2014. What a year!
Nationally, there were a lot of cheers and an equal amount of jeers in the headlines. All in all, however, optimism won out, as we made it through the ups and downs, smarter, more aware and in many ways stronger than ever.
The year 2014 also marked the first 365 days of The Brooklyn Reader (launched December 16, 2013). The Brooklyn Reader remains the first and only community-based daily news site covering the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn. It is a news and blogging platform for the people by the people with more than 1,690 stories published by more than 50 bloggers, 11 columnists and a handful of reporters who are journalists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, elected officials, community leaders, parents and everyday residents!
The stories reflect the voices, concerns and interests of the people who hail from the greatest city and biggest brand in the world right now: Brooklyn!
Let’s take a look back at some of the headlines that topped the charts in 2013. Some of the year’s biggest stories were written by our bloggers! Some are local news and events that so many of Central Brooklyn’s residents found important to their own lives. And still other stories are profiles on the amazing unsung heroes that Brooklyn seems to produce in abundance. This is proof not only that our local voices matter, but that the work, accomplishments, opinions and views of Brooklyn and its residents strike a chord that is heard all around the country.
On March 7, 2015, The critically acclaimed Brooklyn Museum debuted Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, a presentation of 103 works by 66 artists, all of whom were influenced by and responded to the political and social turmoil of the 1960s. The exhibition marked the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964.
The community was devastated to hear about a fire on the first floor of a four-story brownstone known in the community as Stuyvesant Mansion, which also housed the organic-inspired, indoor-outdoor coffee shop known as Bread-Love. The sad part about it was this new location had barely been open a year after its first iteration, Bread-Stuy on Lewis Ave, had to close due to a variety of circumstances
Throughout the year, our “Random European Thoughts” columnist Jako Borren of Bed-Stuy has given readers a fly-on-the-wall perspective on living as a foreigner in Brooklyn. In this post, he talks about the disconnect between American and foreign humor. “American humor is more slapstick and obvious. This was very confusing to me in the beginning. I didn’t understand why someone would add that she or he was making a joke,” said Borren
“When I first moved to Brooklyn 17 years ago, the West Indian Labor Day Parade quickly became the culmination and highlight of my summers. However, over the past decade, my feelings around the parade have grown conflicted. For me, the festive freedom that used to embody this massive carnival in Crown Heights has been hijacked by an uncomfortable anxiety– a guilty expectation of pandemonium… and violence.
#11. Open Letter to the Media, If/When I am Gunned Down by the Police or a Random White PersonThis open letter is written by blogger, Marlon Peterson of Crown Heights. In this open letter, he begins to look at his own possible mortality as a black man living in America. And apparently, a lot of people were feeling the same way he was, as his letter has remained in the top-25 stories since it was published on August 18.
Gentrification is by far the issue of the day in Central Brooklyn. In this manifesto submitted by blogger Karen Malpede of Clinton Hill, the author shares her feelings about being forced out of the place she has called home for the last 24 years. She, like millions of others are the recipients of sudden rent increases by their landlords that have effectively uprooted their very existence. Some commenters in this post feel her pain, while others feel she needs to stop complaining and “move on.”
Brooklyn’s two largest Orthodox Jewish communities, the Satmar and Lubavitch, may have their differences. But when it came to the grisly murder of millionaire real estate developer Menachem Stark–a member of the Satmar Jewish community of Williamsburg– the Jewish community stood together. And mourned together.
It’s been 15 years that Russell has been photographing Bed-Stuy. All black-and-white photos, in medium format, using a Hasselblad camera in gelatin prints and developing them in a dark room, old-school style: “There were a lot of untold stories for the place that was home for me, because the people who weren’t actually from Bed-Stuy or even Brooklyn for that matter, were telling our stories,” he said. “I felt the best way to author an accurate story would be visually. And it was from that point on, I started photographing Bed-Stuy with a purpose.”
A first-time mommy and blogger Dawn Haygood, agonizes over whether or not to vaccinate her 6-month-old daughter. She said, initially, because she was immunized, she didn’t think twice about it. But upon casually researching each of the vaccines with no intention other than to know more about them, she began to read a lot of stories about the potential harm vaccines caused. Haygood was shocked. So she asked the public what they felt about the entire issue… and trust, there were very loud opinions on both sides!
He was abandoned by his entire family when he was 15 years old. He came home from a boarding school he was attending to visit his family in the Chicago housing projects of Robert Taylor Homes to find his family had left him. He’s never seen them since. Read this man’s “amazing” story: How he went from being a poor kid from the projects to a prolific painter who has taken up residence in Bed-Stuy.
On Monday, February 3, the newly finished Dekalb Restaurant, celebrated a soft opening, adding yet a little more seasoning to the otherwise insipid Spencer-Dekalb-Wallabout corridor. The restaurant serves mostly vegetarian, gluten-free dishes, a few meat dishes (lamb and fish) and some raw food dishes, prepared with seasoned precision. It’s fine dining at diner prices. And the residents of Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy welcomed it with open arms!
On May 2, 2014, Ryan was playing in a family member’s front yard when he ran after a Frisbee that landed in the street. He was tragically struck by an oncoming truck and has passed on. This story sent pain straight through the heart of blogger Dawn Haygood. The actual post might not have gotten many FB “likes,” but it was used in a link to raise money for Ryan’s family. The impact of this one local blogger’s empathy for this aching family earned this post tens of thousands of views nationally.
#3. Miss Jessie’s: The Spark That Ignited a Natural Hair MovementMiss Jessie’s is a story about two sisters out of Bed-Stuy who were among the very first to develop and market a beauty product that worked for the millions of women of color who were contending with how to best care for their natural hair. It grew to become a global brand, as the natural hair movement has exploded over the past 10 years. The story of their rise touched many. Tragically, one of the sisters passed away in mid-December, making the story one of the most talked about this year.
For the past three years, 27-year-old Brittanie Richardson has journeyed between Bed-Stuy and Nairobi, Kenya to complete work for “Art and Abolition,” an organization that uses the arts as a vehicle to bring healing to survivors of sexual slavery. Brittanie single-handedly started the organization by doing something as simple and as dangerous as standing around in the dangerous corridors and alleys were men prey on pre-teens and teens desperate to make money. She snatches them up and begs them to follow her… into the light.
Misty Copeland is considered a prodigy who rose to stardom despite not starting ballet until the age of 13. In 1997, Copeland won the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award as the best dancer in Southern California. Stylistically, she is considered a classical ballet dancer. But most recently, she has been described as having matured into a more contemporary and sophisticated dancer– a rock star in the dance world! On Monday, January 26, 2015, Misty Copeland will be in Central Brooklyn, at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation for an artist talk and book signing of her memoir “Life in Motion.” Mark your calendars and go here to purchase your tickets for this groundbreaking event!
The opinions, content and/or information in this article are those of the author and are independent of BK Reader.