Saturday, April 16, 2022

Woman Struck in Gowanus by FDNY Ambulance Still in Court Six Years Later

Intersection of Union and Bond Streets, where Aeliana Boyer was struck 
by an FDNY Ambulance six years ago
FDNY EMS Station 32 at Carroll Street
Images credit:

Dear Neighbors,
The article below was written by Joseph Alexiou, a journalist, licensed New York City tour guide and the author of Gowanus: Brooklyn's Curious Canal. His freelance work has appeared in the New York Times, The New York Observer, Gothamist, and the Brooklyn Eagle.
Joseph, a former Gowanus resident and longtime friend, came to me with Aeliana Boyer's long struggle to get justice and relief after being hit by an FDNY ambulance from the EMS Station at Carroll Street and Bond that ran a red light.  
I would like to thank Joseph and Aeliana for allowing me to post this article here on PMFA since many walk past that station and are often in the path of its fast- moving ambulances. What happened to Ms. Boyer could happen to any of us.

Woman Struck in Gowanus by FDNY Ambulance Still in Court Six Years Later
Why does it take so long for New York City to do right by victims of emergency vehicle accidents?
By Joseph Alexiou

    Around 5pm on May 16, 2016, Aeliana Boyer was biking home through Gowanus when an FDNY ambulance drove through the red light and struck her at approximately 35 miles per hour. First she recalls being smashed by the driver’s side door and then again by the rear of the vehicle. The details reported in this story in the Daily News include the resistance of the city to even acknowledge an accident occurred. However, the ambulance’s presence has been confirmed by an eye witness and GPS tracking data that was acquired during Boyer’s spiraling, 6-year long lawsuit against the city of New York which has not yet been settled.

    As her body flew into the center of the intersection at Union and Bond Streets, one block from FDNY EMS Station 32 at Carroll Street, the Con Edison workers stopped jackhammering in the manhole in the center of the road and came to her aid as the ambulance sped off. Since this moment she’s sustained multiple injuries which, six years later, cause her to suffer from chronic daily pain all over her body. She has felt the after effects of an untreated concussion, during which she has been unable to work and was almost rendered homeless. Before this accident she was a published novelist and noted activist who had just acquired a masters degree. Today she lives in subsidized housing and is dependent on the Medicaid system, still waiting for her case to be resolved.

Exactly one week ago on April 7, an NYPD van ran a red light on Eastern Parkway at Schenectady Avenue and struck a reportedly homeless 53-year old man on the median. Carrying four prisoners towards the 77th precinct lockup, the van dragged the man approximately 35 feet before stopping. He died at Kings County Hospital. Despite calls from elected officials and civic leaders, the police have released no statements, explanations, or footage of the event, despite the fact that there are cameras on the corner in question. One week later, no one has been held accountable.

The only reason Ms. Boyer has housing at all in this city is because she managed to speak to former Mayor Bill de Blasio during his weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment on WNYC, days after the Daily News profile was published:

Brian Lehrer: "Mr. Mayor, my understanding is that Aeliana’s story was in the Daily News this summer, are you familiar with it?"

Mayor: "No, Brian actually I’m not familiar but Aeliana. I’m very, very sorry for the things you’ve gone through and want to find out, you know what has happened and what we can do about it here because this is news to me. Aeliana if you will share you information with WNYC I will make sure that one of our senior folks gets to you right away and discusses with you what’s happened here and what we can do about it.

Obviously you know, a lot has changed in the way that for example the NYPD operates since the days of Occupy Wall Street in 2011, it was a very different time and we approach things very differently today. We made a lot of changes, a lot of reforms but I am very concerned about what you are saying and I want to make sure that we follow up right away."

De Blasio’s office did eventually follow up with Boyer and connected her to a Legal Aid attorney who was able to secure her housing, but did not make any moves to aid the procession of the case. As the legal battle grew, so did the costs and mountains of evidence, and then COVID reduced the NYC court system to a standstill.

In the beginning of March 2022 Ms. Boyer’s attorney Michael Pontone handed the case file to city attorney Rodiana Katsaros, informing her that they had insurmountable evidence of the hit-and run and were ready to accept a settlement offer from the city. After a week of review she requested further evidence, then another week, and then informed Pontone her case had been handed to the comptroller’s office for review and there would be a response in two weeks. It has now been five weeks and no city agencies have reached out to Ms Boyer.

