‘Believe the Hype’ Column by Christine Stoddard: An Ode to FiveMyles Gallery

By Christine Stoddard | [email protected]

New York City, the City of Dreams, the city of magic and momentum. For a creative person, there may be no better place for inspiration or opportunity, with virtually every culture and industry represented. It is also the capital of hustle and ambition. New Yorkers yearn. We strive. Like many transplants, I moved here with a vision for a more exciting and fulfilling creative career and, dare I say it, life overall . I wanted access to experiencing and, in some cases, making art, music, fashion, movies, and media. While I had a few contacts when I first made Brooklyn home, I still had many more people to meet. When it came to really knowing the borough’s movers and shakers, I didn’t know anymore. Networking and making connections is crucial in a city full of millions of enterprising (sometimes pushy) people. One venue that gave me a chance early on was FiveMyles Gallery in Crown Heights.

Madi Dangerously & Arts East New York

Some things happened for me quickly after I moved here in mid-2016. Curator Madi Dangerously, aka Mariama Rafetna Primus, who is a local mover and shaker, invited me to participate in a group show. This was 2017 and the idea was a one-night event dedicated to the divine feminine. Not too long after that, Madi also generously invited me to participate in an exhibition on gentrification at the now-defunct Arts East New York, founded by Catherine Green. It seems that the gallery was another casualty of the pandemic. May another contemporary art space replace it. East New York deserves to have that kind of resource and space for expression. Every neighborhood does. But back to Madi: She was bringing together newcomers and long-timers alike to have visual and performance art conversations about migration and real estate. It was a welcome opportunity for someone like me who genuinely wanted to contribute to the community  that was already established here. Not all of us want a Starbucks on every corner. Thank you, Madi, for seeing that in me.

Hanne Tierney & Marine Cornuet

Insert snowball effect. By early 2018, I had my own show at FiveMyles. To that, I should say thank you to Hanne Tierney. Hanne is the founder of FiveMyles, which she opened 25 years ago. The place was incorporated as a non-profit in 1999, championing experimental and largely non-Western work or work by otherwise under-represented artists. At the time that I met Hanne, her second-in-command was Marine Cornuet, a French poet who has since moved on to a career in literary publishing. Marine was really my main point of contact, though I was immediately taken by Hanne’s warmth and passion for the arts in Central and East Brooklyn. She is a friendly, likable person, which is the type of personality more gallery owners should consider cultivating and projecting. Kindness is a skill.

Lady Pandora

My first show at FiveMyles was a one-night affair called “Lady Pandora,” and featured a video art installation, live poetry performances, and framed photos hung pretty traditionally on the wall. I directed the night, which was about feminine power and the tension between the magic and struggles of womanhood. All of the videos and photos were ones I had created; the line-up of poets, which included myself, featured mostly women who appeared in the videos and photos. They were my collaborators and the vast majority of them lived in Brooklyn, from Greenpoint to Fort Greene. One message present in much of the work is that we conjure spells because of our challenges as women. We aim to reclaim our power. The gallery was packed and I met neighbors and had conversations that still inspire me.

Since then, I have had two smaller events at FiveMyles–screenings of my film Mi Abuela, Queen of Nightmares and video poems from my project Belladonna Magic. The first took place last fall; the other took place this month. Maybe these events were smaller because I did not promote them as hard as “Lady Pandora,” but I suspect the attendance had more to do with the state of cultural institutions in New York City. People go out less often. Virtual events are more common. We have lost some of the synchronicity and thrilling chaos of a time before ubiquitous screens and livestreaming. What a difference a few years can make. Ironically, my reach is larger than it was before the pandemic. Social media as an arts platform has created new types of exposure and attracted new fans. Brooklyn Magazine named me one of its Top 50 Most Fascinating People in 2023. They came to that conclusion because of an online survey that spread via social media. Still, I thank FiveMyles for the in-person space to meet fans in real life and make face-to-face connections. I feel comfortable speaking for many people when I say Crown Heights will be a different place when FiveMyles closes in June. Yes, I purposely buried the lede. To quote Ruby Lindsey, who replaced Marine at FiveMyles, “Sometimes it’s just time.”

Find out more at FiveMyles.org.

Photos are from the columnist’s personal archives. 

