Live From The GWAPP Meeting

March 26, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Wow, WTF 

Or:

Don’t let Mike’s earmuffs fool you, gentle readers, this was one very contentious convocation. We did not make it to “cookies”. Hell, we barely made it past introductions. However, after roughly 1 1/2 hours of discussion— and believe you me, it got heated (the “brown word” was employed and no, not it was not by yours truly)— I came away with the impression that it was a move forward. I’ll be adding videos as they upload. So check back! In the meantime…

Part I: An Introduction By Rich Mazur

Part II: We Introduce Ourselves

Part III: Introductions Continue

  • This is when it starts getting intense. READ: WATCH.
  • A citizen notes that there is a certain level of inter-connectedness between GWAPP and Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. She continues to add that OSA’s recent fundraiser has a great many real estate interests as “sponsors”. This is true.

  • As you see, gentle readers, “Greenpoint Landing” is among the sponsors for OSA’s upcoming fundraiser. Greenpoint Landing was represented by Adam Perlmutter during the 2005 rezoning. His wife (who is on the board member nominating panel for GWAPP), Ms. McGlamery, loses her composure at 5:45. CAVEAT: profanity is used.

Part IV: And To Continue…

Part V: And Continue…

Part VI: And Continue…

  • Nick Rizzo, an aspiree for Lincoln Restler’s Chris Olechowski’s seat as 51st District Male Democratic Leader gives his two cents.

Part VII: The Last Bit I Was Able To Capture Before My “Smart” Phone Said “ENOUGH”

 

Concluding notes:

  • The discussion as whether the “new” GWAPP should retain the name resumed. Concerns were that the new organization does not, will not reflect the mission of the the original.
  • The representatives for Save Greenpoint, St. Anthony’s and Rolfe Carle* were suggested by Kate Naplatarski as GWAPP Board members.
  • Those of you who wish to nominate a GWAPP board member can do so via email at: gwapp (at) aol (dot) com OR…
  • attend the next forum, which will essentially be a continuation of this one. No date has been set yet HOWEVER…
  • It will be soon. Why the hold up, you ask? Very simple: I noted that efforts should be made so it will not conflict with the 94th Precinct Community Council meeting, any/all Community Board meetings or days that the Greenpoint Reformed Church is operating their soup kitchen/food pantry (as that may preclude volunteers for both/either from attending).

Thoughts:

  • As acrimonious as this meeting was— and it was— exactly how are we as a community (or GWAPP) going to move forward without having it? What seems to have been lost by some present is why so many people (including myself) have issues with GWAPP and the manifold number of other community “orgs” hereabouts. The fact of the matter is:
  • It has inextricable ties with Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. Ms. McGlamery’s husband is one. Mr. Thompson’s wife (who spoke on behalf Greenpoint Williamsburg Soccer League) is another: her husband is a board member of “OSANB”. I mention this because it was not noted at this convocation. In any case it does pose the question as to why then, should we have two orgs: GWAPP and OSANB respectively. Or what can GWAPP do/offer that OSA does not. There’s plenty of issues that need to be addressed. Will GWAPP step up to the plate?
  • Rich Mazur stated that GWAPP, in the years wherein they did not conduct meetings, that he did not disagree with anything GWAPP did. I for one find this interesting.

Here’s why:

This whole exchange came to pass in 2009. To summarize: both OSA and GWAPP saw fit to issue yours truly what is known in the blog world as a nastygram. And board members of GWAPP were apparently not consulted on this. Sound familiar? Whoops.

  • I was encouraged to learn that part of GWAPP’s recently awarded GERF grant will be used for community outreach. What this will entail (among other things) is getting out the word in Spanish and Polish. I for one was very happy to hear this.
  • But, ironically enough, I noted that a web site is not enough. There are a lot of people in this community that are not being reached. The attendance at this evening’s meeting bore testement to this. It was sorely lacking in racial, ethnic and economic diversity. Who was present this evening did not reflect the Greenpoint community in its totality. If taken at their word, GWAPP needs to address this. And addressing this will entail aggressively courting “new” voices— by they “new comers” or “old timers”. We’re talking feet on the street, folks.