After the story of the Eastern Parkway death broke late Thursday, I reached out to a press representative of Comptroller Brad Lander’s office to inquire about the status of Boyer’s case. They informed me that they could only discuss pending claims against the City with claimant or their counsel and, despite repeated inquiries, they would not give a reasonable timespan for the comptroller to respond. However they then informed me on Monday that the Comptroller’s claims department had confirmed that the case was not in the Comptroller’s office, despite Katsaros’ insistence, and was back in the city attorney’s hands.

On that same Monday, I attempted to contact Ms Katsaros, who did not respond, but a press representative at the NYC Law Department called me to inquire about the story, describing the hit-and-run as “alleged” and informing me that Katsaros was not on the case. They inquired why I was trying to contact somebody that would not speak with me and wasn’t even part of this case. The representative later followed up officially with a two-sentence email: “There is no indication that an FDNY vehicle was involved in the alleged incident. Discovery revealed no record of the collision and no EMT in the area matched the description provided by plaintiff as being involved.”

It is truly questionable that, after 6 years on this case, after being asked several questions about the matter Katsaros suddenly disappeared from the lawsuit entirely. The Law Department declined to comment further on my follow up question:

With all due respect to the law department, I have seen with my eyes the GPS tracking data that says there was an FDNY ambulance on the scene and met the locally-based eye witnesses, named in this case, who also reported seeing the FDNY ambulance strike Aeliana Boyer. She herself says she was hit by an FDNY ambulance.

How can the law office impart this position when all of the evidence in this particular case says otherwise? Is there a reason someone could and would invent such a story, one block from FDNY EMS station 32? (Full disclosure, I lived down the street from that station at 391 Bond Street for 5 years, and have walked and biked many times around their movements). This past October the NY Times published a story about the dangers of siren noise, with the sub headline that reads “The overuse of lights and sirens, combined with speeding, pose heightened risks to emergency responders and civilians. One expert called it a ‘public health dilemma.’” These tragic incidents occur even when the sound of concrete being drilled in a Con Ed hole isn’t filling the street, such as the evening of April 7 on Eastern Parkway.

One week after the incident, neither the city nor the NYPD have followed up on that man who was killed on Eastern Parkway. In fact, trying to get a straight answer from an NYC public service representative is like dredging the Gowanus Canal for coal—something you need professionals to do. After contacting the 77th precinct about the van (it was to this precinct station that the prisoners were headed), nobody answered the phone and no responses to my messages were received. At the 73rd precinct—where the accident took place and a camera is located—when I reached an officer at the switchboard, I was told “Oh, okay hold on…” after identifying myself and my reason for calling and was put on hold for just under eight minutes. When I called the second time, my number was sent to a voicemail, on which I left a message. I called once more ten minutes later and my number went directly to a recorded message stating that the precinct was unavailable and that I should call at a later time, before an audible “click."

The officer at the FDNY EMS Station 32 could not provide statements regarding either Ms. Boyer’s case or the case on Eastern Parkway. The 76th precinct officer (the Gowanus precinct) who answered the phone directed me to their Community Affairs line, which also left me with a message and no response. When I called the comptroller’s press representative, they informed me they were “sick” but, yes, this was indeed their work cell phone, and yes they were working but, still, “what do you want?” they demanded.

Some of our elected officials are demanding answers. Crystal Hudson, Council Member of the 35th district where the NYPD van incident went down, did not mince words:

“The recent NYPD-involved traffic fatality that claimed the life of a local resident is devastating. It underscores the NYPD’s utter apathy toward the communities they serve.It is disheartening to see, time and again, those who are supposed to provide ‘courtesy, professionalism, and respect’ show a blatant disregard for human life.”

“Since the incident, we have called on the NYPD to name the officers involved and terminate them immediately and asked the State Attorney General to investigate the incident. Our community deserves nothing less than full accountability and transparency. My Office has been in contact with the family of the deceased and is helping direct them to resources and support.”

“Additionally, according to NYPD data, there have been 1,639 crashes since 2020 involving ambulances, including 368 in Brooklyn. The number of ambulance crashes citywide has increased in recent years, jumping 25 percent between 2020 and 2021, though we have seen a decrease in Brooklyn. What these numbers show, however, is a clear need to rethink what accountability means for first responders who act neglectfully.”

Aeliana Boyer has a storied past with the government of the City of New York. It began in 2011 and specifically with the NYPD and Occupy Wall Street. The current mayor is himself a retired Police Captain, and so she asks herself, is it so paranoid to think that because of this the city is stalling this case?

The dissipating spectre of COVID is decreasingly present as restaurants, bars, museums, schools and libraries do not require masks and yet COVID regulations remain present in the court system. Very recently the NY Bar Association released a report detailing how the pandemic slowdown has decimated family court and “ruined” the lives of thousands of children. Boyer feels that this backlog of court cases has become a tactic to fatigue plaintiffs with complaints against the city. “The pandemic absolutely changed the court system. Everything went online and then last summer the city’s law department system got hacked,” she said, referring to the embarrassingly rudimentary hacking incident at the Law Department last July

This does beg the question, why is Mayor Adams letting other places go to business as usual but the courts are still in a Covid-centric process? If your case can be resolved within a week, they’ll let it through, but if it’s anything like a two-week trial or beyond, in the case of Aeliana Boyer then you get pushed further back down the line. So the more severe your accident, the more merde-outta-luck you are for your case and its procedure. Ms. Boyer also wonders if Brad Lander—who was speaker of the Council at the time of the accident while also overseeing Gowanus and Park Slope—or if current Mayor Eric Adams, who was acting Brooklyn borough President at the time, were even alerted to her case after the accident, or after the Mayor’s Office pledged to see the case through.

“All I know for certain is that when I was a school bus driver in college in California, I was trained to stop whenever there is any accident involving a city vehicle. And an investigation always happened afterwards,” she said in a recent interview.

Perhaps the most chilling and unsurprising fact about Boyer’s accident is that there was never an NYPD investigation, nor did any other city agencies review the incident. All of the attention and help she has received on the case has come from friends and colleagues, online petitions and her own petition of the mayor in a public forum. If one considers the string of actions of the City of New York since 2016 it is hard not to conclude that health, wellbeing and the future of one New York City transwoman—injured beyond the ability to work but offered none of the help a person hit by an anonymous driver would receive—was simply not really important to our self-described “progressive” leaders.

Furthermore, they actively deny a truth that seems clear to every individual and attorney I know who have read the details of the case: that the FDNY ambulance did indeed hit Aeliana Boyer. They would perhaps do this in order to achieve the only real end goal I can perceive: Protect at all costs the individuals and the organizations that are the NYPD and the FDNY against all scrutiny, all review, all reform, and all accountability.

By our current standards a city vehicle is fully allowed to turn on some noise and lights and then hit, maim, or kill New Yorkers—taxpaying or not—while traveling well above the speed limit, running red lights and with absolutely zero responsibility. This is not protecting, or serving. This is abuse and it's killing us. It is not acceptable, and it needs to stop, now.

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Sunday, February 27, 2022

Sad Neighborhood News: On The Passing Of Celia Cacace

Celia Cacace (in red) on a visit back to "South Brooklyn in 2015.

A mass for Celia (Cecilia ) Maniero Cacace will be held on Thursday, May 19th at 10:00 AM at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephens Church, located at 125 Summit St. (between Hicks and Henry Street).

This afternoon, I received some very sad news. Celia Cacace, who was born and raised in what she continued to call South Brooklyn/Red Hook long after others had renamed it Carroll Gardens, passed away yesterday.

I received the sad news from Michael Jaworski, her nephew. who wrote:
"I wanted you to know that my Aunt Celia passed away yesterday, the 26th of February 2022. Her son Robert and daughter -in- law Anna were there at the time of her passing in Colorado. For some time my aunt's health has been failing and yesterday, she slipped away peacefully. She was a huge force in South Brooklyn in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. Her interaction with the Community Board and CB6 as well as the Brooklyn President were instrumental in keeping South Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens) in line with the times.
I wanted you and the readers to know of her passing.

Celia Cacace (nee Maniero) was fiercely loyal to South Brooklyn.  She watched out for our seniors, got involved in every issue and gladly shared her vast knowledge of the neighborhood's history. She seemed to be at every meeting, whether it was at Public School 58, the 76th Precinct Community Council, or at Community Board 6 where she was a member for many years. She always took copious notes with her multi colored pens and asked her famous four point questions.

When people referred to our neighborhood as Carroll Gardens, she immediately corrected them. "Call it Red Hook or South Brooklyn, the way it used to be called. The other name was invented by realtors who wanted to gentrify this neighborhood back in the 60's"

She was once famously quoted in the New York Times, foreshadowing the changes that would come to her beloved South Brooklyn, saying: "I don't care if they are yuppies, puppies or guppies moving in. Gentrification is not going to be good for us."

