NYPress.com - New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more » Our Town http://nypress.com New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:05:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Crime Victims Center Faces Severe Budget Crisis http://nypress.com/crime-victims-center-faces-severe-budget-crisis-2/ http://nypress.com/crime-victims-center-faces-severe-budget-crisis-2/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:05:57 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73948 Event-20110331-CVTCAwards-Logo-ListingCenter for victims of violent crime could lose vital programs

An organization that serves New Yorkers in crisis is facing a crisis of its own, which could affect hundreds of crime victims in the city.

The Crime Victims Treatment Center (CVTC) of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital serves survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, and has recently expanded its programming to serve all victims of violent crime. The staff and volunteers – currently 177 people participate in the volunteer advocate program – provide crucial services, from helping rape victims navigate the system from the emergency room to dealing with the police, to offering counseling and support groups for survivors of severe childhood sexual abuse, domestic partner violence, and domestic and international trafficking.

All of these services are free of charge to clients, and the CVTC’s operating costs are covered through a combination of state and federal funding, grants and private and institutional donors. But earlier this year, when re-applying for funding from New York state – a process that only happens every 10 years – the CVTC staff was dismayed to discover that a revenue source they’ve counted on for the past decade won’t be renewed. Due to technical changes in the application process, and increased need elsewhere in the state, the funds were allocated instead to 26 new victim treatment programs upstate.

CVTC executive director Susan Xenarios said that while she understands that other cities and rural areas of the state need similar programs, she and her staff were still taken by complete surprise when denied the funding – about $350,000 annually, or 46 percent of their public funding.

“We were devastated, obviously, because our program is 37 years old. We were the first rape crisis program that was established in New York City,” Xenarios said.

She noted the superior ratings they’ve received from state agencies, and the fact that the program has taken on additional clients since St. Vincent’s closed in 2010.

“I didn’t get any clear reason why we did not get what we needed to get, other than there’s a strong effort on the governor’s platform — this is an election year — to reallocate funds upstate,” she said.

Now the CVTC staff are reaching out to local legislators, private donors and institutions to try and make up the sudden financial gap for this year. If they don’t, it could mean cutting four or five staff employees from a staff of about 12, and eliminating services for Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking clients, as well as putting programs like the teen survivors group, the only male sexual assault survivor group in the city, and free therapy offerings in jeopardy.

“It’s everything. It doesn’t feel like people understand the implications of that,” said Christopher Bromson, assistant director at CVTC and the program’s volunteer coordinator. “It would mean about 600 victims of violent crime won’t get services.”

Staff members at CVTC take on many overlapping responsibilities, so the loss of each person would mean multiple programs will suffer, Xenarios explained.

“We’re not a huge program, we’re not compartmentalized. Everybody does a lot of everything so every loss is going to impact on something else,” she said.

CVTC also faces uncertainty at a time when colleges are bearing national scrutiny for their handling of sexual assault cases, and several New York City schools have turned to CVTC as a resource for their students as well as for training college staff.

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who represents the district the CVTC serves and has helped allocate state funds for rape crisis counseling centers throughout the state, said that the center “does transformative and lifesaving work in both the areas of preventive services and education and treatment of survivors of sexual assault.” She said that she’s working with the Cuomo administration to find additional funding sources for CVTC.

Bromson and Xenarios said that they’re turning their attention to finding private funding and applying for grants to stay fully operational. They may face challenges, however, that other non-profits don’t have to contend with in a campaign for private money. Where some organizations might tell the success stories of people they’ve helped to attract donors, for example, CVTC is bound by strict confidentiality of its clients. And for some, discussing sexual violence is a difficult or uncomfortable topic, making it harder to strike up cocktail party chatter about supporting the cause.

Catherine Chapman, a Certified Fund Raising Executive who works through her company Fullanthropy to create philanthropic partnerships, said that domestic and sexual violence advocacy groups need to connect with passionate donors who don’t shy away from often-controversial topics.

“Organizations like RAINN and The Joyful Heart Foundation have raised significant funding, created successful partnerships and media campaigns, and engaged celebrities,” Chapman said.”What works in these cases is being authentic, telling the story of the victims with the details and demonstrating how, with the organization’s help, they become victors instead of victims..”

