Posted inFeatures

How to be a good neighbor: tips from Clean Up Crown Heights

Have you ever wanted to do something to improve your neighborhood, but didn’t quite know where to begin? Are you looking for ways to meet your neighbors and make new friends? These are things that Alex Bodnar, 31, thought about when he moved from Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan to Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He found answers via Clean Up Crown Heights, a community-based, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to keeping Crown Heights beautiful. Epicenter-NYC reporter Andrea Pineda-Salgado spoke with Bodnar about the group and how other New Yorkers can follow suit in their own neighborhoods.

Posted inSmall Biz Spotlight

The Lanterne Candle Lab lights up Chinatown

For Tisya Siswanto, 32, Chinatown is so much more than a tourist destination. It was the place that her family visited on the weekends to find groceries and household products that reminded her Indonesian parents of home. As a student at Baruch College, it was the place where she and her friends would hang out after class. Chinatown was a neighborhood that welcomed Siswanto every time she visited. Every time she walked down the street, she ran into someone she knew. But everything changed when the pandemic hit.

Posted inSmall Biz Spotlight

Small biz owners tell us what they are thankful for this year

Several times a month, Epicenter-NYC highlights different small businesses across the five boroughs. From dog toys to tamales to candles to plantain sandwiches — each business owner has embodied the diverse, creative and hustler mindset that defines New York City. We caught up with a few to ask them what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here’s what they had to say:

Posted inCriminal Justice

The Rikers Island saga continues

I’ve written about the situation at the Rikers Island jail complex a few times in this newsletter, and not because I like to. In fact, I hate having to continuously parse through federal monitor and Board of Correction reports about health emergencies, mismanagement, and deaths as the bodies keep piling up, and I wish I didn’t have to keep writing about it. Yet it’s precisely because of that that we can’t look away.

Posted inLabor

The women of La Parada

On a humid August afternoon earlier this year,  a middle aged woman paced Division Street and Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood in front of a line of immigrant women who had congregated for work. The woman, a potential employer, donned a neatly styled bobbed wig, a black flowy skirt that reached past her knees and a long-sleeved blouse, typical attire for Hasidic Jewish women who live in the neighborhood. She appeared to be ready to leave without making a hire when a young woman, a Latin American immigrant like the others in line, anxiously ran up to her. “Take off your mask and let me see your face,” the potential employer demanded.

Posted inSmall Biz Spotlight

Sol Cacao

Daniel Maloney and his brothers Nicolas and Dominic grew up on their father’s farm in Trinidad, running around sugarcane fields and seeking refuge from the glaring sun under mango and coconut trees. It was a good life, but in 1996, the family moved to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. The brothers search for something to connect them back to their agricultural roots led to the creation of Sol Cacao — the Bronx’s first bean-to-bar chocolate factory.