To author a cultural map of Bushwick, we’ve created a program for local high school students to attend and review events, festivals and performances at arts and cultural venues across the neighborhood. Youth Cultural Lab technicians apply their training in creative writing and critiquing to offer insights into the arts and cultural landscape of Bushwick from their individual perspectives. With support from the CAPITAL B research director, youth are trained in experimental community mapping techniques that enable them to evaluate, document and visualize how venues perform as critical components of the urban fabric. Youth also engage in discussions about how the arts play a positive role in local economic development and sustainability.
Program Goals and Outcomes:
- To provide professional development experiences for 2-3 youth cultural lab technicians
- To link the youth with online and print publications to distribute their work
- To offer professional and artistic development opportunities to youth interested in the role of the arts in sustainable urban life.
- To publish writing, documentation and mapping produced by interns to author CAPITAL B’s cultural map of Bushwick.
CULTURE LAB TECHNICIANS: SUMMER 2009
Amanda Cordero, 16 – Brooklyn Latin High School
I swear there’s no getting away from this place. Trust me, I’ve tried. Last summer I went on vacation to Miami Beach with my godparents and we were sitting in a chinese restaurant when our waiter brought out fortune cookies right before we left. It was written on the back of the wrapper in black letters “Made in Brooklyn.” That label should have been written on my back, because if there’s one thing I have in common with that cookie is that we were both “Made in Brooklyn”, 11206 to be exact. I’ve lived in that area code for all sixteen years of my life. Graham Avenue or Avenue of Puerto Rico is the place to be, with its lively shops, savoring food, and energetic parades and festivals. But “Gra-ham” isn’t my only safe haven. All Saints Church is a place where my friends and I chill before and after mass. Weekdays I get my junior knowledge on at The Brooklyn Latin School along with my older brother, a senior at the school. Next school year I will be focusing on the visual arts because one of my short term goals (don’t laugh) is to be a tattoo artist. But I dream big so my long term goal is to be a journalist, hopefully for a fun magazine or maybe even the news.
Genesis Henriquez, 16 – Brooklyn Latin High School
There’s really not that much to say about me. I go to school in Brooklyn, where I’ve lived all of my life. I love music and movies and I don’t care what kind they are. I’m constantly on YouTube. I write, I watch, I play, I record. The rest is really just…
Masha Gindler,16 –
Although I was born in a little unpronounceable village in Ukraine, all my early memories date back to 86th street in Bensonhurst. And although a year ago my mother happily smuggled us into Manhattan, her city idéale, I still feel more connected to my Brooklyn neighborhood. There’s just something about walking down a street adorned by familiar nooks and faces that cannot be replaced by a fancy metropolis. One of the things I insisted on taking with us to our small new apartment in the city is my book collection. I can honestly say I own a copy of every book I have ever read since grade eight. Even novels that we cover in class, I make sure to buy a copy of. Reading is fantastic because it covers such a variety of topics, and, I think, is essential in mastering any other subject. I have no idea what I will be in the future. Probably something to do with history, photography, literature, people, art, neuroscience. You know, that general area.
Grandmother’s History Project
Straggler’s Tattoo Party (Cancelled)
Latest Posts By Amanda Cordero and Genesis Henriquez
CAPITAL B youth culturemappers
GLOBE’s Annual Glitter Awards 9/12/09
This was definitely the fiercest event of the year. GLOBE hosted their annual Glitter Awards, in an outdoor venue on a misty, but starry night. This event included food, drinks, a sparkling set and of course the MC of the night: Don Diva. She/he held everything together beautifully through humor and threats (joking around of course). This fashionable diva even had a costume change right before singing an emotional song dedicated to her friends and family. What’s a host without their outfit change? While touching as it was, the mood quickly changed when his/her sister hopped on stage and danced till the end of the song. Although there were many great performances, the highlight of the night was definitely The Hardy Boys. These boys busted out the moves and even had a standing ovation. And of course the night was not complete without a vogueing contest. I had an amazing night, with the exception of a humungous spider literally crawling in front of me, but you know me, I held my composure (if that’s what you call squealing like a little girl). If you are a fan of fun times and laughable rhymes, be sure to check out the GLOBE website and see when next year’s show is going to take place.