Bromson agrees that the work CVTC does can and should be seen as positive.

“We heal people and we give people their lives back after they’ve been so devastated by violent crime,” Bromson said. “It’s difficult, but it’s happy. People get better.”

To learn more about CVTC’s free and confidential services, visit cvtcnyc.org.


Broadway Unlocked Benefit
CVTC utility photoSupport CVTC by attending their upcoming benefit, a night of music, stories of healing and a worldwide support network.
Broadway Unlocked: the #giveback concert
Monday, November 3
The Greene Space NYC
44 Charlton St. between Varick St. & 6th Ave.
7:30 p.m., $100 general admission; $225 VIP
With performances from Kirstin Maldonado (Pentatonix), Barrett Wilbert Weed (Found, Heathers), Kate Wetherhead (Submissions Only) and more.
Tickets at eventbrite.com

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Creating Buzz for Second Avenue http://nypress.com/creating-buzz-for-second-avenue/ http://nypress.com/creating-buzz-for-second-avenue/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 23:23:00 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73892 Jocelyn Taub (left) catches up with Barbara Haimerl, a regular at Yorkville staple Heidelberg Restaurant, a family-owned German beer hall.

Jocelyn Taub (left) catches up with Barbara Haimerl, a regular at Yorkville staple Heidelberg Restaurant, a family-owned German beer hall.

One entrepreneur is hoping to market her social media services to struggling Second Avenue businesses

Operating amid the noise, dust and general chaos of the Second Avenue subway construction, Second Avenue businesses need social media. That’s the argument of Yorkville resident Jocelyn Taub when she pitches the services of her social media marketing company, Second Avenue Social.

“In these still-bad economic times, and especially here in this neighborhood with the ongoing construction,” she said, “I think it’s important that these businesses utilize it.”

When Taub was laid off from her job in radio promotion at the beginning of the recession in 2008, she turned to digital marketing and social media to bring her skills up to date. Now, she said she thinks local bars and restaurants should do the same.

Before the recession, she had a career in radio promotion and marketing. But then, the company she worked for consolidated and left her behind.

Taub said at first she wasn’t worried. She had never had a hard time finding a job.

But this was at the beginning of 2008. The Great Recession began in December of 2007.

“Once I realized that it was not going to be as easy as I thought, and if I wanted to stay in journalism, marketing, PR, I realized, I have to get up to date,” she said. “So that’s when I went back to school.”

Taub attended NYU’s School of Professional Studies in digital media marketing. As she began to use social media for herself and for others, “I started to believe in it,” she said.

Taub said she thinks social media could benefit businesses who’ve lost customers to the inconvenience of the construction on Second Avenue.

“A couple of businesses told me,” she said, as an example, “the ones with the scaffolding in front of them – sometimes they would get business when people would pull over, park, and somebody would sit in the car and they’d run up and get something.”

With construction blocking parking, she said, they can’t rely on that kind of customer anymore.

“It’s almost like watching The Price Is Right,” she said. “What’s behind the scaffolding?”

She said social media could help businesses, like the ones blocked by construction that are less physically visible, get their name out and reach potential new customers.

She said she thinks social media a good option for small, mom-and-pop businesses, because for the most part, it’s free.

So far, however, Taub said response to her ideas from businesses has been lukewarm.

“Everybody’s afraid,” she said, “I guess because everybody’s trying to take a piece of their pie.”

Taub said she understands that reluctance. She said she was lucky to work in radio, and she always made good money. She never expected to have to work for herself.

“It’s been very humbling,” she said.

She can relate to businesses’ struggles, and, she said, she puts that into her pitches.

“I’m having a rough time; they’re having a rough time,” she said. “If they don’t do well, I’m not going to do well.”

Taub said she likes that Yorkville still feels like a real neighborhood.

“Every day it’s like, hey, it’s my neighbor, hey to the dry cleaner, hey to the guy at the deli,” she said. “You see the same people over and over.”

