Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Moment In Time: Bagels And Christmas Trees

At the corner of President and Smith Street
Like in years past, Christmas trees being sold next to the local bagel shop.

Opera In Gowanus: Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia to Be Performed at 501 Union

Photo credit: Erin Brad of 501 Union.com
photo credit: loftopera.com

Opera in Gowanus? Of course. And tickets are very affordable.
LoftOpera's mission it is to "bring opera to the underground music scene in Brooklyn"is currently  performing a fully staged production of Benjamin Britten's "The Rape of Lucretia" at 501 Union. Performances will run through December 12th. So get your tickets now.

Here are the details:
Gowanus Art + Production is thrilled to announce a Winter Residency with LoftOpera, a thriving company that stages classical operas in unconventional spaces. After a stellar run last winter of Il Barbiere de Siviglia, LoftOpera will return and present a fully staged production of Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at 501 Union.

Performances are: December 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12
Music starts 8pm
Doors open 7pm

Dean Buck // Conductor
Laine Rettmer // Stage Director
Sean Kelley // Musical Director

Tickets are vailable here

Friends Of Carroll Park Launches Holiday Food Drive To Help Fight Hunger

As the Holidays are approaching, we all should take time to think about the meaning of the season.
Lending a helping hand to those in need is, after all, so much more gratifying than shopping for gifts that none of us really need.

In that spirit, Friends Of Carroll Park, the non-profit organization dedicated to improving the park for everyone, is launching its annual City Harvest food drive campaign to collect non-perishables to help fight hunger throughout New York City.
The items most needed are:
- canned fruit - canned vegetables
- peanut butter (plastic jars)
- macaroni and cheese (packaged)
- hot and cold cereal (packaged, family-sized)
(Please note that City Harvest cannot accept glass containers or dented cans.)

So, on your next shopping trip, please pick up an item or two to share with hungry neighbors this holiday season and drop it off at Carroll Park

Carroll Park Food Drive
Saturday, December 5 from 12-4
Saturday, December 12 from 12-4
Saturday,  December 19 from 12-4
Bring to Robert Acito Park House in Carroll Park
at Smith Street between Carroll Street and President Street

Hannah Senesh Day School On Smith Street Hosting A Hannukkah Community Art Festival

Hannah Senesh Community Day School, located at 342 Smith Street, is holding its annual Hanukkah Community Art Festival on Sunday, December 13th from 1:00-4:00pm.  The event will feature art workshops for the whole family. So mark your calendars and be sure to check it out.

From Hannah Senesh Community Day School:

The Hannah Senesh Community Day School is hosting its annual Hanukkah Community Art Festival on Sunday, December 13th. This holiday event is Brooklyn's most popular Hanukkah event featuring a variety of crafts and art workshops run by local artists and community organizations.

· Venue address: Hannah Senesh Community Day School, 342 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 Carroll St. Stop on the F/G trains
· Event dates and times: Sunday, December 13th 1-4pm
· Event prices: $5 per person
· Age range: 2-10 yrs

Comptroller Stringer Invites Brooklynites To Tell Him What's On Their Mind At Town Hall

 NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is holding a Town Hall meeting in Brooklyn on Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 7 pm.  He is encouraging Brooklynites to share their concerns and questions with him.  He also would like to discuss "solutions to the complexities of development, red tape in city government, zoning, school overcrowding, neglected infrastructure, gun/gang violence and other issues.
According to his spokesperson, "the Comptroller would like to work within communities to develop answers."
The meeting will be held at Brooklyn Music School, 126 Saint Felix Street, Brooklyn.
This sounds like an interesting opportunity to talk to the Comptroller directly.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Come To Carroll Park's Christmas Tree Lighting This Friday Evening


Tis time once again for the yearly Christmas tree lighting in Carroll Park. On Friday, December 4th,  help spread the cheer by singing carols, saying hi to Santa, and mingle with your fellow Carroll Gardeners.  hosted by the Court Street Merchants, with the support of  Friends of Carroll Park.
The rain date is Friday, December 11th.
It is always a lovely event, so please let others know.

76th Police Precinct Community Council Meets This Tuesday

If you would like to find out about issues in the neighborhood or would like to make our local police precinct aware of concerns, you might want to attend the 76th Precinct Precinct Community Council.

The monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 7:30 PM, at the Station House, located at 191 Union Street, between Hicks Street and Henry Street.
Commanding Officer Captain Elliot Colon will be there.

Below are the latest statistics for our police precinct.

Below are some useful telephone numbers:
Precinct: (718) 834-3211
Community Affairs: (718) 834-3207
Crime Prevention: (718) 834-3203
Domestic Violence: (718) 834-3204
Youth Officer: (718) 834-3218
Auxiliary Coordinator: (718) 834-3218
Detective Squad: (718) 834-3221

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015, Everyone!

To all my Readers and Brooklyn Friends,
Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for being part of this community, for all the incredible people I have met over the years and for old and new friendships.
Hope that you are surround by your loved ones on this day.
With much appreciation,

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Author Vito Gentile To Read From His Work At Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen

Playwright, author, poet and Carroll Gardens native son Vito Gentile will read from his work at
Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen's "Reading with an Author" event on Sunday, December 6th from 2-4pm.

According to Laura Eng, who sent the information,  Gentile's two books,  Little Christmas and Fifty Poems About Christmas", include neighborhood memories of old some of which are funny and some of which are bittersweet."
Admission is free and refreshments will be served.
Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen's is located at the corner of Summit and Hicks Street

Great Deal: 25% Off Everything This Friday At Garden Apothecary On Court Street

(photo credit: Kelvin V.)
IMG_2560 1
Carroll Gardens resident and reader Kelvin passed along news that Garden Apothecary  at 525 Court Street will discount everything in its store by 25% this coming Friday, November 27th.
The apothecary is open from 8 am to 8 pm, so stop on by and stock up on shampoo, diapers, vitamins, and everything else you may need, including toys and some gift items.

525 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Between 9th Street and Garnet Street
Phone: (718) 858-8299

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Picture Of The Day: Court Street Christmas Tree

The Court Street Christmas tree has already been delivered and decorated in Carroll Park
The tree lighting is scheduled for Friday, December 4th at 6 PM

PS 58 In Carroll Gardens May Lose Pr-K Next Year Unless Solution To Overcrowding Can Be Found

One of New York Mayor DeBlasio's mandate when he was elected was to create more Pre-Kindergarden spots in the city.  It therefore seems ironic that our own local elementary school,  Public School 58, also knows as the Carroll School, may not be offering pre-K classes next year.
PS 58's principal Katie Dello Stritto confirmed the news that had been circulating amongst parents for a while.  In a letter to the school community which was sent out a few days ago, Strito writes:

"Our community continues to grow and we are very grateful for all that comes with that growth, but as you know, we are experiencing a space crunch. As we discussed at the Oct. 21st forum on over-crowding and at this week’s PTA meeting, it is unlikely that PS 58 will be able to retain its three Pre-Kindergarten classrooms in the building for the 2016-2017 school year. 
I am sure many of you have heard about this as you talk with your friends and read news articles. I regret that we will need to either eliminate or move our Pre-K program out of the building; this move is necessary to meet the needs of our growing community. As our current students in Kindergarten through 2nd grade move up, we need more classrooms in the upper grades. 
We are very fortunate that the School Leadership Team has formed a group of parents and staff members who are diligently working together to find alternate solutions for Pre-K classes for next year. However, at this time there is not yet anything concrete to report regarding space for next year. I am speaking regularly with our District 15 Superintendent as well as officials in Brad Lander’s office who understand that, like so many other areas, we require more space to meet our students’ needs."

The news certainly cannot come as too much of a surprise.  As we all know, Carroll Gardens has become more and more popular amongst young couples with children.  Several large scale developments catering to families have risen in the neighborhood in the last decade. The problem will get even worse with the completion of the 700-unit Lightstone Group Project on Bond Street, the proposed 770 unit housing development at Public Place at Smith Street and countless others that are in the works.

Apparently, PS58 is currently at 130 percent capacity.  This is simply the result of poor planning on New York City's part, which should have taken measures long ago to create more school seats to accommodate all the students moving into the neighborhood. 

PS 58 once had an annex right across the street, which was built in the 1950s or 60s on leased land at 360 Smith Street to provide additional classrooms if the need should ever arose.  The Department of Education used it for years to house the District 15 offices. About 10 years ago, the DoE canceled the land lease and walked away from the building.   The owner of the land, Bill Stein, then sold the building to the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in 2006. (Subsequently, Stein built a new development right next door at Second Place and Smith Street that attracted young families)

Had the City held on to the building at that time, PS 58's problems today could perhaps been solved very easily.  But instead, the DoB was shortsighted.

