Kensington

Still and always, grateful

Some years, gratitude is closer to the surface. Some years, it takes a little more digging.

Four years ago, as Thanksgiving came, we were recovering from a natural disaster.

Hurricane Sandy had taken the lives of loved ones, and battered our city. There were 500 nursing home evacuees living on the drill floor of the Park Slope Armory. But we found – no, together, we made – a “paradise built in hell” (the title of a brilliant book by Rebecca Solnit, about the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster). With food, music, art, volunteers, bathroom-cleaning, doctors, donations, smart organizing, love, and a deep sense of purpose, we turned that Armory into a place (as described by evacuee Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler) of “courtesy, gentleness, and goodness beyond description.” Even if it could not hold back the hurricane, she said, “it makes one feel more secure and very, very grateful.”

Today, as Thanksgiving comes, we are trying to recover from a political disaster. While the lives lost and damage done by Hurricane Sandy cannot be directly compared, the experience of loss for many of us is still real. Not just that we lost an election, though that will have profound consequences. What feels especially painful to me today is the risk that we’ll lose a vision that we’ve been so proud to hold up for our kids – of a country called to its best self, rooted in compassion, embracing difference, with a real belief (even when we don’t make it real) that everyone deserves a more equal chance across all our lines.

That very dream, and the effort to make it real, provoked a sharp back-lash (a “white-lash”, as Van Jones rightly called it). At this moment, it seems easier to mobilize the darker, more closed, more resentful, sides of humanity – rather than the hopeful, open, embracing ones. I’m afraid, honestly, about what that means for being human.  

Still and always, gratitude is a critical part of the way forward. Not as a way of “feeling better” (although gratitude turns out to be good for your health). And not only because bitterness can consume us (although John Lewis reminds us that hearts full of love will do a lot better to sustain us for a long-term struggle). But also because gratitude for what we do together, for what we can’t do alone, for the ways we need each other, is at the heart of creating an inclusive community. “Organized compassion” is not only how we fight but what we are fighting for.

So, in that spirit, here’s some of what I am so deeply grateful for, still and always: Read more »

Support our immigrant neighbors with a Thanksgiving contribution

The election of Donald Trump has made this a fearful time for many of our immigrant neighbors, especially in Sunset Park and Kensington. We are committed to working closely together with these communities in the days ahead.

Together, we can make work to sure our immigrant communities feel welcomed. We can provide legal assistance, and perhaps even put ourselves on the line with them if the time comes. Big thanks to everyone who attended the Day of Unity and Solidarity in Sunset Park yesterday sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

Here’s what you can do today: At yesterday's Unity Festival, more than 130 families signed up (for the first time) to ask for help with their Thanksgiving meal. Council Member Menchaca is working with the Center for Family Life to make sure they get the help they need. But it's going to cost $6,500, and we need to raise it right now. Read more »

Join our Muslim neighbors for a peace & unity rally tomorrow

As New Yorkers, we were collectively saddened and angered by the horrific killing of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin last Saturday afternoon in Ozone Park. Our hearts go out to their families, to the Ozone Park community, and to the broader Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.

At moments when hate and violence threaten to disrupt the diversity and tolerance that are the bedrock of NYC, it is critical that we stand together.

So I hope you’ll join a “peace and unity rally” tomorrow, organized by leaders of the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Kensington, Brooklyn.

Peace and Unity Rally  
Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3:00 PM  
Ave C Plaza
McDonald Avenue at Avenue C
(Near Church Avenue F train stop)
Kensington, Brooklyn Read more »

We are Orlando. So let’s do something about it

Even two days later, it’s hard to make sense of the brutal tragedy in Orlando.  There’s something truly incomprehensible – about so many lives lost at once, about raising our kids in a world where mass shootings have become horrifically normal, about the polarized political response, and about our galling failure to act.

First in our hearts are the lives lost and the families torn apart. Last night, outside the Stonewall Inn, thousands of us stood together to read their names.

Tonight at Grand Army Plaza, Public Advocate Tish James with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center and community leaders from Brooklyn’s diverse communities will come together to join for a unity vigil to remember the lives lost in Orlando and stand together in the face of hatred.

Unity Vigil to Honor the Lives Lost in Orlando
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn NY
7:30 PM, Tonight (June 14)

As we remember and begin to heal, we are learning more about the 49 people – mostly young, LGBTQ, and Latino – killed while dancing and celebrating together.  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 »

A traffic light that shines more brightly than usual

New stoplight at Caton Avenue and E. 8th Street

We usually take stop-lights for granted. We stop-on-red, go-on-green, yield-to-pedestrians in the crosswalk, and don’t think too much about it. But the installation of the new traffic-light at Caton Avenue and E. 8th Street signals something bigger: our sorrow at the loss of a young man, and our commitment to do something about it. Read more »

City Officials, Neighbors, and School Community Celebrate Traffic Safety Improvements throughout Kensington and Windsor Terrace

Ribbon-Cutting for New Traffic Signal at Intersection Near Where 14 Year Old Student Was Killed in Hit and Run

Brooklyn, NY – Today neighbors, elected officials, and representatives from the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) gathered outside the newly constructed building for MS 839 and PS 130 Upper School to recognize pedestrian safety improvements made throughout Kensington and Windsor Terrace in the last year and a half.

On the corner of Caton Avenue and E. 8th Street, just one block away from where 14-year-old Mohammad Naiem Uddin was killed in a tragic hit-and-run in November 2014, Council Member Brad Lander joined representatives from NYC DOT and concerned neighbors to cut the ribbon on a new traffic signal, the most recent of many improvements made to traffic safety in the surrounding area.

“It will always be too late for Naiem Uddin, but in the past year and a half, we have done everything we can to honor his memory by making sure all children are safer along Caton Avenue,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Out of this tragedy, our community has come together to rally for better street safety throughout Kensington and Windsor Terrace, and through extensive work with NYC DOT, we have made real improvements for pedestrians in the area. So many parts of our community have come together -- parents from PS 130, PS 230, and the new MS 839, long-time residents and leaders with the Albemarle Neighborhood Association, the Bangladeshi community -- to push for change. Thanks also go to NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and her team for bringing us a real plan for action, and for making sure this work got done. We still have work to do to make our streets in Kensington and Windsor Terrace even safer, but today we can take solemn pride in the steps we've taken to honor Naiem’s memory by making our streets safer for all.” 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 »

Hey, did you hear it might snow?

You might have heard somewhere these past few days, but we’re expecting a bit of snow this weekend. We’ve seen what happens when we under-prepare, as well as what happens when we over-prepare. But the bottom line is we just don’t know how much snow we’re going to get – so it’s best to be ready.

Side note: For those of you who want to learn more about the surprisingly fascinating world of weather forecasting, Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise has a great chapter on the topic that I recommend while you’re sipping your hot cocoa this weekend.

Since the Snowpocalypse of 2010 the City Sanitation Department and the City Council have done a lot to make sure NYC is ready for whatever winter weather comes our way.  New York City has set up a great Severe Weather Update website which is the best source for up to the minute information on city operations (and you can even track the progress of City snow plows). Read more »