Tag Archive | "Bronx"

Food Planting Event in New York Botanical Garden Helps Address Food Insecurity in Bronx

The Children’s Garden at the Edible Academy located in the New York Botanical Garden. Henrietta McFarlane for the Bronx Ink.

The “three sisters”— beans, corn, and squash—grow in a semicircle shaped plot at the far end of Edible Academy’s vegetable garden in the Bronx. Beans grow wrapped around corn stems for support. The roots of beans fortify the soil with nitrogen, important for the growth of corn and squash. Orange, yellow, and green squash have large sprawling leaves that cover the ground below the beans and corn, which keep the soil cool and moist and prevent weeds from growing. 

“This companion planting technique was something that was taught to settlers by the Indigenous Americans,” said Edible Academy Educator Alyssa Markowski. 

On Sunday, the same technique was taught to elementary-school-aged children during the Edible Academy’s event “Dig! Plant! Grow! The Three Sisters.”  

Each child who participated was shown how to make a “Fiesta Corn Salad” out of the ingredients in the garden. Posters on small tables showed how beans might become soup, squash could be roasted and corn turned into spoonbread or fritters. Everyone was sent home with popcorn seeds to make into popcorn. 

The Edible Academy’s garden, tucked away in the north-east corner of the New York Botanical Garden, is a small oasis in one of the most notoriously food insecure areas in the nation: the Bronx. NYBG is responding to this nutrition crisis through the new Edible Academy. 

The Edible Academy, located in the New York Botanical Gardens, the Bronx. Henrietta McFarlane for the Bronx Ink.

According to Hunger Free America’s most recent report, one in four Bronx residents experienced food insecurity between 2018 and 2020. The borough also has the highest level of food insecurity in all of New York City. Households with children were about 15 percent more likely to report having less income for food during the pandemic, according to the NYC Health Epi Data Brief

“The pandemic has really highlighted the issue of food insecurity. Pre-pandemic rates of food insecurity were already unacceptably high for a country as wealthy as the United States,” said Kim Hekimian, a professor at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition. 

During the pandemic, economic barriers to food grew—45 percent of residents reported less income and 20 percent were unable to buy groceries due to lack of money for food. 

“Rates of food insecurity still remain higher than pre-pandemic,” said Professor Hekimian. 

Hekimian explained that people who experience food insecurity tend to rely on low cost foods that are cheap and accessible. Those foods tend to be high in non-nutritive calories such as sugars, sodium, and other non-essential nutrients. 

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that levels of childhood obesity surged to unprecedented levels during the pandemic. This is directly linked to inadequate nutrition. 

The Edible Academy runs regular activities throughout the year to bring awareness to this issue. 

“We have a program for school trip visits, summer camps, and scout groups,” said Ann Novak, the Edible Academy’s manager.

The most effective way to deal with the diseases caused by malnutrition is to prevent them from happening in the first place, Hekimian explained.

“It is important to teach children to grow food in an urban setting so that they are taught from a young age about fruit and vegetable intake, what dietary guidelines are and how to cook with these foods.”

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Disruption and Delay: Ongoing Transit Issues Continue to Cause Problems for River Park Towers Residents

River Park Towers located in the Morris Heights area, West Bronx. Imogen McNamara for The Bronx Ink.

River Park Towers, a housing complex located in Morris Heights in the West Bronx, is home to more than 1,500 rental units. About 7 miles from Manhattan, the dual building complex is sandwiched between the Harlem River and the Major Deegan Expressway, with little else around it.  Residents of the 428ft tall buildings have relative access to one grocery store, one school and one subway station. 

“You have to leave an hour and a half, maybe two, early to get to where you got to go,” said Shandia Vasquez, who has lived in the area for six years.

The nearest subway station is 176th street, almost a mile’s walk from the towers. Though the Metro-North railroad station is nearby and ridership is on a general upwards trend, numbers are still only at 44% of pre-pandemic levels. The community is also located on a steep incline, and so the bus system has become a crucial alternative for residents’ commutes.

There are three main routes that run through the community—the Bx18, Bx40 and Bx4. They are scheduled to arrive every 15-20 minutes during weekdays. But the demand on these routes within the Morris Heights neighborhood is high which has made relying on the service a challenge for some residents. 

