part-time job…albeit one that is firmly rooted in the creative arena: he is a teaching artist at The Art Students League of New York and he has also instructed students at The College of Mt. Saint Vincent, Young Audiences of New York, The Brooklyn Museum, and Learning Leaders.

Fred feels that his artistic inspirations come from a strong sense of intuition, composition and design; form, line, and color are his means of communicating specific feelings and his art spans boundaries between painting, sculpture, figuration and abstraction. Currently, Fred is keeping himself busy working on a brand-new series of abstract-shaped paintings for shows in New York galleries including Brooklyn’s 440 Gallery and 490 Atlantic Gallery.

Fred recently discussed his art and career via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in art and how did you develop your original style?

Fred Bendheim (FB): As a child I was lucky to grow up in an interesting house full of art. My parents had art from their families from Germany and New York, and they collected some contemporary artists, and Native American artists where we lived in Arizona. They also made some art, ceramics and wood carvings. I remember my father once made napkin holders from the skeletons of cacti. The desert landscape was always present as well, which had a visual influence on me. My style developed slowly over fifty years of making art and has gone through many permutations.

MM: You are known for your sculptural wall hangings, but you have also created fountains! What is that process like and where can the general public see these fountains?

FB: I’ve always been fascinated by water and all of the forms it takes, and I have made about five fountains/sculptures over the years. Two are made from stone and concrete and are permanently on display in Arizona (one in a Frank Lloyd Wright building in Scottsdale). The others were temporary and more whimsical—one was made from suspending celery stalks which I used as channels for the water. For another fountain I used plastic forms and translucent hoses. The sound of the water is important as well. I’ve also painted themes of water over the years. Several years ago, I had a mini-retrospective on the theme of water. It’s a theme I return to. Water is always water, but always different, like a river is never the same water from moment to moment. Its sameness flows into its mutability.

MM: You also make public art, such as murals. So, where can Brooklynites see your murals and how did these opportunities come to you?

FB: I’ve made several murals and public art pieces in New York. Some were temporary installations, like “Song For Harlem” (2013) which was commissioned by Chashama for a large storefront in Harlem. I covered the windows with cut yellow paper, and then installed blue lights inside the building, so the appearance changed from day to night. I’ve also collaborated with young student artists and had their art printed on billboards on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, and I made a mural from food packaging for a grocery store with students. The murals I was very proud of were two large site-specific murals I made for Industry City in 2019 called “Creationism” and “Evolution.” They were very successful works and were well-received by the public. They were mostly abstract but had some recognizable features like snakes and a figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Unfortunately, the murals were destroyed. People ask me why, and I can’t explain it, except to say these people had different notions about art than I do. I think they were interested in using art as PR via social media posts. So, the more posts of different art, the more PR (and profits). Since then, and because many people complained about their destruction, I believe they have changed their policy with regards to murals they commission, but it came too late for my murals. So, I learned a painful lesson about making public art. I don’t think people realize the extent of work and feelings that goes into artmaking. It can feel similar to making (and losing) a child.

MM: You grew up in Arizona and spent a lot of your early adulthood in California but now you live and work in Brooklyn. How does the art scene in Brooklyn compare to the one out West?

FB: I’ve been in Brooklyn since 1984 and I’ve seen a lot of changes here. I did spend my early years out west but can’t really say what the art scene is like there now. Generally speaking, there’s more art and less nature here in NYC, but I continue to be inspired by nature, even if it’s an internalized nature. Brooklyn probably has more artists than anywhere in the world, and more galleries are popping up here. I live near the Brooklyn Museum which is a great resource. I like art that is universal in its appeal. The subject matter can be anything: Brooklyn, political or abstract feeling-based art, but the form and structure has to be universal, so no matter when and where it’s seen it’s still relevant. I’ve recently moved my studio to my home in Prospect Heights. I have a lot of plants in two gardens, so I’m sure that will affect my art.

MM: Do you feel that the vibrancy of Brooklyn inspires you at all and what’s your favorite thing about being a Brooklyn-based artist?

FB: I like being able to see the sky in Brooklyn, as opposed to being in the more closed spaces of Manhattan. I like having some outdoor spaces to play in here. Space is very important both physical and mental space.

MM: How did you find gallery and museum representation for your work?

FB: New York has a lot of opportunities for artists. Some of it is networking and there’s some luck involved too.

