Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Imani Garden gearing up for another season

This past Sunday, community members gathered after services at the Lady of Charity RC Church to talk about the Imani Garden, located on Schenectady Ave. between Dean and Pacific Streets. Members of Green Phoenix Permaculture facilitated a meeting where church members and others interested came together to plan the coming year of activities in the garden, learn about health, and eat some deliciously nutritious food! Imhotep's Health Food Restaurant and Ital Shak catered the meeting, and members of Green Phoenix Permaculture made smoothies. Marlene Saunders spoke to the group about proper nutrition, and we learned about the history of the garden and Permaculture, a system of designing agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecology. The afternoon ended with some relaxing fun in the garden, including facepainting! If you live in the area, please, stop by. There are ten veggetable beds and a beautiful outdoor space to take advantage of. The garden will be open to the public every Sunday afternoon, 2:00pm-4:00pm. For more information about this wonderful community resource, contact Rupert Poole at rpoole@nyrp.org or 646-346-3332. He works for the New York Restoration Project (the organization that owns the garden). You can also contact Greg Todd, member of Green Phoenix Permaculture at gn.todd@verizon.net or 718-496-5139.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brooklyn Unity Showcase This Weekend!

Shirely Dor and Kathleen Riley, two members of our Leadership Training Institute, have been working hard with the 71st Precinct to organize a dance performance during the Unity Showcase Festival. They have arranged a group of students from PS 241 to perform a dance and step act from 3:30-4:00pm on the main parks department stage.

The Unity Showcase Festival will run all day, from 11:00am-5:00pm and will include other performances, rides and games, food, and more! Come on down to Prospect Park this Sunday to experience the diversity of Brooklyn and support our leaders. To see the flyer larger, click here or for more information, call Detective Nihill at 718-675-7521.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Helping Seniors Facing Homelessness

DOROT is an organization that strives to enhance the lives of the elderly in the greater New York metropolitan area. DOROT hosts over 35 programs and services for seniors, caregivers, volunteers, and professionals. One important service they provide is the Homelessness Prevention Program, a transitional residence in Manhattan. This location offers safe, temporary housing, meals, counseling, and assistance in finding a permanent home.
The program is available to seniors 60 or older who are homeless or facing homelessness. An interview with a DOROT social worker is required to qualify. If you know someone who can benefit from this information, or to find out more, call the Homelessness Prevention Program at (212) 666-2000.

Crown Heights Recipe: Creole Gumbo

The Mediation Center Staff spoke to Lydia Hinton, a long-time community member, about her experiences with food in Crown Heights and her family's favorite recipe: Creole Gumbo. Lydia's family comes from North Carolina and St. Kitts in the British West Indies. Much of the food from those areas is similar, she explained, but cooked or seasoned differently. Taking food from different locations, like New Orleans, Lydia's family members friendly compete and try to out-cook each other, adding different flavors and spices to make their own food distinctive. She makes her Creole Gumbo only a few times a year, as it serves quite a crowd. Lydia also stressed that you can substitute many of the ingredients based on your tastes and requirements. Those who don't eat shellfish can use any thick white fleshed fish instead, such as halibut, flounder, or carp. If making such substitutions, you don't need to cook the gumbo as long. Cooks can also use different types of rice (brown, basmati, etc.) based on their tastes. Here's her recipe, enjoy!
Creole Gumbo

Serves a large crowd

2-3 dozen female crabs, remove shell and split
3 pounds of extra large shrimp, split (you can also use a pound and a half of prawns)
5 pounds of lobster tails
3-4 smoked turkey sausages, cut into cubes
10-12 chicken thighs, cut up and deboned
3 stalks celery
1 medium bok choy, whole bunch
5 carrots, cut up
2-3 medium green onion, sliced or diced
2 pounds of okra, chop ends off and cube
2 large cans stewed tomatoes, chopped
10 stalks of fresh corn or 5 cans
1 tablespoon of celery seed
4-6 chicken bullion cubes

1. Mix the vegetables with celery seed and bullion cubes in a large pot
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add 4 quarts of water. Cook over a medium heat until carrots are slightly tender, about 45 minutes.
3. Add the meat and cook another 15 minutes.
4. Add the seafood to the stock and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
6. Check to make sure meat is all cooked through. Season to taste and serve over rice with your hot sauce of choice.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Information Fair This Weekend

This Saturday, Mediation Center staff will be tabling about our programs and resources at Bethany United Methodist Church's Information Fair. Do you need help with public assistance, counseling, health care, education, or financial matters? Come on by 1208 St. John's Place tomorrow, Saturday April 18th from 11:00am-2:00pm to say hello and get some information.

Also, don't forget about the Five-Borough Citizenship Application Assistance Day, also this Saturday. See our previous post for more details.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Green Collar Jobs

In today's economic crisis, it seems almost impossible to be optimistic about future employment possibilities. But, wait! Step in UGOT (Urban Green Industries Outreach and Training Program), and a whole host of experts and politicians who believe that if we work to clean up the environment and control global warming, we can create an entirely new sector of employment at the same time. So how do you get involved to start working in a "green collar job?" This weekend UGOT is hosting an orientation about its job training sessions. If you or someone you know is unemployed or underemployed and looking to gain skills in a blooming new industry, come on by! Topics covered will include: photovoltaic installation, solar thermal installation, energy auditing and conservation, sales of green energy products and services, and green business incubation.

The free orientation will take place this Saturday, April 18th at 1:00pm. 1068 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY (Between Franklin and Classon Avenues), Third Floor.

Call 347-529-1335 or e-mail mail@beaponline.org to reserve a seat.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"We Need More Programs Like These"

The Mediation Center's Rites of Passage program recently wrapped up another session in January. Rites of Passage is a gender specific program that gives young men and women the chance to learn about positive decision making. At the January graduation ceremony, the girls received mix CDs featuring tunes like Christina Agulera's "Beautiful" and India Arie's "I am Queen," to keep them staying strong and positive and to help them remember what they learned through Rites of Passage. We asked our girls to give us feedback about the program, and here's what they had to say:

"This is one place where we could just be girls and talk about the things that we go through as young women. We are not judged or looked down on, we can be free with our words and know that when we are wrong we will be corrected and directed to options that can help us through our problems." - 17 year-old female.

"This program should be longer than twelve weeks, we need more programs like these, I have made new friends and developed long lasting relationships. It feels good to be able to be around a group of girls and have no drama. Everybody is cool and down to earth. No one acts as though they are better than the other person. The discussion topics are on point, they hit exactly on what we deal with everyday as girls in the hood, I could see myself running a session in the future." - 15 year-old female.

"I don't think that I have been at any other program that just keeps it real with us as young women. ROP is off the hook, we have learned more about self-esteem, personal value, CDC [choices, decision and consequences- in all aspects of our lives] in such a small space of time. Every week was something different- The Thanksgiving dinner ending up as an Etiquette Workshop that was wild, if I didn't know whick fork to use now I do, hopefully I will remember. I know I have grown in the last twelve weeks." - 16 year-old female.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Adolescent ACTION Advocates

The Adolescent ACTION Advocates will offer youth from 10th grade to 19 years-old the opportunity to learn and utilize a choice of service activities. These activities will meet the needs of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community by outreaching, educating, and establishing a relationship with the youth, helping and influencing the self-improvement of themselves as well as their community. Participants will earn incentives such as gift cards, movie tickets, and more; for every 55 service hours completed. Upon completion of the program (165 hours) participants will receive a stipend check valued at $200.
Summer Program will start July 6th 2009 and continue Monday-Friday 11:00am-4:00pm.
Family Dynamics Beacon Center
Stephen Decatur Middle School 35
272 MacDonough Street, RM 101
betwen Lewis Ave. and Marcus Garvey Blvd.
Brooklyn, NY 11233

Register Now, Space is Limited. Contact Glenn Branch Program Coordinator at 718-453-7044 or gbranch@sco.org

Friday, April 10, 2009

Praise from IS 184

The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center provides a variety of services to local schools. We can train teachers in conflict resolution skills and give them the tools to teach others, work directly with students to decrease conflict in the classroom and facilitate numerous programs like peer mediation, youth courts, and rites of passage. The Mediation Center has worked with IS 184 this past year, with some phenomenal results. Read what one staff member wrote about our services. Thank you so much for your support and kind words!

"I had the pleasure of working with the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center twice in 2009. As an educational coordinator for a nonprofit organization called Into the Outside, I accompany students of various ages on field trips in New York City. I have taken students on over twenty field trips this year, and our two visits to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center were far and away two of the most interesting and valuable for the students.

