Life Lessons From A Tribeca Homeless Man

 “When I first became homeless, I use to pray that I die for 6 months…that was back in ’87” Jerry,52, may be homeless but his mind isnt. I met Jerry in Tribeca. Our conversation is inspiring to say the least.  The street lights are on a timer. They come on and off every 2 minutes. Jerry’s face begins to appear at the :35 second mark. He shares his story, a new year’s resolution, tips if you become homelsss, this favorite Bible passage and strongly suggests that everyone “diversify their finances”.

Kobie Brown “From Fatherless To Fatherhood” (2012 Film)

 I along with millions of Americans have grown up “Fatherless”. And today 40% of American children live in a fatherless home raised by single mothers, aunts, grandmothers and other female caregivers. Kobie Brown’s 2012 film From Fatherless To Fatherhood explores the causes, effects and possible solutions to turning the corner on father absence. We met at Central Park for an unscripted, insightful conversation about the inspiration for the film, his family story and his goals. I love and support what Kobie is doing, solutions through dialogue.

“Before You leave this planet, it is important that you get in touch with what your purpose is and not be defined by what your job or career may be..but find out what it is you are suppose to do for the betterment of mankind and everything else will fall into place.” – Kobie during our Central Park conversation

The Blisslife of Amel Larrieux from Groove Theory & Sweetback

Today’s temperature was uncomfortably hot and humid but I perked up when I bumped into R&B songwriter Amel Larrieux at Broadway and 10th street. She has just returned from a vacation in the Bay area. We walk along 10th street and she shares the excitement about having her daughter in her band which comes out later this year on Blisslife Recordsr; her love of taking walks and “daydreaming in New York”; her definition of knowledge/wisdom and advice for going after dreams.

Amel Larrieux, was born in New York City’s, Greenwich Village, her mother was a dance critic and professor named Brenda Dixon Gottschild. She was always a creative minded person since a tender age, and fortunately was surrounded by talented family members and inspiring artists.

Extreme Hopscotch: “You got beat by an 8yr old!”

Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins..get your Extreme Hopscotch game up! Yesterday at a BBQ in Brooklyn, while filming the kids "hopschotchin", they challenged myself and my longtime friend Jon Cropper to try. He said "no way". I tossed him my camera and thought how hard could it be? Well, I got schooled by an 8year old and they filmed it. It happens. I am not going to let it get me down. LOL. But I will get my Extreme Hopscotch game up.

FREEDOME BRADLEY: Director of Theatrical Programs for New York’s City Park Foundation & SummerStage (Central Park)

I spent the day in Central Park with a friend of 20 years. As Director of Theatrical Programs for New York’s City Park Foundation and SummerStage, Freedome is a passionate force behind New York’s largest free performing arts festival, bringing over 100 performances to 18 parks throughout the 5 boroughs. If he ever decides to run for NYC Parks Commisioner, he has my vote. Freedome is driven to bring “top flight art” to adults and kids via Central Park’s SummerStage, The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre and Puppet Mobile. I filmed our conversation as we tour the Swedish Cottage (the theatre where the puppet shows take place daily); learn Freedome’s story; the mission of the City Parks Foundation; meet the Puppet Mobile crew; and view the new development at Marcus Garvey Park, which opens June 2nd.

This story was filmed April 26th, 2011. I began sharing “My Small Story” April 26th; thus, I could not think of better story to begin my 2nd year of stories – a person that is committed revitalizing NYC parks and bringing art to New Yorkers in parks in all 5 Boroughs. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.

The Swedish Cottage, built in Sweden in 1875, was placed in Central Park in 1877 at the suggestion of Frederick Law Olmsted. Since its arrival in the US, the Cottage has served a variety of purposes, perhaps most importantly being used as the headquarters for the Civil Defense during World War II. It was also formerly a tool house, a library, and Central Park’s entomological laboratory.

In 1947, the Swedish Cottage became known, as it is today, as the home of the Marionette Theatre. In a show of patriotism, both Swedish and American flags fly from the roof of what was once a traditional schoolhouse.

The 2011 season of SummerStage, New York’s largest free performing arts festival, brings over 100 performances to eighteen parks throughout the five boroughs. With performances ranging from American pop, Latin and world music to dance, spoken word and theater, SummerStage fills a vital niche in New York City’s summer arts festival landscape. Since its inception twenty-six years ago, more than six million people from New York City and around the world have enjoyed SummerStage. The festival runs from June 7th until September 2nd.