According to New York City Transit Data, the Bx40/42 had a ridership of 10,399 on an average weekday in 2021, making it one of the more populous routes in the Bronx.

“It will tell you some time and then the bus that comes is not in service” said Charleilys Vierea, a student at Lehman College. “Even if you come early or late to the stop, it’s still passing.” 

The Bx18 bus stop opposite the River Park towers complex. Imogen McNamara for The Bronx Ink.

Limited access to public transport is not a new issue for the occupants of the towers. A 2014 report from the New York City Department of Planning called the area “an isolated community”, citing the Metro-North rail corridor and the Major Deegan expressway as contributing factors, as they separate the community from the upland region. The report noted an ‘island effect’ between the community and the rest of the Morris Heights, an issue which persists today.

“The MTA is one of the best public transportation systems in the world,” said Tyreke Israel said, Deputy Chief of Staff for City Council District 16. “And that’s a horrible statement to say”.

 The community is a “transit desert,” he said. 

In the West Bronx, near River Park Towers, the MTA recently created new bus schedules and changed routes which were implemented this June in an effort to improve the reliability, speed and frequency of the service. 

“The redesign plan included a robust consultation process that incorporated the comments of elected officials, community organizations and riders,” MTA spokesperson Kayla Shuts said in an email.

Despite these changes, residents in the neighborhood say they continue to face problems on their commutes.

Vasquez said her son, who relies on the bus service to get to school, has to wake up two hours before the school day begins, and still sometimes arrives late.

Thinking about the months ahead, Vierea is worried about overcrowding on public transportation. 

“More people are gonna be on the buses and then it’s gonna become packed,” she said. “I’ll have to wait for the next one and the next one.” 

She is not alone. As the city moves towards colder months, temperature drops are cause for concern as commuters wait outdoors for public transportation.

Israel highlighted how difficult it is to overcome long-standing problems for the River Park Towers community. “It’s been this way for years,” he said. “Transportation deserts are a generational thing.”

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Morris Heights Residents Voice Concerns About Noise and Pollution as City Plans to Renovate Jennie Jerome Playground

Jennie Jerome Playground. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Community members in Morris Heights are asking the city to address noise and pollution as it begins the process of renovating the Jennie Jerome Playground. The park, located on Jerome Ave. near the Bronx Expressway, is getting a $4 million dollar facelift. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation held a scope meeting Wednesday, to discuss the  redevelopment.

“I don’t think there’s a way to mitigate the noise pollution from the (four) train because it’s elevated above the park and we’re just kind of used to that,” local education organizer Chauncy Young said. “It really is in a lot of ways, you know, a very small public park so you have to have something to draw people in.”

The decision to renovate Jennie Jerome Playground was announced in July, one of 10 new sites to be renovated as part of the Community Parks Initiative to renovate neighborhood parks that were hit hardest by the pandemic. A total of $425 million was allocated for the initiative, according to Peng Xu, landscape designer for the project. 

Many community members expressed their concerns at the meeting about noise and pollution in the playground, suggesting that the renovation add unique features to the park to mitigate pollution.

They also cited safety concerns regarding the traffic and transportation around the playground. Suggestions included moving the entrance to the park from Jerome Ave nearer to Townsend Ave and installing a traffic light.

“A lot of our children actually don’t go to this park, not only the highway pollution, the noise pollution, but there’s also a safety concern that our children are not the only ones that are in this park,” said Gladys Gomez, Parents Association president for school district PS 170. “This is a park that’s so near to the highway and there’s a stop sign rather than a traffic light on one of the crossways.”

Samantha Cardenas, chief of staff for city councilmember Pierina Ana Sanchez, indicated that Sanchez’s office was open to the idea of the entrance being moved. She added that Sanchez’s office would facilitate conversations with the Department of Transportation to install a traffic light.

“This is unfortunately one of the few parks we have and it is very very sadly stationed right above the Cross Bronx and next to the train,” Cardenas said. “However we can mitigate those would be ideal.”

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All Eyes on Throggs Neck Amid New York City’s Affordable Housing Crisis

A sign against “Up Zoning” hangs on a street post in Throggs Neck.