Her pronouncement foreshadowed the fact that Celia become a victim of gentrification herself.  After an entire life spent in South Brooklyn, she had to move to Wisconsin and then to Colorado to live with her son after she lost her apartment and was priced out of the community. Her departure was bitter sweet.

For a few years, Celia came back to her old neighborhood to spent some time with friends.  I always loved running into her on Court Street.
When we realized that it had been some time since we had heard from her, my husband Glenn reached out 
to her in late January and had a lovely conversation with her. I am glad they connected.

Celia was one of a kind. Though she never held public office, she was always watching out for her community and was not afraid to stand up for what she believed was the right thing to do.
She was fearless.

In the past few years, I often wondered what Celia would have said about the massive Gowanus rezoning and the City's insistence of building residential apartment towers on Public Place, one of the most polluted sites in New York State. I am not sure she followed events from out West, but I know she would have had lots to say about these issues.

I will miss her very much and would like to extend my condolences to Celia's family

According to her nephew Michael, Celia will be laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery next to her son Gregory and my Uncle Joey in the family plot.  

Celia Cacace as a Child in Red Hook
(Cacace family photo)
Celia Cacace (on the right) with former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden (on left) at the Carroll Park re-opening ceremony in the 1980's.
Celia at Community Board 6's Christmas Party in 2011
At the Veterans Day Celebration in Carroll Park

Below is a lovely biography on Celia by her friend Carolina Salguero, founder and director of PortSide NewYork,

