Arts and Culture

We live in the cultural capital of the world. And, as you know, that artistic expression is not confined to Manhattan. Our neighborhoods are populated with exciting authors, artists, actors, and other creative professionals. We need to support these members of our community that bring beauty into our world, and encourage each other to express ourselves artistically.

Some great news about the Pavilion Theater

The Pavilion Theater at the corner of Prospect Park – previously known as the Sanders, and before that the Marathon Theater – has been a site of first dates, family movies, and waiting in lines for blockbusters for over a century (even as it has deteriorated pretty badly in recent years).

So many of us were distressed last year when we learned that our neighborhood theater might be replaced with – what else? – luxury condos. It symbolized the loss of places that make our community, well, a real community. 

So today, I’m happy to pass on some good news: our community’s movie theater will be preserved – and made far better. Nitehawk Cinema (one of the best theater operators in NYC) will convert the entire Pavilion building into a completely renovated 7-screen, 650-seat movie theater (and accompanying restaurant and bar). Read more »

The future we want for Gowanus: help us get there

A few short years ago, the future for Gowanus looked bleak. The canal was toxic, with no plan to clean it up. Businesses were on the decline. New housing on 4th Avenue displaced existing residents, was zero percent affordable, and featured ground-floor parking garage grilles blighting the streetscape.

We’re making some genuine progress. Thanks to the EPA’s Superfund process, a real cleanup is on the way. New businesses are springing up – light manufacturing, artists, materials re-use, co-working, and more. We’ve got funding in the budget for new parks and schools.  

Now, we face new challenges. Real estate pressures threaten manufacturing businesses, artists, and affordable housing. Current trends will yield more hotels, self-storage facilities, and big-box stores which do little to strengthen our neighborhood. Long-term disinvestment in infrastructure means streets that flood, dilapidated public housing, and a continued need for schools, open space, and transit.

So the next steps – in shaping the future for Gowanus we want – are up to us. Read more »

Construction Begins on Park Slope Library Reading Circle and Storytelling Garden

Council Member Brad Lander, Friends of Park Slope Library, Community Members Celebrate External Improvements, New Public Amenities Funded Through PBNYC

Brooklyn, NY—Construction is underway on the new Park Slope Library Reading Circle and Storytelling Garden, Brooklyn Public Library announced today.

The project includes a storytelling amphitheater, community gardening space, paths and planters, a water fountain and more at the historic Carnegie branch. Pending approval by the city’s Public Design Commission and Landmarks Preservation Commission, the garden will also be home to a statue of beloved children’s book character Knuffle Bunny, the creation of author Mo Willems. The statue will be funded by the Friends of Park Slope Library. Read more »

Parks, Plazas, and More --- New Open Spaces to Enjoy in Kensington this summer

Summer is here and across New York City, our public parks and shared outdoor spaces are in high demand. That’s why I’m pleased to tell you that – after several years of hard work and significant investment—Kensington has two brand new outdoor spaces for you to enjoy this summer: the renovated Dome Playground, and starting this weekend, a public plaza at McDonald Avenue and Avenue C. Come celebrate with us Sunday at our brand new plaza! Read more »

Some new candidates on the (PBNYC) ballot!

PBNYC Vote Week is underway – and there are some new candidates on the ballot!

For the first time ever, we’ll be offering a brand new voting opportunity. In addition to voting on how to spend $1.5 million on the “capital projects ballot” (with 13 great projects like those from prior years), you’ll also get to vote on how to spend $50,000 on our brand new “program ballot.” 

Every year, during the PBNYC brainstorming phase, we hear many great ideas that don’t meet the criteria for “city capital” funding, which has to be for “bricks-and-mortar” projects.

So this year, we are offering an entire second ballot of projects that qualify for city “programmatic” funding that lets us really take advantage of all the creativity we see in PBNYC.  I’m proud to say we are the only district in NYC piloting this new opportunity. Read more »

PBNYC 2016 Ballot is here: What will you choose?

You’re going to get a lot of chances to vote this year – the Presidential primary in April, the State legislative primary in September, and the General Election in November.

But only one ballot contains 13 fantastic local projects to improve our schools, parks, libraries, streets and transit: the PBNYC 2016 ballot for our district is here, and its time to get ready to vote on how you want to spend $1.5 million. Read more »

#AnnotateNYC (my first trip to genius.com)

Earlier this month, I had the chance to visit the new genius.com HQ (on 3rd Street between Hoyt & Bond, just a few steps from the Gowanus Canal).

genius.com (aka rapgenius.com) allows users to annotate & interpret song lyrics, news stories, and any other form of text on the web.  It was launched in 2009 with a focus on hip-hop lyrics, and expanded in 2014 to cover other forms of media. This year, they moved to Gowanus, so I went by to check it out.

Although I’m not certainly not a hip-hop connoisseur, I love the idea of a community of people annotating, interpreting, and arguing about text. It’s a lot like an online version of the Talmud. Or a University of Chicago seminar. Or a committee mark-up of a piece of legislation.

So I’ve signed up, and tried my hand at my first two annotations. Read more »

Protecting Freelancers from Getting Stiffed

New York City is the freelance capital of the world, with over 1.3 million freelancers, so many of them right here in Brooklyn. More and more people are working “by the gig” (as graphic designers, film producers, for-hire drivers, nannies, and much more), rather than for a regular paycheck.

But despite the rapidly growing percentage of workers who are paid this way, our laws have not kept up with our changing economy. As a result, gig economy workers don’t have the protections and benefits of traditional employees.

One consequence: more than 70% of freelancers report having been stiffed out of payments they were owed – by being paid too late, too little, or not at all – to the tune of $6,390 every year, on average. I’ve heard stories from individuals who were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars they were owed.

Everyone deserves to be paid for their work, on time and in full. So on Monday, in partnership with the Freelancer’s Union, I introduced the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act.”  Read more »

Gratitude, 2015

There’s a lot to be anxious about these days.

Terrorism around the world punctures our sense of security, and prompts xenophobic backlash against our neighbors and those seeking protection from this very sort of terror.

Climate change threatens the world we will hand our kids.

Growing inequality makes it harder for people just to get by.

We struggle across racial divides, as we see video of yet another young African-American man killed needlessly in an encounter with police, and violence comes to those protesting peacefully to change an unfair system.

And at times, the changes in our communities – new development, skyrocketing rents, rising homelessness – make us feel we are losing our neighborhoods.

So I’m glad that Thanksgiving is here, to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. Read more »

More New Plans for St. Mary’s Playground

As you might have seen earlier this year, a major reconstruction is in the works for St. Mary’s Playground (under the F and G tracks, along Smith Street from Luquer to Huntington Streets).

The park has long been closed, due to MTA’s rehabilitation of the Culver Viaduct and nearby Smith 9th Street station. But with that work largely complete, we’re working to bring it back!

On Wednesday night, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation will present their preliminary design for the northern half of St. Mary’s Playground (between Luquer and Nelson Streets) at the Brooklyn Community Board 6 Parks Committee: Read more »