The Hannah Senesh School building at 342 Smith Street.
The original building was erected in the 50s or 60s by DoE as an annex for PS 58.
For years, it house the District 15 office.

It is unlikely that Pre-K space will be found in enough time to accommodate the little ones in our neighborhood for the 2016-17 school year.
As a long time resident of Carroll Gardens and mother of two children who once attended PS 58 from Pre-K to 5th grade, that makes me rather sad.
Let us hope that a solution will be found, and soon.

Below are some photos of my kids at PS 58 Pre K.  Who remembers Miss Hogan, the best teacher ever?
My daughter's Pre-k class at PS58 in 1991
 Pre-K classroom back then
Pre-K teacher Miss Hogan with my daughter C, and some classmates
Daughter C in Pre-K
 My son M. class in 1995
 My son M. with Miss Hogan

Families First of Cobble Hill To Host 'Winter Jamboree' For Little Kids

Families First, an independent, non-profit organization which has been supporting Brooklyn families for the past thirty four years, is holding its 3rd annual Winter Jamboree fundraising event on Saturday, December 5th. Rumor has it that Santa may make an appearance.

If you live in the area, have small children, and have not yet heard about this wonderful resource, you should check it out. It is a wonderful way to connect to other parents and the center offers great classes and a wonderful play space. 

Here is more information on the event.
Brooklyn Winter Jamboree for little kids

On Saturday, December 5th, the 3rd annual Winter Jamboree will be happening from 9:30am – 12pm at 250 Baltic Street between Court and Clinton Streets in Cobble Hill. Sponsored by Families First, the event will be a winter-wonderland celebration of family and community for families of toddlers to kindergarten-aged children. Tickets are $25/family - $20/for Families First members.

The Winter Jamboree features all the kids’ favorites: face painting, tattoos, arts & crafts, a bake sale, snacks and balloons! City Stomp, www.citystompmusic.com will be performing a concert and Erin Silber, www.erinsilberphotography.com will be on-site to take holiday portraits of your child for only $10. Rumor has it that Santa will be showing up too!

The Winter Jamboree is fundraiser for Families First, a not-for-profit organization established in 1981 to provide families with children’s classes, workshops for parents, and an indoor PlaySpace. Parents, caregivers, and young children, six months to 4 years, find a warm and supportive educational environment that prepares them to successfully enter the school age years. Other sources of support for Families First are membership and program fees, grants and donations.

For all programing and special events related to Families First, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

On The Passing Of Bette Stoltz, Who Helped Revitalize Smith Street, "The Little Street That Could"

 Smith Street, Bette Stoltz's"the little street that could"
 Bette Stoltz 
 Smith Street Soup Fest, one of Bette's events.
Bette Stoltz with one of the students of High School For International Studies' Culinary Arts Program
 Bette at Smith Street Funday 2013, which she organized
Bette Stoltz with Carmen Farina of New York City's Department of Education

Many in South Brooklyn had been hoping for the last few days that long time neighborhood activist Bette Stoltz would recover from a heart attack she suffered at the beginning of this week. Sadly, last night came the news that she had passed.

My thoughts go out to Bette's husband, children and her beloved grandchildren, of which she so proudly shared photos and updates.

Bette was such a lovely person who was fully dedicated to the community and worked tirelessly for its residents.

She wore many hats and was involved in absolutely everything related to South Brooklyn. She was the Executive director of the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation (SBLDC), a non-profit which she founded. She served for years as a member of Community Board 6, was involved in the creation of the beautiful Transit Garden at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place, served on the EPA Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Board and was a member of several neighborhood associations, including Friends And Residents of Greater Gowanus.

She helped fund and bring a full fledged Culinary Arts Curriculum and facilities to the High School For International Studies at 284 Baltic Street and was so proud of its students and graduates.

In the past year, Bette was hard at work on creating a joint Business Improvement District (BID) for Smith Street and Court Street.

Of all her many accomplishments, the one she always seemed proudest of was her role in revitalizing Smith Street in the 1990s.  She lovingly referred to Smith Street as"the little street that could" and helped nurture the first businesses that took a chance and opened stores and restaurants there after the City repaved the street, installed new sidewalks and lighting.

