Thursday, July 31, 2008

Q and A on NYC waterfront

I haven't been able to post as much lately as I'd like to, so in the mean time, here's a link to an interesting Q&A with the Chief Executive of NYC's Waterfront Alliance, Roland Lewis, that appeared yesterday on the NYTimes blog:

Answers About New York City's Waterfront

It contains some interesting dialogue about the present and future state of NYCs waterfront, including some information relevant to this neighborhood.

Friday, July 25, 2008

General Meeting of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (CoWNA)

Yesterday was the latest general meeting, held at the Jalopy theater. I went and met the people of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (CoWNA). A dedicated group of local residents fighting to preserve the identity of our neighborhood.

The agenda included updates from the committees, the finalizing a statement of goals for rezoning our neighborhood, as well as a discussion on traffic through the neighborhood (specifically the Ikea shuttle route).

Several politicos showed up, all announcing they were there to listen. Craig Hammerman, current District Manager CB6 and candidate for City Council's 39th district; John Heyer, Brooklyn Borough President's representative to CB6 and candidate for City Council's 39th district; Jo Anne Simon, candidate for City Council's 33rd district; and State Senator Martin Connor.

The Land Use Committee presented their recommendations for the rezoning of the area. The goals are to maintain the intimate character of the existing community (by rezoning from R-6 to R-6B, which would limit the height of new construction to 50ft, and respect the street wall; Fort Greene recently made the change), to preserve the existing mixed-use pattern of development and strengthen the Columbia Street and Union Street retail areas (by rezoning from M1-1 Manufacturing to Mx/R6B Mixed use; as Williamsburg and the Gowanus Canal area did). The likelihood of this happening is rather slim, it seems we can't hope for anything until the next administration, that's 2010.

The Education Committee presented their policy paper on the recent mess regarding pre-K admissions at PS 29, and PS 58. There seems to be very little that can be done. Only to wait and see the effects, and then do a report... We will be faced in the near future with a real overcrowding issue, as more an more families stay in NYC instead of moving out to the burbs. We can only hope for more schools to open.

The Parks and Open Space Committee commissioning a quality of the air study. And a street fair is being planned for Sept 13.

Then the Committee of everything-else-not-previously-mentioned talked about the traffic issues, mainly the Ikea shuttle route. They are supposed to turn onto Van Brunt at Degraw, but are instead gunning down Columbia making it difficult and dangerous to cross the street. Here again, it will be at least 6 months before we see any change. At this point, we need people to call local officials, there needs to be enough complaints and testimonies before anything can be done.

There are a lot of problems that need to be resolved and it will happen only if we all do our part. FYI: The City Council has, among other things, the power to review land use issues and approve zoning changes, housing and urban renewal plans, community development plans and the disposition of city-owned property.

To voice your opinion contact:
Office of Community Board 6
Councilman Craig Mammerman
(718) 643 3027, x204, ask for Leroy Branch

Don't ever doubt that a small group of dedicated citizens can change the world. It's the only thing that ever has.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More outdoor yoga classes at the Urban Meadow!

Here are the next classes:

(from Vayu Yoga)
We are hoping to turn this one into a weekly class.

(from Elite Training & Fitness)

According to Buddhist tradition, the teachers will give without expecting any form of payment and if the students feel the inclination to give back for the offering made, they may do so.
It is called « dana ».

The Urban Meadow is at the corner of President street and Van Brunt.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yoga at the Urban Meadow

Thank you to those who showed up last night for our first free yoga class. The instructor, Katrina, was wonderful, and the sunset inspiring. Although I was distracted at times by the mosquitoes, I thought the whole experience was worth it and can't wait for the next one.
Here are some pictures:

Bastille Day in Brooklyn? A real Success!

Who knew that so many people were ready to celebrate France's national day, le 14 juillet, commemorating when the Bastille prison was taken down, and noble heads began to fall! Or maybe what really motivated them was the bottomless Ricard, the delicious French food, the skate park, French girls, the live bands, the foosball and the 80 pétanque teams of 3 competing this past Sunday.

Whatever the reasons, the streets were crowded (it was impossible for us to navigate with our stroller). Smith street actually had 2 celebrations: the biggest one on Smith between Pacific and Bergen, and another sponsored by the restaurant Provence en Boîte on Degraw. The second one was a little more mellow, but was using a typically French technique, which left my American husband, and many others, perplexed: tickets.
Indeed, where I come from in order to avoid excessive money handling, most fairs have a ticket system. You purchase a number of tickets of different colors each worth something different, and use them to buy food and drinks. But it seems I have been in the States for too long already, as we stood in the drink line for 15 minutes thinking it was the ticket line.