Compared to the fast-paced, chaotic borough of Manhattan, Throggs Neck sticks out as an almost suburban neighborhood. Located in the southeastern corner of the Bronx, it’s made up of mostly single, free-standing homes. It can be hard to remember it exists within the boundaries of New York City until making the mile trek to the closest train station at Pelham Bay.

“It’s mostly a working-class, middle-class community that appreciates urban living but not congested urban living,” said Janine Franciosa, a Throggs Neck resident who has lived in the neighborhood all 40 years of her life. 

Currently, some Throggs Neck residents like Franciosa are worried that’s about to change. 

A for-profit developer, Throggs Neck Associates LLC, is seeking to build four multi-story buildings across Bruckner Boulevard, some of which will include affordable housing units. But to do so, they first have to change long-standing low-zoning laws which are designed to prevent larger developments from being built. 

The debate has stirred things in the community, with some residents battling to maintain the zoning laws in an effort to “preserve” the neighborhood and others rallying in support of the project if it means more affordable housing units for residents in need. 

Those in support include Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and Mayor Eric Adams.

“Housing construction has not kept up with population growth in New York City,” explained Brendan Cheney, Director of Policy and Communications at New York Housing Conference, an affordable housing policy advocacy group.

“New York City is constrained in terms of vacant land. It is expensive to build here in the city. There are also zoning restrictions that can prevent growth,” he added. 

According to NYC planning, Throggs Neck is currently designated as a low-density district, meaning there is a restricted number of residential units allowed on one zoning lot. The majority of residential buildings also have height limitations. In 2004, residents in the area amended the zoning to include more restrictions after raising concerns about over-development.

These zoning laws have prompted Throggs Neck Associates LLC to ask for a rezone of the area in order to build their project, which includes a 3-story building, a 5-story building, and two 8-story buildings.

According to the developer’s proposal, the four buildings will have a total of 349 residential units, 168 of those units will be reserved for low-income residents, 99 units primarily for seniors, and 22 units reserved for veterans whose rents will be paid by Tunnel to Towers, a non-profit organization. 

Around 46 percent of Throggs Neck residents are renters—nearly half of those renters are considered rent burdened, according to the US census report

At the end of last year, more than 900 households in the 13th Council District, which includes Throggs Neck, ended up in homeless shelters, according to Cheney.

“So you’ve got people who are rent burdened, you’ve got people who are living in poverty in the council district, you’ve got people whose housing crisis is so severe in the neighborhood that they’re needing to enter shelter,” Cheney said.

“That neighborhood should be looking for ways to get more affordable housing in the neighborhood instead of rejecting affordable housing coming into the neighborhood.” 

In May of 2022, when the proposal was introduced to Community Board 10, it was voted down with a near unanimous vote, Matthew Cruz, Bronx Community District 10 Manager told The Bronx Ink. 

“This is a rezoning that is far too expansive for our taste,” Cruz said. “In short, and to be kind, there was no planning behind this rezoning application and I think that’s why the community board and much of the community remains opposed.” 

Like Cruz, many residents are skeptical of the developers’ long-term plans within the neighborhood.

“I think it is an opportunistic endeavor for a small number of developers that are kind of exploiting the situation of this community,” Franciosa said.“It’s setting precedence for any developer to come and over-develop and…exploit what they can do in this area for their own personal financial gain.”

According to NYC Planning, Bronx Community District 10 is one of just four in New York City’s 59 community districts that are labeled as “lower density growth management”. This means certain rules are in place, such as parking and yard/open space requirements, to help manage growth.

“This is the last neighborhood of its kind because so many other neighborhoods have been exploited with over-development,” Franciosa said. “People should feel agency where they live. People should have a say in how they want to live.” 

Another sign against “Up Zoning” is displayed in the window of a home in Throggs Neck.

Open New York, an affordable housing advocacy group, has been involved in the zoning proposal since it was introduced and has advocated to see it through. 

“This is a community that’s been able to draw a line around itself and say, ‘no, you have to build everywhere but here.’ And that’s not fair to the rest of the city,” said Logan Phares, Political Director of Open New York.

Over the last eight years, Council District 13 has added just 58 affordable housing units, ranking fifth lowest across all New York City council districts, according to data compiled by NYHC. Over the same course of time, City Council District 17, also located in The Bronx, topped the list, with 8,555 affordable units built. 

Michael Kaess, a resident in Council District 13 and a member of Open New York, is one of a few residents voicing support for the project. 

“It’s time that communities like mine build their fair share. I really think it has a city-wide implication whether something like the Bruckner Site rezoning passes,” Kaess said.

As of 2019, in the New York Metro area, there are only 47 affordable and available rental units per 100 very low income households, according to data provided by National Low Income Housing Coalition. To be considered very low income, that household must make at or below 50% of the area median income, for a family of three that is anything under $60,050. Currently the New York City Metro area is short 771,855 affordable units for very low income households

Though Kaess is one of few residents supporting the project, he suggested that those who oppose don’t actually make up the majority of the neighborhood. 

“I don’t think the average person is that engaged,” Kaess said. “The unfortunate reality is that the people who show up to every community board meeting, those are the folks that are going to be the most against it.” 

At the end of August, members of Open New York attended a rally in support of the project. They were met with fierce opposition from community members, one even sprayed a hose towards them over the fence.

“These are folks who are so afraid of any change to the status quo that they will go to extreme lengths of hosing down supporters,” Phares said.

The Bronx Community Board 10 told The Bronx Ink it does not condone any threats made towards supporters. 

“I think these conversations bring about some charged comments and things are said that are really unwanted and do not help the conversation,” Cruz said.“That’s not indicative of who we are as a community. We’re much better than that.” 

The City Council has until October 17th to make a final decision on rezoning, according to New York’s URLUP process.

“I’m not going to say that a building going up is necessarily going to make me move,” Franciosa said. “It’s not just the building. It’s…what the implications will be.”

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South Asian non-profit addresses increase in domestic violence cases 

Content warning: This article contains mentions of domestic and gender-based violence.

*Bangla and Bengali are synonymous

South Asian women attending a general socializing event hosted by Sapna. Photo courtesy of Sapna NYC.

K.F. was one of the first to speak. Through a Bengali translator, she described her first marriage —  arranged in Bangladesh  — when she was 16 years-old. K.F. (her name is being withheld for her safety) divorced and migrated to the U.S. where she was abused by her second husband.

K.F. is one of about a dozen South Asian women from mostly the Bronx who gathered in a virtual circle, via Zoom, last Thursday. Several of the women who participate in the weekly session are survivors of domestic violence. 

The circle is led by women from Sapna NYC, the first and only non-profit organization in the Bronx that provides services for low-income South Asian immigrant women. It was formed in 2008 in response to a growing Asian community. In 2008 there were 11,132 residents of Asian descent in the Soundview and Parkchester area, compared to 14,946 in 2021, according to census data.

R.S. sounded frustrated as she spoke about applying for jobs. She’s not able to work a strict 9-to-5 job because she has to look after her child, making it difficult for her to find employment. R.S (her name is being withheld for her safety) was married in her early twenties, abused in her marriage and is now a single mother. She has a master’s degree and wants to gain her financial independence, according to Naurin Islam, Deputy Director of Sapna NYC and translator for the womens’ circle. 

An increase in incidents

When Sapna started providing assistance for mental health last year, they said that between April to June, 11 women received services. In the same quarter of 2022, 34 women received counseling, and in the second quarter of 2022, 187 women were counseled. Now, the number usually hovers between 50 and 60 per month. The women who come to Sapna have either endured verbal abuse, physical violence, or both.

In the Bronx, there were 20,688 family-related domestic incident reports in 2021, compared to 14,728 cases in 2020, according to The Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV). 

Community Board 9, which includes Parkchester and Soundview, had the highest number of reports of family-related domestic incidents (2,719) out of the borough’s 12 community boards, with the lowest being Community Board 8 (Riverdale and Fieldston), according to the 2021 study.

The city offers support to domestic abuse survivors and their children, and manages a number of Family Justice Centers throughout New York City.

The Bronx Family Justice Center has a disproportionately high percentage of South Asian clients from Parkchester (zip code 10462), Islam said. Additionally, that  Family Justice Center has the highest number of clients who speak Bengali, according to Islam. Sapna serves the entire South Asian community, but because of their Parkchester location, they mostly assist the Bangladeshi American community.

