Sunday, March 31, 2013

[UPDATED]: Fresh Veggies in Crown Heights This Summer

Four years ago, ILFA was part of the inaugural class of the Crown Heights CSA (known today as the Crown Heights Farm Share). For those not familiar with the abbreviation, CSA stands for "community supported agriculture," a model in which participants buy "shares" in a farm for the summer in exchange for a weekly payout of fresh veggies. In 2009, there was only one such venture operating in Crown Heights, but as of this summer, there are at least three, along with a local farmers' market on Dean Street between Franklin and Bedford and a few community gardens, too. If you're interested in getting involved with any of these groups, read on below:

- The Crown Heights Farm Share has just opened registration for 2013. They offer full and half shares of vegetables, as well as fruit and cheese shares, and a subsidized program for low-income folks that's payable by food stamps as well as cash. Pickups are every Tuesday at Georgia's Place (Prospect and Bedford). Having been a member for the last four years, ILFA's a big fan - the organizers are fun, friendly, community-minded people (not that you new CSAs don't sound like lovely people, too!). 

- The Letterbox Farm Collective, based upstate but with farms around the area (including the folks from the Wooly Pig Farm in Madison, CT, who got in touch) is launching a CSA out of LaunchPad this year. They'll be offering a garden vegetable share, a poultry share, and a canning share on Monday nights all summer long. 

- Finally, Everett Kramer of Sweet Holler Farm is launching a CSA in Prospect Heights, which will run June - November and offer a wide range of vegetables. Complete info can be found on his site here.

- UPDATE: The folks at the Prospect Park CSA, which picks up over at Grand and Washington, are now in their third year and are also accepting new members. Lots of options!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thanks to all for a great town hall!

(photos via Brooklynian, who have more posted here)

First and foremost, ILFA wants to extend a big, sincere thank-you to everyone who took time out of their weekend to come to the Crow Hill Community Association Town Hall Meeting this past Saturday. It was exciting to see so many people from all walks of life engaged in earnest conversations about how to realize their dreams for Crown Heights. We'll be posting reports from the meeting as soon as we can get them together (as well as planning for the next meeting and the next steps to come), but in the meantime, if you did come to the meeting, and if you found it as productive and inspiring as I did, share those conversations and that momentum with your family, friends, and neighbors. If we could maintain that level of involvement and commitment on a regular basis (and I'm not suggesting that's easy - after all, I took the rest of the weekend off from pretty much everything), I'm confident we could accomplish quite a few of the goals we discussed on Saturday. 

I'm planning to post some more thoughts soon, but in the meantime, I really enjoyed this reflection from Brooklyn Born, and I recommend it to everyone, whether you came to the meeting or not. And while we're on the subject of community involvement in neighborhood change, it seems a good time post a link to the Needs Assessment Survey that Heart of Brooklyn and WAPHA (the Washington Avenue-Prospect Heights Association) are doing for Washington Avenue. More info from their press release is copied below. 

Heart of Brooklyn, A Cultural Partnership,
Launches a Needs Assessment Survey For Washington Avenue

(March 15, 2013, Brooklyn, NY) Heart of Brooklyn (HOB), a Cultural Partnership will launch a Needs Assessment Survey focused on retail development for Washington Avenue between Atlantic Avenue & Eastern Parkway.  The findings will be shared publicly  The purpose of the survey is to help increase the retail mix in the district. Surveys will be distributed at participating businesses and online at  Additionally, volunteers will be conducting intercept surveys with area residents, and visitors to the cultural campus, at various locations in the area starting Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

With the help of a grant from New York City's Department of Small Business Services, Heart of Brooklyn has been supporting the efforts of the local merchant association, Washington Avenue - Prospect Heights Association (WAPHA), through street beautification projects, the HOB Connection and local promotions. In 2013, HOB has been working closely with JGSC, a retail-consulting firm, to provide information to property owners and realtors in Prospect Heights & Crown Heights interested in attracting retail prospects in categories that are either absent or under-served on Washington Avenue.

"We are excited that our programs are connecting commercial property owners and realtors with entrepreneurs looking to expand in Brooklyn, to help meet the needs of residents and visitors," said Denise McClean, chair of Heart of Brooklyn. 

