Author Archive

Play in Bed-Stuy Explores Topic of Gentrification

December 13th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

“Brothers From the Bottom,” written and directed by Jackie Alexander, tackles the tensions brought forth in neighborhoods faced with imminent change. Set in New Orleans, five years after Hurricane Katrina, the play offers differing views on the topic of gentrification/revitalization through the eyes of two brothers.

A popular topic of discussion among the long-time residents of Bed-Stuy, the play’s theme appears to resonate with the audience who comes to enjoy the show at the Billie Holiday Theater located in the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza.

The play premiered on Oct. 15 and runs through Dec.19.

As the audience trickled in on Saturday night, we went behind the scenes and got a peek of the actors before they set foot on the stage.

We also sat down with Jackie Alexander before the show and asked about his motivation for writing the play, the relevance of the play’s theme in Bed-Stuy, and what he hopes the audience will walk away with.

West African Couture in Clinton Hill

December 6th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

A staple of Fulton St. for the past 20 years, the Senegalese Fashion Center continues to delight its West African-couture-loving clients in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

Shortly after he arrived from Senegal in 1990, Abdou Diop, 53, opened the tailor shop to serve the fashion needs of the West African community in the neighborhood. Most of the colorful, pattern-rich and embroidered fabrics are imported from Africa.

Give Diop a few hours, and he will transform the fabrics into perfectly-fitted traditional African garments.

For the loyal clientele that consists not only of African, but also African-American women, the gowns he creates are a favorite.

Max Schmidt, a Bed-Stuy resident who is originally from Belize, shares what keeps her coming back to the shop.

Concern Over Stop-and-Frisk Continues in Bed-Stuy

November 28th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

More than four months after Governor Paterson signed a bill to limit data collected by the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice, Bed-Stuy residents complain the measure does nothing to solve the pervasiveness of the police tactic in their neighborhood.

Community residents claim the stop-and-frisk practice is still heavily carried out by the 81st Precinct, the local police department that was marred in scandal due to illegal practices, earlier this year.

“It’s the usual stereotypical abuse that we get, even if we’re trying to do something with ourselves,” said Chantel Boone, 24, a concerned Bed-Stuy resident.

The Center for Constitutional Rights recently released a report that documents the disproportionately high rates of stop-and-frisk tactics in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. The study reported that race and not crime is at the core of the stop-and-frisk policy.

This month, radio station manager for Hot 97/Kiss FM, Terrence Battle, made headlines when he was stopped and searched by cops in Bed-Stuy while riding in a cab. He accused the cops of racial profiling.

A native Bed-Stuy resident shared his views on the stop-and-frisk practice in his neighborhood.

Stop-and-Frisk in Bed-Stuy from Jacqueline Vergara Amezquita on Vimeo.

Senior Centers in Bed-Stuy

November 21st, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

The senior citizen population of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn saw the closure of two local senior centers this past summer. They were part of the 50 senior centers ordered to close their doors by the city during budget cuts in July. A total of 11 centers were mandated to close in the borough of Brooklyn.

However, the seniors of Bed-Stuy can still count on six local senior centers for social, economic, and health services. If you are a senior citizen in search of help, or you know of a senior who wants to access services in Bed-Stuy, this map will help you find the six available centers in the area.

View Senior Centers in Bed-Stuy in a larger map

Billboards Coalesce in Times Square

November 14th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

Lights! Signs! Action!

Iconic of New York City, Times Square attracts visitors from all over the world. Cameras in hand and multi-directional gazes in place, tourists do not seem to have enough time to take it all in. The bright ads, digital billboards, and ubiquitous brands are endless in this marketing haven.

In full tourist gear (i.e., camera in hand), I set out to Times Square last week, in search of signs that begged for the flash:

Soundslides: NYC Billboards

November 14th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

Music: “ditto, ditto!” by DoKashiteru
Creative Commons License ditto, ditto! by DoKashiteru is licensed under a Sampling Plus.

I Feel Safe, Say CUNY J-Schoolers

November 8th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

Life in New York City offers a long list of annoyances to the city dweller. Metro fare hikes, disoriented tourists who block the flow of city streets, and the recent bed bug scare are some of the issues the CUNY J-school Class of 2011 notes as most cumbersome.

