South Bronx Baton: Reflections on Change
Saturday, May 20, 2017

Four FREE regional walking tours and panel discussion in the South Bronx that highlight the work of four Community Development Corporations – Banana Kelly, The Point, WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, and WHEDco. Over the last four decades these organizations have articulated a community-based vision of change, community health, environmental and sustainable development, actively addressed issues of social equity, and provided safe spaces for community organizing and conversation.

How do we "Preserve and Amplify" our regional culture for generations to follow?

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Tour One: The POINT CDC

10AM–10:45AM The POINT, CDC
Gathering at: 940 Garrison Ave, Bronx, NY 10474
[Map Link]
Village of Murals Environmental Justice and Culture Tour of Hunts Point The tour will begin with an introduction to THE POINT, our mission and methodology as well as a brief tour of our space that helps set the context for the rest of the experience. Visitors will be treated to a walking tour of Hunts Point along parts of the South Bronx Greenway where Danny R. Peralta will highlight points of interest before we make stop at one of our local parks, Hunts Point Riverside Park, where we connect the community directly to the waterfront. Along the way, we will discuss topics including the South Bronx Community Resiliency Agenda and other local campaigns affecting our community, as well as ongoing anti-displacement efforts by THE POINT and strategic partnerships with organizations and artists. The tour will end at THE POINT’s Campus for Arts and the Environment, showcasing the intersection of youth development and arts and culture as a tool for local revitalization. At this point there will be an opportunity to ask questions and/or make observations about their visit to our community.
For more info: thepoint.org/villageofmurals.php
The POINT CDC

Tour Two: Banana Kelly CIA

11AM-11:45AM
Gathering at: 924 Kelly Street (bt. Intervale and 163rd - basement level)
[Map Link]
The tour will begin on Kelly street. There will be a 10 minute talk on the history of Kelly Street and Banana Kelly. We will proceed to the Kelly Street Garden for 10 minutes of edited versions of the documentaries of Banana Kelly and The Kelly Street Homesteaders. Stressing our anti-gentrification stand by showcasing how Kelly Street maintains a strong sense of community via the garden, various programs and events for and by the Kelly Street Residents.

We will then take a tour of the garden grounds. Homemade specialty teas, infused water, organic baked goods will be available and sample clippings of oregano and mint from the garden will be given to participants of the tour. There will be a four minute “Garden Talk”, ending with a six minute Q&A with original Kelly Street Homesteaders, David Potts. Topics: “Then, Now & The Future” (40 minutes) Gardening, Housing, Community Land Trust (C.L.T).

Banana Kelly CIA

Tour Three: WE STAY/Nos Quedamos

12:00-12:45PM
Gathering at: 760 Melrose Avenue (at 157th Street) Bronx, NY 10451
[Map Link]
In the early 1990s, Yolanda García and other residents of Melrose Commons, a 30-block area in the South Bronx and in one of the nation’s poorest congressional districts, fought against a redevelopment plan for the area that would have displaced them completely. Join WE STAY/Nos Quedamos as we celebrate the intersecting visions of pioneer Yolanda García, who believed in empowering urban citizens to get involved in shaping their community. The walk will be conducted in three parts: Meet at the WE STAY/Nos Quedamos office and discuss the legacy of Yolanda Garcia and the history of the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area, a redevelopment plan which included area residents staying instead of displacing them; visit a community garden to meet cultural creators of our thriving community; and end with a summary and discussion on the rooftop of El Jardin, LEED Gold an actualized mixed-income building.

Brook Ave & 156th Street This tour's route includes stops at Rincón Criollo, the oldest community garden and casita in the Bronx; which will also bring us past four developments (Palacio, Plaza de Los Angeles, the Orion and the Dorado). Third Ave & 157th Street This brings us past four developments (Palacio, Plaza de Los Angeles, the Orion and the Dorado) and reassembles at Yolanda's former carpet store. The threat of Eminent Domain landtaking began for Yolanda here and motivated her in the organization of Nos Quedamos. Note in passing the Dorado and the Orion (rental, homeownership,rental, co-op); Church of Peter and Paul This church that opened its doors to support the early organizing of Nos Quedamos and where community workshops were held to discuss and negotiate the proposed urban renewal plan; Third Ave. See the Landmark Courthouse and the Boricua College; 160th St. & Courtlandt Ave; Pass 2 community gardens (Latinos Unidos and the Rock Garden), Parkview, the future NYC Melrose Commons Park, and Sunflower Way. 811 Courtlandt Ave. are the first offices of Nos Quedamos. The building is owned by one of the founding members of Nos Quedamos who originally donated space to allow the organization to establish itself and where weekly public meetings, community design sessions and negotiations with the various NYC agencies were held; and 158th St & Melrose Avenue Visit El Jardin, the LEED Gold mixed income building.

