New York Communities for Change and UPKNYC are hosting a Brooklyn town hall meeting tonight at Brooklyn Borough Hall to educate the public and drum up support for Mayor de Blasio’s plan to fund universal pre-K and additional after school activities across the city. The mayor wants to support these new initiatives with a five-year increase on the city income tax for those earning $500,000 and up from 3.876 percent to 4.41 percent, which would bring in an estimated $530,000,000 in new revenue annually, according to a press release sent out by the event organizers.

The plan, which needs approval from Cuomo and the state legislature, would help 53,767 children who receive inadequate pre-K or none at all. Through the tax increase, the city also wants to expand after-school programs for 120,000 middle schoolers, with new programs between 3 and 6 pm in academics, culture and athletics.

“Albany has promised universal pre-K since 1997, but funding commitments haven’t materialized and tens of thousands of New York City children are left behind,” the release continued. “New York City should have home rule authority to raise its own taxes, to provide a dedicated funding source guarantees program stability.”

The meeting is planned for 6:30 to 8:30 pm tonight at 209 Joralemon Street.

Photo by Ad Meskens 


This week we checked out the opening reception of Carried Away, an art exhibit at Materials for the Arts in Long Island City (GMAP). On view are several colorful works that resemble Buddha heads and headless ancient Greek sculptures. The modern, down-to-earth twist is that they’re all made of plastic bags and other found and recycled materials such as bottles, spools of thread, and PVC pipes.


Image source: Sunset Parkerpix on Flickr – food donations to Rockaways residents after Hurricane Sandy

With Thanksgiving and the end of the year coming up, most of us have a lot to be thankful for. Although Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on neighborhoods and transportation systems, it also made us more grateful for what we do have. During the past two weeks, many Queens residents donated supplies, money, and time to help out those devastated by the superstorm. Emergency workers, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and other groups have been working hard to get people back on their feet.

Now, as “giving season” approaches, let’s not forget the great organizations that work hard year-round to promote equal rights, environmental sustainability, arts education, economic development, and more in Queens. If you’re looking for a local nonprofit organization to donate to in the next couple of months, consider this your guide.


Image Source: Turkish Cultural Center

Turkish Cooking Classes – Let the experienced and friendly chefs at the Turkish Cultural Center teach you how to make authentic Turkish dishes like Ali Nazik (grilled eggplant puree with yogurt and ground meat), Sekerpare (soft pastry balls dipped in thick lemony sugar syrup) and Carrot Yogurt Salad. Slots are limited, and registration is required.

Turkish Cooking Classes
Turkish Cultural Center – Queens (GMAP)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
7pm | $25 Registration


Image source: Kai Brinker on Flickr

It’s becoming pretty clear that LIC is leading the way when it comes to developing a friendly climate for tech in Queens. Here are four reasons why that is the case.

Education. Recently the Coalition for Queens has expanded their influence to include tech education in their mission, launching this arm of the organization this past September.


While many politicians prefer to stick to less controversial subjects, Flushing’s Peter Koo has stepped out in favor of a proposed street renaming in his district, honoring World War II comfort women according to the Daily News.

Comfort women remain a flashpoint: Many historians say Asian females were forced to perform sex favors for Japanese soldiers, while many supporters of Japan contend they were willing participants.

Koo said he’s not willing to back down and his spokesman said he is committed to finding a “fitting and respectful way to remember these women” in Queens, according to the paper. Human trafficking remains a problem in Queens, check out this video where Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels discusses the subject.



The inspired wizards at the Department of Education have done some hocus pocus magic and given our borough’s “failing” schools new and inspired names, according the the NYT. The names will take effect in July. Shazaam!

August Martin High School in South Jamaica, Queens, where the name is carved into the building’s frieze, will open as the School of Opportunities at the August Martin Campus.

And William Cullen Bryant High School in Astoria, Queens, will become the Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at the William Cullen Bryant Campus, a title that is far from the poetry that fell from the pen of the famous American writer.

At Flushing High School in Queens, the principal decided to rename the school after Rupert B. Thomas, a member of the city’s Board of Education in the early 20th century who pushed for the city to build a new high school in Flushing.

According to the Times, city officials said they “gave the schools the leeway to reinvent themselves.” If this is what they do with leeway, we can only imagine what they do with restrictions.


It’s the time of year where parents everywhere are wondering what in God’s name they will do with their children when school gets out. You have a little over one month to figure it out. Yes, you could always make them play tag inside the airconditioned apartment complex of a friend (or “maze” as we called it), but that gets old pretty fast. You will probably force them to go eat free lunch at whatever local public school is nearby, but that only kills about one hour. Queens Mamas has composed a lengthy list of possibly boring activities that may make your kids dislike you, but who cares because at least they won’t be home.

In all seriousness, props to Queens Mamas. Of these activities, the one we have actually tried and can endorse is the New York Junior Tennis League, a seriously fantastic and healthy way for kids to spend the summer. Children ages 6 to 18 learn to play tennis for hours at different borough locations. They will learn that love is not just a fuzzy feeling, it’s also losing at Tennis. Besides, the U.S. Open is in Queens, so we need to show some borough pride for that.


Finding nice places for you to live in Queens has lead to this sort of dream like ambition of finding homes for you people to actually buy. We came across this place on craigslist in Long Island City, and thought someday, this too could be yours. The Queens Library and the great folks at Chhaya are ready to help those who dream of homeownership devise a plan. The organization is hosting one session tonight and another on May 14 to help people who are interested in learning more about homeownership (which may be one of the longest and most complicated words in the English language). Though Chhaya is an organization dedicated to assisting the South Asian community, you don’t have to be South Asian to attend (duh).


First, you take away boys, then, you take away sugar. What’s a girl to do?

The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria is going on a crusade against sweets, The Daily News reports. The institution has done away with chocolate milk in favor of water and is using agave and honey to flavor dishes for its middle, elementary and high school students.

This women’s temperance movement extends further. The paper reports “many of the school’s roughly 500 students have also pledged to eat better.”

The resistance movement, led by Kathie (High Voltage) Dolgin will soon take a Carrie Nation-like hatchet to the school’s vending machines as well.  Dropping some knowledge, Dolgan told the Daily News: “Sugar is America’s No. 1 drug and it has no business in our schools.”

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