Help Reopen Reconnect Café as They Battle a Slumlord

reconnect brooklyn, silverstein properties

If you don’t know about Reconnect Cafe, it’s time to start supporting them. Located at 139 Tompkins Avenue, the cafe was founded in 2014 by locals who wanted to provide employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young men here in Bed-Stuy. The cafe has since expanded to a bakery and graphic design company. You can hear the full story of Reconnect through the YouTube video below.

But the landlord of the cafe, Silvershore Properties, was recently named on the public advocate’s “Worst Landlord in NYC” list. According to Reconnect, they have refused to do building repairs which ultimately forced the establishment to shut down. “Silvershore is selling the property and so takes little interest in the invaluable mission of Reconnect,” the non-profit said in an email.

They are asking that supporters call Silvershore and lodge a complaint. The number for Silvershore Properties is 212-239-7164; building management is 718-854-5205. They’re also asking for social media postings under #savereconnect.

Finally, you could make a donation to Reconnect right here. Let’s support this invaluable local business!

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Local Running Club is Looking for Members

bed-stuy runners

There’s a new running club in the neighborhood and they are in search of new members. The Bed-Stuy Runners have set up a website so folks can get in contact, learn about their first two routes, as share a bit about their goal as a group. Here’s what the site says:

The goal of this Brooklyn based running club is simple: train to achieve your goals while meeting and interacting with others in the Bed Stuy neighborhood.

New routes and training sessions will be added as time goes on and more members join.

Check out their two five- and six-mile routes here, which take off Tuesdays at 6:30pm and Thursdays at 6:30pm. To get in touch with the group, just send your info through the site.

Photo courtesy of Bed-Stuy Runners

Local Business Spotlight: Stuypend, a Mobile Payment Service for Small Businesses

andre powers, bed-stuy, stuypend

The other week I met Andre Powers, Bed-Stuy resident and founder of Stuypend, an app-based payment system designed to help small independent merchants save money. Andre has a background in the tech industry, and noticed that a lot of small businesses around Brooklyn only accepted cash or had set credit card minimums. The reasoning, he found, was that high fees charged by credit cards made it harder for a small company to do business in New York. And so he sought to design an app to offer customers an alternative way to pay without cash, avoiding those fees altogether.

So how exactly does it work? Stuypend gives the small business a tablet in which they can ring up customers. The customer must also download the app from the Stuypend website. After a sale, the business puts the price into the tablet, and a code is generated. The customer scans the code to receive the bill on their own cell phone, where they can add a tip and pay. It’s a basic ACH bank transfer, from the customer’s bank account straight to the business. I saw it in action at Bar LunÀtico and it was pretty cool, not to mention straightforward and easy. “It’s not all that different than Vemno,” Andre said, of the popular money-exchange service that’s utilized between friends. It’s free to use for the customer, and the business pays a low, flat monthly fee of $50, much cheaper than those issued by credit cards.

Andre hopes that Stuypend will bring “more people in” to local small businesses, without the worry of meeting a credit card minimum or going out and getting cash. With the existing community engagement in the neighborhood, “Bed-Stuy was the perfect place to try something like this,” he said.

You can now use Stuypend at Bar LunÀtico, Juice Brooklyn, Jordan Heads Brooklyn and Fuel Juice Bar. It’s also coming soon to a number of Bed-Stuy businesses that include Kafe L’Ouverture, Saraghina Bakery, Tumbleweed General Store and Gallery, Who’s Your Doggy? and Zabka Cafe. See the full list of participating merchants here. The app also includes a map so you’ll know which businesses accept it.

For now, Andre is the company’s only full-time employee and has so far gotten by on fundraising and small business loans. He’s chasing a round of funding from the local organization Dream Big Brownsville. Ultimately, his goal is to set up the app for small businesses in and outside of New York. But the company name, of course, is a nod to the neighborhood. “It was designed here in Bed-Stuy for the people and businesses of Bed-Stuy,” Andre said.

Things to Do This Weekend: Community Dance Day, Dinner at Hattie Carthan Community Garden

cumbe, dance, bed-stuy

A few fun things in the neighborhood to consider this weekend! First, Cumbe, the Center for African and Diaspora Dance, is hosting a community dance day this Saturday. At their studio, 1368 Fulton Street, they’re offered a number of classes between 9:30am and 6pm. And they all cost $5! You can see the full day’s schedule right here.

Second, the Hattie Carthan Community Garden is hosting its annual “Farmy Folks Soiree” this Saturday night. It’s the end-of-season market celebration where the garden honors their volunteers and participants that contribute to the community. The four-course meal is served on the farm, complete with freshly baked bread and local wines. You can buy tickets to the event right here.

Photo via Facebook

Bed-Stuy Stories: Gerard Miller, of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Services

gerard miller, bed-stuy, brooklyn neighborhood services

Bed-Stuy Blog’s newest contributor, Mikhal Weiner, is profiling interesting residents from our community for her column, Bed-Stuy Stories. First up is Gerard Miller, the Financial Literacy Counselor at the branch of Brooklyn Neighborhood Services (BNS) on Gates Avenue and Broadway.

“From my great-grandmother’s house I could walk to the Cross Street market and there were all of these mom-and-pop shops inside. Polish, Italian, Jewish, everyone had their stalls. And there was a playground that me and my cousins used to play at, sliding down the slides and all. Some years ago I was down there and went to the market for a friend’s birthday. And where the shops used to be on the street itself… just bar after bar. Inside the market, there used to be a deli, a bakery, a little coffee shop, now just more bars. Behind the building, the playground was still there, covered up with weeds and fenced off. If there is not a more perfect symbol for the change that is happening…” Miller’s voice trailed off.

Gerard Miller contains multitudes; a deep well of a person whose fields of interest and activity brought up bucket after bucket of water that nourished what was meant to be a short conversation. But there are no short conversations with Miller–once begun, there’s far too much to talk, laugh, and think about. Miller has eyes that actually twinkle, and an encouraging smile that invites both trust and confidence. Which pretty much makes their job a perfect fit.

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Local Artist Collective Presents New Exhibition in Bushwick

ED NOTE: This post is by the Bed-Stuy Blog’s newest contributor, Mikhal Weiner!

Imagine a game of telephone that uses works of art instead of a phrase or word. That’s what ArtLinks is– an ongoing collaborative project that brings together artists across disciplines and countries to create a continuous thread of innovation and artistry. The project creates a chain of pieces, each one responding to the preceding piece. Each pair or trio had ten days to create something new that responds to the work of the pair that preceded them. None of the artists had worked together in the past, and all of the works are multidisciplinary.

With 24 artists from Israel, USA, Serbia, Holland, Mexico (to name a few) who have worked together to create 10 works of art, Salomé ArtHaus is happy to present the ArtLinks 2 exhibition on Sunday, November 12th at 5pm in Bushwick. The venue, Powrplnt, is at 562 Evergreen Avenue.

Tickets are available online for $7 (purchase them here) and at the door for $10. More information is available at Salomé ArtHaus.

Celebrating Diverse and Indie Authors at the Macon Library This Weekend

macon library, friends of the macon library

Please stop by the Macon Library this Saturday! The Friend of the Macon Library is hosting a children’s comic and book fair showcasing diverse and indie authors. The event will be held inside the library, located at 361 Lewis Avenue, and will last between 12pm and 4pm, with a children’s storytime between 2pm and 4pm.

The New York-based authors that will be in attendance including Nancy Colas Gaillard, author of Simply Sienna, Obiora N. Anekwe, author of The Adventures of Blind Tom and Ma Rainey Sings the Blues, Anthony Tucker, author of A Rocky Start and many more.

Several graphic novels will be presented by authors from Women’s In Comic Collective; WorldWideBuddies will present a select story from their app, a platform with a series of fictional, educational stories from characters from around the world; and finally Brooklyn Neighborhood Services will share info for their youth financial literacy program.

The Friends Group also plans to sell food during the event, and all proceeds will go back to supporting the services of the library. Interested? Please RSVP to the Facebook event.