In closing, what I and a number of other folks took issue with Rolfe Carle outlined very well. So well I only had one word to add:

Transparency.

Yes, it is unreasonable to expect a community group’s members— especially a group in Greenpoint— to agree on some things. No. We take spirited debate to an entirely new level here in the 11222. This is what makes us amazing. However, how can one even have a debate if GWAPP’s (the Newtown Creek Alliance’s, etc.) own board members are not made aware of what is going on? E.g.: that GWAPP endorsed the Greenpoint Boathouse’s relocation to 51 Ash Street. Really? If one wants to avoid how the first 1 1/2 hours of this meeting were spent, this needs to change. Mr. Mazur himself welcomed new people coming to the table. This is good. But these, his, words strike me as being just that: words. They, GWAPP, need to follow up with action: using their resources to get more people involved. As far as I am concerned the onus is on them to prove that GWAPP is a viable community organization, not us— the community in whose name they profess to advocate.

*Who was generous enough to kick this over to me:

Thanks!

Wednesday: GWAPP!

The nuance/”selective cognition” GWAPP— or at least certain members acting unilaterally therein*— employs to continue their charade of being a “grassroots” community organization continues to amuse and confound yours truly. Per Ms. Holowacz and Mr. Thompson organizing meetings requires work. Yet, since the whole “Greenpoint Boathouse” thing went down (which of course GWAPP, among others, “endorsed”) they have been quite active despite the shortfall of “helpers”/”worker bees”. Why is that?

I’ll be wearing this button at this meeting (while filming it), what about you? I for one really hope this lady (who speaks at 1:19) shows up.

She’s got my vote!

P.S.: North 9 street and Kent Avenue is not Greenpoint. DUH.

*…I am not a butler, maid, chauffeur, or Gigolo.

I am a personal “Life Coach” and will be treated in a professional manor. Our relationship will be close, but boundaries will be outlined before employment. Children and Pet Friendly. My requirements for employment: $10,000 USD per week plus travel expenses, and lodging. I take sunday afternoon off. Non Disclosure Agreement – No problem…

I motivate you to be a better person through etiquette, personal relationship development, skill and behavior modification and tact…

My apologies to David Lee Roth.

Live From The GWAPP Meeting*

Spoiler: the “vote” was eighteen for and seven against. What I found particularly intriguing is one person purporting to represent three different “member groups” of GWAPP (Barbara Vetell, a veritable “army of one”) was allowed to vote three times. That’s “democracy” Greenpoint-style, folks! It makes yours truly yearn for the “old school” methods of Tammany. E.g.; before election day, you grow a beard. You vote sporting said beard. You go home and shave it down to a mustache. Then, you vote again. Then you go home, shave your face entirely and vote a third time. In the clarity of hindsight (and this evening’s convocation), this is downright quaint— and dare I say “cute”— by comparison. It should also be noted that neither Steve Levin nor Joe Lentol (or their representatives) were present at this meeting. I stand corrected:

Part I:

Part II:

  • The matter of GWAPP’s finances are discussed. Pay careful attention to their anticipated funds. They include GERF grants (remember who is in charge of this, readers?)  and money from Councilman Levin.
  • Christine Holowacz announces that a lease is being procured for the Greenpoint Boathouse. Presumably this would be 51 Ash Street.
  • Barbara McGlamery touts that GWAPP’s website got 2,000 a hits a month as of November 2013 but has fallen since.

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

  • Del Teague speaks against the new by laws.
  • Barbara Vetell speaks on the behalf of three organizations (and was rewarded accordingly by giving three votes regarding changing these by laws).
  •  At 5:38 you can watch Jens Rasmussen (who later voted on the behalf of the North Brooklyn Boat Club, an ostensible not-for-profit organization**).

Part VI:

  • Two words: WATCH THIS. (The lady who speaks starting at 1:19 kicks ass!)

Part VII:

  • Dewey interacts with a couple of fellow citizens while the “vote” is being conducted. The question being raised is over the addition of new member organizations. What follows is not pretty.

