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2011 Fight for Park51 – How Do We Build Community in Hard Times While Being Pitted Against One Another?


Park51 Islamic Center: Rebuilding a Neighborhood with Care

Rebuilding a Neighborhood with Care

“I was a mile away when the first plane hit the Trade Towers. I was taking my son by stroller to our parent-run day care center. I ran with him to that shelter. We all struggled not to show how afraid we were to the children. We took turns going outside to watch and pray that the towers would hold. We sobbed when they fell. I went out the next day just to listen to people in the lines waiting for news of their friends, children, parents and co-workers – most of whom they would never see again. My beloved brother had died the week before. I felt I understood the shock of loss.

Every community works to make the best possible home for its members to live in. The most promising communities gather and sustain the resources around them to insure that members are cared for and can thrive.

Although Americans come from ancestors and societies of people with similar beliefs and customs, we have always been a far more complex society. Here we have been tasked with reinventing our communities with each new wave of people from across the world. It is our great strength. Our work has been to honor and protect our own ways and beliefs while we guard against becoming exclusive and isolated and therefore limited. We do this despite many of us having prior histories as the targets of intolerance and attack. Not simple. There have been many bumps in that road, but we slowly get better at it.

As in any community, yours too, you decide its course by gathering the thoughts of everyone involved. The vigorous and sometimes rancorous debate around the Park51 Islamic Center’s location was/is necessary and unavoidable. People are made angry, grief struck and fearful by senseless loss. Yet we still have to find a way not to be shackled by those griefs, angers and fears when determining the future. Atrocities have happened here before. We live on Lenape Native land, we have built our homes and lives on their sacred sites. We must remember, honor and learn from all losses and work towards our best hopes for the present and for the future.

The proposed Park51 Islamic Center affords us an opportunity to learn about each other and offers an important resource for Lower Manhattan. Modeled after the Jewish Community Center and the Christian YMCA whose faiths infuse the values of their centers, Park51 will be inspired by the Islamic faith but open to everyone. It intends to provide services to prevent domestic violence, classes to learn English and Arabic, courses in cooking, a place to swim, a memorial to the victims of 9/11 and an Interfaith Center. And, importantly, a Muslim prayer space. Observing one’s faith is an American principle held dear by most people in this country.

The neighborhood leadership, local elected representatives, and the community have resoundingly backed the proposal. The Center offers the possibility of a positive infusion into the life of this neighborhood that was badly scarred by the destruction of 9/11. Local leadership would like more institutions to come and build here. This is no surprise – during the past few years Lower Manhattan has become increasingly residential. This is a neighborhood. It has need of jobs, homes, parks, schools, labor centers, day care, senior housing, shelters, prayer spaces, learning centers, health and recreation centers, and police and fire houses. Far from being disrespectful to build here, every faith must lend their weight towards the restoration of this community.

At the site of the World Trade Towers will stand an enduring memorial to the enduring heartbreak of that day. Nearby, children will splash in a pool, babies will laugh and cry, women will heal, people will learn, a faith will have a place to pray. Life will go on – a direct challenge to the twisted plans of a small group who would have had it otherwise.”

– K Webster

New Open Space at Grand & Lafayette Streets Planning Meeting

SpotLight on Seniors

MKGarden Website (via Gothamist) Film with Audio LES 1934

From M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden’s website:

A film of the neighborhood, with sound, from 1934.

Milton Resnick’s Former Studio Reopens

Brian Buckley/The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation

From Architect’s Newspaper (via The Lo-Down)

“The work in the inaugural display, Milton Resnick: Paintings 1937–1987, shows his paintings and drawings, ranging from colorful figurative works to large-scale monochromatic pieces.”

“Free and open to the public, the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation on Eldridge Street will open to the public on September 15 and 16. The art space is housed in a former synagogue where Resnick (1917-2004) lived and worked, while his wife Passlof (1928-2011) had her own converted synagogue one block over on Forsyth Street. Resnick was one of the original Abstract Expressionist painters and was close friends with Willem de Kooning, through whom he met his wife. Although the foundation is focused on their work, it will also present exhibitions of other artists, readings, performances, and lectures, and welcome scholars.”

Brian Buckley/The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation


StoryTime and Crafts in the Garden (M’Finda Kalunga Garden) Saturday September 22nd



September 22, 2018

Deadline September 20th: US Army Corp of Engineers Proposals on Storm Surge – Harmful to Irrelevant?

From RiverKeeper:

Storm Surge Barriers

Storm surge barriers


A threat to the very life of the Hudson & Harbor

“We welcome good, common-sense ideas to prevent massive flooding in our region. A 5-mile ‘sea barrier’ is not one of them.”
– Editorial, The Record (N.J.)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering several options for coastal storm protections in our region, and some of these options would have catastrophic consequences for the Hudson and New York Harbor. Specifically, storm surge barriers – giant ocean gates – would choke off tidal flow and the migration of fish – damaging the life of the Hudson River Estuary forever.

This is a critical time to speak out and prevent a short-sighted decision.

Get informed and take action:


Proposed Barrier Video here. Consensus of those knowledgable about the Hudson River appears to be: Would destroy Hudson wildlife, wouldn’t work, cost billions and have unforeseen consequences on people living along the Hudson estuary. Study? Then: Weigh in today?

From The Villager

By Sydney Pereira

“The Corps was asked the wrong question, they were asked about storm risk and not sea-level rise risk.”

“A public meeting with hardly any public notice. Five proposals with no details on environmental impact or economic feasibility. And a planning process that’s raising doubts on whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can choose the best storm-surge protection plan to shield more than 2,150 miles of New York and New Jersey shoreline.

Nearly six years after Hurricane Sandy swamped Lower Manhattan with 7 feet of water and killed two people in the community, this is where the Corps’ New York / New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries study stands after starting in 2016.”

It’s Our Park Day: The Illuminator Lights Up Stanton Building: What Would We Want Here?

Thank you: The Illuminator and FABnyc‘s: Emilio, Dakota, Ryan, Mike and their band of hard-working staff and volunteers!!

Historical Photos from the NYC Park Archives, Keena Suh, Photos Lee Elson and Unknown Photographer from Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coalition.


The Illuminator and the Neighborhood collaborate: “What Could be here?”

Its Our Park Day: More Photos of the People


The festivities are intended to draw attention, once again, to the need to re-open the Stanton park building, currently boarded up and used for storage, to community use.  The park is seeing an escalation of troubling uses including drug use and trafficking, the children’s playground is avoided by local families, and the closed building sits at the center of this activity.  Re-opening the building for programming could have a significant and immediate impact in making the park safe; it can anchor NYC’s efforts to bring climate resiliency to parks and re-establish a welcoming park for all.




It’s Our Park Day



Fierce and honest talk from our community leaders and representatives Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Chin’s Gigi Li and Pat Olan, NY State Senator Brian Kavanagh, CB3 Chair (and neighbor) Alysha Coleman, Rafael Hernandez Houses Resident Association Leader Felicia Gordon,  Democratic State Committee Chris Marte, and our MC SDR Coalition’s VP Deborah Jeffreys-Glass.

Thank you to FABnyc for the love and care and work that went into spearheading the creation of a beautiful, safe, welcoming umbrella for the neighborhood and visitors to live in for a day. A chance to imagine what it would be like if we had this space available to the neighborhood – everyday.

Stanton Building Task Force: FABnyc  and staff (and the organizing team leadership of Emilio Martinez Poppe and Dakota Scott) ensuring the arts & fun, GreenMap keeping us honest about climate change and sustainable practice, University Settlement bringing the depth of advocacy for over a century (and dancing & drumming!) and SDR Coalition park advocacy since 1982.

Beautiful artwork, spirited/tireless dancing, vital information on keeping our community safe, 5th Precinct’s Bozzo/Urena, The Stanton Street Block AssociationCrime Victims advocate Panarella, Alexis Mercer with Narcon Training from the Educational Alliance,  Stanton Street CSA share info, block association info, puppet show, generous donations from our neighborhood businesses, Bob Humber’s M’Finda Kalunga Garden chess matches, Pam Ito from The Hort and Emma Lazarus High School‘s seed planting,Neighbors to Save Rivington House, The Illuminator, re-Tree planting, volunteers who worked hard, and thank you to the Sara Roosevelt Park’s NYC Park’s Department‘s Stanton Building Park’s staff and PEP led by our Parks Manager: Elizabeth Martinez.

As Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (and everyone echoed): “The LES knows how to fight, knows how to stick together to build community”.

Most of all, thanks to neighbors who understand we can decide that no one gets left out – and then do the work to make sure of it.

We will have this park safe and beautiful and fun to be young in and to grow old in – and enjoy all the years in between.

More of our Children: