This Saturday: Bed-Stuy School Crawl

Bed-Stuy families should be interested in this event: a school crawl this Saturday morning, with open houses at both the public and charter schools in the neighborhood. Here are details:

The Office of District-Charter Partnerships is supporting the first ever Bed-Stuy Beautiful District-Wide School Open House Event. The event is constituted by two mornings of simultaneous open-houses for our district and charter schools, wherein the parents and students living in and around Bedford-Stuyvesant are invited to experience the exceptional educational offerings of the district. Specifically, the event is geared towards the recruitment of new students; almost 40% of the students living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant School District do not attend school there. Is it critical that the District and Charter schools join forces in the demonstration of Bedford-Stuvesant’s educational excellence.

This is the second event, the first was held in April. For the crawl, students carry a small passport to each school that they visit and receive a school stamp at each location. They can then take their passports to restaurants recruited to participate in a “Feast Bed-Stuy” coalition around Tompkins Avenue. Their passport serves as an entry ticket.

If you’re interested in attending, just stop by the District 16 office (1010 Lafayette Avenue, between Malcolm X and Lafayette) at 10 am this Saturday. Below are the schools participating in the event.

Please Help the Macon Library Raise Funds for the African American Heritage Center

Macon Street Library, macon street library fundraiser

The Macon Library Friends Group, recently formed, has launched its first fundraiser to help support our local library. (Full disclosure: I’m part of this group.) Now on Indiegogo, we are trying to hit a fundraising goal of $1,000. The library has a wish list of things it needs, but we are starting with supporting its African American Heritage Center. The center, located in the back corner of the library, opened in 2008 and contains material on African American history and culture, as well as the “Preserving Footsteps” collection. All money donated will go toward new books for the center, as well as updated technology for all patrons. If you’ve been to the library you know it’s an incredible resource for the whole community, and does *a lot* with its current funding. Our goal is to raise extra funds to bring even more resources to the library.

Any amount helps tremendously! To donate, just go here. If you’re interested in volunteering with the Friends Group, email me at thebedstuyblog@gmail.com.

Meet Bed-Stuy Entrepreneur Ofo Ezeugwu, CEO of WhoseYourLandlord

Ofo Ezeugwu

If you’re a NYC renter there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself wishing there was a better way to hold your shady landlord accountable. Besides the public advocate’s worst landlord list, there aren’t many means to call out landlords who fail to take care of their tenants. That was the whole idea behind the website WhoseYourLandlord.com, which launched in Philly and is now taking root right here in Bed-Stuy.

Ofo Ezeugwu and Felix Addison started the business as students in 2012. It took off in Philadelphia and they made the decision to expand to New York. Their logical homebase was Bedford-Stuyvesant, where Ofo’s grandfather has owned a brownstone on Halsey Street for decades. (Ofo and Felix rent a floor from him. For the record, he’s a good landlord.) While they hope to attract renters throughout New York City to the website, they’re hoping to spread word through the neighborhood first about what this service does.

Essentially, WhoseYourLandlord is like the Yelp of landlords–tenants can leave their review (anonymously or not) to contribute to a database of landlord reviews. Renters, then, are more informed not just on who their landlord actually is–something many New Yorkers don’t even know–but also other tenant’s experiences. The reviews are meant to hold up good landlords as much as they can pressure bad landlords to get their act together before renting to new tenants.

“We want to empower people with knowledge and hopefully encourage and incentive landlords to be better equipped,” Ofo said. Since starting the business he’s identified a gap between residents and landlords and the resulting problems it creates. “One one side of the equation we have tenants with an emotional tie to their apartment, this is their home. On the other side, it’s a business transaction.” He hopes to bridge that gap by increasing communication between landlord and tenant, as well as helping tenants simply come into the renting process better informed.

So, Bed-Stuy renters, go ahead and review your landlord! Landlords also are able to respond to reviews and list apartments on the site.

Help Fund a Rock Climbing Trip for Special Needs Children in Bed-Stuy

A special education teacher who has worked at P231K at PS54 for the past 11 years is fundraising for a really cool field trip. He and his colleagues work with students diagnosed with autism, down syndrome and intellectual disabilities, and many come from low-income, single-caregiver families. The teachers are funding for a rock climbing field trip for their students aimed to happen next month. Here’s a little bit about why they chose this particular activity:

Real life experiences are really important for our children and is way more important than academics. Unfortunately many of these experiences are not affordable to our families. $15 (which is the cost per child for this activity) may not seem a lot of money to most of us, but for most of our families this is dinner. So many times children miss out, or staff spend our own money for the kids to go on field trips.

Rock Climbing is an excellent activity that has the potentional to foster growth and skill development including : fitness, building confidence and overcoming fear, nurturing problem solving skills, buidling core and upper body strength and endurance, and an increased sense of self efficacy.

In a few days the campaign exceeded its $900 goal. Any extra money raised will go towards future trips at the climbing gym or similar types of field trips, with the goal to establish an ongoing experience for the students. Please help them out at their GoFundMe page!

Dog Lost Around Bed-Stuy or Bushwick

A local couple has lost their dog Luna in the Bed-Stuy, Bushwick area. They’ve started a Facebook account to help find her. Here’s a note if you happen to spot a lost pup:

Luna is a skittish dog. She will not want to be near people. The best way of getting her is to keep your eyes peeled and REPORT ANY SITINGS AT ALL. Call me, post here on her page or contact Sean Casey. We need to find a pattern so we can narrow down where she is hiding. She will likely be coming out at night and hiding during the day. It may take some time, but we will find her. Again, thank you everyone for your support.

If you see her, call the number posted above.

Art Event Happening Friday on Border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick

The local arts collective Salomé ArtHaus is hosting an interesting event this Friday at 562 Evergreen Avenue, technically in Bushwick but not far from our neighborhood. Their project, called ArtLinks, pairs together artists who create in different disciplines. For five months the artists worked with strangers to create artworks that respond to the work made proceeding it. Now, the chain is complete, and Salomé is exhibiting the works and the process inside the Bushwick gallery. The collective said that from this chain “emerged serious, poignant works that evoke thoughts about the meaning of communication and cooperation across artistic genres and global boundaries.” The exhibition, the first for Salomé ArtHaus, includes 23 artists and 10 different pieces.

Tickets cost $7 online and $10 at the door–buy them here. And here are event details on Facebook.