By helping mom-and-pops keep their clientele and stay in business, she hopes to help the area keep the flavor she’s enjoyed over her two decades in the neighborhood.

“It’s New York City, it’s Manhattan, but it’s removed from all the insanity of Midtown, downtown, and the tourist sites,” she said. “I always refer to this area, east of Second Avenue, as the suburbs of New York.”

Visit www.secondavenuesocial.com for more information about Taub and her business.

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The Mean Streets Of The Upper East Side http://nypress.com/the-mean-streets-of-the-upper-east-side-2/ http://nypress.com/the-mean-streets-of-the-upper-east-side-2/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:49:39 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73879 dangerous intersection_fmtIdentifying the most dangerous intersections in the neighborhood

One corner is plagued by drivers rushing to beat the light and not yielding to pedestrians. Another has a left-turn signal that is timed to pit cars against walkers. Another creates confusion by adding bike lanes and ambulances to the mix.

They are among the most dangerous places to walk and drive in New York — and they’re all on the Upper East Side.

Councilmember Ben Kallos has issued a new report tallying the danger, listing 29 intersections in the neighborhood and the toll they have taken in terms of the number of people injured, killed, or involved in accidents. At extended exerpt of the report, called Livable Streets Dangerous Intersections,” is on page 4.

The study began with a survey of 60,000 households in the area, seeking input on how to make the city’s streets more livable. With those results, Kallos’s office created the report for the city to use as a resource as part of its Vision Zero initiative, aimed at eliminating pedestrian traffic deaths.

Kallos’s effort coincided with two fatal collision on the Upper East Side this spring, one on York Avenue and E. 84th St., and the other on Second Avenue and E. 93rd St. Both intersections are chronicled in the report.

“New Yorkers move quickly,” Kallos said in the introduction to the study. “We are constantly in motion. Because of this, the safety of our streets and transportation infrastructure is of paramount importance.”

Kallos’s office has reported the dangerous intersections in the report to the Department of Transportation, while enforcement concerns have been reported to the NYPD.


The Most Dangerous Intersections On The Upper East Side

East 93rd and Second Avenue

Drivers are rushing to “beat the light” and not yielding to pedestrians

Injuries: 2

Collisions: 24

Killed: 1

East 91st Street and York Avenue

Cars leaving the FDR turn and do not yield to pedestrians

Injuries: 1

Collisions: 24

Killed: 0

East 91st Street between York and First Avenue

Drivers are speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians, and turning improperly. See above.

East 86th Street and Third Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and speeding. The cross light does not provide enough time to cross the street. The crosswalk markings are not visible on the streets.

Injuries: 10

Collisions: 47

Killed: 0

East 86th Street and York Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly.

Injuries: 4

Collisions: 28

Killed: 0

East 85th Street and York Avenue

Drivers are speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians.

Injuries: 3

Collisions: 12

Killed: 0

East 84th Street and York Avenue

Injuries: 5

Collisions: 16

Killed: 1

East 83rd – 85th Street and Second Avenue

Drivers are speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians

Injuries: 12

Collisions: 114

Killed: 1

East 80th Street and York Avenue

The M79 cannot make the turn on the street and cars turn without yielding for pedestrians. Drivers are speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians.

Injuries: 4

Collisions: 24

Killed: 0

East 79th Street and Second Avenue

Drivers are speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians, and turning improperly.

Injuries: 11

Collisions: 54

Killed: 0

East 79th Street and York Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turning improperly and speeding. The cross light does not provide enough time to cross the street. The crosswalk markings are not visible on the streets. The uptown/downtown traffic lights appear to be out of sync.

Injuries: 8

Collisions: 34

Killed: 0

East 79th Street and First Avenue

Timing of the left-hand turn onto First Avenue encourages rushing to “beat the light,” endangering pedestrians.

Injuries: 7

Collisions: 42

Killed: 0

East 79th Street and Third Avenue

Cars speed and fail to stop for the red light.

Injuries: 6

Collisions: 49

Killed: 0

East 77th Street and York Avenue

The streets are uneven making it difficult to cross. The markings on the street are not visible leading to confusion on where pedestrians should cross. Drivers fail to yield to pedestrians.

Injuries: 5

Collisions: 20

Killed: 0

76th Street and Park Avenue

Cars rushing to make the turn onto Park Avenue have struck pedestrians. Adding direction signals to traffic lights would limit this behavior.

Injuries: 3

Collisions: 21

Killed: 0

East 72nd Street and First Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turning improperly, and speeding.

Injuries: 8

Collisions: 42

Killed: 0

west corner of East 69th Street and First Avenue

Vehicles are speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians. The Bike lanes and ambulances pulling in and out of the hospital make it a particularly confusing intersection.

Injuries: 2

Collisions: 28

Killed: 1

East 68th Street and Second Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly.

Injuries: 8

Collisions: 40

Killed: 0

East 66th Street and First Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turn improperly, and speeding.

Injuries: 2

Collisions: 36

Killed: 0

East 65th Street and Second Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turn improperly, and speeding.

Injuries: 6

Collisions: 71

Killed: 0

East 64th Street and York Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly.

Injuries: 4

Collisions: 30

Killed: 0

East 63rd Street and Third Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turn improperly, and speeding.

Injuries: 5

Collisions: 54

Killed: 0

East 62nd Street and First Avenue

Cars are speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians.

Injuries: 14

Collisions: 97

Killed: 0

East 61st Street and Second Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly.

Injuries: 7

Collisions: 86

Killed: 0

East 61st Street and First Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly.

Injuries: 11

Collisions: 64

Killed: 0

East 57th Street and Queensboro Bridge Entrance

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turning improperly, and speeding.

Injuries: 0

Collisions: 6

Killed: 0

East 57th Street and Second Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turning improperly and are speeding. The cross light does not provide enough time to cross the street. The crosswalk markings are not visible.

Injuries: 14

Collisions: 139

Killed: 0

East 57th Street between First and Second Avenue

Drivers are speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly. The cross light does not provide enough time to cross the street.

East 57th Street and Sutton Place

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians and turning improperly.

Injuries: 1

Collisions: 24

Killed: 0

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LETTERS: Weighing In On The Bikes vs. Pedestrians Debate http://nypress.com/letters-weighing-in-on-the-bikes-vs-pedestrians-debate/ http://nypress.com/letters-weighing-in-on-the-bikes-vs-pedestrians-debate/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:07:17 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73874 Kimberly Kinchen and Kim Burgas created bike train, a safer way to travel the city.

Kimberly Kinchen and Kim Burgas created bike train, a safer way to travel the city.

Last week, we ran an editorial from editor-in-chief Kyle Pope arguing that cyclists bear the onus of responsibility for safety on the streets and in the parks. Readers weigh in below, with some dissent, and some ideas for improving safety overall.

Blame the Cars, Not the Bikes

A comment from the web on our editorial “Go Ahead – Blame the Bicycles,” October 9, 2014.

“You seem to be dumping an inordinate amount of blame on those of us who ride bikes. The reality is that some cyclists are jerks. And others are not. Some pedestrians seem determined to be hit by cyclists while others exercise caution. Question: what do ‘sleek designer tights’ have to do with public safety? Would you prefer that bicyclists NOT wear helmets? Another question: how do you know when a ‘steel vehicle’ is going well above the speed limit? (It’s extremely difficult for a bicycle to travel well above the speed limit. I gather you have a bike. I encourage you to try it.)

It is frustrating and sickeningly tragic that a cyclist was riding so recklessly that he caused that woman to die in Central Park. Yet you feel comfortable putting all the blame for all of the congestion in Central Park (or perhaps everywhere in New York City) on people who ride bikes? Are pedestrians who cross the roadways against the light or outside of cross-walks free from blame? How is it that the driver of a car can run people over, kill them, and be allowed to go completely free of punishment? People are run over by cars all the time in this city.

It is what it is. This city was not designed for a population of this size. But it seems it’s here to stay. And so is my bike.” Westside Guy

More Regulation for All in the Park

A letter to the editor:

Seen on yesterday’s run: a racing cyclist hits an elderly pedestrian attempting to cross West Drive in the cross walk near Delacorte Theatre; both go flying, both get up, both apparently okay, if shaken up.