Part VIII:

Then the “transition “team” comes in: Rich Mazur, Barbara McGlamery (AKA: Mrs. Adam Perlmutter) and Trina McKeever will comprise the “selection committee” charged with picking members for a new board. That’s the bad news. The good news: they’ll have a(nother) public meeting later this month— and I have every intention of filming it. Thanks GWAPP 2.0! And oh yeah: those ostensible “member groups” who voted themselves out of a so-called “community organization”, in one case in triplicate, what are they going to get out of this?

UPDATE, March 6, 2014 2:52 p.m.: Looks likes the North Brooklyn Boat Club received not one, not two, but three “GERF” awards. My personal favorite is as follows:

I know. Shocking…

*Or: Darth Sidious manifests himself.

**The North Brooklyn Boat Club is registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Office Database of Corporations. The address listed is Dewey Thompson’s residence. However, as of 3/6/2014, the North Brooklyn Boat Club is NOT a registered charitable organization per the same-said Attorney General’s Charities Database:

Any/all donations to the North Brooklyn Boat Club are handled via Open Space Alliance. Of which Dewey is a Board member. Can you say eating your cake and keeping it too? At $150.00 a person and a two person minimum for a four hour workshop (which comes out to roughly $72.00 an hour) I cannot exactly say I do not understand Mr. Rasmussen’s “interest”. However, it is a conflict of interest. Some people have a problem with that kind of thing. What’s really interesting is the North Brooklyn Boat Clubs’s applications for Exxon Mobil money (“GERF”: which we have established is being handled by Rich Mazur— who will also be part of GWAPP’s “nominating committee”) money are via GWAPP. Once Again: the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s “fundraising” is handled by Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. Guess what kids, Dewey Thompson is a chair on both GWAPP and OSA!

Hear me, Conflict if Interest Board? Steve Levin? Joe Lentol? Anyone?

UPDATE, 10:02 a.m.: I love the smell of spam in the morning!

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part I: And Now A Word From GWAPP

February 25, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Naturally I had to kick this corker over to Queens Crap. Follows is his analysis:

“The Board is proposing amendments to those by-laws to reflect an organization that is no longer an association of local orgs meeting regularly but, rather, a Board overseeing various programs and initiatives with volunteer help.”

or, rather:

“We don’t like having members who question the things we do, therefore we’re planning to dump them all and close the group off so that’s it’s just the rotten inner circle that makes decisions.”

And what if the reps in attendance vote no?

I do not have much to add aside from noting that, in essence, the powers-that-be behind this organization are using the revision of by-laws to effectively create a new and very different “group”. Of course one has to compare and contrast both sets of by-laws in order to draw this conclusion. While it is refreshing to see that GWAPP seems to have made their by-laws available to the public I find it a mite bit disconcerting they only did so after a blogger, I, made them public. I will share them here once again:

And here are the old/present ones.

Please take a moment, gentle readers, and compare them. You’ll find some interesting differences.

UPDATE, 5:55 p.m.: It has been brought to my attention that the Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts has published an item regarding GWAPP and this upcoming meeting. This you can read by clicking here. Follows is a segment I for one found interesting:

But Dewey Thompson — with Christine Holowacz (Board of Directors co-chairs) who are on the receiving end of complaints — is caught off guard by the sudden attacks. “My biggest crime is volunteering my time too much,” he said, also adding, “there’s a misperception that organizations exist at the whim of community input. To set up meetings takes a lot of energy and incredible amount of time. Those people who will want to participate will actually need to commit themselves to this work, and be a part of it, and open to that kind of participation.”

This governance issue, he said, is to change bylaws so there are no longer membership organizations—he indicated that many are no longer active, and that the particular politics that brought them together aren’t relevant anymore.

“We are asking them to now amend those laws, so we can operate the board the way we are doing it now.”

In response to the notion that it would exclude public participation, he said: “We expect the nominating committee to do outreach and find people interested in the committee. We are not beating people away from GWAPP. We are very well known — anyone can have easy access to the board. We’re totally open to meeting new people and hoping we find new blood. We are hoping to refresh the governance, get a new board, and a new set of bylaws, for what we think is a very vital organization.”