 

Francophone Migrants Face Unique Challenges

By Christine Stoddard | [email protected]

French-speaking migrants from Africa stand outside of a shelter for asylum seekers at 47 Hall Street in Clinton Hill. In our on-the-street conversations, several men told me that they feel especially isolated as Francophones. As they have experienced, most assistance for recent migrants is only available in Spanish, and New Yorkers they meet in daily street life are unlikely to speak French. A common refrain I heard was, “Americans don’t speak French.” More than one man told me that I was the first French-speaking American they had met.

Bahei, age 34, from Senegal.

 

 

Seydinal, age 25, and Anndiaye, age 27, both from Senegal.

Bikes and shopping carts parked outside the shelter.

Migrants may live in the shelter for 30 days–a reduction from the initial 60 days that the City of New York granted. After that, they are discharged (sometimes in the middleof the night) and must find accommodations elsewhere. With no other place to go, many migrants live on the street after they have been discharged.

Camera Eye: A Visual Exploration of Glass Bottle Beach

By Christine Stoddard | [email protected]

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

File photos c. 2021 of Glass Bottle Beach at Dead Horse Bay in Gateway National Recreation Area, on the outskirts of the Marine Park neighborhood. The site has been closed since 2020 due to hazardous levels of radioactivity. From 1948 into the mid-1950s, it was a landfill with a mound elevation of 25 feet. Now eroding, the shoreline features a patchwork of broken bottles, ceramics, metal objects, clothing, and a mix of random household and industrial items.

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

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!”

‘Believe the Hype’ Column by Christine Stoddard: Farewell to New York Fashion Week but not to Brooklyn Fashion

By Christine Stoddard | [email protected]

Another New York Fashion Week (NYFW) has come and gone, not to stir up a storm again until September. As it stands, the “week” sprawls into nearly a fortnight come February. This year the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Chelsea rivaled Spring Studios, which had been NYFW’s hub for more than five years. Yet those are not the only sites where fashion shows take place; they are merely the ones where major designers trample the runway. But not every designer is a household name. There are designers who make a name (and a living) for themselves without being known by Midwestern housewives. 

A Brooklynite’s Foray into NYFW

Now, not being a household name does not mean obscurity or failure. Some designers prefer to be uncommon, aiming for a narrowly-defined customer versus aiming to be loved by all. On Feb. 10, The New York Times ran a story on B Michael, a designer who has dressed everyone from Beyoncé to Halle Berry. Yet you might get deer-in-the-highlights looks if you mentioned B Michael in Des Moines. While he has a new book out—a memoir called MUSE: Cecily Tyson and Me: A relationship forged in fashion—he had zero presence at this year’s NYFW. Maybe some designers, even successful ones, don’t want the hassle of producing a world-class event and all of the digital media content that is expected these days. These things require different skill sets than producing the garments themselves, and B Michael basically runs a three-man shop. However, not every designer can afford to be so selective when it comes to opting out of NYFW. Up-and-coming designers may feel they have to participate in order to get their name out there. 

Designer: Candence Caprice. Photo by Nani Creative.

This latter category intrigues me because they are fledgling artists fueled by passion. When Lina Neubauer aka “Rainstorm”, a current Fashion Institute of Technology student, invited me to model in her Rising Collective NYFW show, I jumped at the opportunity. This was a confident young businesswoman with a vision and several events under her (very stylish) belt. The fact that she was uplifting newer designers thrilled me. Most of them were FIT and Parsons students or recent alumni. On Feb. 17 at Dom Lounge in Gramercy, we—the show producer, designers, models, hair/makeup stylists, dressers, and other crew members—collectively made many dreams come true in one night. I especially loved the energy of Hayden Lehr, who had me model her mini skirt made of recycled soda tabs and a crop top bearing her line’s logo. Just 21 years old, this was her first-ever fashion show. I heard more than one person congratulate her for having such a cohesive look: punky but still modern and bright, with clean lines. You can find her on Instagram @haydenlehr. 

Rainstorm, who also goes by Rain, was generous enough to have the “Don’t Mind If I Don’t” comedy show attend the event. In the Jan. 25, 2024 edition of the Brooklyn Downtown Star/Greenpoint Star newspapers, you may have seen the article “Brooklyn Goofballs Release ‘Don’t Mind If I Don’t’ Episode on Bagpipes.” The whole concept of our comedy TV show is that fans and experts try to persuade my boyfriend,  Aaron Gold, to like things he hates. The TV show stemmed from Aaron’s long-running podcast. Now I am in the mix as his co-host/art director and we have a team lending their directing, cinematography, editing, and producing skills. So far, we have filmed episodes on bagpipes, psychics, Shakespeare, painting, and now fashion. The hope is to convince Aaron that fashion has aspects worth appreciating. 

