Summit Wins Participatory Budgeting Funds
Summit Academy’s good fortune continues as City Councilman Carlos Menchaca announced that the school’s “Smart Tech” proposal was one of five winning Participatory Budgeting projects voted on at the end of April.
The school will receive $120,000 to revamp their classrooms with Smart Tech upgrades. The proposal specifically noted the additions of “teacher resource stations, computers and much needed equipment to improve students’ learning environment.”
According to King’s County Politics, this year’s round of Participatory Budgeting was marked by high levels of volunteer participation and voter turnout. Over 8,000 people voted in District 38 turned out to vote either in person or online – the highest turnout of any Council district. Each person casted a ballot supporting five of twelve projects.
The other four winning projects came out of Sunset Park, where funds went to projects for schools and a local park.
“Participatory Budgeting is important for District 38 because it is a way for residents to change their relationship with government,” Menchaca said in a press release about the results. “When residents are informed and engaged they help me as an elected official set priorities and make better decisions.”
A walkathon for the homeless is coming to Prospect Park
The 10th annual walkathon by Kids for a Better Future (KBF) will take place on May 6 in Prospect Park. They will be meeting at 12:30 pm at the Park Drive Loop at 9th Street, and the walk will begin right at 1 pm.
According to Sunita Viswanath, the dynamic group of Brooklyn kids are bringing attention this year to the fact that more than 62,000 men, women and children currently sleep in New York City shelters each night. Those 62,000 people represent a 79 percent increase in the demand for shelter over the last decade.
“Today, there are over 24,000 homeless children in NYC,” Viswanatha said. “And the members of Kids for a Better Future believe that every kid deserves a home.”
All money raised through the walkathon will go towards supporting services provided by the Coalition for the Homeless.
The Kids for a Better Future organization was founded by Akash Mehta, who is Viswanatha’s oldest son, 10 years ago when he was in the third grade. Satya Shaw, who currently is in the 4th grade and is Visanatha’s youngest son, has taken over KBF along with his entire class.
Every year KBF chooses a different cause to support. Previous causes have included a school for girls in Herat, Afghanistan and children’s rights in Bhopal, India. “A total of over $100,000 has been raised in the past nine years for children all over the world,” Viswanatha said.
KBF has done many activities this year to support Coalition of the Homeless in NYC. The kids have done an annual appeal, a winter drive to collect warm clothes and books and toys, a screening of the documentary Homestretch, and many days serving food in soup kitchens or handing out meals to people on the street.
Their goal is for each person to raise at least $500 for family and friends. KBF also wants participants to bring at least three other people to the walkathon.
Volunteer to keep the beaches clean this summer
How do you feel about turtles? Do you like them?
How about fish? Or birds?
If you like these forms of marine life, you’re not alone. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection likes them too, and would like to invite you help protect them by volunteering as a Floatables Beach Monitor. Volunteer monitors visit their favorite beach or shoreline once a week through October, and report the amount of waterborne trash scumming up the water.
“Floatables are waterborne waste materials that float,” writes Robert Gans, coordinator of the Volunteer Beach Floatable Program. “Styrofoam, balloons and fishing line are considered floatables. Raw sewage and medical waste are also floatables.”
Volunteers do not have to clean up the trash or even touch it. They just have to report it, so that the Department of Environmental Protection can clean it up before it kills the wildlife and forces beach closures, which are no fun for anybody.
“DEP needs your help in order to be aware of potential floatable problems as early as possible,” writes Gans. “Volunteers will receive all materials necessary for monitoring, including letters of authorization and acknowledgement.”
New at Kustera
An unusual exhibition is opening at the Kustera Gallery on April 29 – a dollhouse, salvaged from the wrecked family home of co-curator and participating artist Andrew Cornell Robinson after Hurricane Sandy.
“The watermarks still visible on the stained wallpaper mark the receding ocean,” says a release about the exhibition. “[They] are evidence of the loss of life and the destruction of whole communities.”
The exhibition, called “Home is Where the Heart is,” explores the impact of environmental and economic displacement on communities. Robinson, as well as 22 other artists, were each randomly assigned a room of the dollhouse to transform. The participants hail from a large variety of media, including sculpture, paint, printmaking, architecture, fashion design, ceramics, dance, and filmmaking.
“This miniature edifice serves as a palimpsest for each of the artists,” says the release. “The melancholy history of this reliquary is subdued by the balm of optimism sparked by the creative responses of this group of intergenerational and cross disciplinary cultural producers.”
The dollhouse is meant to serve as a microcosm surrogate of the gallery’s neighborhood – Red Hook. Kustera Gallery is at 57 Wolcott Street, just across the street from PS 15. Their hours are Thursday – Sunday 12 – 6 pm, and by appointment. “Home is Where the Heart is” opens on Saturday, April 29, with a reception from 6 – 8 pm. The exhibition runs through June 4.