“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself” –Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Bespoke Yoga 8/23/09
I’ve taken yoga in school but personally I didn’t care about it, since no one else did. So when Adriana signed us up for yoga I thought: “Oh great, I have to waste my Sunday morning in a hot, crowded room trying to stretch my body into a pretzel!” Luckily it didn’t turn out as so. This morning at Bespoke Yoga, I felt relaxed and zen. Class took place in a small but comfortable room (usually it occurs in a larger room, but rehearsals were going on). Everyone seemed friendly and inviting as they all seemed to know each other. Even though classes have just recently started, Lisa, the yoga instructor, already has frequent customers. Lisa Boudreau is a licensed yoga instructor who “fills the needs of individual clients with specific, customized yoga instruction”. But Bespoke Yoga isn’t your typical yoga class. According to the pamphlet, “it is the goal of Bespoke Yoga to foster each individual’s unique mind/body language”. Bespoke Yoga really gives you an awareness of both your physical and mental well-being, plus you get to learn how to do head-stands! So come on down to Williamsburg and for $15 a class, you can be one with your body and mind!
Graham Avenue 8/23/09
Los platanos took to the street today, marching down Graham Avenue. Just as exciting as the Brooklyn Puerto Rican Day Parade, The Annual Brooklyn Dominican Day Parade filled the streets with the sounds of bachata and meregue. The most riveting part definitly had to be the merengue Michael Jackson tribute. Decked out in black and white suites along with white gloves and fedoras, twenty or so people danced to a meringue remix of Jackson’s Thriller. To tell the truth I didn’t even know this was going on until I hopped off the bus and saw all the vendors randomly selling Dominican flags. That’s the true sign of a Graham Avenue parade.
I.S 291 8/20/09
231 Palmetto Street
Brooklyn, NY 11221
I swore to myself that I wouldn’t step foot into a classroom until September, but today I made an exception. Genesis and I stopped by IS 291 to get stitched. Thanks to Wanda Gala for inviting us, we were able to sit in on the Arts & Literacy Summer Program and ask young students to add on to our map. Two of the most interesting additions to the map were the star placed in the cemetery representing the heart of Bushwick and the dot placed to signify one girl’s father’s bakery. Maybe we can check that bakery out some time.
Bushwick’s Best Kept Secret
12 wyckoff Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11237
Ever been mini-golfing in Brooklyn? Neither have we. But that doesn’t mean we can’t, at least not anymore. A couple of blocks down from the Tortilleria, the first mini-golf place, that we know of, in Bushsick, The Putting Lot, sits proudly. The lot is very community oriented. The workers are all volunteers, all the materials used to build the lot are recycled and you can even get seed bombs at the last hole. There’s even a weekly movie screening there on Thursdays. Sounds fun huh? Well you better hurry!!! It’s only up for one more month. Shame though, we could really use the fun, considering school starts in 24 days.
Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos 08/12/09
271 Starr St
Brooklyn, NY 11237
So you think you’ve had a tortilla before? I bet you haven’t had one straight from the distributor’s kitchen. Like Roberta’s pizzeria, the Tortilleria , located right outside the Jefferson stop of the L train, distinguishes itself from the surrounding factories and empty buildings by a single ATM machine located conveniently next to the entrance. It’s a small locale, with the cooking going on to the left and the tables positioned against the clear glass wall seperating the restaurant from the garage next door, in which you can choose to sit in during weekends. Despite not having the grandest selection of menu items, the Tortilleria makes up for that in taste. Once you’ve written down your order, you can pretty much make a good bet that you’re gonna hav a tasty meal.
Danny’s vs. Roberta’s
Danny’s Pizzeria 8/11/09
241 Bushwick Ave.
Brooklyn, New York 11206
Although not as unique as Roberta’s, Danny’s Pizzeria keeps the classical pizza taste. When you’re hungry and tired after a long school/work day, Danny’s is the place to go. I know from experience that it’s a hotspot for the after school munchies. Not only is it inexpensive, it has much more than just pizza. They have a combination of Italian dishes and desserts. (I recommend the Tiramisu). “It’s a great place where we not only enjoy the great food but we also enjoy the company of others” says a common visitor. When told about our “Less Guns, More Pizza” campaign he replied sarcastically “Decrease crime, increase obesity. Sounds good.” for someone who commonly eats pizza, he sure does have a grudge against grease. No worries though pizza is sure to become the next pizza symbol. Step aside Bono!