Exactly who constitutes this nominating committee, you ask? Well, if a source who took up this matter with Mr. Thompson recently is to be believed, it is the following folks:

NYDNsc

(From the April 29, 2005 edition of the New York Daily News)

Interesting, yes?

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: A GWAPP Meeting, At Long last, Will Come to Pass…

February 18, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Wow, WTF 

From multiple sources I have learned there will be a meeting of GWAPP at the “Polish National Home” March 5th, at 7:00 p.m. ONCE AGAIN: per MULTIPLE sources. (I like to keep certain “interested parties” busy) Here’s the copy sharing the good news:

We request your presence at a meeting at 7pm, Wednesday March 5 at Warsaw (Driggs/Eckford). It’s very important that you (or a representative from your organization) attends.

As you may know, GWAPP was founded in 2000 as “Greenpoint Williamsburg Against Power Plants,” an association of local community organizations allied against an imminent threat to the quality of life in our neighborhood. Meeting, sometimes weekly, to plan strategy, organize rallies and prepare testimony for countless governmental hearings, GWAPP played a significant role in the defeat of two major power plant proposals for the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront. In the wake of these hard-fought defenses of the community, GWAPP turned its attention to other issues affecting our neighborhood and changed its name to reflect the new focus: Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning. There was no longer the need for weekly meetings but, in addition to forums on specific situations, GWAPP organized a series of well-attended annual Town Halls to discuss parks and open space issues – a tradition that the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn now carries on – and met with elected officials and gave testimony at city hearings in connection with quality of life issues in the neighborhood. Over time, the Board has met less regularly (typically at least 4 times per year) and there has been less communication with the Member Organizations.

GWAPP continues to be a vital community organization with a robust website that has become an important forum for information and discussion about parks, open space and environmental issues affecting North Brooklyn (recently enhanced with commissioned narratives about community activist history and regular reporting) and Board Members frequently give testimony (often in collaboration with other community groups like NAG) on those issues in civic forums and agency hearings. But, it is no longer operating in accordance with the original by-laws. The Board is proposing amendments to those by-laws to reflect an organization that is no longer an association of local orgs meeting regularly but, rather, a Board overseeing various programs and initiatives with volunteer help…

Straight up folks: if you value real community organizations and NOT “astroturf” attend this meeting. Let these folks know that community organizations are to be constituted by the community— not a select few.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Call To Action From GWAPP

Follows is a form letter I received from this organization. It came quickly on the heels of this week’s Community Board 1 meeting at which Ms. Velazquez’s representative, Ms. Cruz, spoke.

Dear Congresswoman Velazquez,

We don’t need to tell you how long and hard we have been fighting for the city of New York to turn the MTA lot at 65 Commercial Street in Greenpoint into a park as explicitly promised in the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning Agreement – you joined us at every step in this battle.

So, it is with shock and utter confusion that we hear that you are rejecting the two sites agreed to by the MTA! And, being from an historically and currently environmentally victimized neighborhood, we are very sensitive to the issue of being dumped on with unwanted facilities but these two sites are not unsuitable, do not take away useable open space, will not have a negative impact on local residents… and moreover, are the result of SIX YEARS of negotiation and will actually CREATE park space in a critically under-served neighborhood!

Let’s look at each of the proposed sites for the MTA transfer specifically:

The Maspeth site:

· Zoned M3/Heavy Industrial

· Currently a truck depot

· In the midst of a completely industrial area with no residential dwellings nearby

· The entrance/exit routes almost all go directly back into Williamsburg/Bushwick over the Grand Avenue Bridge and NOT through Maspeth

The Williamsburg site:

· Directly beneath (and in complete shadow of) the Williamsburg Bridge

· Not on the waterfront (between Wythe/Berry)

· Not currently open to public – actually used to store Parks Vehicles

· Not planned as park space (unattractive space, it’s like an industrial cave)

· (also, we have been pushing the city – and it’s been included in the Vision 2020 Waterfront Plan – to move the DCAS facility just south of the base of the Bridge which would create a far bigger and WATERFRONT parkspace for the Southside)

Please reconsider your opposition to this VITAL move by the MTA.

