Dear Neighbor:

It appears we are on the cusp of another shutdown. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that if the hospitalization rate does not stabilize within the next five days — and he doesn’t expect it to — indoor dining will be banned again in New York City, with the rest of the state reducing indoor dining from 50% capacity to 25%. This comes on the heels of new CDC guidance saying that indoor dining is a key Covid-19 spreader. Many other big cities, such as Chicago and San Francisco, have already ceased indoor dining. Several counties in California have issued controversial outdoor dining bans as well.

It is estimated that up to 50% of restaurants in New York City will permanently close within the next six to 12 months.

How has Covid-19 impacted your dining habits?
I am comfortable going to restaurants and eating inside
I am only comfortable dining outdoors
I am only comfortable ordering takeout
I have been cooking for myself since the start of the pandemic

How can you help? Give them your business. The InfatuationTime Out New YorkEater all have great lists of restaurants with heated outdoor dining areas. If you aren’t comfortable going out to eat, make an effort to order takeout from restaurants in your neighborhood. If it’s an option, try to order directly through the restaurant — third- party delivery services like Uber Eats and Grubhub are convenient but take a cut.

DineOutNYC, which advocated for and helped implement outdoor dining during the pandemic, is currently raising money to install heating equipment for outdoor dining areas in areas like Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Mott Haven, Melrose, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge and Harlem.

You can also donate directly to ROAR New York, which offers financial assistance to restaurant workers who have been impacted by Covid-19; if indoor dining is banned again, many restaurant employees have to go back on unemployment, this time without the additional $600 weekly boost from the federal government. Have a favorite restaurant? Don’t be shy about reaching out to management and asking how it is doing.

Are you a small business? Tell us how we can help you get through the winter.

LOVELY READERS, this holiday season, all we ask is your help in growing this community by hitting forward on this newsletter, spreading word about its existence in your networks and asking folks to subscribe. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We also seek donations to pay our vendors and freelancers. 


The Little Caribbean Holiday Market: Caribbeing, a Brooklyn-based cultural organization which showcases Carribean culture and brands, is hosting its annual holiday market, Shop Caribbean, at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park. The market, which runs through the end of the month, features beauty, culinary, clothing, jewelry and wellness items from 15 local artisans. Look for items like organic Haitian coffee, prints of iconic local businesses and stunning earrings from 84Gem. Contactless pickup and online shopping is also available. Check out the selection of goods here. Epicenter pro tip: if you’re in the neighborhood make sure to grab some Caribbean food from a local biz. We are big fans of Peppa’s Jerk Chicken, followed by a mandatory stop at Errol’s Caribbean Bakery for dessert.

photo: @lindsey.a.d.

The Strangers Project: Have you ever walked past someone on the street and wondered what their story was? Since 2009, Brandon Doman has collected more than 60,000 hand-written stories from complete strangers and featured them in exhibits around the city as a way for people to connect with one another. He currently has an exhibit display through Jan. 2 at CityPoint in Brooklyn — and let’s be honest, we can all use a little connection right now. Learn more.

Lights in the Heights: What, you think the tree at Rockefeller Center is the only one? Join Friends of Diversity Plaza this Saturday, Dec. 12 at 5 p.m. for a virtual tree lighting ceremony. The interfaith ceremony will shine a light on the resilience of the neighborhood, one of the hardest hit in the pandemic. Register for the Zoom call here.

Simply New York: Throughout history, New York City has loomed large in the minds of many influential writers; in turn their work has helped shape our city. This Thursday, Dec. 10 from 8 to 9 p.m. the New York Public Library is hosting a conversation with authors Susan Choi (“The Foreign Student”), Marlon James (“Black Leopard, Red Wolf”), Min Jin Lee (“Pachinko”) and Isaac Fitzgerald (“Knives & Ink”) about the process of being molded by the city that they continue to shape through their work. The event is free but you must register in advance.

photo: @artcrawlharlem

100 Years of Harlem: The Harlem Renaissance came to life shortly after the 1918 flu pandemic. A century later and in the midst of another historical pandemic, the art exhibition “Fire & Soul: 100 Years of Harlem” at the Kente Royal Gallery commemorates that golden age. Co- curated by Nakia Hicks, Dodji Gbedemah and Ulysses Williams, the exhibit, which runs through Jan. 3, features 20 local artists whose work explore the varying identities and impacts of Black Harlem as it intersects American culture, including the Great Migration, music, sexuality, religion, public health, education and the pursuit of freedom. Learn more and RSVP here.

photo: Carrie Stettheimer (1869 – 1944) Stettheimer Dollhouse Museum of the City of New York. Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer, 1945, 45.125.1. Photograph copyright the Museum of the City of New York, by Ali Elai of Camerarts, Inc.

The Stettheimer Dollhouse: Up Close: The Museum of the City of New York first received the dollhouse, created by Carrie W. Stettheimer, in 1945. Now, 75 years later the museum is celebrating the work of art with a reinstallation of the dollhouse and a dedicated gallery. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance.

By now you must be acquainted with our sister newsletter, The Unmuted, which focuses on everything schools. Last week, reporter Joy Resmovitz interviewed an epidemiologist at Columbia University about how Mayor Bill de Blasio is making decisions around closing and reopening schools and testing students. Have specific questions she can help you answer going forward? Let us know!

Back to school? Maybe. Mayor Bill De Blasio started his schools reopening plan on Monday with elementary schools, and students with severe disabilities. We’re still holding out on middle and high schools. If you’re in an orange or red zone, schools won’t be reopening anytime soon.

A change in standards: De Blasio has been using the city’s total infection rate to make reopening decisions, but not moving forward. Now, he’s looking at the capacity of the city to conduct weekly tests in schools. The new process would mean individual schools would close, rather than pressing pause on in-person learning citywide. Some parents are worried that more testing = more cases = more of a chance their kids’ school shuts down. Others have anxieties about a potential second wave sending us back to square one.

All eyes on Pre-K through 5: The consensus on whether it’s safe for younger children to go back to school has flipped, and there’s evidence that the risk isn’t as high as we thought. A study by the journal Pediatrics found that children who stayed in school during the first three months of the pandemic weren’t any more likely to get sick than those who went remote. With less worry about kids spreading the virus, the city is prioritizing early education and the importance of in-person learning for children 10 and under.


Have winter gear you want to donate? Check out this interactive map from New York Cares, which features its partner organizations and the current amount of men’s, women’s and children’s coats they are in need of, complete with days and times they can be dropped off. The Bowery Mission is also currently accepting winter gear for men and women (but not children due to Covid-19). You can drop off items Monday through Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. or 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the front desk of the Bowery campus located at 227 Bowery in Manhattan.

Word-life balance: How has the pandemic changed yours? The New York City Comptroller’s Office wants to know. The office, in partnership with a Better Balance, issued a similar survey in 2015, and is seeking to understand how New Yorker’s relationships to work have evolved since the pandemic, as parents grapple between earning a paycheck and watching their children. Learn more and fill out the survey here.

Electronics for kids: South Brooklyn Mutual Aid is hosting a device drive to collect new and used laptops, computers, tablets, iPads and phones to help students access virtual education. If you have something you’re looking to part with, fill out this form.

photo: @apecofqueens


Have you ever wondered where the oldest resident of NYC lives?

Why it’s in Alley Pond Park, a precious commodity of Queens that has something for everyone. Multiple kettle ponds, a bird sanctuary, and so many wooded paths it’s easy to forget you’re in the city limits (the occasional sound of highway, notwithstanding). The Environmental Center, the site for many critter-filled birthday parties and school trips, is still up and running with Covid-19 protocols in place. By Queens’ standards, its 600 plus acres are second in size only to Flushing Meadows Park, but more pastoral by a long shot, and it also has a tennis center. Oh and that old timer?  It’s the Queens Giant, a tulip poplar tree that ranks as the tallest tree in NYC at 133.8 feet. It may also be the oldest living thing in the boroughs, at least 350 years old. Go say hi.

Peter Stankiewicz, Untitled, plastic and acrylic paint, approx. height: 7.5″, 2019 


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 artist Peter Stankiewicz. Stankiewicz is a Massachusetts-born artist living in Manhattan and making his work in Brooklyn. He makes sculptures on a scale that belies their monumental qualities. One gets the impression of sculptural works in the plazas of  Manhattan’s steel and glass monoliths, or maybe those in Storm King Sculpture Park, where his father actually has work in the collection. We told you about Storm King once here.

Peter Stankiewicz, Untitled, plastic and acrylic paint, approx. height: 16″, 2019 

These are intimate sculptures made of plastic, airbrushed with acrylic paint, and set into cement bases. Mostly less than a foot tall, Stankiewicz makes the shapes a little familiar with reference to the canon of modern sculpture, and a little surprising, adding his own variations on the tradition. He hopes they stimulate curiosity and contemplation in those who see them. You can see more  of his work here.

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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