For specific dates and times at various survey locations, please call (718) 623-7259

Heart of Brooklyn (HOB) is a partnership of the leading cultural institutions located near Grand Army Plaza in central Brooklyn. Founded in 2001 by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Alliance, and Prospect Park Zoo, this partnership is dedicated to promoting its unique cultural campus as a "must-see" destination to a diverse audience in Brooklyn and beyond. Heart of Brooklyn encourages tourism and learning by making its world-class collections and historic treasures more visible and accessible. As an integral part of Brooklyn's renaissance, Heart of Brooklyn is committed to strengthening the future of its neighborhoods. Learn more at

Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekend Links: Town Hall, Built in Brooklyn, Haiti Cultural Exchange Today, & More

It is, as I say nearly every Friday, a busy weekend in Crown Heights. On Saturday from 12-3pm, the Crow Hill Community Association hosts a Town Hall Meeting (you'll recognize your friendly neighborhood blogger among the volunteers) to ask residents from all walks of life what they like about their neighborhood, what they don't like about it, what their dream for the neighborhood is, and how we might work together toward these dreams. The meeting will consist of small-group sessions where neighbors can meet and talk in an open forum on these questions and a group session to report the key concerns, issues, and ideas that emerge from these conversations. 

Why should you come, when there are so many other things to do in Brooklyn on a spring Saturday? If you live in Crown Heights, you already know that the area is changing rapidly and that residents new and old alike have ample reason to view (some of) these changes with (some measure of) skepticism and trepidation. These sentiments linger around the edges of nearly every formal meeting that takes place in the neighborhood, and they can be heard in informal conversations up and down Franklin Avenue. The goal of this meeting is not to lay blame for gentrification, but to talk frankly and openly about it, and to think about how, as a community, local residents can make their voices heard and involve themselves in these changes in a constructive way.

Does this sound like a lot for a Saturday? It probably will be challenging for many participants - these conversations always are - though I'm hopeful that it will be fulfilling, educative, and inspiring at the same time. As civil rights scholar Francesca Polletta put it, "freedom is an endless meeting." Participatory democracy is hard work that takes a lot of time, but the relationships it builds and the community efforts it launches are well worth it.

- Also on Saturday, check out the Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair at LaunchPad from 12-6pm (ILFA is encouraging everyone to swing by after the meeting, of course). 

- Daily Press has won a beer and wine license, and they'll now be staying open late on Friday and Saturday nights to make use of it (with your help, of course). 

- This evening (Friday), Five Myles hosts photographer Marc Baptiste as part of the Haiti Cultural Exchange's An n' Pale conversations series from 6-8pm.

- The kids of PS 221 are having a Hip2BHealthy fundraiser this afternoon (Friday) with Seeds in the Middle, with fresh fruit for sale and information about their youth programming, including their spring soccer league, on hand.

- Passover begins Monday for the neighborhood's Jewish community, but the handmade matzos from Crown Heights are already in the oven.

- Finally, if you're not at a seder on Monday night, swing by the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center from 5-7pm to catch Spike Lee's "Crooklyn" on their big screen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tuesday Roundup: Rezoning Moves Forward, Crown Height Community Mediation Center Events, & More

(view a larger map and more info from DCP here)

- As reported earlier on Brownstoner, the Department of City Planning has released its latest vision for the rezoning of "Western Crown Heights." Released on the heels of a narrow "no" vote from Community Board  8 (which has only advisory control in this case) regarding the conversion of 964 Dean Street to a live-work artists' space that hinged in large part on the question of affordable housing, this plan proposes some modest upzoning to provide for construction of some affordable units. It's also sure to generate plenty of debate (and hey, ya know where a great place to talk about all of this would be? That's right - the Town Hall Meeting this Saturday!)

- Montrose Morris' (a pen name, and a good one at that) excellent series on Black Brooklynites in the nineteenth century continues on Brownstoner

- The folks at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center have a great slate of events coming up. Read on below from their latest updates.

The Crown Heights Community Mediation center have a few upcoming events for residents of Crown Heights. We hope you can share this information with your members and constituents.