MM: You have art in Neiman Marcus stores—that’s actually how I initially found out about your work! How did that opportunity come to you?

FB: I have a painting called “Thundercloud” in the Neiman-Marcus collection on Long Island. That happened through an art consultant from the Bay Area that knew of my work.

MM: You’re a member of the 440 Gallery in Park Slope which is an artist collective. How has that helped you gain exposure for your work?

FB: 440 Gallery has been in Park Slope for almost twenty years. We have 15 artist members and an enthusiastic and dedicated following. I also show my work at 490 Atlantic Gallery in downtown Brooklyn. I had an exhibition there called Alltogethernow which consisted of twelve of my recent abstract shaped paintings.

MM: You work as an art teacher, so what is some of the advice that you give to budding artists?

FB: In technical terms I tell them that if the art isn’t working it’s a 99% chance it’s a compositional problem. Even if the color looks wrong, it’s composition. In terms of being an artist and having some ambitions for your art-good luck! Just keep going…

MM: Does working with students influence your own creativity at all?

FB: I like the energy of working with students, especially if they’re serious about their art. Sometimes the beginner’s mind is best for making art. Picasso said he spent years learning to paint like a master and spent his whole life learning to paint like a child.

MM: You have written articles about art for a British medical journal called The Lancet. How does art figure into a medical journal and what topics have your articles focused on?

FB: I wrote for The Lancet in a section they had on culture. I wrote mostly reviews of art shows, and I wrote a series of articles on science and art. Through those articles, I was invited to attend a forum on “Art and Astronomical Phenomena” in Venice, where I showed some of my work dealing with astronomical themes.

MM: Be honest, out of all of your creations, do you have any particular favorite piece?

FB: My murals at Industry City were art that I was very proud of. The twelve paintings I had on display at 490 Atlantic are some of my favorites. I also have some earlier work that I’m pleased with in hotels, hospitals and in storage. I am proud of my body of work consisting of hundreds of paintings, drawings and collage work.

MM: You have had an incredible international career, but what would you say has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?

FB: I’ve enjoyed doing art residencies in Costa Rica. I’ve been going there since 2001 and it’s been a nice place to work and do some things I wouldn’t normally do here in Brooklyn, like use the tropical foliage and leaf-cutter ants to make art. I am going to Mexico soon to see the art there.

MM: Can you tell us a little more about the new art that you’re actively making?

FB: I’ve recently been working in aluminum. Sometimes I paint on it, and sometimes I use it raw. I use conventional tools for drawing as well as an iPad to design them. I have them laser cut (instead of doing the cutting myself like I usually do). Making them in aluminum allows the forms to be more varied, thinner for instance, and they can be shown outside.

MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

FB: I’d like more people to see my work, so I’m looking around for new places to show it, including more public spaces. I’d also like to teach more and perhaps travel with my work. The artists at the 440 Gallery and I will be traveling to Berlin this July for a group show at a gallery there. We are doing an exchange show with EP Contemporary Gallery in Berlin, so the artists from Berlin will be showing at 440 Gallery in June and then we will go to Berlin in July.

To learn more about Fred, visit his official website: fredbendheim.com. You can also follow him on Instagram @artist_fredbendheim.

The Average New York Worker Predicted to ‘Burnout’ on June 20th 2024, Finds Study

• This burnout date happens 172 days into 2024.

• Lawyers experience burnout the soonest; those in energy the latest.

• New interactive map for the predicted burnout days for workers in each state.

A screenshot of the Software Connect interactive map on burnout, with the mouse hovering over New York State.

In an era where digital connectivity knows no bounds, countless workers find themselves trapped in a seemingly endless workday. Remote work, once seen as a liberating evolution, now chains many to a cycle of perpetual availability. With smartphones pinging after hours with emails and schedules, the division between work and rest blurs into obscurity.

To rub salt in the wound, IT sheriffs track the clickety-clack of productivity—or lack thereof. Yet, this relentless grind exacts a heavy toll: chronic workplace stress. Manifesting as extreme exhaustion, a growing resentment toward one’s job, and a marked drop in performance, these symptoms herald the onset of burnout – a state that straddles the line between stress and a depression borne of overwork.

Illustration by Christine Stoddard.

SoftwareConnect.com recently conducted a survey of 3,000 workers, which sought to pinpoint the day the average worker succumbs to burnout. Alarmingly, the threshold is crossed just 183 days into the year, by July 1st.