Celia Maniero Cacace
Fearless, feisty, loving and frank
A champion of our community's weaker members
by Carolina Salguero
Celia Maniero Cacace is the mother and walking memory of the neighborhood she still calls South Brooklyn Red Hook; that's Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook for those of you got here after the 1960's.
To walk Court Street with the diminutive, doting Celia is to feel in the presence of a community Mayor. She's stopped every few feet or hailed from across the street by seniors or children to share news or advice. 
Having served as a one-woman social service agency for decades, 77-year old Celia is now in need of some help herself. She is obliged to move from her apartment since the building is being sold, and she needs to find that rare, inexpensive place in a neighborhood where prices have soared beyond the fixed incomes of seniors. Know someone who wants a granny au pair, or granny doorman? A committee is forming to help her find a place; and if need be, help launch some fundraising to cover the gap between her fixed income and the rent. She moves out of her current place on January 14 to her son's in Wisconsin. 
We are organizing a send off party for Celia and a campaign to bring her back. That kicks off Sunday January 1/13/13. (Details at bottom) Everyone is invited. Please bring a memory of Celia if you can.
Celia's life and prodigious memory describe a time when people stayed in a neighborhood—Celia has lived her whole life in 8 apartments within a 10 block radius— and when this area was largely Italian, as far back as when Italians still faced discrimination as the new immigrants.
Even today, Celia's back straightens as she says, "my older sister Jennie was one of the first Italian-Americans to knock down the walls on Wall Street. She was an amazing mathematician."
Celia is the 8th child of nine, of parents from the Island of Ischia in Italy. Her mother worked as a governess in France before emigrating to the United States. With pride, Celia says her mother gave birth to her last child at 51. The family was displaced from 107 Rapelye Street for the construction of the BQE, an early experience with public works which might be what sharpened Celia's ability to analyze land use issues.
Tomboy Celia broke her nose and ran with the boys until she was married in 1960 to the boy next door Joseph Cacace.
She had two sons, Gregory and Robert, and was widowed early in 1979.
Over the years, Celia's community service had formal and informal components.
She served for more than twenty years as an active member of Community Board 6, on the Housing, Human Services, Economic development, Land Use, Landmark, Transportation, and City Properties Committees. Celia has been recognized for her perfect attendance at CB6 meetings, which demonstrated her serious purpose and commitment to her appointment to the Community Board. Aside from keeping meticulous meeting notes in her famous black and white copy books in multiple color inks, Celia is also remembered for her "compound questions", as City Council member Brad Lander has noted.
Celia's role in CB6 and other public meetings was often the voice speaking truth to power. Her private good works took the form of tending to the community's weaker members without fanfare or public acknowledgement.
That work followed the rhythms of the pre-blog, air conditioning and play date era when life was lived and information exchanged on the stoop and playgrounds, in street festivals and over laundry lines strung behind the brownstones. Someone needing help would be told "go see Celia."
Her helping likely began, she's not keeping track, with coordinating summer jobs for youth of Italian American Club of South Brooklyn which had her run clean up crews for the annual Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow. That Feast began around 1945 and ran from Kane to Summit Street. Celia joined the tradition in the 1960s, and worked it until its waning years on Court Street in the 1980s. She found work for youth, and for adults, in the booths, worked with Sanitation to keep the feast site clean and well run and prevented fights between the teens.
Over the decades, she would get summer jobs for teens. She was firm about the rules. "You gotta get your parents to talk to me, kid", to make sure they approved, "faccia a faccia" ("face to face" in Italian). All her serious business is done faccia a faccia; forget the phone.
During the 70s and early 80s, she organized festivals in Carroll Park with clowns, concerts and DJs. Ever inclusive, she arranged for teens to have DJ time, and insisted they play some of everyone's music, Italian, Puerto Rican, rock n roll and oldies. She also allowed teens to DJ before the feast and procession, cannily roping in and managing the younger generation. 
"If they blasted the music, they had to account to me since I was the person speaking for them. I had a nice rapport, I never pointed my finger at them. If I had to talk to someone, I would walk them down the block and talked to them privately. If you talk to them in front of the other kids, then they would rank them out."
Celia also helped reactivate the original Society of Mother Cabrini of South Brooklyn, their feast and procession. Celia has that rare combination of deep pride in her identity (a layering of family, ethnicity, neighborhood) and the ability to simultaneously support others affirming their own, plus the smarts to understand that everyone needs to be included for a community to work.
Ever the intermediary between groups, she facilitated special events like the 100th anniversary for the Norwegian Seaman's Church (now condos), coordinating between the Scandinavians, the Italians and the police; and helped arrange donations for many churches not her own.
By the 1990s, she was ensconced at a desk at Postal Press on Court Street, where I first spotted her when I went in for photo copies. Her small head would pop up from behind a desk piled high with clippings from local papers. I observed a steady stream of people coming in to have hushed consultations over the counter with her: problems with bad landlords, unfair evictions, seniors who didn't understand their meds and had Celia be a liaison with the pharmacist, older Italians needing translation help, teens looking for jobs, people who needed help with city permits or were stymied by bureaucracy, or were just overwhelmed for whatever reason.
By the 2000's, I would catch up with Celia at Joe's Restaurant on Court Street, where she spent hours every morning cutting clippings from local papers and serving as on-the-spot greeter, advisor and nanny. Many a weekend morning, I saw young parents come in for brunch and sit frazzled by their children. Celia would step in with toys she bought on sale or at stoop sales and then boiled and bleached at home. I could see parents relax and see them find time for one another as the tikes' action was transferred to Celia.
Celia's beef with the term "Carroll Gardens" is that she remembers the slight to her pride.
This area was once redlined, her own family could not get a loan; and real estate brokers and other activists invented the term in the 60's to help market the brownstone area and delineate it from what is now called Red Hook "across the tracks" of the BQE. Rather than rebranding where she lived and pulling away from others, Celia preferred to help get jobs for people from "the Hook" and to wear a t-shirt "I live in South Brooklyn Red Hook not Carroll Gardens and I'm proud of it." It's a "love us for who we are, not who you want us to be" approach. She delivers a lot of love on the ground.
Several years back, I and Allison Prete, the director of the documentary film about the Gowanus Canal "Lavender Lake" agreed that someone should make a documentary about Celia Cacace. Her stories, meeting notes and clippings are legion. As her apartment is being packed up, some 40 bankers' boxes have already been transferred to an archivist, journalist and local historian. 
Celia Cacace is mother and memory of this community which needs her as much as she needs to be here. 
Did Celia Cacace live in your house? Local addresses of Celia Cacace.
107 Rapelye Street 288 Van Brunt Street 28 First Place 64 Third Place 252 President Street 271 Union Street 285 President Street 83 First Place.
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Saturday, November 27, 2021

City Harvest Food Drive At Carroll Park On Sundays Now Through January

Friends of Carroll Park has organized a food drive with City Harvest each Sunday starting on November 28, 2021 through January2, 2022 and help feed those in need this winter.

Volunteers will be in front of the Bob Acito park house from 11am to 1pm to accept your food donations.

The most needed items are: canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter (in plastic jars), mac and cheese, and hot and cold cereal.
*Important note: City Harvest cannot accept glass containers, home made items, expired items or dented cans.

If you’d like to volunteer to help out with the drive.  Spend an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon greeting food donors. We'll make sure there are at least two volunteers per shift so you will not be alone.
Consider volunteering as a family!
Contact us here for details

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Monday, November 22, 2021

When It Comes To The Gowanus Rezone, We Cannot Trust Brad Lander

Pardon Me For Asking has been a bit quiet of late, and for this, I apologize. I should have updated this little site long ago, I know.
Thank you to all who have reached out to say that they have missed the neighborhood information posted here and to make sure all is well.  I want to reassure everyone that I am doing great and that I intend to resume posting soon.

The reason for this long hiatus is simple: throughout the summer and fall, I have been fighting alongside Voice of Gowanus in opposition to Mayor De Blasio and Councilmember Brad Lander's efforts to create an unhealthy environment for current and future residents of Gowanus with their plan to rezone the neighborhood.

You might be aware of the fact that tomorrow, Tuesday, November 23rd, members of the New York City Council will cast a final vote on this massive 82 block rezone, despite the fact that the Gowanus Canal has not been fully remediated under EPA's Superfund program, that much of the area is a FEMA flood zone, and that the City still dumps raw sewage into the canal...and into our homes, as Ida has recently shown.

Most of the Council members will probably just rubber stamp the rezone, giving deference to Brad Lander, our 39th District Council Member, who has been shamelessly pushing for it.
As Lander personally escorted the rezone through the 7 months City Council Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), he has been shifty on many of the issues related to Gowanus.

Please take a moment to read an open letter just published in the Brooklyn Eagle by Debbie Stoller and Linda La Violette of Voice of Gowanus, which reveals that Brad Lander can’t be trusted "to heed his own ostensible progressive principles in Gowanus."

It will be up to us, as a community, to live with the consequences of this ill-fated rezoning. History has shown that politicians and developers promise much, but that promises are forgotten promptly when building permits have been issued.  We also know that we cannot rely on the Department of City Planning's projections for this large rezone, since those projections are often very wrong.
And most importantly, Brad Lander will be long gone when the resulting health and flooding issues related to supersizing an already environmentally-challenged Gowanus are on full display.

Voice of Gowanus will continue to fight. The group has recently retained environmental lawyer Richard Lippes, who represented plaintiffs in the famed Love Canal and Three Mile Island cases.

What can you do to help?
Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to Voice of Gowanus to continue the fight.

Thanks in advance, Katia

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

'Collective Kind', a Progressive Pre-School, Is Coming To Gowanus

Great news for those with little ones! Collective Kind, the first NYC-based network of Montessori Microschools "providing high quality early education for working families of all backgrounds", is coming to Gowanus.

The progressive pre-school offers a socially engaged early childhood education. It is based on the wonderful mission of creating a space where children are taught empathy for all, care of the earth, and love of learning.  Founded by Anna Caroline Tehan,  Anna Ellis Nesser and Clara Planel, Collective Kind supports "children to love themselves, their community and the planet."

This women-owned school also offers multicultural classrooms, slicing scale tuition to enable access to families of all backgrounds, flexible subsidy plans for employers of all sizes, access to co-working for adults, and above average salaries and intersectional feminist benefits for its teaching and school staff.
In short, everything we, as a community, should be supporting.

Collective Kind already has a location in Fort Greene and will soon open micro- preschools in Prospect Lefferts, Boerum Hill... and Gowanus, near Third Avenue.

Anna Ellis Nesser, the school's Director of Learning and Sustainability, wrote to us to express her excitement about the Gowanus location:
"As we, Collective Kind, are growing we are so excited to be coming to work with the Gowanus/Carroll Garden community. Adding this as part of our growth plan was a quick and easy decision - not only is Clara (one of our co-founders) a Carroll Garden resident raising her daughter in the community, this is also where Anna (another of our co-founders) grew up! Something that has not changed over the years here since Anna was a kid and Clara became a parent is the need for progressive early care that families can afford.

As our network of local families has continued to grow with families joining our adult-child classes we have been hearing that Collective Kind is just what the community wants! Anti-bias and nature-based education that supports children to love themselves, their community and the planet is what we are here to share and we look forward to having you join us soon."