Harlem Teens Anti-Violence Protest April 15th @ 129th & Lenox (II)

(Part II) In Harlem last Friday, teens representing high Schools across Harlem came to speak, rap and lay down on the street for 5 minutes; thus, putting themselves in the place of someone who has been shot. Here is an additional edit of the teen’s speeches, rap and words from Iesha on “why we are here” prior to their demonstration https://mysmallstory.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/harlem-teen-ant-violent-protest-april-15th-129th-lenox/

Iesha of Street Corner Resources& Harlem renaissance High School brought Harlem community leaders from the NYPD, City Council, Teachers, Pastors and Jacob Restaurant provided the backdrop and much needed electricity for the sound system.

SPUR TREE’s Sean John prepares Ackee & Cod Bruschetta @ MACY’S

Spur Tree was selected by MACY’s Culinary Council as one of NYC’s hottest restaurants and Owner/Chef Sean John was asked to prepare a dish for Black History Month @ MACY’s department store’s kitchen studio. He is preparing a Jamaican national dish with coco bread: Ackee and Cod Bruschetta. I included the recipe for us all to try at home.  Visit Sean at 76 Orchard Street (btwn Broome & Grand Streets) http://www.spurtreelounge.com/

Ingredients:

1 lb (500g) of salted cod

2 dozen fresh ackee pods or 3 cups (12 oz/350g) canned ackee

1 scotch bonnet or jalapeno chili, deseeded and sliced

2 spring onions

1 medium onion

1 medium tomato

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 loaves of coco bread

4 cherry tomatoes (for garnish)
DIRECTIONS:

1.Soak the salted cod in cold water for 3o minutes, then drain and place in a pan with 4 cups (1 liter) of water. Bring to a boil, drain, then break the fish into flakes with a fork. Set aside.

2. If using fresh ackee, romove them from the pods. Discard the seeds and gently remove the pink membranes with a sharp knife. Parboil the pegs of ackee by covering them with salted water in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat, drain and set aside.

3. Set up a large skillet over medium heat and heat oil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the chili, sring onions, and onion and sute until tender. Add the salted cod, ackee, tomato and black pepper and cover low heat for minutes.

4. Open coco bread loaves and cut into 4 triangles. Warm in the oven for 1-2 minutes and plate.

5. Spoon the ackee and cod onto bread triangles and top with a halved cherry tomato.

Serves 4. Preparation time: 45 minutes, Cooking time: 15 minutes.

Iesha Sekou: She Has A Vision For Harlem’s Youth

She knows, loves and practices a vision of success for Harlem’s youth. Yesterday, I attended Harlem Renaissance High School’s “community feedback” meeting. It was an opportunity for the superintendent of schools to hear from parents, staff and activist “How do we improve Harlem Renaissance’s performance?” 100s of NYC schools are going through a similar process. Iesha’s speech (see video) and workshops at the HR high school is the kind of support that the next wave closing schools were not lucky to have.
She has an office at the school, visits the home’s of absent students with the principal, hugs the kids and more importantly, she only sees a vision of success for Harlem Youth. Support Harlem Renaissance. Iesha’s non-profit is http://www.streetcornerresources.org/…

Key Concerns: Harlem Renaissance was identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving by the New York State Education Department in Dec. 2010. Possibilities: Leadership change, Phasing the school out over time, Change in curriculum, staff changes and/or grade reconfiguration.

Harlem Renaissance High School w Street Corner Resources (WBLS.Com)

 The Kid’s are alright! I shadowed Iesha of Street Corner Resources at Harlem Renaissance High School for their 1st annual Video Expo. The students created videos to enhance their college applications and presented their work to family, friends and colleges. The classrooms became exhibition spaces. Meet 4 students and the Principal that empowers them. Harlem Renaissance High School is part of a network of schools designed for teenagers who have been unsuccessful in other settings. These “transfer alternative” programs strive to get students interested enough in education to do what it takes to earn a high school diploma.
Street Corner Resources is a movement combatting youth violence through programs like “I Am Peace”. Together they instill love, support and education in Harlem youth. Street Corner Resources is a movement combatting youth violence through programs like “I Am Peace”.

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