These are good alternate locations for these facilities and your interference in the process will set us back years in creating the promised parkspace.

We are, of course, eager to talk through this issue with you and your staff.

Thanks and sincerely,

[ADD YOUR NAME]

I was present at this meeting and was— and am— quite frankly confused and troubled by this rather aggressive “response” from GWAPP. Follows are a few reasons why:

  1. If I understood Ms. Cruz correctly (I was present at this meeting, after all), Ms. Velazquez is not trying to kibosh 65 Commercial Street as being park space. Rather, she did not want this depot to be relocated to any part of her district on this side of the East River. All of which have environmental issues and dearth of park space: Maspeth, Queens, Williamsburg Brooklyn and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
  2. How anyone can disagree with the previous is beyond me. Then again, methinks GWAPP (or whoever sent out that email on their behalf) is comfortable with “dumping” this burden on another neighborhood so as to get a park. STAT. I, on the other hand, have serious problems with this. Call it a moral compass or merely ethics; but I am not going to step on another equally burdened community in order to get a park. If this means waiting a little longer so be it.
  3. It is my understanding that the information GWAPP sent out regarding the Maspeth site is inaccurate. What’s more, I have sojourned quite a bit around Maspeth. The bus depots they have there are colossal. What we have at 65 Commercial Street is child’s play compared to what they have the honor of having.
  4. Prior to Ms. Cruz speaking Rami Metal, the Community Liaison for Steve Levin spoke. Among other things he brought up the matter of 65 Commercial Street and that Maspeth was going to fight it. He essentially said “we” should fight them. Given that Maspeth and Greenpoint have had the same problems— for decades— and politicians come and go I have a slightly different idea of what “we” is. Greenpoint and Maspeth should unite, not fight. Or if we do choose to be fight it should be against the politicians and their woeful neglect of our respective communities.

My conclusions/opinions are as follows:

  1. I cannot shake the suspicion that what we’re seeing here is a political battle between Vito Lopez (via Steve Levin) and Nydia Velazquez. It is well known that they rather dislike each other.
  2. The previous is trying to use this issue— and us— as proxies to fight it out with the latter. No thanks.
  3. For the above reason(s) and more I object to this letter writing campaign by GWAPP.

Yes, we Greenpointers lack park space and MTA has been intransigent about vacating 65 Commercial Street. But does it have to come to this? I don’t think so. Certainly a better solution can be found? I want to see a complete list of alternative sites for this bus depot.

Those of you who agree (or disagree) with me can contact Nydia Velazquez’s office by clicking here.

Update, 5:32 p.m.: In the interest of equal time here’s an email I have received from Rami Metal.

1.            Regarding putting the access a ride vehicles in Maspeth, I want it to be clear that our office has never asked the city to put the vehicles in any particular location, nor have we ever said that we did not want them to be located in our district.  Our fundamental concern is that they simply not be on the current site.  We have made it clear to the city that we would not have a problem with them putting them in Greenpoint if there was an appropriate location.  We do not feel it appropriate to be NIMBY about this particular issue.  We want the park we were promised six years ago.

2.            The Access-A-Ride facility would be, for the most part, a parking lot.  That’s what it is now and that’s what it would be in Maspeth or any other location.  When one calls for an Access-A-Ride van, they do not come from 65 Commercial currently nor would they come from Maspeth.  The site is a storage site for the vehicles for when the MTA gets new ones or receives broken down ones for repair or scrap.  I live three blocks from the 65 Commercial site right now and every so often I will see an Access-A-Ride vehicle on Manhattan Avenue, usually late at night, headed to 65 Commercial.  Our office has never ever received a single complaint about them and the MTA has said that they would not be going through the residential sections of Maspeth.  They would most likely come in from the BQE or the LIE or Grand Ave from Brooklyn and drive through the M3-1 IBZ area of Maspeth.   They would only be going through this 3 block area in Maspeth that, again, is zoned heavy industrial.