Collective Kind just launched a crowdfunding campaign HERE for its teacher-led, female-founded school network. All information about the program can be found at

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Monday, May 24, 2021

Newly-Opened On Court Street, 'Mexico In My Pocket' Celebrates Mexican Culture And Artisans

In case you have not yet discovered Mexico In My Pocket at 415 Court Street yet, permit us to introduce you. This colorful and joyful little store, which opened just recently, celebrates the culture of Mexico. It features wonderful home decor items, gifts, and jewelry, crafted by artisans from different parts of the country.
The selection has been lovingly curated by store-owner Luisa Navarro, a Mexican-American journalist, who writes a successful travel blog under the same name as the store.  When the pandemic made travel nearly impossible in 2020, Luisa saw an opportunity to help Mexican artisans, whose businesses were impacted by the lack of visitors to Mexico.  By bringing their wares to an online shop, as well as to this small showroom in her Brooklyn neighborhood, Luisa is fulfilling not only her own dream, but directly connecting the artisans to customers here.

We stopped by the store last week-end and were charmed. We fell in love with the fancy handcrafted candles and hand painted Milagro hearts.  Do yourself a favor and Check Mexico In My Pocket out. You won't regret it.

Luisa Navarro

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Sunday, May 23, 2021

No Gowanus Rezone! Reverend Billy And His 'Stop Shopping Choir' Join Voice Of Gowanus In Celebration Of Biodiversity Day

In case you missed it, this Sunday was Biodiversity Day.  It only seemed fitting to us to celebrate the occasion in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with members of Voice of GowanusGowanus Artists In Alliance (GAIA) and Reverend Billy Talen for some good old fashioned activism 

Reverend Billy, in a lime green suit, led members of his Stop Shopping Choir and local residents in songs about the past, present, and future of this former marshland, which is so polluted today that the Environmental Protection Agency declared it a Superfund Site, a designation reserved for the most polluted lands in the United States.

Though a clean-up of the canal is currently underway, it will take another ten years to dredge all the toxic material from the 1.8 mile waterway.  Despite its toxicity, the canal and its banks are home to many birds, plants, fish.. and humans.

And of course, there were calls for actions against the proposed 80 block Gowanus rezoning, which is projected to bring 20,000-22,000 new residents to this FEMA flood zone, without serious consideration for necessary infrastructure and thorough environmental clean-ups.

One action is the demand for a redo of the Department of City Planning's Draft Environmental Impact Study for the Gowanus Rezoning, which is a mind-numbing 1,000 pages long. The DEIS has a major flaw since the EPA, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers were not involved in its creating as "involved parties." It is imperative that they be partner agencies in a rewritten, lawful DEIS.

It still distressed us how many Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Park Slope residents have no idea about the rezoning, let alone its sheer size and environmental impacts.

Actions like the one on the Union Street Bridge with Reverend Billy hopefully informed some more in the community.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

This Sunday, Come Celebrate Biodiversity Day In Gowanus With Reverent Billy And Local Activists

Sunday 23rd of May, Biodiversity Day 3:30 PM
Union Street Bridge, (Union St between Nevins & Bond) in Gowanus Brooklyn

A celebration with the Stop Shopping Choir (Reverend Billy), Voice of Gowanus and Gowanus Artists In Alliance (GAIA) for Biodiversity Day in advance of a city land grab - the proposed Gowanus re-zoning

Festive attire, protest signs, singing, children, pets and symbols of what attendees love about Gowanus are encouraged.
We'll be talking and singing about the past, present, and future of this former marshland and current home to birds, plants, fish, and people on the banks of our favorite superFUN Superfund site

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Picture of the Day: Subway Plaza

Lovely to see the space in front of the Carroll Gardens subway entrance at Second Place transformed into a cute plaza where people can meet up. What do you think?

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Great News! Seeds Of Love Coffee Shop On Court Street Reopens In Same Space as Psychedelicatessen Sandwich Shop


When Seeds of Love, the tiny coffee and pastry shop at 421 Court Street closed in mid-March after serving the Carroll Gardens community for over seven years, many local residents were surprised and saddened. After all, SoL had been one of the few local businesses who had consistently stayed open throughout the 2020 pandemic and represented a bright spot on Court Street during the confinement.

Well, we have good news! After a two months hiatus and a total renovation of the small commercial space, owner Phillip Ellis is back. This time, however, he will be concentrating more on sandwiches and 'salty foods' rather than sweet pastry.

