Monthly Archives: March 2010

Get Involved in Improving Sunset Park’s Waterfront

Our friends at UPROSE are hosting a community forum  next Wednesday, March 31, on the implementation process of the Sunset Park “Greenway-Blueway” concept. The project is part of the Vision Plan for the Sunset Park Waterfront, which will revitalize this dilapidated industrial area. It includes modernizing the maritime and industrial infrastructure and re-activating vacant or underutilized space, as well as creating a new park at the Bush Terminal Piers and a path for pedestrians and bikers to connect parts of the waterfront to residential areas of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.

Coordinating green space (Greenway) to lead to the waterfront park (Blueway), the Greenway-Blueway plan will add 25 acres of green space to the community. After facilitating the design of the “Greenway-Blueway” plan, UPROSE now focuses on the details of implementation. Held from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at 166a 22nd Street in Brooklyn, the community forum gives participants the opportunity to learn about and get involved in the implementation process. To RSVP and request translation or childcare service, contact UPROSE at (718) 492-9307 or

UPROSE also offers monthly “Environmetal Justice” tours around the Waterfront area using uniquely decorated, environmentally friendly buses. The tour is free for Sunset Park residents; for others, the fee is $20.  You can catch the two-hour ride before Wednesday’s forum from 4pm to 6pm. If you are interested, reserve your seat early (see contact info above) as space is limited.


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The Growing NYC Cooperative Network

by Vanessa Bransburg, Cooperative Project Coordinator, Center for Family Life

In the past few months, the Worker Cooperative Project at the Center has fielded numerous inquiries from community-based organizations and individuals about how to develop a worker-owner cooperative in their own communities. We had several meetings to answer their questions and tell them about our story. It soon became clear that these groups and individuals need much more support than these conversations can provide.

Based on these experiences, I began to speak to cooperative worker owners, allies and other developers in New York about the need for support to those interested in developing their own cooperative businesses in low-income immigrant communities around the city. The Center’s annual Fair Work Symposium in December 2009, provided an excellent opportunity for the launch of a city-wide network of worker-owned cooperatives.

The idea behind the NYC Cooperative Network is to provide support, guidance and access to resources to both newly formed cooperatives as well as seasoned ones. By serving as an information clearing house and a forum for advocacy, the network can make a significant impact in the city’s immigrant neighborhoods, promoting economic opportunities through safe and fair work and fostering community development.

The meeting in December was full of energy and inspiration, and a strong desire to build a network that would evolve into an organization working in alliance with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Since this meeting, the NYC Cooperative Network has created a listserv in order to facilitate communication among the 41 active members.

Our second meeting was held at the Urban Justice Center, coordinated by attorney Ted Barbieri and myself. This meeting helped us refine and express what our goals and interests are. We also had a great time getting to know each other on a more personal level. By the end of the third meeting, held in February at Little Sisters of the Assumption and led by Omar Freilla, Founder of Green Worker Cooperatives and Flor de Maria Eilets, Workforce Coordinator at LSA, members had produced a solid draft of the network’s mission statement.

We still have much work ahead of us, yet it is clear that the NYC Cooperative Network has the potential to become a magnificent space for those who need tools and support as they take on the challenge of developing worker-owned businesses in their own communities.


Filed under Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Cooking East to West Series Off to a Great Start

The Cooking East to West culinary project launched in December with a class featuring three of Émigré Gourmet’s chefs. In February, the series continued with a hands-on Indian cooking class led by Émigré chef Afsari Jahan. Participants learned the secrets of classic foods like tandoori chicken (see recipe below), and took part in a shared meal.

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Filed under Community Development, Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Using Social Group Work to Promote Leadership and Build Community

In February, staff and youth participants from the Center ‘s Community School Project at  PS 1 took part in the NYC 2010 “Beacon of Lights” conference sponsored by the Youth Development Institute. At the conference, they led a workshop on the use of social group work to foster youth leadership development and community building. The workshop featured presentations by our PS 1 youth participants who talked about their leadership role. In April, they will lead a similar workshop at the Coalition for Community Schools 2010 National Forum in Philadelphia.

Our staff at the PS 1 afterschool program

Group work is a core methodology of the social work profession that aims to promote individual growth and social change in the context of a group experience. Social group work provides a framework for anticipating predictable stages of group development and for selecting activities purposefully to meet the changing needs of the group and its participants at each stage in the life of the group. Group work is at the heart of the Center’s youth development programs, which are offered through partnerships with six Sunset Park public schools, including PS 1, PS 503/506, MS 136/MS 821 and the new Sunset Park High School. The use of social group work is a common thread across these programs, which provide a range of activities that help young people acquire skills through the arts, sports, educational support and community service projects. Continue reading

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Filed under Beacon Programs at PS 1 & PS 503/506, Community Development, Education, School-Based Youth Development Programs, Youth Development