“I am the lorax you see; I speak for the people, the culture, the streets. And I’m telling you kind sir that these condos must cease!”
Cake: The Bushwick Lorax 8/8/09
What’s cooler than producing your very own show? That’s right, nothing! Lucky us! We got the chance to put together a CAKE. On Saturday night, Genesis and I put together a night of dance, theater and music. Thanks to friends and family, whom we called on last minute, the show went off without a hitch. It started off with a lively salsa/hip hop dance choreographed by my cousin Ashley Ortiz. Previous to this event she has performed this dance alongside up-and-coming artist Bianca. The event closed with two songs performed by singer/songwriter DeeJay. His first song was a tribute to his childhood and his second song was a catchy original of his entitled “Fantasy Girl”. It was so catchy that by the time the show started everyone who attended rehearsal was singing along in the audience. Seriously it was that good! But the moment we are most proud of is when we premiered “The Bushwick Lorax”. Based on Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”, our play tackles the current housing situation that Bushwick finds itself in. Despite the severity of the situation, the play is set up in a way that even children can understand. By using satirical wit, we tried to make an important issue reach the ears of an otherwise uninformed audience. But do not despair, for if you missed our first show, come out to the “I <3 Bushwick” event happening on September 27 in Maria Hernandez Park, where we will be performing for the second time ever. YAY!
Taking Back the Streets!
National Night Out 8/4/09
One night a year communities across the U.S take a step outside to take back the streets. But for the sake of this blog, we don’t care about the rest of the world; Bushwick is where it’s happening! Maria Hernandez Park to be exact. The event was organized by the 83rd precinct and activities included soccer, basketball and roller-skating obstacle courses. But this wasn’t just a kid’s affair, while the kiddies played sports, the adults hit up the tables. Many organizations set up tables filled with information. Oh course we spoke to them all. The first table, the Bushwick Housing Independence Project, was the most interesting as it tackles something we’ve been sticking our noses in: affordable housing. “BHIP is a community organization that provides free service in the community to avoid evictions and save affordable housing” reads the flyer. Some of the other tables included information about health care services, HIV/AIDS prevention (they even handed out condoms) and police explorer programs. The last table also caught our attention as we received adoption flyers. The flyers are to recruit foster parents in the Bushwick area. Thinking about adoption? Visit the Lindsay Park Community Center, September 25 from 5:30pm to 11pm, to speak to foster parents and children alike. Back to what we were talking about; when you’re not playing sports or checking out the tables, you could have just sat back, watch the marching band perform, and eat a hotdog (which was free by the way). But if you plan on going next year, make sure to get there early to catch the presentation of awards to exemplary officers. So if you didn’t catch it this year you at least now have a hopeful mind for next year!
Maps are not Innocent.
Chez Bushwick 07/25/2009
Maps. What are they? Instruments of directional functionality or are they something more? Last week’s cake, which featured Bettina Hutschek and our very own Adriana Young, proved that maps are way more than that. The studio looked completely different from when we came for the performance of “Angry Boy.” At the front of it, a bed was setup with the embroidered map of Bushwick place atop it as a blanket. Adriana sat to the left of the “bed” giving descriptions of the different experiences with the Bushwick community that led to the colorfulness in this work of art that had once been a plain twin-sized bed sheet. Adriana’s display of the map was followed by a performance/lecture by Hutschek. Lecture sound boring to you? Well you couldn’t be more wrong because Hutschek’s performance was amazing and this coming from two people who after being scarred from too many lectures in schools never wanted to hear another one again. Hutschek told the story of the city of Brest and its battle to keep its memories, represented in the form of postcards, locked away. Imaginative and soft-spoken, Hutschek held the attention of the room from beginning to end with the story-time feel of her performance. In fact, we were so impressed by her performance that we imediatley subscribed to her blog. Adriana followed Hutschek’s performance with a commercial on maps and how they are quite simply not as innocent as most think them to be.