But as the irritating aspects of life in this metropolis are discussed, a popular urban topic is generally left out: crime and safety.

So I set out to find out if my classmates at J-School worry about crime and if they feel safe in their neighborhoods.

Of the 12 students who responded to the online survey about safety and crime in their borough, 58% were female and 42% were male.

Only three of the five NYC boroughs were represented, with 67% living in Manhattan, 25% in Queens, and 8% in Brooklyn.

Asked whether they feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood late at night (after 10 p.m.), 50% said they “always” feel safe, and 50% said they feel safe “most of the time.” No one checked the “sometimes,” “rarely”, or “never” options.

When asked if they knew someone who has been a victim of crime in the borough they (respondents) live, 25% said “yes.” However, 100% said they have never been a victim of crime in their borough, which may explain why none reported feeling at risk for crime there.

After all reported feeling safe in their borough, I was not surprised to learn that most do not keep track of crime in their borough: 75%.

Perhaps the New York Police Department’s report of the annual decrease in crime levels over the past 20 years has helped?

Bed-Stuy Residents Are Fed Up

October 17th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

Vibrant, busy and colorful, the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn boasts of an infinity of community charms and resources: It is home to the historic and architecturally stunning brownstones, the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza sets the standard for community-investment in the area, and its residents are always willing to share their community’s history if asked. But as with any neighborhood, there are always pest-like problems and issues that need to be addressed. Native Bed-Stuy residents share their views about the area’s current troubles.

Racial Tension.
Jermaine Hardy, 27. by Jackiev83

Condo Craze and Lack of Affordable Housing.
Tammy Gould, 42. by Jackiev83

Rough Roads and No Accessible Stores.
Shekena Mcleod, 29. by Jackiev83

Following a night of interviews, all that was left was the sound of buzzing traffic on the desolate streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Sound of Bed-Stuy Streets by Jackiev83

A Cure for the Pothole Blues

October 3rd, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

The city of New York has its share of urban annoyances. For the vehicle drivers and cyclists of the city, however, there is no bigger pest than—yes, you named it—potholes. Jumping at commuters quite often and unexpectedly, these concrete cavities have been the culprit of fatal accidents and commuter angst. Furthermore, it has been reported that potholes cost drivers in New York more than $600 a year in repairs.

To help ease this pesky problem, here are a few resources committed to aid you in the fight against potholes:

1. 1-800-Pothole—The New York State DOT provides a toll-free, 24-hour, seven days a week hotline where pothole complaints can be filed.

2. New York City DOT Pothole Repair—This site provides an online form where you can report the location of the irritating cavity, as well as the date of detection.

3. Pothole Accident Attorneys—Pedestrians too, can fall victim of potholes. Although the city is not responsible for accidents caused by potholes on sidewalks and crosswalks, there are two exceptions. If you have a case, these lawyers will make sure the city is held accountable.

4. I-Phone App—New York City 311 hopes it will facilitate the pothole reporting process.

5. Eyewitness News Pothole Patrol—ABC wants viewers to share their pothole stories. If your story is good, it could appear on T.V.. Talk about the media bringing attention to citizens’ problems!

6.—If all else fails, perhaps your pothole could be featured in this creative photo project that thrives on pothole artistic transformation.

Subway Charm School

September 28th, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

New York subway commutes are complicated and tedious with perpetual construction and inconvenient delays. The last thing commuters need are pests who make matters worse by demonstrating poor subway etiquette.

In the spirit of artist Jayshells’ subway posters, four regular commuters share their stories and offer their advice to pesky subway riders with poor etiquette. Let’s take their cautionary tales as lessons on how we should all behave.

Lesson 1: Stand Up For a Pregnant Woman

Jackie by daniel.prendergast

Lesson 2: Don’t Crowd the Pole

Stuart by daniel.prendergast

Lesson 3: Stay Home if You’re Sick

An by daniel.prendergast

Lesson 4: No Showboating

Daniel by daniel.prendergast