3.            The Maspeth site is not only zoned M3-1, but the lot itself is zoned for parking facilities.  It served this purpose in the past and therefore based on the zoning and past use, it is an entirely appropriate location.

4.            We absolutely respect Maspeth’s desire for open space and fully support their efforts for a park at St. Saviour.  We hope they get the park they deserve.  The truth remains however that the Access-A-Ride vehicles will not prevent this open space from happening in any way nor will it contribute negatively to the residential areas of Maspeth.  It will not even contribute negatively to the M3-1 area because, as I said before, it will basically be a parking lot.  I do not want to discount Maspeth’s feelings that they get dumped on by the city, as someone who lives in Greenpoint and has worked for years to improve the neighborhood, I understand full well what being dumped on feels like.  The air quality in the industrial parts of Maspeth is terrible and they have truck traffic just the same as we do but again, the site would be a parking lot.

5.            Regarding the Congresswoman’s stance, I heard it at the same time that you did.  All I know is that the site under the bridge was agreed to over a year ago and was known to the CAB, the community board and anyone else who was interested in the issue.  Our office had not heard any objections to this site until this week.  The Maspeth site was also under consideration as far back as this past summer and again the CAB knew about it this whole time.  All I know is that if both sites fall through then we will be back at square one, six years in.  For those of us who have been fighting for 65 Commercial to become a park over many years now (and I have only been a part of these efforts for the past 2 ½ years) this would be a major step backwards.  This is not about politics.  This is about getting the park that the Greenpoint community was promised.   That’s it.  This has been an often torturous fight with the City and the MTA. Going back to square one would, based on my experience working on this issue, mean many more years of delays.

Miss Heather

P.S.: I have made my feelings on this matter know to both GWAPP and Ms. Velazquez.

 

GWAPP Town Hall Meeting

January 18, 2008 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

Waterfront Access Plan

I would like to thank any and all New York Shitty readers who slogged through last night’s delightful weather to attend GWAPP’s Town Hall Meeting. I certainly learned a lot and I hope you did as well. In particular, I was pleased as punch to learn that some of the funds from the $50 million gift Michael Bloomberg has given to refurbish the McCarren Park pool will be allocated towards new public lavatories.

That said, I hope those of you came away as interested in the future park space planned for Greenpoint’s waterfront as I was. For those of you who were unable to attend this event, I will be featuring highlights over the next several days so you can get up to speed!

Miss Heather

Southside Photos Du Jour: The “Tipi” Rant

getting ready to barbecue

Today I had the pleasure of showing a buddy of mine, Lisanne, around northern Brooklandia. She’s been quite busy of late kicking ass in her community (“Gowanus”); was kind enough to take me on a tour of her community and I wanted to return the favor. I felt perhaps a walk around Williamsburg would be an interesting juxtaposition to what her community faces. Above all, I wanted to show her what I consider to be one of the supreme grotesques when to comes to developer/community organization “partnerships”. I speak of none other than the Southside teepee tipi.

Havemeyer Park Recliner nys

I have yet to articulate in words how much this thing enrages me. Maybe I’ll get it right this time. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

To preface, a little information about myself:

  1. I am not of Native American descent. I am not a spokesperson for the Native American community. However…
  2. my forbears (on my mother’s side) came from Texas. Well, if you want to get “picky” they lived in Texas before Texas was “Texas”. They were European immigrants and they immigrated to Mexico.
  3. They were not “wealthy” people. They lived alongside and in (relative*) harmony with Native Americans and Latinos (NOTE: I am reticent to use the term ‘Mexicans” because back in the day my forebears would also qualify as such. See point #2).
  4. When one is living on the “frontier”, “poor” and as such bereft the amenities we have in this modern age he/she does not have the luxury of being racist— and I assure you racism is a “luxury”. Instead, you pulled together as many collective resources as you could as a community. My grandmother and great aunt had (as they put it) a “Comanche woman” (“political correctness” as we know it was/is a mite bit too much to ask from two women born in 1909 and 1911 respectively) from a neighboring plot of land/”ranch” as a babysitter on occasion. They had fond memories of her.
  5.  When there was a “feud”, as great aunt put it, between this “Comanche” family and another family (non-native American, I recall) they sided with the Comanches. Like I said: racism is a luxury.

I am not Native American. However— and in large part due to my grandmother and her sister— I have been exposed Native Amercian history and culture since pretty much day one. And that’s why this teepee tipi pisses me off so goddamn much.

bbq pit and teepee

After I took this photo a 20-something fellow, the “fire setter”, clad in overalls, bandanna and a straw hat approached me.

Are you Miss Heather of New York Shitty?

he asked.

I answered to the affirmative. He responded as follows:

I’m Ryan, I used to work for GWAPP. We’ve met before.

Instead of tendering my condolences (I am capable of restraint when I want to be) I asked:

What are you doing?

We’re going to have a barbecue.

He replied and added:

We’re using wood because lighter fluid is bad!

“Oh I know” I replied and added:

Please tell that to my neighbors.** They just LOVE lighter fluid. They can’t barbecue for shit. They’d be excellent arsonists if they wanted to be.

Laughter, albeit of the uncomfortable/awkward variety, followed. “Ryan” went about his business and we went in.

southside teepee

newbalances

Upon seeing this pair of New Balance sneakers outside the “tipi” my companion and I burst into fits of cynical laughter. She noted “NBs” are the footwear of choice among “progressives”.

no shoes in the tipi

No shoes are allowed in the tipi.

people in tipi looking at iphone

But apparently the “tipi” has an open door policy for smart phones.

I do not recall Native Americans having iphones. Hell, I do not recall reading— ANYWHERE— about the Native Americans who once called this land their home having teepees tipis.  This is because they didn’t. Teepees were used by nomadic tribes— generally on the great plains. Teepees were made of buffalo hide. Brooklyn did not have “nomadic tribes” (or buffalo for that matter). There was no need to travel long distances: everything they needed was here.

My travelling companion, Lisanne, put it (more or less— paraphrasing here) very well:

Don’t they see the irony of having a teepee in a neighborhood where a lot of residents (many of whom are Latino and probably “Mestizo”— Ed. Note.) are being forced out?

No they don’t— and that is the problem.

nativeappropriations

Straight up: If you are going to appropriate Native American culture (which you probably shouldn’t do in the first place), at least make it contextually/historically relevant. New York City is not lacking in Native American history. So why I ask, once again, do we have this teepee? I am guessing it is a “nod” to Native American culture.

The problem with this teepee is— however well intended it may be— is the wrong Native American culture. By erecting this you are doing our predecessors here— and probably giving youths the notion that teepees did in fact exist here— a serious disservice. In fact I’d go so far to say one poorly placed teepee in Williamsburg is actually worse than no acknowledgement of Native American presence at all. Wrong information is worse than no information.

This could have, should have been an opportunity to educate people— newcomers and old timers, young and old— about the Native Americans who once lived here. Instead we have a hang-out wherein one can peruse one’s iphone. No lighter fluid, New Balances or Nikes allowed.

Rather sad, yes?

*For example, one time my grandmother and great aunt’s mother placed pies on a window sill to cool. The “Indians” stole them. My great aunt found her mother’s tristesse quite hilarious.

**Who also, thankfully rarely, host drum circles.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: It Came From Beneath The Creek

August 6, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11222, Gentrification, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Or: Release The Kraken!

gwapptopus 600

This corker was sent to me a couple months ago via anonymous tipster. I tabled sharing it until I felt the time was right. Today, for reasons which will soon become apparent, is that day. The above polemic was created shortly after the 2005 rezone. As it was explained to me (by said tipster) its purpose was to criticize GWAPP assuming the lion’s share of credit for the successful fight against the Trans Gas power plant which was slated to grace Bushwick Inlet. For those of you who were not here in 2005 (and I suspect there are many) I present the following video from NY1.