Brooklyn Public Library 7/30/09
We are back from the library again. Even though it has been a while, the people haven’t changed; they still have their stories. Today we spoke with five teens about everything from who’s the cutest actor in Twilight to the best pizza joint on Grand Street. While answering one of the questions on the survey, what spaces are unsafe, they all agreed that the projects are unsafe. When asked why they thought so one replied “the last time I went to the projects I was followed by some guys.” Genesis and I both agree this is a valid reason to deem it unsafe! But the best part about meeting with them is the intriguing designs they stitched on to the map. While one person stitched the Cuban flag near the already stitched Puerto Rican flag, someone else stitched a Ferris wheel to represent the Italian Fair as a positive space. This was a great experience, especially since it was our first without the guidance of Adriana. Yay us! I wonder who we’ll meet next week!
CAKE at Chez Bushwick 07/11/2009
It wasn’t ever too hard to imagine our oh so diligent work office could so easily turn into a house of the arts. Saturday, July 11th, like every Saturday at Chez Bushwick, was met with the showcasing of a talented performer’s/artist’s work, in this case Chantal Yzerman’s performance of “Angry Boy”. If you’d taken the program for the show literally, you might have been expecting an opening to two persons in heated argument concerning the state of a garment. However, that is far from the show that actually took place. Instead of any out-spoken dialogue, the audience received a silent struggle between that which is forthcoming and that which has been the norm. Considering the fact that this message was portrayed without the utterance of a single word makes it understandable why hours after the show we were still talking about it.
Golden Stitches 7/10/09
257 Varet Street | 718-456-3621
Who would have thunk it? A nation-wide distributed product is manufactured right here in the heart of the East Williamsburg Industrial Zone. Located across the street from the Boars Head distributor is none other than Golden Stitches (the people who make the uniforms for Boars Head factory workers all over the country). Golden Stitches contains the most amazing array of embroidered designs. Some of their works include a design for the 2000 Subway Series (Yankees vs. Mets), a creative new Looney Tunes design, and the most memorable one, which just so happens to be the Golden Stitches very own logo. Above the store front door hangs a half naked young lady, while on the contrary, inside, handling the machines, works a group of much older women and the owner (a guy!). The atmosphere of the place is just as interesting, for the fact that the owner, Golden Joe, literally lives in a self built apartment above the factory. Wow!
On July 10, we all took a trip over to the manufacturer to ask for their input on our culture map. But to our surprise no one knew how to sew! Being that they are so used to using the machine, they had no reason to learn how to hand stitch. But no fear the Culture Mappers are here and we are skilled in the art of sewing stars and hearts on a bed sheet in the shape of Bushwick! LOL
All jokes aside, they’re a great group of people and together we are currently working on Bushwick’s new peace slogan: “Less Guns, More Pizza”. Can’t wait to see how that campaign works out!
Cafe Orwell 7/10/09
247 Varet St
(between White St & Bogart St)
Brooklyn, NY 11206
I was always told as a child to stay away from the old factory buildings and to stick to the main streets. But on July 10th I broke the rules. Oh yeah! Along with Adriana and the crew, we set off to explore the land known as the heart of gentrification. Of course since it was my first time out and about in these neck of the woods, Adriana thought it would be fun to let us fend for ourselves. So after helping us set up our culture map on an empty bench outside of Café Orwell, she stepped back and let us handle the show. Boy did we meet some interesting people! When asked the final question on our survey, who do you think you are, Leilanie replied with “I’m a star” and Jessica “I’m either a flying fish or a human disco ball.” Café Orwell is no doubt an interesting place to get opinions from people who live in the most gentrified areas as opposed to the usual people we speak with who lived here before the gentrification process started. It’s always good to hear both sides of the story. Café Orwell caught our eyes because of its numerous freelancers typing away at their computers. We had the chance to speak with one of them; a web designer who said that Café Orwell and many other café type places are where he calls work. So if you’ve never seen how the factories have been remodeled, head down to Bogart and Montrose to see what all the buzz is about!
