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After fraying wires in the backyard knocked our internet out for three days, ILFA is back with some weekend links. First off, however, I must pay homage to the Verizon employee who saved the day this morning: not only did he show up early (usually the 8am-8pm window means a visit around 4 or 5pm), but he ran up and down our stairs ten times at breakneck speed, completely rewired our connection, fixed another faulty connection while doing our job, and reported a bungled attempt at a burglary to the super of the building next door. Not bad for a Saturday before noon.
- This story is a week old, and many readers have probably seen it elsewhere, but Oprah Winfrey made her way out from Chicago to Crown Heights last fall to film a two-part series with two Chabad/Hasidic Jewish families right here in Crown Heights. The first of these episodes aired a week ago, prompting generally favorable reviews from the Chabad community and the general public (Rachel Shukert, who's appeared at the Franklin Park Reading Series, wrote a thoughtful review for Tablet). While Shukert notes that the families Oprah encounters are remarkably camera-ready and gloss over some of the more uncommon or even controversial elements of their lifestyle, she suggests that there's much to be gained from watching, and after a clip or two, I'm inclined to agree. Tensions between longtime Jewish residents and newcomers made news a couple of weeks back, and while Oprah can't solve everything, having a sense of who our neighbors are can never hurt.
- Councilwoman Letitia James came across my Google Alert for Crown Heights yesterday as the focus of a piece in Gay City News with an eye-popping headline. James is leading the charge in the City Council for the opening of schools to churches when school is not in session, which would require a new law allowing worship services in schools (such services are currently banned by New York State). The law in question has interesting implications. On the one hand, I can completely understand the desire to get more community groups, including churches, invested in local schools by turning them into resources for local groups. Churches, including many in James's district, are often repositories of motivated, experienced community leaders, and giving these people a vested interest in public schools could be a route to improvement (courting local investment in schools is something we discussed on this blog a few weeks ago). On the other hand, as the article cited above notes, allowing groups that sometimes openly discriminate against people of different creeds, genders, and sexualities to use public facilities to ply their trade (and to mark schools as "their territory" in some fashion) strikes many observers as extremely problematic. James counters with the point that churches are already tax-exempt and thus state-subsidized - readers, your thoughts?
- Stork got a nice write-up from Prospect Heights Patch earlier this week. They're slated to open on March 3rd.
- Finally, the Bedford-Union Armory Project linked some truly fantastic photos of the space from Levine Roberts. Use them to fuel your imagination, and then email your ideas for repurposing this massive space to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the Armory Project is compiling them for a spring report.