But for legal professionals, the sprint to burnout ends even sooner. By June 10th, lawyers are already throwing in their briefcases, and who can blame them? With notoriously long work hours, they’re in a league of their own when it comes to occupational exhaustion. In contrast, energy professionals demonstrate remarkable resilience, burning out the latest. By July 18th, while others are faltering, those in the energy sector are still going strong. With the critical responsibility of maintaining our power supplies and often working in challenging conditions, they manage to stay powered up longer than anyone else.

Regionally, Delaware’s workers bear the brunt of burnout earliest, by March 19th, while those in New York encounter it later, on June 20th – a full 172 days into the year.

Software Connect has created an interactive map showing the predicted burn out days for workers in each state (click on ‘embed’ to host the map on your site)

“In the current landscape, where technology has rendered us constantly accessible, the pressure to perform is relentless,” states Jeff Budiac from Software Connect. “Our survey reveals a troubling trend towards a nation on the edge of occupational burnout. It’s a clarion call for a re-evaluation of work-life balance in the digital age.”

Source: SoftwareConnect.com

Tribute to Kellogg’s Diner

By Madeline Edalow | [email protected]

A view of Kellogg’s Diner from December 2023. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

New York City is ever-changing and long time residents grow accustomed to iconic establishments disappearing.

I am a life-long New Yorker. Within my lifetime, the gentrification of Northern Brooklyn has progressed at lightening speed. The luxury establishments that continue to open often feel inaccessible to me. I often feel like a tourist in the city I grew up in, not recognizing neighborhoods where I used to spend a lot of time.

As the area surrounding the Lorimer L train in Williamsburg Brooklyn felt the impact of trendy hipsterdom, one spot felt accessible to a wide range of people. I am speaking of Kellogg’s Diner.

Kellogg’s Diner has been open for nearly a century and will be opening with new ownership this year after renovations are complete. The original owners of the restaurant gave up after a long period of financial hardship. Irene Siderakis, the most recent owner, struggled to keep the doors open after the tragic passing  of her husband, who previously ran the restaurant. The new management plans to make changes to the establishment, so that it is more appealing to neighborhood patrons. It is still uncertain whether the new restaurant will hold up to what Kellogg’s represented.

Kellogg’s, in its way, was a universal meeting space. I don’t think I’ve eaten there once without seeing someone else I knew. The 24-hour schedule caused every person who partied nearby until the early hours of the morning to commune at the diner. The schedule also motivated some people to travel from distant neighborhoods to eat and drink.

I remember performing at an open mic on the Lower East Side and heading to Kellogg’s with a comedian friend after the end of the mic. I ordered the most enormous mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had. I was extremely intoxicated, but I remember that night well because I ran into an old friend I’d known through high school friends. I had entered with a friend I knew through mostly transplant-filled art scenes when I ran into this friend from the past. As a lifelong Brooklynite, it is always comforting to run into people associated with my upbringing, especially as it gets rarer and rarer.  Like I said, Kellogg’s served as a universal meeting space, where old New York meets new New York.

The plans to redevelop the diner include reinstating the 24-hour schedule and a new Tex-Mex menu. The new owner and management have a history of running other successful trendy establishments. The restaurant will also have a new cocktail bar.

I imagine the new direction for the famed diner location will be a success as the new influx of Brooklyn residents can’t seem to get enough of establishments that sell fancy cocktails.

I wish the new ownership well and hope they are able to keep their doors open for another century, even with the changes. The building staying a somewhat similar business is comforting to me and likely others who struggle to recognize their home city. I am hopeful that the menu will be affordable to the average New Yorker and not just the progressively wealthier residents of Williamsburg.

In this ever-changing city, it is harder and harder for classic spots, like neighborhood diners, to keep their doors open as they don’t provide for the modern tastes that have become popular in Brooklyn. I hope that even with the differences, there will still be places where new New York can meet with old New York. We will have to wait and see if the new management of Kellogg’s can provide for a wide community. I certainly hope so.

Madeline Edalow is an artist of many mediums and writer raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of City As School, the oldest alternative public high school in New York City. For work, she face paints at events of all kinds and is also a teaching artist at schools all over the city. She is a current student studying Public Administration at Medgar Evers College. She is deeply inspired by her upbringing in this wonderful city full of people from all over the world.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing