Dear Neighbor,

We’re 21 today!

That’s the number of newsletters we’ve published so far. We’re proud of what we’ve enabled in a short amount of time — from hikes and bike rides to donations of masks and diapers to support of momo shops and tamale makers.

How are we really doing? Please fill out this survey about Epicenter-NYC. You’ll be automatically entered to win a $100 gift card to Misi Pasta, the gourmet grocery store (think olive oil martinis, homemade pasta, green garlic butter and more) by Missy Robbins, the chef behind Brooklyn favorites Lilia and Misi. (Yes, there is delivery.) Just complete your survey by next Tuesday, Dec.1, and be sure to include your name and email address.

It is also, of course, Thanksgiving week. We — the team behind Epicenter — want to share what we’re thankful for in this weird, challenging and trying-to-be cheery holiday season. Join us: What are you grateful for? Drop us a line and let us know.

Robin Cabana [social media & editing guru]: In this really weird year, I have so much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my dog who has been game for extra long walks, even though I won’t let her say hi to people. I’m thankful for all the things that have kept me entertained and distracted – puzzles, books, video games, streaming services, and my growing collection of succulent plants. I’m thankful for friends who make me laugh. I’m thankful for all the time I’ve had with my family these past few months, with countless screenings of Disney’s Zombies, Uno card games and hugs. Thankful that we’ve been healthy and we’ve made it (so far!) through 2020.

S. Mitra Kalita [co-founder]: In 1971, my father arrived in America and eventually rented an apartment carved into a house near Elmhurst Hospital. Nearly 50 years and many moves later, right before the mid-March lockdown, Papa had a stroke (his second) and we spent months helping him recover. What I’ve learned in the pandemic: Human brains and immigrants and neighborhoods are at once pliable and resilient. While mourning the loss of what was, I’ve also spent this time grateful for the necessity and opportunity to redefine — myself, journalism, community, the world.

I’m thankful for the friends and family and workers who sustain me and this blessed life. I’m really grateful for you, reading these words right now. You’re my people. Thanks for that.


Civil Lines 2, oil and acrylic on canvas, 24″x36″, 2020

Nitin Mukul [co-founder & designer]: I’m thankful to see that small actions can have big impact. Think globally act locally might seem like a cliche slogan, but it seems more relevant than ever. The Epicenter NYC newsletter sprouted from that frame of mind, and my hope is to spread it widely. I’m grateful to still have my parents and a conduit to my cultural heritage in India which has a big influence on my artistic practice.

Danielle Hyams [writer & director of operations]: This year, I am especially grateful for those who have kept our city running, yet are often the most overlooked and underappreciated (and, generally underpaid): Transit workers, bodega employees, food service workers and garbage collectors among them. While much of the world went on “pause,” these New Yorkers kept going to work, often putting themselves at great risk — more than 100 NYC transit employees alone have died from Covid-19. Without them, our city — already greatly diminished — would have simply crumbled. Despite what many have long thought, it’s not the finance industry nor the fashion industry that is the backbone of our city, it’s these people. And when life returns to a “new normal,” I hope we remember that.


Jade Stepeney [intern extraordinaire]: I cannot be more thankful for the demonstrated resilience of our communities. The significance of community ties has been stressed, but not broken, because of the love and support we’ve shown our neighbors. There are those who started helping their at-risk neighbor’s grocery shop back in March, birthing mutual aid networks to serve more people. I’ve seen many use their time and resources to sew and distribute cloth masks to front-line workers. Kind, but more evidently, selfless, is who we are, and it will carry us far beyond this pandemic.

Janelle Zagala [administration]: In the year that has seemed to knock the world off its axis, I have become more cognizant about how lucky I am to have so many things that remain in this difficult time that I have always taken for granted. With flights home being canceled, I am thankful to be able to connect with my family who is 2,000 miles away with the click of a button. With a significant other in the military, I am thankful to spend so much uninterrupted quality time with him. Living through this pandemic, I am thankful for my health and access to healthcare. Most importantly, I am thankful for my renewed perspective on what is most important in my life.

Indulge us on one more thing: 

Epicenter-NYC is partnering with New York University Studio 20 graduate program to produce a community reporting project, starting in Jackson Heights, Queens. The students, Alex John Beck, Noni Ghani, Ralph Thomassaint and Xavier Bartaburu, will focus on small business owners in the neighborhood through the pandemic, and how they are preparing for the winter. Each business owner profiled will then refer another small business owner in the area to us to speak with, creating a chain of connections throughout the community.

Look for the project here every week, as well as the Epicenter-NYC website and Instagram feed. If you have an idea for a business to profile, hit us up.

ALSO … Hit forward on this newsletter, share its existence in your networks and ask folks to subscribe. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We also seek donations to pay our vendors and freelancers. 

photo: @fotografiska

OUT & ABOUT

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Yes, it’s still happening and no, you can’t watch in-person. The department store’s annual Thanksgiving parade is taking place virtually this year. Instead of parading around this city, the event will take place exclusively at Herald Square with about 25% of the normal amount of participants. That being said, the event will still pack a punch, featuring performances by the cast of several Broadway shows including “Hamilton” and “Mean Girls,” and a celeb-packed lineup featuring Dolly Parton, Patti LaBelle, Keke Palmer and many more. And there will be floats of course, what’s a Thanksgiving parade without them? We hear Pokemon fans will be delighted. The festivities will air on Thanksgiving from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC.

photo: @shopsmallastoria

Astoria small biz crawl: Shop Small Astoria, a collective of independently owned retail shops in the neighborhood, is hosting an online retail crawl for Black Friday, running from this Friday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Nov. 29. Visit its Instagram page to see participating stores. If you purchase items from five or more of the businesses you can receive a free tote by submitting screenshots of your purchases to shopsmallastoria@gmail.com.

Board games in BK: The Brooklyn Public Library has launched a board game lending program for anyone with a library card. You can select from more than 80 games based on difficulty, style and age group. Up to three games can be checked out at once for up to three weeks at a time. Browse here and let the games begin.

photo: @brooklynmuseum

The queen, the crown and the costumes: Is it just us or does it seem like everyone is talking about the Netflix show “The Queen’s Gambit” these days? Now through Dec. 13, the Brooklyn Museum has a virtual exhibit with interactive 360-degree views of the costumes from the show, as well as those from the series “The Crown.” The exhibition also includes interviews with the costume designers. View it here.

Infamous: Fotografiska’s new exhibit by Andres Serrano is a visual exploration of the roots and history of racism in the United States. The exhibit features more than 30 photos depicting what Serrano refers to as “America’s infamous past.”  Tickets must be reserved in advance.

 

Our sister newsletter, The Unmuted, which is about everything schools, is off this week for Thanksgiving. It will resume on Monday. Have any education related questions? Email us!

Staten Island’s Filing Suit: Parents of the borough’s public schools are taking their grievances to court after Mayor de Blasio closed schools last Thursday. In an effort to reopen schools, New York City Council Member Joseph Borelli is leading the group and has filed an emergency order. On top of dissatisfaction with remote-learning, parents are concerned about digital accessibility and affordable child care. You can check your eligibility and enroll for subsidized child care here.

Catholic schools are suing, too: While the Archdiocese of New York has kept its 600,000 plus students in school since September, officials say the city’s Department of Education hasn’t been fair when it comes to Covid testing. The DOE hasn’t provided Catholic schools with rapid testing even though public schools have had the option for months. Under state law, public and non-public schools must receive the same health services.

Mixed messages: Mayor de Blasio closed public schools because the city’s seven-day Covid-19 positivity rate exceeded 3% — but they may open sooner than expected. Governor Andrew Cuomo says that if the infection rate stays over 3% for 10 days, the state will take control over city schools. If that does happen, Cuomo will reopen schools if they agree to testing guidelines.

GIVE & GET HELP

Resources for parents: The Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children and families with mental health and learning disorders, is hosting two series focused on helping students transition to virtual learning. The first, Promoting Positive Behaviors for Your Child, runs from Dec.1 through Jan. 20 and covers topics like managing kids’ screen time and motivating them throughout virtual learning. The other series, Supporting Learning at Home, runs from Dec. 2 to Dec. 15, and is devoted to helping parents create a positive learning environment.

A cookbook for NYC: Looking for a great gift that gives back? Consider purchasing “Serving New York: For All The People Who Make NYC Dining Unforgettable.” The cookbook includes recipes from restaurants like Momofuku, Gramercy Tavern, Olmsted, Llama Inn and more. 100% of the profits from the book will go to ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants) and Robin Hood’s restaurant relief fund which provides assistance to NYC restaurant workers. Order yours here.

Table-to-farm: You can help food insecure students and their families by dropping off packaged, shelf-stable, healthy foods to the Queens Farm store any day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy in Queens.

Help your neighbors: Volunteers are needed at St. Stephen’s Pantry in Brooklyn this Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Thursday Nov. 26. Email greenpointhelpers@gmail.com if you have time to spare.

DAY-TRIPPING

As promised here’s the 411 on what to hit in Greenport after that bucolic stroll through Inlet Pond County Park we told you about last week.  Wait, you missed our piece on that?! You can still see it here. For grown-up refreshments, the go-to is Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. Its excellent selection is currently available for curbside pickup and adjacent to a super-cool shipyard and the old Greenport Jail. If you’re out on the North Fork December 5th, the Peconic location is hosting a German-style outdoor holiday market with artists and craftspeople, oysters and other delicacies, music, and yes, good beer. Back in Greenport, when you’re not thrifting at the Opportunity Shop (among so many others), grab some quality joe or hot chocolate at Aldo’s Coffee. Hailing from Sicily via Provence, his homemade biscotti is the stuff of legend.

LAST WORD

We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.

This week, we welcome poet Paolo Javier, who held the title of Queens’ poet laureate between 2010 and 2014. Javier was born in the Philippines and grew up in Las Piñas, Metro Manila; Katonah, Westchester County; El-Ma’adi, Cairo; Burnaby and North Delta, Metro Vancouver. He’s produced three albums of sound poetry with Listening Center (David Mason), including the limited edition pamphlet/cassette Ur’lyeh/ Aklopolis and the booklet/cassette Maybe the Sweet Honey Pours. A featured artist in Greater NY 2015 and Queens International 2018: Volumes, he is author of O.B.B. aka The Original Brown Boy, a full-length (weird postcolonial techno dreampop) comics poem forthcoming in 2021 from Nightboat books. You can find more of Javier’s work on his Tumblr page.

On last week’s news of Poets House shuttering, we asked poets to weigh in with … poems on this loss. On Saturday, they plan to read protest poems in solidarity with laid-off workers. Here’s a look at Javier’s work, titled “Cento.”

We are tribeless and all tribes are ours

Reflected in a world that they themselves

Assigned the word rapture to its strangeness and obscurity 

Preliminary Materials for a Theory

The impossibility of making equivalent

Rather than passively suffer its tyranny

Empire, is thus also the moment

One who has preferred to become a commodity

That results from desire and consciousness

                  and to see themselves

Pass off what has always been a SACRIFICE

Society’s final moment

And yet all our thinking is memory

Still from this point we’ll make our world

A poet must also learn how to lead an attack

 

This newsletter was written by Danielle Hyams and Jade Stepeney. Photographs and design by Nitin Mukul and editing by Robin Cabana. Did you like it or find it useful? Tell a friend to sign up. Support our vendors, freelancers and efforts by making a donation to our tip jar.

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