Seen on today’s run: a racing cyclist actually stops to berate a mom who is pushing baby in a stroller in the cross walk near the Ramble. “Don’t be a fool, wait for the light” he shouts; mom ignores him and pushes ahead. Moments later I watch the same cyclist run a red light.

Here are a few ideas (we runners cannot witness scenes like this without processing angry ideas, etc. for the duration of the run):

  1. The traffic lights in Central Park were installed to regulate cars, not bicycles. Bicyclists should not have to pay attention to them; cars should.
  2. The moment any pedestrian sets a single toe inside any cross walk, he or she has absolute right of way over any bicycle who MUST come to a complete stop until there are no pedestrians in the walk. Obviously this will suck for racing cyclists and likely cause them to abandon the park entirely, which would be okay. Dedicated safe hours for racers could be set, as has been done for owners who want to walk dogs off the leash.Also, we would need more cross walks, along with signs mid-road that say yielding to pedestrians in a cross walk is a State/City law (you see these signs on the Main Streets of many small town across the country). Police on bikes and scooters will need to patrol the cross walks and enforce the law, first-time violators would have their bikes impounded, face stiff fines, etc. My guess is once we had more cross walks, with signs, and fewer/no racers, 99 percent of the problem would likely be solved.
  3. In cases where pedestrians, runners or anyone else on foot tries to cross a park road without using a cross walk, the person on foot still has right of way, but accidents that occur outside the cross walk would be treated simply as accidents.

I suggest we start a movement to get the Park and the police to establish this (or another) common sense usage hierarchy on the roads in Central Park. Actually it would be pretty simple to establish; a little harder to enforce because it would mean cops actually getting out of their vehicles. But I’m certain order can be brought out of the chaos you so rightly describe.

Peter Jurew

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Changing with the seasons at the Cloisters http://nypress.com/changing-with-the-seasons-at-the-cloisters/ http://nypress.com/changing-with-the-seasons-at-the-cloisters/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:58:29 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73867 View of the Cuxa Cloister From the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa (San Miguel de Cuixà), near 				Perpignan, France, ca. 1130–40 				Marble 				The Cloisters Collection, 1925 				Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

View of the Cuxa Cloister

From the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa (San Miguel de Cuixà), near

Perpignan, France, ca. 1130–40

Marble

The Cloisters Collection, 1925

Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Autumn at the Met’s ever-evolving northern outpost

Nothing escapes the march of history, not even The Cloisters, New York’s beloved, magical oasis of art and nature. Though time seems to stand still at the Upper Manhattan branch of the Metropolitan Museum, The Cloisters is very much in the moment. This is particularly clear as the seasons change.

Barbara Drake Boehm, one of the curators at the Cloisters, realizes that many New Yorkers have visited the galleries, and may be familiar with the collection, but, she says, “It’s always changing. It changes with the weather, it changes with the plantings in the gardens, it changes with our special exhibitions.”

Fall is the perfect time to spend a day exploring the art and the season at the Cloisters. As the sun slides lower in the sky, the slanting light shines differently through the stained glass windows, spilling pools of jewel tones across the cool stone floors in the Early Gothic Hall. It’s a collaboration between nature and art. When the museum was designed, the entire collection of stained glass, save one, was situated to receive natural light.

Not only the seasons change. The collection does, too. There are new things to see, and some of them tie in with the outdoor cloister gardens. “We have the blessing of making really important acquisitions in the field of medieval art,” Dr. Boehm said. One of her favorite new works is the 15th century Falcon’s Bath tapestry. In rich reds and blues, with fantastic details, it depicts noblemen and ladies in front of a blooming rose arbor, stirring the water, tempting a falcon into its bath. They’re seated on a bench of turf, and when one of the garden’s fountains was removed for conservation, the new horticulturalist, Caleb Leech, built a reproduction of the turf bench to fill the space temporarily. There are lots of moments at the Cloisters where the art seems to come to life. That’s just one.