Los Arcos Café (Practically Everyday)
255 A Bushwick Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11206
Who ever said California has the best burritos obviously never took a stroll down Bushwick Avenue. I’m currently fresh off the plane from San Francisco, a place well known for their abnormally large burritos. But as I sat in the corner of some Mexican restaurant in the Mission District, I realized how much I missed Los Arcos. Los Arcos is to blame for taking my burrito virginity. Before I would have never thought to eat a burrito (because they look repulsive), but along came Los Arcos to change my mind. Their classic Los Arcos burritos are packed with rice, black beans, sour cream, veggies, and your choice of meat. But Los Arcos isn’t just a great place to grab a bite after school, it is also a safe place to go. And how do I know this? Here’s the story: sometime during the beginning of the school year Genesis and I were hanging out with some of our friends when someone started problems with one of us. To avoid conflict we went into Los Arcos and the kind manager scared the troublemakers by threatening to call the cops. Never mess with a business lady!
Roberta’s Pizza 7/10/09
261 Moore St
Brooklyn, NY 11206-3816
Who would’ve known that for the past nineteen months Roberta’s has been called home by the local hipsters? Located on Bogart and Moore, Roberta’s is definitely a unique pizza spot. Not only does it offer a wide variety of pizza selection, such as the “Specken Wolf” (not actually made with wolf), the atmosphere is different from that of your regular pizza shop. At first glance, you wouldn’t even know that it’s there, with the exception of the small sign above the door and the randomly place ATM machine. But the mood changes as you walk inside. The first room has the feel of a summer cabin. The next room located outside looked more like an empty lot, complete with a run down car decorated with festive flowers. But what really sets Roberta’s apart is the fact that they have made it so that in such an urban environment it is still possible for their customers to know exactly where the food on their plates is coming from. After speaking with co-founder Gabe, we learned that atop the Evergreen container boxes, you can find a garden of fresh vegetables and herbs. No wonder that “Specken Wolf” was so zesty!
Save The Pizza, Save The World
Pizza thoughts in general 7/29/09
Save the pizza, save the world. What would this city be without pizza? Pizza is as much a part of this city as our lady liberty herself. New York is known for her amazing talents in putting dough, sauce and cheese together. But there’s a question involved in this; what can pizza do to change our society? Pizza is more than just a comfort food; pizzerias can seriously be considered community centers. It’s the only other place besides the subway where whole communities can come together to enjoy a universally known happiness. For this reason Adriana has created the most brilliant peace slogan for Bushwick: “Less Guns, More Pizza.” Now who’s going to disagree with that? You all must be wondering how this all came about, but there is a heart-felt explanation for all of this.
Once upon a time on a beautiful day in Bushwick, Adriana went out to the park and set up her culture map on a table. Along came a group of young boys who asked oh so politely, “Yo what is this miz?” Adriana responded, “It’s a culture map, would you like to embroider onto it.” The one to the left responds, “I don’t know how to do that.” After a few moments the boys were stitching up a storm and that’s when Adriana asked, “What would you like to see less of in your neighborhood?” The boys uniformly answered, “violence” and at the same time they agreed that they were hungry. At that moment the magical light bulb sparked in Adriana’s pretty little head and she realized exactly what Bushwick needed, “Less Guns, More Pizza.”
So what are we doing to make this true? Well we advise you head on over to your closest pizzeria and share a pie with a group strangers because don’t forget a stranger’s just a friend waiting to happen.
Feast of Mount Carmel
On 7/12/09 By Amanda Cordero
“Imagine 125 men carrying a Five-Ton, Five-Story, Hand-Sculptured Tower and a 12- piece Brass Band on their shoulders dancing it through their neighborhood in tempo to joyous Italian folk songs.” (www.giglio-usa.org)
Lucky me, I didn’t have to imagine this, I saw it with my own eyes. On July 12, my mother woke me up bright and early to head to Our Lady of Mount Carmel for Sunday mass. But this was no ordinary Sunday afternoon. The church was packed with many different people, particularly Italians, for the dance of the Giglio. The streets of the north side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn were packed yesterday with people trying to catch a glimpse of both towers making their way down the street to the front of the church.