Bette was the face behind the much loved Smith Street Soup Festival in the fall,  Smith Street Funfair in the summer, and helped organize the incredibly popular Bastille Day Pétanque Tornament. She also made sure that Smith Street was decorated for the Holidays in December.

Recently, Bette's health was failing and she seemed to reflect on the changes in the neighborhood and on Smith Street.  When I reached out to her in October to ask if the Soup Festival would take place this year, she answered in a long email to let me know why she had decided to cancel the event for 2015. She was nostalgic that the Smith Street Restaurant Row that included Patois, Saul, Robin des Bois and Grocery which she had help create in the 1990s was changing again.

I am sure Bette would not have minded me sharing this email she wrote to me on October 20.  I could not know that this would be my last conversation with her, but reading it again makes me realize that she was concerned about the future not only of small businesses in the neighborhood, but also of the quality of life here in Brooklyn.

Here is what she wrote to me.

Hi Katia,
     Yes the disappointing news is that there will be no Soup Festival on Smith Street this October.  Last year we had 22 different soups for people to taste.  This year, after reaching out by phone, e mail and/or personal visit to all the usual suspects I could only come up with 13 soups, and I felt that people would be unhappy with such a reduction of choices and we would be better off just not having it.  
     I hope this loss of a community loved event will be a wake up call to the realtors and property owners in the neighborhood.  It was a very slow and tough summer after a disappointing year for many businesses, especially restaurants, many of which closed.  What is replacing them is mainly bars with minimal food ( "tapas"/small plates) which have become the entrepreneur's choice since things to drink do not spoil while foods do. Then the American Urban economy has changed to the point where one cannot make a living/support a family with just one store,  People are opening 2 or 3 or more locations, partnering with a variety of others, and are stretched so thin that even if they do live in the neighborhood they cannot devote as much of themselves to just one location as before.
     Those who do not own their buildings are rightfully fearful of huge rent increases in the near future. This is no secret.  The Realtors blame the "greedy" property owners.  Yes, this may be partly true, but where does the line fall between a realtor advising the client or the client giving orders to the realtor??
Do we need a Nuremberg Trial for the Real Estate Industry?  Some property owners already retired to the sunbelt and just want to maximize their retirement quality of life.  Those who recently bought at very high prices say they need to seek high rental incomes just to make their numbers work.  The "old timers" are dwindling and to top it all off the big developers are buying the large footprints and letting them sit while taking years to put together plans for new construction which will be designed for high rental retail operations.  
     And the demographics of the neighborhood are constantly changing. There are pendulum swings between a young single customer base, and a family and child oriented customer base.  Brownstone buildings that used to be home to 4 or more families are now one family homes.  People have more money, but at the same time they have to work much harder and for longer hours so they have much less time to shop in their neighborhoods.  But then again with Lightstone building 700 mostly studio & 1 bedroom rental units, will we suddenly get a new influx of the young singles?
     A generation of Community Builders fashioned what we all thought was the perfect mix for an urban neighborhood and then along comes CHANGE.  Too soon for me.  

I will miss Bette very much. She was an integral part of this community. Farewell, my friend. Thank you for teaching me the importance of staying involved and to speak out.

We Olive On Smith Street Celebrates Olive Harvest And "Olio Nuovo"

(photo credit: We Olive and Wine Bar Brooklyn)
This week-end, Angelo and Patricia Incorvaia, owners of We Olive and Wine Bar Brooklyn at 116 Smith Street, are inviting to a very special event. Each year around this time, the Olive Oil industry releases an Extra Virgin Olive Oil called Olio Nuovo and We Olive is one of the only places in New York where one can get this 'new oil.' Stop by and taste some.