Fashion Week Brooklyn

Last weekend’s fashion experience made me wonder: Why is there no Brooklyn Fashion Week? Google proved me wrong. There is a Brooklyn Fashion Week, but the name is actually Fashion Week Brooklyn. It just doesn’t have the cachet or visibility of NYFW because, as cool and creative as our borough is, Manhattan is still our city’s center of commerce. FWBK was founded by the non-profit BK|Style Foundation, which aligns itself with several social causes, from human rights to HIV/AIDS awareness, and also produces international fashion events that highlight Brooklyn designers. This year, we can expect FWBK on April 7 and 13 at Kings Plaza Mall in Mill Basin.

The storefront of MOSHOOD at
Restoration Plaza in Bed-Stuy. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

In doing some digging about FWBK, I found out that MOSHOOD/Afrikan Spirit, a Bed-Stuy mainstay of three decades, is in on the action. This is yet another gem located at Restoration Plaza. When I recently popped my head in there on a Saturday, the spot was, well, it was the spot. MOSHOOD’s designs have appeared on BET’s Teen Summit, Queen Latifah’s sitcom “Living Single,” and Brandy’s sitcom “Moesha.” The line, which blends African tribal designs with Western flair, has the slogan “WEAR MOSHOOD, WEAR YOURSELF,” as well as the saying, “We focus on the ensemble, not just the pieces.” Through FWBK, Moshood showcased designs at V.O Curations in London on Feb. 17. 

Designer: Hayden Lehr.
Photo by Nani Creative.

Another Brooklyn designer in that same show (there were ones from the UK and New Jersey, too), was “Free.” This tongue-in-cheek designer is totally new to me. Founder Richard Kauli, a graduate of Brooklyn Tech, declares a “distaste for the attention economy and mass surveillance of a free state” on the line’s website, the cheekily named FreeInQuotes.com. Three principles seem to guide the brand, which I am pulling directly from the Info page:

1. Lack of new/original thoughts and ideas as we consume mass media (group think)

2. Privacy is no longer possible (mass surveillance from governments and advertising companies)

3. Social media leads to constant comparison to others (lower life satisfaction and increase depression and suicide)

One example of a T-shirt you can buy from “Free” bears the words: “Great Minds Think Like Us.” Maybe calling “Free” anti-fashion would be more apt.

Snow at Floyd Bennett Field

But enough about fashion for now. While I believe the arts are essential to a beautiful, joyful, and meaningful life, I am also aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Physiological needs come first. After another snowstorm, I had to know: Did the tent shelter for migrant families at Floyd Bennett 

Field have heat? Did the shelter run into any issues during the storm? A couple of days would pass before I could head over there. That meant a week had gone by since my last visit, when I staked out the public transportation situation. By then, most of the snow had melted. It was easy to drive my car around and not worry about ice or running into a snowbank.

Floyd Bennett Field, with the remnants of the snowstorm.

I noticed that steel barricades had been installed since the previous week. They formed a corridor that went from the tent shelter to the bus stop. Families walking from the shelter to the bus stop, which involved going down one road, crossing another road, and then cutting across a large empty lot, largely stayed within the barricades. I noticed one little boy stumbling along the barricade, just outside of it to play in the bits of snow that remained. A man I presumed to be his father walked inside of the barricade, almost parallel to the boy.

I parked my car at the intersection before the large lot. In the couple of days leading up to that point, I had called and emailed organizations on the NYC 311 webpage entitled “Asylum Seeker Resources.” I have many questions and many stories I am researching to write about immigration in New York City. Only one source picked up the phone: the principal of Brooklyn Collegiate High School, who said that the list is horribly outdated. The school no longer provides resources for asylum seekers. This is why on-the-ground reporting still matters. We cannot count on the Internet for everything.

I got out of my car and stopped the first family to get some quick answers. In Spanish, I introduced myself and asked if there was heat in the tent shelter. The answer was yes. And were there any problems at the tent shelter during the snowstorm? Or since? No. 

What a relief! I look forward to finding out more about our city’s asylum seekers and promise to bring updates in the Brooklyn Downtown Star/Greenpoint Star.

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.

Eyesore: Bedford Library

Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Bedford Library is closed for a major heating and cooling upgrade; it is expected to reopen in Summer 2024. If you have an eyesore in your Brooklyn neighborhood that you would like us to highlight, send us a photo at [email protected].

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