Leech is also busy planting boxwoods, so that when a special exhibition on boxwood sculpture opens in the future, there will be living shrubs to tie in with the works on display. The hops in the garden are just for show, but when the recent Oktoberfest presented through the Spectrum group at the Met was held, there was artisanal beer on hand. Ripe apples on their espaliers outside recall the red fruits in the Cloisters’ magnificent Unicorn tapestries, and also yield a surprising side story. The Cloisters, it turns out, has woodchucks. Boehm laughingly described them as “fat and lazy” from munching so many of the garden’s ripe apples.

The experience of wildlife can also be found in one of the stained glass roundels in the downstairs gallery. There’s an image of gathering quails into a net that offers a fascinating view of how people in the middle ages made things work. In this painting on glass, the fellow herding the unsuspecting birds is hiding behind a wooden plank with a cow painted on it, and two little peepholes drilled out. Either quails are shortsighted, or they had a very talented cow painter in that town.

While there are many special presentations and lectures, tours and concerts at the Cloisters, some of the greatest moments are so subtle they might escape notice. In the Gothic Chapel, a knight’s stone sarcophagus is being lovingly cleaned with little more than cotton swabs by conservator Lucretia Kargère. In the past year, the transformation has traveled from the neck to halfway down the chest, which works out to about an inch a month. The knight is “gradually losing his blackened patina and turning back to a golden tone,” Boehm said, adding, “It’s really exciting to see him emerge.”

Visitors who return often and pay attention, find that the pages of the precious illuminated manuscripts are turned seasonally. At the moment, The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, one of the most famous and beautiful medieval manuscripts in the world, is turned to a page depicting St. Jerome, whose feast day was September 30th.

The pages will be turned again in December. Till then, there’s still a chance to see the light-hearted illumination. After that, another masterpiece will be on view in its place, proving there’s always something new to see.

“Something can be ancient, but it can work for us,” Boehm said, “something that you have a sense of reverence about, but you can also laugh about. It’s quite a varied experience.

If you only come once every 30 years, you might love the Cloisters, but you might experience something entirely different next time. We want people to know that.”

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Sixth Borough: The Noah’s Ark of U-Hauls http://nypress.com/sixth-borough-the-noahs-ark-of-u-hauls-2/ http://nypress.com/sixth-borough-the-noahs-ark-of-u-hauls-2/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:56:21 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73903 6th borough_fmtWe’re moving. Not far – 10 miles. We’re leaving our quaintly dilapidated cottage on the 48-acre farm that we co-own, for a place of our own: a sturdy, handsome log cabin on 6.6 acres that back up to a mountain. Our mountain hideaway, we’ve started calling it, even though it’s not yet officially ours.

The house itself is a major upgrade from anywhere either of us has ever lived in our grown-up lives. Ah, the slovenly East Village tenement I was living in with two roommates when Joe and I met, the cozy little bedbug-infested apartment on the Lower East Side that was our first joint residence, the monstrously oversized suburban 1970s period piece, and finally, the farm.

The farm was the first place we’d actually thought of as home. It was a major coup to secure a residence on this heavenly swath of real estate directly across the street from one of the best disc golf courses in the world. Leaving the farm is bittersweet. The sweet part is that our new place has oak floors and vaulted ceilings, two bathtubs (our current place has zero bathtubs, which makes bathing a child so challenging that we only do it at friends’ houses), a front porch and a back deck, and a mountain full of maples waiting to be tapped.

The bitter part? With one-seventh the farm’s acreage, the mountain hideaway can only house a fraction of all the farm animals we’ve acquired over the past few years. Our current roster includes 14 pigs, eight goats, four cows, one Guinea hen, and about 280 chickens – 30 laying hens and 250 four-month-old pullets.

We have some major cuts to make. As I go about my daily chores now, I’m sizing up each species, calculating space requirements versus return on investment (eggs, meat, milk), contemplating the qualities that make an animal a good candidate for living in closer quarters. The pigs get docked a point for eating the duck. We know it was the pigs because Joe spotted one of them with a beak in its mouth. But of course, all that logical stuff gets trumped by fondness.