Owner Angelo writes:
We Olive & Wine Bar Brooklyn announces the arrival of its 2015 harvest Olio Nuovo extra virgin olive oils. The first milling of the harvest, Olio Nuovo, or "new oil,” is prized for its superior freshness, distinct flavors, and health attributes. Only available for just a short time after the harvest each year, Olio Nuovo is one of the gourmet food retailers’ most sought after olive oils.
We Olive Brooklyn features Olio Nuovo from three different California growers. The 2015 We Olive Olio Nuovo, produced exclusively for We Olive, is made from Arbequina olives from Northern California’s San Joaquin County. With a herbaceous and grassy aroma, this oil is creamy and full of fresh green olive fruit flavor, notes of green banana, green grass. Its long-lasting finish with subtle bitterness and pungency makes for a harmonious and deliciously complex oil.
We Olive 2015 Olio Nuovo will be available as part of their bulk olive oil program. Guests visiting the store can taste this exclusive oil and then choose from a variety of bottle sizes to be filled on-site to order from stainless steel fustinos. In addition to the house Olio Nuovo, the Brooklyn outpost of this California-based specialty retailer, will also be offering bottled Olio Nuovo from two small artisan growers—Séka Hills out of the Capay Valley in Northern California and Fandango, located in Paso Robles, California.
Discussing the unique attributes of Olio Nuovo, We Olive Managing Partner and Board Member of the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), Ruth Mercurio explains "Ordinarily, olive oil is stored for a couple of months before bottling to let the sediment fall to the bottom and to allow the flavors to mellow. Olio Nuovo is picked, milled and bottled right away to create brilliant green oil with bold, fresh flavors.”
We Olive Brooklyn invite New Yorkers to stop by its retail store and wine bar during 'Celebrate the Harvest' weekend, November 20 – 22. Guests will be treated to a guided Olio Nuovo tasting, complimentary tastings, and Olio Nuovo-inspired plates in the wine bar.

'Salads On Sundays': A Pop-Up Shop At Sol Coffee On Court Street

(photo courtesy of Arthur Street Kitchen)
(photo courtesy of Arthur Street Kitchen)

 Back in 2011, Hetty McKinnon established Arthur Street Kitchen in her hometown of Sidney, Australia. Using locally-grown produce, she created healthy, hearty, and visually appealing salads inspired by the seasons, which she delivered to local salad-lovers all around her Surry Hills neighborhood on a bicycle. It was such a success and created such a community that she felt inspired to collect her recipes in a book. The result is her stunning Community, Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen cook book.

Lucky for Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Hetty moved to our neighborhood in early 2015.  Finding new inspiration in the markets here, she has just completed her second book which will be published in the United States in early 2016.

Even luckier for us, starting this Sunday, November 22 and every Sunday thereafter,  Hetty will be offering her salad creations at her new "Salads on Sundays"pop-up shop at Seeds of Love Coffee on Court Street.
The salads, of course, will be different every week.
On the menu this Sunday:
*roasted brussels sprouts and pan-fried beans with puy lentils and maple-mustard dressing (gf, vg)
*char-grilled cauliflower with fried butterbeans and pumpkin hummus (gf, vg)
*za’atar roasted carrots with kale, freekeh and blood orange dressing (vg)

Sweet things
*chocolate + sour cherry brownie $3
*salted caramel slice $3

Medium $10 (24oz | serves one)
Large $15 (36oz | serves two-ish)

The Sunday pop-up shop will hopefully lead to a permanent eatery in the neighborhood in the near future. Stop on by this Sunday and try one of the salads. They are amazing. And say hi to Hetty from me. 

'Salads On Sundays': A Pop-Up Shop
@Seed of Love Coffee
421 Court Street
(between end and 3rd Place)
10 AM to 3 PM on Sundays
on Instagram@arthurstreetkitchen

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pre-Order Your Thanksgiving Turkey From DiPaola Farm And Pick Up From Carroll Gardens Greenmarket!

PMFA just received two updates regarding the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket from the market's manager Gabriella Stern.

Gabriella writes:
1. It's not too late to pre-order your local Thanksgiving turkey and pick it up at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket this Sunday, 11/22. Be sure to email dipaolaturkey@gmail.com before this Sunday. See their website for order details: http://www.dipaolaturkeyfarm.com/special-orders/

All orders must be picked up by noon. No exceptions.ALL ORDERS MUST BE PICKED UP BY NOON, NO EXCEPTIONS.
Turkeys are $3.69 per lb

2. The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket will be open the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to give shoppers extra time to pick up their local turkey, vegetables, freshly baked pies, and cheese! We will also have our Beer and Spirits of NY Pop-Up featuring Farmhouse Brewery and Port Morris Distillery. Creative production company, Our Name is Farm will be demonstrating how to make a delicious Pumpkin Cheddar Polenta with Honey Roasted Carrots and Duck Bacon Gremolata.

So take advantage of our Greenmarket for your Thanksgiving food purchases.