The city data does not break down the number of domestic violence cases by ethnicity, but at the Bronx Family Justice Center located in Concourse Village, Bangladesh is one of the top ten countries of birth of clients seeking support, according to Beth Seibold, Senior Communications Advisor with the mayor’s office, ENDGBV.

“There is very little information about our communities which means that a lot of times, if you don’t exist in numbers, you don’t exist, and your needs don’t exist,” said Diya Basu-Sen, Executive Director of Sapna NYC. 

BRONX FJC:

Bronx FJC clients reported 72 different countries of birth

Top 10: Country of birth for Bronx FJC clients (not including the United States)

1.Dominican Republic 
2.Mexico
3.Honduras
4.Jamaica
5.Ecuador
6.Bangladesh
7.Trinidad and Tobago
8.Colombia
9.Guatemala
10.Ghana

In many cases, the women seeking help are subjected to verbal and physical abuse by their spouses and remain compliant since the husband supports the family financially, Basu-Sen said.

“Ladies are confused about what to do and whether they should compromise with their husband. If they don’t compromise, then they have to get out of the house, but this is not good for the children,” explained Laila Khairun-Nahar, who works in Case Management and Outreach at Sapna.

Mental health stigma and language barriers 

Both directors, Islam and Basu-Sen, point out that a large portion of the population experiences poverty, loneliness, unemployment, low levels of English literacy, and depression. Many are mothers who do not know how to advocate for themselves or for their children.

“Sometimes they probably don’t know (what domestic violence is) because they don’t really think they’re being abused,” said Nafisa Subhan, Program Associate at Sapna NYC. 

Sapna received a foundation grant from the Cabrini Foundation in 2021, to hire a mental health counselor, Arpita Chatterjee, who is fluent in Bangla.

“A lot of domestic violence survivors are now referring their friends and say, ‘Oh, I think you can go and get help’, whether it’s for applications, whether it’s for counseling, whether it’s for the women’s circle, or simply to just build from scratch a new community,” Chatterjee said.

Sapna developed the Mukti mental health program in 2021, and according to their study, 20% of South Asian women reported having personally experienced domestic abuse from a spouse in the previous five years. Nearly 50% of respondents said they knew at least one other woman who had endured physical or emotional abuse. 

“There’s a lot of unmet needs in the South Asian community in the Bronx, and so Sapna was born to address this gap in services and also to create a safe space particularly for women,” Basu-Sen said. 

“In our communities there’s a lot of stigma around mental health, so it’s not necessarily something people are used to doing, such as having a counseling session. So we have the women’s circle that people can either do so they meet other women and feel happier,”  Basu-Sen added.

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx NeighborhoodsComments (0)

Riverdale Avenue Goes “On A Diet”

A protest held by political leaders and community members on Sept. 7 on Riverdale Avenue after the road diet project was completed by the Department Of Transportation

Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation took Riverdale Avenue and put it “on a diet.” The project known as a “road diet” transformed the avenue from a two-lane traveling road to one. A bike lane and a turning bay were added to the road that stretches from West 254th to West 263rd Street.  

The project was the result of efforts that started back in March of this year between DOT and local elected officials, DOT wrote in an email.  

From 2015 to 2019 there were three traffic fatalities along the stretch and 66 total injuries, according to DOT. They added that two of these fatalities were senior-aged pedestrians which demonstrated the need for a safer street.

However, residents are concerned about the new project which was completed on Sept. 5. because of increased traffic, double parking during school hours and congestion due to sharing the lane with city buses. 

The Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board 8 held a meeting on Sept. 15 where residents showed up to voice those concerns. 

Riverdale resident, Eric Miooan, was one of several who spoke out against the road diet. 

Taking out a lane is “like cutting off somebody’s leg and saying you’ll get used to it,” Miooan said. 

Community Board 8 rejected DOT’s proposal due to not receiving enough traffic studies to change the road, according to Community Board 8 meeting minutes.  The board also said that the plan didn’t take into account merging traffic and parking. 

Across the nation, road diets have been known to help reduce speed and accommodate other modes of traffic like bicycling, according to the federal highway administration. 

DOT proposed that the 60-foot-wide road be divided into smaller sections. The road is still the same width but a lane for bikes has been added and a turning bay, leaving a smaller amount of room for cars. 