  • The Congresswoman Yvette Clarke's office in partnership with Brooklyn College is bringing Free Tax Preparation to the community of Crown Heights. This service will be available on Saturdays 10am-3pm at the Crown Heights Community Mediation center, 256 Kingston Ave (between Lincoln and St. Johns place). In order to continue this service, we need a decent turn out of people to attend and bring in their taxes. The income limits are: $60,000 for families and $25,000 for individuals. Clients should bring, valid photo identification, social security card, voided check if requesting direct deposit, all income and expense statements (W2, 1099s, SSI and other tax documents). For more information, please call: 718-773-6886

  • The New York Legal Assistance Group will be having a Free Family Law/General Legal Help Day on March 20 10am-3pm at the Crown Heights Community Mediation center, 256 Kingston Ave (between Lincoln and St. Johns place). To make an appointment, please call: 718-773-6886.

  • Fresh Air Funds Summer Camp Registration: We are presently registering young children for the free sleep away summer camp options offered by the Fresh Air Funds. It is a great opportunity for "City Kids" to get away and experience nature away from the fast paced atmosphere of the city. Registration is FREE, the whole program is free, but spots are limited. For more information and to make a registration appointment, please call: 718-773-6886

  • Monday Movies at CHCMC. This is a new, and fun program that is starting at the Mediation Center, we will be opening up our office for free movie nights and providing a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for people to come together and have a good time. The next Monday Movies will be March 25th from 5pm-7pm, and we will be showing "Crooklyn." There will lots of popcorn and other refreshments.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fire at 307 Eastern Parkway

Reports at the scene indicated everyone was ok, though one man was taken out in a wheelchair. Still, it's a terrible night to be stuck outside. Tony Fisher was keeping Pulp and Bean open for victims as of this writing. Let us know how else we can help.

Monday Roundup - Women Love the World at LaunchPad, Brooklyn Up at Franklin Park, Built and Brooklyn Returns, and Town Hall Meeting This Weekend

Here's the weekly roundup of events (as always, it's a full slate):

- Women Love the World, a three day festival and fundraiser celebrating women artist activists, runs from Wednesday-Friday at LaunchPad. Click on the flyer above or follow the link for more details.

- You can also swing by LaunchPad for a beginner Italian lesson (the start of a course) tomorrow night at 8:30pm, catch the Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair on Saturday from 12-6pm, a Board Games Night on Saturday starting at 8pm, and a clothing swap on Sunday afternoon from 2-5pm. 

- Don't forget the Town Hall Meeting this Saturday, from 12-3pm at PS 22 (Classon and St. Marks). Organizers are also still looking for volunteers to help with outreach this week and to help coordinate the event - more information at the CHCA site.

- Debates about policing in New York City continue to rage after several days of protest in East Flatbush following the killing of Kimani Gray and the beginning of Floyd v. City of New York this week. Locally, city comptroller and mayoral hopeful John Liu will host a Town Hall Meeting (not to be confused with the one above) on Stop and Frisk this Wednesday at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ at 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (Marcy Avenue) from 5:30 -7:30pm.

- Finally, a pair of links from the "Crown Heights" Google Alert: DNAInfo talks with Russ Garofalo, accountant to Brooklyn's creative class, and New York Magazine swings by Cool Pony.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Press Release: Tenant Protest Today

Press Conference & Rally
Saturday, March 16th at 1pm
805 St. Marks Avenue [btwn New York Ave. & Brooklyn Ave.]

St. Marks Tenants Rise Up: Years of Landlord Harassment, No Heat, Mold & Shoddy Walls

805 St. Marks to Pinnacle Group: “We Demand Repairs, Rent Decrease, Tenant Justice!”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- When Pinnacle Group bought the rent-stabilized building at 805 St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, the notorious corporate landlord probably didn’t realize it was messing with some of the toughest tenants in Brooklyn.  And at a rally and press conference on Saturday, the people of the 805 St. Marks Avenue Tenants Rights Committee will make it clear – we won’t stand for harassment, shoddy repairs, or the displacement of our community.

Natherlene Bolden said, “I’ve lived in the building over thirty years and since Pinnacle has taken over, the conditions haves deteriorated rapidly.  The repairs – sometimes even when you go to court and the judge orders it – are not getting done.  We are fighting back for our rights as tenants.”

Tammy Moore said, “They raised the rent on us once before, for the boiler – and the heat’s still terrible.  They have too few workers in the building, and those workers are overworked and underpaid.”

