The Q feels like he learned more in the last week than his head can contain. Curiosity and impatience seem to be my guiding principles these days.
Monday's joint meeting at CB9 yielded promises of solutions to the Flatbush Trees, Clove Road and the traffic insanity around the triangular BP station plot. The dream of a Frencher Parkside Ave is moving forward. Sanitation is going to start ticketing non-compliance on private store pickup. Delroy got his community service guys back on Flatbush (did you notice how nice it looked out there this week? save, of course, a couple problem spots, like the NE corner of Flatbush/Parkside - I talked to the owner of ParksideZ and he's frustrated too, but I told him "dude, you gotta deal with it or no one else will, and yes you're going to be the one getting all the tickets.")
And then I learned the real story of how Cortelyou Road changed so much in the past few years, from the movers and shakers themselves. I met with Rebekah of Brooklyn Hearth Realty on Thursday, and she outlined her and her partner Jan Rosenberg's role in retooling Cortelyou as a destination for start-up businesses, restaurants and bars, and attracting younger families and singles to the neighborhood. While there are many associated cons with pushing a neighborhood facelift agenda, the story itself is so remarkable, and can say so much to those who decry PLG's lack of amenities, you really must read the story for yourself from (in my view) the prime mover: Jan Rosenberg, who started Friends of Cortelyou and then Brooklyn Hearth Realty. In short, well-respect urban sociologist is tired of the way her neighborhood as stagnated, tries to invigorate her main street, meets indifference, takes matters into her own hands, starts selling coops, encourages startups and farmers markets, works with existing groups, coaxes new amenities to try out the strip, sells more and more houses and rents to more and more folks looking for what her newly discovered nabe has to offer. She gets a ton of support in the effort from many smart and dedicated people. A local blog becomes a must-read that helps the nabe feel like a nabe on the rebound. It's really quite riveting, and a testament to what I've said here many times before - that new energy doesn't just happen. It's made.
The Cortelyou Story.
Later that evening, I went over to trendy wine bar Castello Plan on said Corty Lou (as I like to mispronounce it), and met with the formidable challenger to our current representative at City Hall. Said individual has not yet announced, and it would be incredibly uncool of me to tell you his/her name. Suffice to say, with the rumors about my own candidacy swirling around, I feel the need to say publicly that I am incredibly confident that this person is a strong candidate and while not FROM NORTHERN Flatbush, at least he/she lives in the goddam district, unlike certain other nameless individuals, who (by the way), I have a certain fondness for personally, but can't feel super positive about as a solution broker. I'll speak more to that later when his challenger is announced and relevant issues brought to the fore, but for now I'm very content to work with our guy on the many projects we have going on around here. I didn't use his name in case he's got a google alert set up in his gmail. But word is getting around anyway, so there it is, sans name of said challenger.
After that experience, I stopped off for a nightcap at the lovely home of Ditmas Park Corner founder and editor Liena Zagare and Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith. What a blast. These guys are fun, whip smart and committed to their community. (btw, the story of how Liena's Ditmas Park Blog became Ditmas Park Corner is a great one in itself. I wrote about it at the time it was unfolding, but I'm too lazy now to search and link back. I should really do better in that regard. I could have done it, actually, in the time it took to write those last sentences. But then again, my fingers were itchy to keep rolling). The Q was fortunate enough to also meet super-swell political reporter Ruby Cramer, also of the 'Feed as I'm calling it just for this paragraph. I left with a smile on my face and a helmet on my head. The helmet, unlike the smile, was not there as a result of my time at the Smith/Zagares, but rather because I ride a bicycle, and I've been shamed into wearing one, despite thinking that it makes me look like a major doofus. When you have children, you simply must embrace your inner doofus, or you will never leave the house.
Last week a reporter from Brooklyn Paper was asking whether the new coffee place was doomed like earlier joints. Not in the least. But in talking to co-owner Kola a bit mid-week, it became clear that he would love to open a sit-down place somewhere down the road. As would many, many others I'm sure. But is there anyone reaching out to him, or the many others, or to other successful business owners in Brooklyn, or to landlords, to help make that happen? Certainly not like it happened on Cortelyou, or Franklin, or Smith, or Vanderbilt or Myrtle, or Dekalb, or Fulton, or...you get the picture. Think about it; if you were an entrepreneur, probably a bit nervous about dipping your toes into a new neighborhood...wouldn't you want to go where the water was warm?
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.