Anyway, we had a good time, and brought the party home with some friends and some rosé.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ballfields are better late than never.......

Back in March or so, many fans of the Red Hook Ballfields vendors, including myself, got very excited to hear that they had been approved to come back for the summer. That excitement slowly dwindled away with each week passing and no sign of them in the park. After all, the summer is almost half over (its already mid July?!?!) and they still aren't open.

The excitement finally returns today as there are internet whispers that they will be opening up on the 19th of July!

Finally we can all get our fix of huaraches, pupusas, grilled corn, tamarind juice, and more. The food is amazing and now you can get there via Ikea shuttle and water taxi if you don't live in the area. Swedish meatballs are ok, but nothing can beat the ballfield food.

(Image above from David Byrne)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Free Yoga classes at the Meadow all summer!!

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned yogi, the pleasure of practicing outdoors is rare enough not to be missed! The classes will be offered by local instructors in the Urban Meadow (President street, corner of Van Brunt), and this first one is courtesy of Katrina Duncan (Vayu Yoga), Monday July 14, at 7:30pm.

Keep checking in for the upcoming sessions!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mr. Smith Goes to Brooklyn

Summertime in NYC offers many opportunities to see movies outdoors. While many of these offerings take place in large parks or beaches with major crowds, the local Backyard Garden offers something a little more local and intimate:


See A Vintage Feature Film Plus Cartoon—fun for all.
Bring a blanket or folding chair and some popcorn or munchies.
8:30 PM, Saturday July 12th
Hamilton Ave. and Van Brunt

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)
A breath of fresh air from Frank Capra, just what we need to see today! Jimmy Stewart is scoutmaste Jefferson Smith, appointed to fill a Senate vacancy by governor Guy Kibbee. He is far too idealistic for cynical Washington, but stirs up the sleeping conscience of his state’s senior senator, Claude Rains, as he locks horns with political boss Edward Arnold. With the aid of smart secretary Jean Arthur, Idealism triumphs over attempts to corrupt Smith, or to destroy him with contrived scandal. With Eugene Pallette, Harry Carey.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Red Hook Farmers Market Season Opening

Its time for the summer food and vegetable season to begin! The Red Hook community farm will be kicking off this season on Saturday with a wide variety of food available for sale, as well as music and dance performance. Go out and support this wonderful organization, local food, and healthy eating. Even though the new Ikea is practically casting a shadow over the farm, we hope that the crowds it draws will be good for the market. Details are below:

Red Hook Farmers' Market
Season Opening
this Saturday July 5th
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM at the Red Hook Community Farm

The collard green leaves are three times the size of our heads, the corn plants
are up to our shoulders, and we're harvesting zucchini! Summer has arrived!

This Saturday, come check out our produce and enjoy a wonderful performance
from Bomba Yo! (Afro-Puerto Rican youth drum and dance ensemble).

Our market has expanded! Come shop for:
- Added Value's own Brooklyn-grown veggies
- Delicious local fruits (cherries, strawberries, etc.)
- Free-range eggs from Tello's Green Farm (Kingston, NY)
- Breads and sweets from Bread Alone (Boiceville, NY)
- Milk, yogurt, and ice-cream from Ronnybrook Dairy (Ancramdale, NY)
- Fresh fish from Blue Moon Fish (Long Island, NY)
- Organic, grass-fed pork, beef, lamb, chicken, and rabbit from Arcadian
Pastures (Sloansville, NY)

Saturday is a Community Farm Day-- so you're welcome to roll up your sleeves
and lend a hand in the fields, as well! Volunteering for all, from 9-3.

Directions to the Red Hook Community Farm:

AC/F train to Jay Street Borough Hall Exit the station. Cross Jay and Pick up the B61 going towards Red Hook. Take the B61 to Van Brunt and Van Dyke Street. Exit the bus and cross Van Brunt Street. Walk up Van Dyke three blocks to the Farm.

F/G to Smith and 9th Street. Exit the station to the rear of the train (there is only one exit in this station). Transfer to the B77 (right in front of the station) Take the B77 to Van Dyke and Dwight street. You�ll find yourself in front of the Liberty Heights Taproom. Take a left crossing Dwight Street and proceed up Van Dyke to Red Hook Community Farm (one block walk, from the bus stop you can actually see the farm at the end of the street).