Constance Nuccio added, “Not only that, to get my windows fixed, I had to wait three months.  Can you imagine that?  The window where my fire escape is, the lock is broken, anyone can come in.  I flipped out.” 

Pinnacle is well-known for past practices of rent overcharge and tenant harassment.  The company is currently engaged in selective “renovation” of vacant apartments at 805 St. Marks Avenue – and failing to do necessary repairs in the apartments of long-term residents.  A tenants’ alliance of long-term residents and a few new residents formed to fight back.

Pinnacle Group stormed out of a Thursday night meeting at the building last week.  Since January, tenants have been demanding that Pinnacle fix problems ranging from rusty, polluted water to absent heat on some of the coldest days of the winter.  Some apartments have longstanding mold problems; others have “repairs” as shoddy as plastic sheeting covering holes in the wall.  Despite superficial efforts, these problems persist – and what’s more, Pinnacle wants tenants to pay for the repairs.

805 St. Marks Avenue and the building’s other address (1206 Bergen Street) currently have a total of more than 250 open violations of the housing code on file with HPD.

For our part, the tenants of 805 St. Marks want Pinnacle to fix the building and stop targeting it for rent increases.  We are demanding a 25% rent reduction – in light of years of neglected repairs to common areas and apartments, and to ensure that working-class people can continue to call 805 St. Marks home for the next generation.  At Saturday’s rally and press conference, the people of 805 St. Marks will hold Pinnacle accountable.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Weekend Links: Stork Celebrates One Year, Crown Heights Artists on Display, and Town Hall Outreach

(Stork preparing to open last March)

Apparently March is anniversary month on Franklin (see the post below). Stork turns one (an appropriate age for a baby boutique) this weekend, and they're having a little party on Sunday to celebrate. From their press release:

Sunday, March 17
Join us as we celebrate our 1-year anniversary. Drop by for special discount offers, tasty treats (by McDonald’s, Happy Baby Family, BCakeNY), goodie bags, raffle prizes (Dapple, Manhattan Toy, Enchanted Lion books) and more!  View new Spring/Summer merchandise to include new exclusive clothing line fresh outta BROOKLYN.  Other new brands include NUNUNU, Lucky Wang, Mini & Maximus, Indikidual, Peas & Queues, See Kai Run, Vans and Livie & Luca.  Wish us “Happy 1st Anniversary” and receive 10% off your in-store clothing and shoe purchase. Discount excludes sale items.  

Over in Gowanus, five local (Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy) artists are on display in the BRIC Arts show "Cultural Fluency: Engagements with Contemporary Brooklyn," curated by CH denizen Erin Gleason. ILFA dropped the ball on their Wednesday night opening, but you can still swing by to check out their work from Tuesday-Saturday in the BRIC Rotunda Gallery, and put April 4 on your calendar, when they'll host a Q&A with the artists and curator. They've also launched an online forum for the project here.

Finally, the Crow Hill Community Association Town Hall Meeting on March 23 is approaching rapidly. Follow the link above to get involved.

A few things ILFA missed this week:

- DNAInfo wrote up a Caribbean Ballroom showcase that took place last weekend.

- Reader John sent along photos of work progressing at Bob & Betty's II / Pulp & Bean II across Eastern Parkway:

- Finally, our local pols were on their soapboxes, with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries discussing the impact of the sequester on Sandy relief, Councilwoman (and candidate for Public Advocate) Tish James proposing a resolution to better engage communities on the building of nearby casinos, and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke took to the Congressional blog to discuss the Voting Rights Act.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Franklin Park Reading Series Four Year Anniversary TONIGHT

Has it been four years?! It has. Head out tonight for what's sure to be a great even from the Franklin Park Reading Series at 8pm. More info below from their FB page:

We can't believe it's been four years! To mark the occasion, we're hosting two acclaimed West Coast novelists, JOSHUA MOHR (Fight Song, Damascus) and T. GERONIMO JOHNSON (Hold It 'Til It Hurts), along with three movers and shakers of NYC's lit community: ADAM TOBIN, owner of Prospect Heights indie bookstore Unnameable Books; ERIC NELSON, co-curator of Bushwick's Fireside Follies Reading Series; and ERIKA ANDERSON, an online editor at Electric Literature!

The evening will feature a mix of genres -- fiction, memoir and poetry.