At the Sept. 15 meeting, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D) spoke of how shocked he was that DOT delivered the new road so quickly.   

“It’s an absolute insult that the DOT could have moved this quickly,” Dinowitz said.

He said that it normally takes the department months to complete projects like this but they finished the road diet in eleven days. 

First Deputy Commissioner Margaret Forgione of DOT said they got the project done quickly because the department wanted it finished before children in the community went back to school.

On the other hand, Dinowitz said he’s been pushing for left turn signals on Riverdale Avenue for years now. 

“Put in the left turn signals, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out the battle in the flow of traffic and make the decision to put in left turn signals,” Dinowitz said.

There was a protest on Riverdale Avenue on Sep. 7 after the project was finished, where City Council Member of District 11, Eric Dinowitz (D) called on DOT to take a look into community concerns. 

“We’re calling on the DOT to take into account actual community concerns and to be a collaborative partner in projects or proposed projects, instead of completely ignoring the community,” Dinowitz said. 

DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez attended the traffic and transportation meeting on the 15th to listen to the community’s concerns and get feedback. 

One member Yesenia Jimenez explained how she almost got into a car accident earlier that week because people aren’t used to the new road. 

Laura Spalter, Chairperson of CB8, said she got a phone call from the board office earlier that week that two cars had gotten into a sidewalk accident, and were found up on the curb of the Skyview Shopping Center on Riverdale Avenue between 258th and 259th street because of the new conditions. 

“If somebody had been walking on the sidewalk they would be dead,” Spalter said.  

Spalter also spoke at the protest earlier this month saying that the Traffic and Transportation Committee voted against the plan repeatedly.  

DOT said that they would come back in a year and reassess—if they see no changes or an increase in accidents at that time, then they’ll “go from there.” 

DOT has done similar projects in the Bronx that have shown to reduce total injuries between 22 percent and 47 percent, and citywide road diets have reduced deaths and serious injuries by 30 percent on average, according to research from DOT. 

“So we do expect to see that here and we will be monitoring it,” Forgione said. 

Shawn Garcia, Bronx and Uptown Organizer for Transportation Alternatives, is in support of road diets across the city and responded to a tweet from the commissioner on Sept. 15 just hours before the meeting.  

“Appreciate the commissioner @ydanis pushing forward this work, especially despite the small anti-road diet forces in Riverdale. The racial and class equity issues here are so apparent.” 

In an interview with The Bronx Ink, Garcia said that Community Board 8 isn’t representative of Riverdale as a whole. 

“We don’t want to wait for the next person to die or a child to get hit by a car,” Garcia said. 

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Northwest Bronx, TransportationComments (0)

Bronx Community Leaders Reach Out to Communities of Color Disproportionately Affected by Monkeypox

Community members grab sanitary products from NYC Health during a Monkeypox outreach event. Churchill Ndonwie for the Bronx Inc.

Bronx community leaders gathered for a night of Monkeypox outreach Wednesday, to raise awareness about the spread of Monkeypox in the Bronx and address the disproportionate impact the disease has on Black and Latino communities.

Members of the community were given information about vaccination resources and educational pamphlets on how to protect themselves from Monkeypox. They were also given condoms, sanitary products and encouraged to seek care if they feel sick or identify a rash or sore.

“We know that inequities continue to exist. The numbers within our communities, particularly communities of color among African American and Latino men are still high when compared to other groups” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, who’s office hosted the event in partnership with the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Third Avenue Business Improvement District, NYC Health and Destination Tomorrow.

Though cases are beginning to decline citywide, latest data from New York Health as of September 18 shows 632 of the identified 3480 citywide cases are in the Bronx. And of those citywide cases, 60% are among Blacks and Hispanics, the majority demographic group of the Bronx. 

“Lot of people out there haven’t been able to get the education that they desperately need in order to understand and take the steps that are necessary to protect and prevent from being harmed by it” said Sage Rivera, Chief Development Program Officer for Destination Tomorrow, a grassroots agency and the LGBTQ+ center for the Bronx borough. The center also serves as a first dose Monkeypox vaccination site.

Rivera also talked about the importance of not falling prey to stigmatization against a certain community because they are the most affected. “It’s very, very easy to fall into the trap of what’s going on, because it’s been so prevalent amongst people of color, and affecting so much the LGBTQ community. This is a skin to skin contact disease, plain and simple,” he said.