The new venture is called Psychedelicatessen Sandwich Shop and opened its doors this past week-end.
Stop on by and say hi to Phillip and his staff, and treat yourself to one of his amazing sandwich or salad creations. (See menu below).

Welcome back, Phil!

Owner Phillip Ellis (right) with employee Trisha

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Watch The Video Now! Voice Of Gowanus Town Hall "Water, Water Everywhere Town Hall: Climate Change, Flooding and the Gowanus Rezone"

On May 11, grassroots community coalition Voice of Gowanus hosted a Town Hall for the Gowanus community entitled Water, Water Everywhere: Climate Change, Flooding and the Gowanus Rezone.
It was a fascinating panel discussion with Flood Risk and Climate Change experts Adrian Santiago Tate,
D.J. Rassmussen, Noah Dewar, as well as Maureen Koetz, Esq, principal of Planet A+ Strategies.

For anyone who missed the event, PMFA is posting the complete video of the Town Hall so that as many people as possible can watch it and hopefully share with other residents living in and around the Gowanus. 

There were some crucial takeaways that everyone in the community should be aware of:
-Hurricane Sandy-like storm events will increase in prevalence due to climate change and the flood impacts of such storms have intensified due to sea level rise; current projections show that the Gowanus Houses would be inundated by flooding—much worse than Sandy—if a similar event happens in the near future. (See maps below)

the piecemeal flood mitigation measures for new construction included in the proposed rezoning, including raising the banks and bulkheads along the Canal, could actually have the unintended consequence of funneling flood waters towards older structures, like the Gowanus Houses, exacerbating flood impacts for those parts of our community.

- the substructures underneath Public Place indicate that the flow of dangerous contamination from the site could be going in multiple directions, including underneath the residential blocks of Carroll Gardens on the other side of Smith St; the flow of contamination is not only towards the Gowanus Canal.

-- a review of a 2005 Public Place Investigation Report by the firm GEI shows that the worst kinds of contamination were migrating off the site, including to the other side of the canal.

Please pay attention to this issue as New York City has now certified the proposed Gowanus rezoning and the Uniform Land Use Review Process has started in earnest. The clock is ticking and we need everyone to be engaged in this discussion.

And for those who still don't know: The Gowanus Rezone is the largest being pushed through by the De Blasio administration. It covers 80 blocks in Gowanus and will bring a projected 20,000 new residents, 8,500 new dwelling units on 63 development sites by 2035.
This, despite the fact that the Gowanus Canal has been declared an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site, that the City still uses the canal as an open sewer and discharges raw sewage into our waterway, and that most of the development area is a FEMA Flood Zone A .
This point was very well illustrated during the Town Hall with the illustrations below.

From the Town Hall: Sea-Level Rise will increase the extend of the floodplain
Above: Hurricane Sandy Flood Extend in Gowanus in 2012. 
Red Line indicates the outline of the proposed Gowanus Rezone 
Projected 2050 Hurricane Sandy Extended Floodplain

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Thursday, May 06, 2021

A Jane's Walk This Friday: Gowanus – What the Hell is Going On?

The Municipal Art Society's much loved Jane's Walk event is a tradition to all those who love New York City and its diverse neighborhoods. This volunteer-led celebration of urban life, inspired by Jane Jacobs, includes two Gowanus tours this year that may interest you.

May 6th at 6pm on Zoom.

This tour is led by friends Brad Vogel and Jack Riccobono of Voice of Gowanus.

"What the hell is going on in Gowanus, Brooklyn? A superfund cleanup. A massive proposed rezoning. Fights over sewage overflow tanks. And zany cultural happenings. Join Gowanusian Brad Vogel and co-host Jack Riccobono, members of the grassroots group Voice of Gowanus, as they dive into the “civic hot mess” on the Gowanus Canal. Learn about toxins, flooding, sewage, and displacement issues – with one host Zooming in from the street to illustrate."

In person, on demand

This self guided tour was organized by friend Miranda Sielaff.

"Participants are invited for a self-guided walk of Gowanus and to share recordings of their experience on Instagram by tagging @gowanussoundwalk. The Gowanus Canal became an EPA Superfund site in 2010, and historically polluted areas are undergoing remediation and redevelopment while life is ongoing for current businesses, residents and wildlife. Listening to all sounds in the environment brings us into contact with changes as they occur."

For more MAS Jane's Walk tours this week-end, click here.

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