Nothing says instant-family like witnessing a birth. That’s why my first-round pick is our dairy goat, Rebeca, and her doeling, Saturn, who was born on the farm this spring. Skittish she may be, but Rebeca has turned out to be a capable mother, and she even lets us milk her sometimes before she kicks over the bowl. Bonus: she appears to be pregnant again, so we’ll probably be welcoming two more kids to the family next spring.

Then there are the chickens. Every homestead needs laying hens, but how many? We went wild this summer, thinking we’d launch a sideline business selling eggs. Now that we’ve raised 250 chicks into good-looking “chickagers” it’s almost time to reap the rewards in the form of 150 eggs a day – but just before that happens we’re going to have to get rid of most of them. We’ve been giving a few away to friends and will probably sell some (email me if you’re interested), and in the meantime, we’re looking at creative ways to max out the space at the mountain hideaway.

The above ground pool, for instance. At first, we’d asked the seller to get rid of it; we’d rather have the space for the garden. Then I woke up one morning and said: Hold it. A strategy was taking shape in my mind. Drill holes along the bottom of the pool. Hose it down with water and vinegar to get rid of chemical residue. Fill it a few feet with leaves, compost, manure, Becca Tucker - The Six_fmtwhatever, along with some red wigglers that specialize in speeding up the decomposition process. Seed it with some fast-growing, cool weather crop (my winter rye seeds just arrived in the mail). Keep it partway covered with the tarp, and cover the other part with poultry netting, to keep the chickens in and predators out. Voila: an additional chicken coop and run. I don’t know how many birds will fit comfortably in there, but if we can take along 20 more of our crewmembers, that’s a feat worth the sweat.

I have a feeling the pool idea is a good one, too, because I Googled it and nothing came up. My most outlandish ideas to date have always turned out to be disappointingly well-documented on homesteading or permaculture or backyard chicken forums. No one else has tried to turn a pool into a chicken coop? Bring it on.

Becca Tucker is a former Manhattanite now living on a farm upstate and writing about the rural life.

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Old-School Tea Ceremonies Thriving On The East Side http://nypress.com/old-school-tea-ceremonies-thriving-on-the-east-side/ http://nypress.com/old-school-tea-ceremonies-thriving-on-the-east-side/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:54:03 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73863 http://nypress.com/old-school-tea-ceremonies-thriving-on-the-east-side/feed/ 0 Ask a Broker: How Should I Prepare My Pet for a co-op Board Interview? http://nypress.com/ask-a-broker-how-should-i-prepare-my-pet-for-a-co-op-board-interview/ http://nypress.com/ask-a-broker-how-should-i-prepare-my-pet-for-a-co-op-board-interview/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:49:35 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73859 Property_broker Ellen _fmt With board packages prepped and ready for approval, there still might be a little more grooming to be done for your beloved canine to pass the pet interview. Potentially pesky dogs could be problematic when it comes to seeking approval of the coop Board, but here are some tried and true tips for success:

  • Co-op boards love documentation. Gather pertinent paperwork that proves your dog is a good canine citizen such as that very certification from the American Kennel Club.
  • Prepare a “mini” board package for your dog that includes reference letter from previous neighbors, your previous building manager, your vet, dog walker or your groomer.
  • If the building requests a Board interview for your dog, hire a trainer. Typical concerns are barking at the door, urinating in the halls, and good elevator etiquette. Make sure your dog can sit through the interview without fussing.
  • Property_top brief_OT _fmtIf your mixed breed dog looks like a breed that is often discriminated against, get a DNA test. This may prove the perception to be wrong.

When it comes time for the interview, Deborah Hoffman of TOWN Residential recommends an extra walk (or better yet, run!) right before the interview. Following Deborah’s advice, a recent customer took their pup on back to back runs in the Park before heading to the cat-loving Board President’s home for the meet and greet. The extra exercise paid off! The sweet, but naturally active dog, paid no attention to the cats and curled up in the corner of the room for the entire interview. The buyers passed the interview and shortly after the pup and her humans moved into their new home.