But if your not a fan of tradition, fret not for their was more to do than watch two towers dance in the street. For the next few weeks the area surrounding Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in the northside, will be hosting a five-block long street fair. Trust me, there’s something for everyone: games, rides, music and food. Its a relaxing way to spend time after work.
Being a teenager, I advise the best time to visit the festival is after dark, especially if you want to meet new people (wink*wink).
“These zeppoles are the bomb!”
Brooklyn Puerto Rican Day Parade 6/21/09
You could hear the screams from blocks away as the parade travelled down Graham Avenue, otherwise known as Avenue of Puerto Rico. Made up of fancy bicycles, tricked out cars, dancers and a marching band, the 16th Annual Brooklyn Puerto Rican Day Parade brought out not only Boricuas, but the entire community as well. But it wasn’t just the parade that interested people, to quote my grandmother “these zeppoles are the bomb.” At the end of the parade, there was a block-long street fair, with both food and clothing vendors. At the end of the street fair was a concert stage. All types of performances took place, from salsa to reggaeton to bomba and elementary school girls. It was a place of cultural gathering on the street made for social gathering. It happens twice a year in the month of June. Missed it this year? Don’t worry because it only gets better!
Screening of Struggles
Moviehouse’s Cinema Parque 6/25/09
It was a shock to the Sternberg Park goers, when on the evening of July 1st they found themselves in the middle of a movie screening. Taking place in the handball courts, it drew the attention of people from all over Brooklyn and even two stragglers from Massachusetts. One mother stated that she had been walking home with her daughter when she caught a glimpse of the projected screen and decided to poke her nose in and see what it was all about. She wasn’t the only one. A group of ankle-bitters, i.e. “youngin’s”, came offering their opinions on Mike Vasquez’s movie about a struggling family left to fend for themselves after the father is deported to his native country. The other four movies were just as interesting: each filmmaker created a short piece about his/her own lives. All told stories of struggle, such as the struggle to keep graffiti as an art form as opposed to an act of vandalism, the struggle to fit in as a gay teen, the struggle faced by workers of varying ethnic backgrounds, and lastly those of a family separated by geographical barriers. The setting made for a perfect night under the stars in between ongoing baseball and basketball games.
Grandma’s Living Room Goes Street
Lindsay Park Street Fair 6/27/09
Interestingly enough this “street fair” wasn’t actually a street fair.
We waited two hours for this fair to take place and once it began, we came to realize that it was a glorified garage sale. Though open to the public, it seemed more of a residential activity. As we walked towards the food stand we could hear people calling out each other’s names and inquiring about family members. After speaking with vendor Maria Rodriguez, we found out that this was a place where the people of the Lindsay Housing Complex could come out and rent a table for $35 to sell anything they felt like. The first table held cleaning supplies and toiletries, the next consisted of the contents in grandma’s living room but of course the most visited table was the food stand, where an entire family stood making pastelitos. Once you were satisfied with your shopping expedition, you could head up the block to Sternberg Park and catch the last innings of the little league baseball games, blue vs green.
Bushwick Public Library Mapping 7/2/09
On the second day of our mission to save the world through cultural mapping, Adriana and we flew over to the Brooklyn Public Library with our handy dandy quilted map of Bushwick. We set up in the children’s area and that’s when BAAAM! dragged in by our charismatic stitching powers onlookers came to participate in this heroic activity. Both workers and visitors of the library came to take part in our weekly stitching ritual, stitching in and answering questions about where they lived, worked and places they consider safe or unsafe in the Bushwick area. One woman, Leslie, stood out to us in particular, because of her passion and dedication to the neighborhood that has induced both emotions of joy and heartache. She spoke of the changes currently occurring in the place she calls home. She brought up the issues faced by the elderly due to gentrification. Do you agree with Leslie’s story and want to give insight into your experiences in Bushwick? Come join us every Thursday between 3PM and 5PM at the public library on Bushwick Avenue. Let your voice be heard and your stories be mapped!