From our first visit, I found the staff at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center to be absolutely phenomenal with children. They treated them with respect, asking them to introduce themselves, which immediately put our students on their best behavior. Eleanor had them so engaged in conflict-resolution scenarios that on the subway ride home, the students asked their teacher if they could continue their de-escalation role playing in class. For our students, that is incredible! Perhaps the most impressive part of our visit, however, was the way the CHCMC staff was willing to engage openly with our students’ questions—even questions as basic as “ Why don’t Jews celebrate Christmas?” They made the students feel like their questions were important and gave thoughtful and honest answers that lent themselves to future discussions about neighborhood dynamics in the classroom.

The second time I visited the CHCMC, the staff had prepared a fantastic interfaith panel—including local African-American and Caribbean-American pastors as well as Jews from both the Reconstructionist and Hasidic traditions. Our students, many of whom have grown up with anti-Semitic ideas, felt comfortable enough with the pastors’ presence to engage with questions of Jewish identity. They came to the panel curious about their differences with the Jewish community and left not only more informed about the true nature of those differences, but aware that they have much in common with their Jewish neighbors. Their teacher said it was exactly the experience the students needed as preparation for studying the Holocaust this spring.

I am so grateful to the CHCMC for helping us educate our students in a personal way—without the rich community connections and fabulous staff of this organization, our students would have skimmed over the Crown Heights Riots in their textbooks and moved on. Thanks to the CHCMC, they will be able to apply their experiences of diversity, conflict resolution, and open discussion to future studies beyond the Crown Heights neighborhood."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Transdiaspora Network

Transdiaspora Network (TDN) is a Brooklyn based non-profit organization that conducts culturally-oriented HIV prevention and awareness activities. The organization communicates with at-risk youth, mainly of Caribbean descent, and empowers them to develop their sense of personal responsibility in their relationship with the community. The Mediation Center works with the Transdiaspora Network to reach out to youth. We are often working with the same young people and coordinate to accomplish our goals together. For more information about the Transdiaspora Network or how you can get inolved, contact Ariel Rojas here

What is going on in Crown Heights today?

For anyone passing along Eastern Parkway this morning, you might be wondering what the giant celebration outside 770 is all about. (770 Eastern Parkway, or just 770 as it is often called, is the central headquarters of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement.) Today, Jews around the world have the opportunity to fulfill the commandment of blessing the sun, which only comes about once in very 28 years. According to Jewish tradition, this morning the sun returns to the same position, at the same time of the week, that it occupied at the time of its creation. In recognition of this special event, Jews in Crown Heights today gathered outside 770, to make the blessing and rejoice together about the special blessing and the start of Passover which begins tonight as sundown. This is a picture of the celebration in 1981, the last time the blessing was said. You may also notice fires or smoke around the neighborhood. It is customary to dispose of chametz, or leavened bread, before Passover by burning it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Leaders Learn About Coalition Building

On Thursday night, the Leadership Training Institute met at the Mediation Center to learn about Coalition Building. Rabbi Bob Kaplan of Cause NY-JCRC led the session, teaching the group about his extensive experience building coalitions around the world. He stressed the importance of understanding one's own and the group's capacity and assessing the situation through a culturally competant lense. Leadership Training Institute members are currently in the process of planning two major community projects. Check back for more information in the coming weeks!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Youth Entrepreneurs Begin Button Sales!

Last night, three students from MS 334 came to the Mediation Center to present their business proposal to the Leadership Training Institute. For weeks, Ms. Schwartz's sixth grade class has been learning about entrepreneurship and working to start their own button making business. The class is broken up into a development team, production team, and sales team. Students created the buttons by thinking of how to improve their community, and turning those ideas into designs and slogans. Slogans on the buttons include: "Talk it Out," "Building Community One Person at a Time," "Give Us Safe Activities," and "Self Starters Achieve their Goals." Students are selling buttons for $0.50, $1.00 and $2.00 depending on the size. The Leadership Training Institute participants were thrilled to encourage our young entrepreneurs. If you would like to support the Youth Entrepreneurship Program by buying a button, please call 718-773-6886.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hard Times and Health Insurance: Staying Covered When You Lose Your Job

In response to the growing number of New Yorkers who risk losing health insurance coverage in the current troubled economy, United Hospital Fund has created a guide to help New Yorkers understand how to benefit from the newly enacted COBRA premium assistance. It presents practical advice on state and federal protections, and how to exercise them. Click here to read Hard Times and Health Insurance or look at our documents in the sidebar of the blog.