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Public Advocate Reveals City’s Worst Landlords http://nypress.com/public-advocate-reveals-citys-worst-landlords/ http://nypress.com/public-advocate-reveals-citys-worst-landlords/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:28:27 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73852 http://nypress.com/public-advocate-reveals-citys-worst-landlords/feed/ 0 Encouraging Bad Theater http://nypress.com/encouraging-bad-theater/ http://nypress.com/encouraging-bad-theater/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:23:39 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73849 If You Go The festival spans over the weekends of the Oct. 17, 24 and Nov. 1 at Chelsea’s Treehouse Theater, on 154 W. 29th Street. Four or five plays are shown within a 90-minute time slot each night. Tickets are $15 available on EventBrite through the website BadTheaterFest.com and knock $3 off a drink at Pioneers Bar down the street from the venue. The festival will also host a Halloween party at Pioneers, where people will compete for the worst costume in the bad costume competition.

If You Go

The festival spans over the weekends of the Oct. 17, 24 and Nov. 1 at Chelsea’s Treehouse Theater, on 154 W. 29th Street. Four or five plays are shown within a 90-minute time slot each night. Tickets are $15 available on EventBrite through the website BadTheaterFest.com and knock $3 off a drink at Pioneers Bar down the street from the venue. The festival will also host a Halloween party at Pioneers, where people will compete for the worst costume in the bad costume competition.

A comedy writer has created a festival to showcase performances with no expectations

Comedy writer Shawn Wickens knows that some people think his work is bad. Troma Films, Blue Man Group and Comedy Central have all rejected his submissions.

Wickens is not ashamed of this. His theory regarding the matter is simple: when it comes to performance, nothing is universal. There will always be someone that thinks a thing is bad.

But Wickens also knows the stifling fear of rejection performance writers and actors face when presenting their work. So, to assist his theater peers, he created a showcase that dissolves performers’ pressure by first dissolving their audience’s expectations.

“It turned into a festival where the bar is set very low,” Wickens said.

Alongside comedy writer Gavin Starr, Wickens started a festival that is a “no judgment zone” in show business. People submit videos of shows they’ve written for the chance to finally perform or have it performed in front of an audience. Considering the only selection requirement is time, this chance is quite great.

“If the artist is willing to try, we are willing to try,” Wickens said.

The Bad Theater Fest, as it is known, is a safe haven for various types of creative misfits. First time actors, playwrights and film producers call the festival home. Experienced writers take part, too, submitting works that remain tucked away in drawers for years. It is an opportunity to perform for the heck of it, build confidence or simply work on a New York City stage.

“The festival is to give people a chance to be creative and be on stage, which is harder to find with less and less small theaters in the city,” Wickens said.

Submissions are not limited to people in New York City. Bad Theater Fest is presenting shows from Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh this year.

Minimal selection requirements make for a show that brings surprises with each performance slot. Last year, the audience watched a game show that allotted the winner a golden dildo. They also watched a dramatic dance piece about the prevalence of HIV in the African American community. The festival, an artistic stew of the outlandish and the heart wrenching, the meaningful and the random, is interesting because you never know what you’re going to see.

“It’s totally accepting of developing artists and the risks they want to take,” Jonathan O’Neill, a repeat submitter to the festival, said.

Starr and Wicken’s work is no exception. Starr is showing a 15 year-old piece he wrote in college. Wickens, who is a weekly improvisation performer at Magnet Theater, is organizing an improv skit for the festival. With its topic of depression within the comedy community, the show will be a sort of tribute to an issue long-faced in the entertainment world, relevant now in the tragic wake of comedy superstar Robin Williams’ suicide. Its improv style is a tribute to the Bad Theater Fest itself.

“I think improv actors feel like the red-headed step children of the comedy and theater worlds,” Wickens said. “There is, for improv actors, a very ‘root for the underdog’ mentality, and that’s what we’re all about as well.”

Right now, the Bad Theater Fest is merely fun for viewers and actors. The three-year old event is still ironing out its kinks; organizing skits is a challenge and smooth transitions between sets are never guaranteed. But Wickens said he hopes it can be seen by future audiences as a pool of untapped talent.

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