And the fun includes tasty treats, super cheap booze, giveaways and an awesome book raffle!


Monday, March 11, 8-10pm
Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden
618 St. Johns Place, between Classon and Franklin Avenues
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Subway: 2/3/4/5 trains to Franklin Avenue


DRINK SPECIALS: $4 pints, plus $1 off the first 100 drinks, courtesy of Small Demons.

We're very grateful to our sponsor, the literary indexing site Small Demons (, and to BOMB Magazine ( for recording podcasts.


JOSHUA MOHR is the author, most recently, of the widely hailed novel Fight Song, as well as the novels Termite Parade (a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice selection), Some Things that Meant the World to Me (one of O Magazine's Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller), and Damascus, published in the fall of 2011 to much critical acclaim. Mohr teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.

T. GERONIMO JOHNSON is the author of the highly praised debut novel Hold It ’Til It Hurts. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Best New American Voices, Indiana Review, LA Review, and Illuminations, among others. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Born in New Orleans, Johnson currently teaches writing at the University of California–Berkeley.

ADAM TOBIN lives in Brooklyn, where he owns and operates Unnameable Books, a new and used bookstore. His chapbooks and pamphlets have been published by Horse Less Press, Mondo Bummer, The Weekly Weakling, and For Words Press. His poems have appeared in Fence and EOAGH, among others.

ERIC NELSON’s essays, criticism, and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The Billfold, HTMLGIANT, Chimes & Sirens, Volume 1 Brooklyn, and Squawk Back, among others. He is the author of the short story collection The Silk City (Knickerbocker Circus) and the recent chapbook The Walt Whitman House (Crumpled Press). He will be guest-editing the next issue of Five [Quarterly] and is co-curator of Bushwick’s Fireside Follies Reading Series. Originally from New Jersey, he currently lives in Ridgewood, Queens.

ERIKA ANDERSON is an online editor for Electric Literature and teaches at the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, Interview Magazine, Hunger Mountain, and other publications. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in the suburb of Crown Heights, where she co-hosts the Renegade Reading Series for emerging writers. Find her on Twitter at @ErikaOnFire.

Changing Crown Heights In The News

(The New York Times peers down on Crown Heights)

A pair of articles caught my eye over the weekend, both passed along by readers. The first ran in the New York Times Real Estate Section (perhaps the most read, and most influential, section of the Grey Lady when it comes to the city itself), and was titled "Brooklyn's New Gentrification Frontiers: Moving Deeper Into Brooklyn for Lower Home Prices." The second was a report in the Brooklyn Paper on the ongoing debate over the effort to convert 964 Dean Street, an industrial building in an M-1 zone, into a live-work space. To summarize, the artists who own the building are seeking support for a zoning variance from Community Board 8, where opponents, many of whom are fond of the artists and respect their longtime commitment to the neighborhood, argue that granting such a variance will lead to the elimination of the light-industrial area and the jobs it provides between (roughly) Bergen and Atlantic and Franklin and Washington. They also fear that piecemeal development will proceed without attention to area-wide needs like affordable housing and jobs, which could perhaps be guaranteed if a deal regarding the whole area was made (though these deals are hard to make and often even harder to enforce). The housing committee approved the variance 13-2, asking the artists to consider renting one or two units below market rate, and now the full board will weigh in.

It's worth comparing the perspectives of the actors in each story. In the Brooklyn Paper's report, creative-class folks are trying to carve out a space for themselves in an increasingly pricey neighborhood - both for studio space and living space - while local leaders worry that even their modest plan might launch a feeding frenzy (one that's likely already on the way when 1000 Dean opens) and drive off what few working-class jobs and affordable units there are left in the area. Meanwhile, the prospective buyers the Times describes see Crown Heights as a frontier (always a problematic concept), and consider the median real estate sale price of $425,440 (up a whopping 13.5% from last year) a relative bargain. Theirs is a very different perspective (and as long as the NYT is writing up the neighborhood in the Real Estate section, it's one to keep an eye on, whether you're an artist or a local leader trying to preserve some measure of affordability). 

The Times describes Crown Heights as follows:

Buyers will find an area still very much in transition away from a turbulent past. In August 1991, to take a notable example, a Hasidic man in Crown Heights lost control of his car and killed a black child, sparking three days of riots that saddled the neighborhood with a reputation not easily shaken off. Community relations have vastly improved since then, thanks in part to residents’ efforts.

I'm glad they've finally gotten around to acknowledging the efforts of community members to preserve, improve, and rebuild the neighborhood - not just after the riot but also from years of systematic disinvestment and inadequate municipal attention - but in whose eyes is the area still in transition from that moment? It's not that we should forget the riot, but explaining turbulence and transition in Crown Heights as the product of an event more than twenty years past ignores everything that's happened in between, and all that's happening right now. As a wise man once said, "its not what happened here, it's more what's happening here."

A few other links from the weekend:

- Jabbar Campbell of Crown Heights is seeking justice in a January incident in which he reports NYPD officers raided his gay pride party and assaulted him. 

- Speaking of history in Crown Heights, Brownstoner's Montrose Morris wrote an interesting post about the history of the Brooklyn Home for Consumptives in Crown Heights.

- Last but not least, the Times wasn't just out in Crown Heights to scout housing for its readership - they also stopped by Mayfield, and were very much impressed

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Art Therapy Workshop Tonight (& What's in a Name)

SOS Crown Heights kicks off its Arts To End Violence festival tonight with an art therapy workshop at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center on Kingston. Watch this space for more announcements about their programming, and click here for more info if you want to get involved.

In unrelated news, ILFA appeared in Sonja Sharp's look at the ever-shifting borders of Crown Heights on DNAInfoNY yesterday. This is a long-running debate; click over to Brownstoner or Brooklynian for many a thread discussing both the geography and the morality of naming (Brownstoner had an active thread building on the DNAInfo article yesterday). Without offering any hard-and-fast answers here, I will say that naming, to an historian, is fascinating. Dive into the archives, talk to old-timers, and the things you find are illuminating, because names are both deeply familiar and (going all the way back to scripture) the product of an exercise of power. That's not to say that this exercise is always nefarious - as I mentioned to Sonja Sharp, minor bureaucratic decisions can produce lasting names, often unintentionally - but it does mean that it's absolutely worth asking both WHO calls a place a certain name and WHY they call it that. 

On Franklin, the Crown Heights - Prospect Heights debate has raged and subsided (with a tremendous eruption during the heady days of Pro-Cro), but that's just the most recent iteration. I once, after calling Franklin "Crown Heights," received a lecture from someone who had taught at Prospect Heights High School (on Classon and Union) for 30 years. She claimed that "Prospect Heights" had once stretched much further east, and that "people" (ah, but who?) had only lumped it all together as Crown Heights once the area had begun to suffer from disinvestment and crime in the 1970s and 1980s (a sort of reverse narrative to today's naming contests). Go back even further, and you can find claims that the area once called Crow Hill was "gentrified during the early 20th century and renamed Crown Heights." The origins and geography of "Crow Hill" are themselves debated: some claim the area lay much further east, and the question of whether "crows" were birds or free African Americans (Brooklyn had a small but noteworthy antebellum population, as ably documented by Montrose Morris over on Brownstoner recently) is also unanswered.

All of this should warn us against the fallacy of origins (there was almost always someone here earlier who called the area something different), but not so much that we slide into the "change is the only constant" morass. Asking how names came about, and why they changed, is a great historical question (and in our own moment, an interesting political one). I leave you with this fantastic description of Brooklyn in 1888 from the Brooklyn Eagle - you'll recognize some names (but not others), and 125 years ago, they too observed the passage of old names and the arrival of new ones.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Weekend Recap: Never a dull moment

Time was when reporters on Franklin Avenue were as rare as daffodils in winter, but that time has surely passed. Still, it was a surprise to have the ABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News team roll into Tastebuds while the lady and I were enjoying our Saturday morning biscuits. Look for co-founder Kevin Philip (pictured above) in the introductory segments ("eyyyyyyyyyyewitness news!") next time you're channel surfing.

A few other tidbits from around the Avenue:

- If you haven't heard, the battle between MySpaceNYC and the Crown Heights Assembly ratcheted up another notch last week when MySpaceNYC filed a suit claiming $31 million in damages from the Assembly. ILFA's no lawyer, but I can't imagine this is the last word. They've been discussing this over at Brownstoner

- Registration is now open for the Seeds in the Middle spring soccer league. Games start on Sunday, March 17. Email for more info.

