2018-05-16 / Front Page

Arts & Business Talked About At CB 1

By Thomas Cogan
Community Board 1’s cabinet meeting for May had a five-deep roster of business, arts and community-minded persons who brought up several matters in a relatively short meeting.  Leading off was a community relations manager from the Workforce 1 Career Center, followed by a representative of Socrates Sculpture Park and one from the Noguchi Museum, each announcing programs and exhibits for the months to come.  The director of development for Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens announced its schedule and moved Florence Koulouris, district manager of Community Board 1 and moderator of the meeting to proclaim Variety’s great value in serving impoverished children and even their families.  A Jacob A.A. Riis Settlement executive from Queensbridge Houses had a description of its services, including a crisis intervention program that, to hear it explained, requires bravery on the part of its participants. 

Nancy Konipol was the representative from Workforce 1 Queens, part of the Department of Small Business Services.  She said Workforce 1 provides candidates for employers and job openings for those seeking work.  Among its activities are employment workshops.  Hearing that, Amanda Nasner of the Department of Homeless Services asked Konipol if Workforce 1 could hold workshops for homeless men and women.  Konipol assured her it could and Nasner suggested they confer after the meeting.  Koulouris said that Workforce 1 is good at matching employee skills to employer needs.

Sara Morgan, development and communications assistant at Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Blvd. at Broadway), gave out copies of the booklet describing exhibitions and public programs at the park, highlighting among them Virginia Overton’s Built, newly commissioned works by this contemporary sculptor that exude what the literature calls “admiration and wonder towards the physical and material world around us.”  Overton’s exhibit, which opened early this month, runs through September 3.  There is also RRRolling Stones, concrete chairs for year-round outdoor use, on exhibit Thursday, July 12 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.  RRRolling Stones is the winner of this year’s Folly/Function competition, which challenges architects to “design and build a large-scale project for public presentation at Socrates.”  The chairs can be “rolled” from place to place as needed.

There are countless other shows, exhibits and activities, including the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital (Friday, June 29, 7:00 p.m.); Outdoor Cinema’s notable movies (Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m., July 11-August 29); and free yoga in the park (Saturdays, 9:30-10:30 a.m./11:00 a.m.-12:00p.m., May 19-September 15).

Shannon Murphy is head of education at the Noguchi Museum, located at 3-01 33rd Rd., at Vernon Boulevard and close to Broadway.  She was announcing this summer’s community days, all of them Sundays, with free admission 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.:  June 3, July 1, August 5 and September 2.  On these days, open studio, a family event, runs from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and features a program for families with children from two to 11 years of age.  The gallery tour for a general audience, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., views works in the museum’s collection and special exhibitions and reviews the life of Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), Japanese-American sculptor who founded the museum. The part called Center of Attention (4:00-5:00 p.m.) brings participants in to talk about a single work of art for the entire hour.

On exhibition until next January 27 is Akari:  Sculpture by Other Means, showing Noguchi’s work with Japanese lanterns over several decades.  He called Akari “a true development of an old tradition” and “a foil to our harsh, mechanized existence.”

Denise Cermanski, the new director of development at Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, 21-12 30th Rd., told the meeting that Variety tries to live up to its name.  In addition to aquatics, athletics and fitness programs, Variety has its educational side with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mechanical) menu that introduces young persons to aviation (with Vaughn College), lighting design, engineering (with Hofstra University), coding and robotics, and the BioBus biology laboratory.  There is cooking instruction and nutrition with BrighterBites, which also supervises the food pantry that serves enrolled families.  Koulouris said there is a lot that kids from low-income families should know about at Variety.

Robert Madison, associate executive director at the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, which has now been at 10-25 41st Ave., in Queensbridge Houses, for 64 years, described various educational, career exploration, immigration, health and wellness, civil rights and safety programs available there.  He said Riis Academy, a youth-to-college initiative, is operating in six local schools.  On social safety and community well-being, he said that “gun violence as an epidemiological event” was studied at Riis as long as there was funding to support it.  This included training for “credible intervention,” which would put individuals in the midst of highly perilous gang-violence situations, as neutral persons attempting peaceful resolutions between hostile parties. Though it has been discontinued, “end violence” initiatives continue, Madison said.

When Darnley Jones informed everyone that Access-a-Ride clients could now track the progress of vans whose service they had ordered on their smartphones, Koulouris said that the Taxi Smart Card program should be revived.  That was the program given a pilot run about three years ago in Community Board 1’s district and that of a community board in Brooklyn.  Elderly and/or disabled residents of those districts could sign up for discount cards to be used in the green taxis.  Koulouris said it was doomed to failure when there didn’t seem to be a way anyone responsible could find to expand the service beyond a couple of CBs.  Someone should grow a brain and solve the problem, she said.

In June, CB district managers will meet in a conference closed to outsiders.  The next general CB 1 cabinet meeting will be Thursday, September 13.





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