On July 18, the five Borough Presidents sent a joint letter to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky demanding more Monkeypox vaccines be sent to New York City. Latest New York Health data shows 95,345 doses have been administered citywide with 5,639 doses administered in the Bronx. About a third of the citywide  doses were administered to those identifying as Black or Hispanic. 

“We do know that access is an issue. So we want to get more vaccination sites,” said Anita Reyes, Assistant Commissioner, Bronx Neighborhood Health, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

New York City Health recently opened a Tremont Monkeypox vaccination clinic in the Bronx. The clinic, located at 1826 Arthur Ave., is open to the public for first dose vaccination walk-ins. 

“I think that health is an issue that is still not spoken about enough in the Bronx….Monkeypox is just something that is making a lot of people question what makes them feel safe and healthy in a community, especially for the LGBTQ community,” said Cecil Brooks, a long time Mott Haven resident. 

“If we have enough people who are fighting misinformation, and know what resources are available, then we can do our small part to make the South Bronx an even better and more welcoming space,” Brooks said.

Posted in Bronx Life, Community Resources, HealthComments (0)

Grammy-Award Winner Eddie Palmieri Launches the Lehman Center’s 2022-23 Season

Eddie Palmieri, age 85. Photo courtesy of the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts

Grammy-Award winning artist Eddie Palmieri and his Salsa Orchestra launched the Lehman Center’s 2022-23 season on Saturday evening. 

Palmieri is a long-time performer at The Lehman Center and his popular presence is in-line with efforts to focus concert programming on reflecting the community’s diversity. Those efforts have been heralded by The Lehman Center’s Executive Director, Eva Bornstein, who took over in 2005 with a philosophy to “focus on Latinos, African Americans…and then all the other diverse communities in the Bronx.”

“I’ve been following him since 1962,” said audience member Harold Bridgewater. “He’s a legend, I wouldn’t miss this.” 

The 85-year-old matched the enthusiasm of his dynamic Salsa Orchestra— at one point, walking center stage to dance salsa himself. At another point, he had the audience clap along to the distinctive rhythm typical of salsa. 

The opening act included performances by Puerto Rican Tres player, Nelson Gonzalez, and the Del Caribe Latin Jazz All Stars. Spanish-Cuban singer, Lucrecia Pérez Sáez, then joined the group on stage to a “dancing” ovation from the audience. Eddie Palmieri kicked off the second half of the concert with an intimate piano-bass duo before performing favorite repertoire from his collection of over 36 albums. The crowd spoke a mixture of Spanish and English. 

Singer-songwriter Arlene Gonzales performed “Para Que Sepan Quien Soy Yo”, which Palmieri wrote for the singer back in 2021. Her vocals floated above the complex cross-rhythms and subtle dissonances in Palmieri’s choice of chords on the piano. The pair are currently recording a new album together. 

Palmieri’s parents emigrated from Puerto Rico to New York City in 1926. He was raised in the Bronx and learned to play the piano before starting his career as a timbales player in his uncle’s band. He is the recipient of ten Grammy awards, including the first-ever Grammy for the Best Latin Recording with The Sun of Latin Music in 1975. 

“I love the Bronx and I’m going to dedicate this performance to the Bronx”, said Palmieri. 

Assembly Member José Rivera recounted giving Palmieri his first gig in the Bronx. 

“A hundred dollars for four hours. Eddie would tell you that was a lot of money,” the 86-year-old said.

The Salsa Orchestra’s singers, percussionist, and guitarist in center stage at the Lehman Center’s season launch concert on Saturday, September 17 2022. Henrietta McFarlane for the Bronx Ink. 

The Lehman Center is located in Bronx Community District 7. According to the Community District Profile, Latinos account for nearly 70% of the population.

Robert Sancho, the show’s producer and former chairman of the Lehman Center’s board of directors, spoke on stage about resigning years ago because the music didn’t reflect the community in the Bronx. 

“You’ve got 600,000 Latinos in the Bronx. Let’s have some salsa,” said Sancho as the crowd cheered. 

Henrietta McFarlane, reporter for the Bronx Ink, has a background in performance and music criticism. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Music in 2021. 

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