- Our newly-elected Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries, appeared on MSNBC yesterday to discuss the impending sequester.

- The beautifully-rebuilt Church of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights officially became a cathedral over the weekend. Two and a half years ago, ILFA saw T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" performed there when it was still a parish church. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

- Finally, the folks at LaunchPad pass along this week's calendar:


Monday, March 4th @ 8pm
Come Crafting

We are gathering tomorrow from 8-10pm.  Our theme is Mending and Darning.  We will have threads of all colors and needles of all sizes.  If you are planning on darning (patching knits) try to bring yarn that is the same fiber content as your piece of clothing or other knit item.  If you want your patched section to blend in the same color is good too.  No experience necessary, I can teach a variety of hand sewing stitches needed to repair whatever you have.  I will be doing reconstructive stuffed animal surgery and at least one other person mentioned wanting to darn holes in socks.  Other things to fix include repairing hems, patching pants, repairing rips etc.

Even if you don't have anything to repair, come to work on your own projects and chat.  Please note that we currently do not have sewing machines available, but we do have some chunky yarn and some needles and crochet hooks and other stuff.  If there is something else you would like to use let me know and I'll see what I have on hand. 

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C trains to Franklin Avenue station
8p; Pay what you wish


Wednesday, March 6th @ 8pm
Best Friends Thread

Improv Comedy's "Walking on Memphis" hosts an all-improv comedy show at the LaunchPad in Brooklyn.

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C trains to Franklin Avenue station
8p, $5 suggested donation


Thursday, March 7th @ 8pm
Drink and Draw and Draw

Come draw and drink and draw some more at LaunchPad's figure drawing night! We have live models, music and drinks. Drawers of all levels welcome!
Led by artist Jess Worby (

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2,3,4,5,C trains to Franklin Avenue station
8p; Pay what you wish


Saturday, March 9th @ 8pm
Hardscape/ABC Release Party

Poet Andrew Spano and artist Ivana Masic present their new collaboration: a collection of poetry and art called HARDSCAPE/ABC, published by Atropos Press. There will be readings from the book, projections of the art, and several featured readers reading from their own work. Books will be for sale, and there will be a cash bar.


Andrew Spano is a poet, fiction writer, composer, and research scholar. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including journals of poetry, fiction, psychology, and international affairs. He is a senior lecturer in English and Business Communication at Northeastern University, was a full-time journalist in newspapers, magazines, and television for a decade, and was a Foreign Expert in English at Taian Teachers' College in China. He earned a Ph.D. in Media Philosophy (summa cum laude) from the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and an M.A. in English from the University of Vermont. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Hannah Lillith Assadi is completing her MFA in Fiction at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Hannah [She] is working on her first novel. Hannah has also published [Her published work includes] short stories, poetry and wrote the [and a] script for an experimental short film that is being [was] optioned for production in France. In 2011, she wrote the script for a short play which was produced shortly thereafter [omit] in her hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona [by???]. While pursuing her MFA, she has worked [she has been working] as an administrative and research assistant in the office of Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz. She also [In 2012, she] participated in a literary translation project, under the direction of Binnie Kirshenbaum, with Syrian author Danny Ahmed-Ramadan. Hannah [She] attended Columbia University for her bachelor's [degree] where she graduated summa cum laude in Middle Eastern Literature and Languages and Creative Writing. Her senior thesis, for which she received departmental honors, was a comparative study of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai and Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Hannah was awarded the Philolexian Prize in 2008 for her short stories and essays and was recently shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize. Her work has been published in Mizna,Tablet, and The Current. Hannah [She lives in] currently resides in Brooklyn.

Ivana Masic is a well established and professional artist educator from New York. She graduated from Manhattanville College with a Masters in Art Education and teaches at the high school level in Valhalla, NY. Ivana has acted as Art Director in both literary and film media. Currently, she is also the Art Director for the publishing company, The Last Automat Press, and has created over thirty original book covers. Ivana actively collaborates with various musicians, filmmakers, and institutions to exhibit and educate others. She states,“Through and with the arts, we can indefinitely mend our beautiful world.” To read more about Ivana Masic and her creative endeavors please refer to her website:

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