If the above “Community Activist” looks/sounds familiar it is because:

1. He was recently appointed* to the advisory board of the new “GWAPP”.

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2. And I also recently verified that contrary to what is stated in this gent’s biography on the aforementioned site (an excerpt of which is above), Mr. Perlmutter is not now nor was he ever under the employ of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.
GWAPPscSMALLInteresting yes? Well today I had the item at left brought to my attention by my buddy Crappy. It got me to thinking— and finally it hit me:

What is not mentioned in this biography is every bit as fascinating— if not more so— than what is.

Namely, that in addition to being a “Community Activist” in the fight against the Trans Gas power plant, Mr. Perlmutter also happened to be under the hire of George Klein, the fellow responsible for Greenpoint Landing, so as to argue in favor of the 2005 rezone.

But don’t take my word for it. It is stated quite clearly in the April 29, 2005 edition of the New York Daily News.

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(You can/should read the rest here.)

Straight up: as the featured cartoon attests, GWAPP has been the subject of controversy for some time. Controversy which persists to this very day. Controversy which would have, could have, should have been avoided by the simple practice of transparency.

Greenpoint Landing, regrettably, is going to happen whether we want it or not. That’s reality. However, I do not think expecting an organization which purports to represent the interests of the community giving full disclosure of their activities and board/advisory panel’s business relationships— past and present— is asking too much. Or is it? Now if you don’t mind, gentle readers, I am off to corner the market on ear plugs. I sense a very lucrative entrepreneurial opportunity is at hand!

*By a panel which includes his spouse. How’s that for nepotism?*

Quicklink: A Story To Tell

screencapThis tome was brought to my attention by a fellow named Richard. Richard is a resident of Lawrence, Kansas. This Letter to the Powers That Be, not surprisingly, pertains to matters in Lawrence, Kansas. However, while reading this tome more than one community hereabouts— and the non/not-for-profit organizations (which purport to act as a “voice”/”advocate” for the aforementioned communities) came to mind.  I do not think I need to list/name the previous here, gentle readers. We know them.*

Follows is an excerpt from this essay so as the pique your interest:

…I have been long in forming my opinion of the Cultural Arts District and the 9th Street Corridor.  When the pros and cons of the issue are laid across a scale, I find myself on the side of favor.  I am in support of the Cultural Arts District and 9th Street Corridor in East Lawrence.  I am excited at the prospect of renewal and repair that the Cultural District designation dollars can bring.  I want new sidewalks and safer lighting and renovated limestone curbs and bricks in my streets.  I want the businesses in my neighborhood to thrive and prosper and have the funds to reinvest in my community.  I want an economic base that can support an East Lawrence or Downtown grocery store. I want my daughters to grow up in a vibrant, thriving neighborhood that supports the arts and creativity.  I am personally invested in positive outcomes for the Cultural Arts District. 

And yet…

There remains a sense of unease when I think about what will happen as the Cultural Arts District and 9th Street Corridor develop.  I cannot shake the feeling of anxiety, of foreboding, of “ick” in my belly and bad smell wrinkle in my nose.  And this time, it isn’t a downdraft from the wastewater treatment plant (Emphasis mine— Ed. Note) or the river.  It’s the aftertaste of cultural co-option.  But what does that mean, you say?  I can’t explain it to you without the help of Alice Walker.  Here’s where the story comes in… 

You can— no, make that should— read this essay in its entirety by clicking here. Pass it along. Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire someone (else) in our fair burgh/city to speak up?

*Hence why I found this excerpt of Adam “GWAPP Advisory Board”  Perlmutter’s biography so fascinating:

Adam is a currently lawyer for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn opposing the Atlantic Yards project …

Speaking as a resident of Greenpoint for fourteen years now who knows quite a few bloggers— bloggers who have taken a keen interest in Atlantic Yards, no less— I have not once heard his name mentioned. What’s more, someone closely connected with DDDB confirmed my suspicions:

He isn’t in the employ and never was.  He volunteered with DDDB  about 9 years ago and helped them find their great lawyer Matt Brinckerhoff  – but he’s not done anything with them for about 7 years.

Hmm…

“About” seven years ago Mr. Perlumutter signed off on the by-laws of Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn.

Note the “Treasurer”. It is none other than Steve “Brooklyn Beer/I loves me some Atlantic Yards” Hindy himself.

Double hmm…

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