WE STAY/Nos Quedamos

Tour Four: Bronx Music Heritage Center (WHEDco)

2:00-2:45PM
Gathering at: 1303 Louis Nine Blvd. Bronx, NY 10459
[Map Link]
This tour will explore the Bronx neighborhood of Morrisania, where we’ll discuss its once thriving jazz scene, the birthplace of many early doo-wop groups, and see where some of the pioneers of hip hop got their start. The fires and municipal neglect during the 1970s and 1980s had a deep and long lasting effect on the area and it’s musical scenes and as we tour the neighborhood, we’ll see and discuss the community organizations that helped turn the Bronx around and helped to strengthen the street life and public art that continues to make the neighborhood vibrant.

We begin at the BMHC and will go by Charlotte Gardens, visit where jazz musicians Thelonius Monk and Maxine Sullivan used to live, the Dixie Club featured in Wild Style, among other places.

Bronx Music Heritage Center


The Panel

3PM–4:30PM
Panel Discussion Location:
Bronx Music Heritage Center - 1303 Louis Nine Blvd. Bronx, NY 10459 [Map Link]

Here are the community leaders that will inform the discussion:

Sajata
Sajata Epps

BANANA KELLY CIA

Danny Peralta
Danny Peralta

THE POINT CDC

Jessica Clemente
Jessica Clemente

WE STAY / NOS QUEDAMOS

Nancy Biberman
Nancy Biberman

WHEDCO

Fitzroy A. Christian
Fitzroy A. Christian

CASA

PANEL BIOGRAPHIES
DANNY PERALTA, Executive Managing Director, The POINT CDC
Danny R. Peralta was born and raised in New York City. Shortly after he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and Science from NYU's School of Education in 2000 he began his work as a youth educator and community developer. In 2002, while searching to expand upon his love for reality, art and storytelling, he formally began attending black and white photography workshops at ICP @ THE POINT in the South Bronx. In 2009, he came back to THE POINT as Director of Arts and Education, and in the fall of 2015, became the Executive Managing Director of THE POINT CDC, leading revitalization efforts in the South Bronx. He was awarded the Jocelyn Benzakin Fellowship (2005) for concerned photography by the International Center of Photography, the En Foco Photo Legacy Award (2016) as well as the Mel King MIT CoLab Community Fellowship (2016). He currently lives in NYC with his wife and two sons, who inspire his every endeavor.

FITZROY A. CHRISTIAN, Leaders Team, CASA
Fitzroy Christian is a member of the leadership team at CASA (Community Action for Safe Apartments), a membership-driven tenant and community organizing initiative of New Settlement Apartments, based in the southwest Bronx. He is also a social justice advocate and activist who over the past several years has been involved in several CASA-led campaigns focused on preserving and expanding truly affordable housing for low-income and extremely low income residents of the Bronx and New York City.

Fitzroy works at the Bronx Housing Court as the Borough Coordinator for Housing Court Answers, a not-for-profit organization which provides legal information and other assistance to pro se litigants in NYC’s housing courts. He also sits as a client member on the Central Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Legal Services-New York. He has participated in international social justice conferences and forums including the World Social Forum 2016 in Montreal, and symposiums in Dallas and Philadelphia, and has testified before the United Nations Working Group of Experts on Peoples of African Descent on the status of African descendants here in the United States.

JESSICA CLEMENTE
, MUP, Executive Director, WE STAY/Nos Quedamos
A lifetime Bronx resident, Jessica Clemente was raised in the NYC Housing projects in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx. Growing up with Asthma and living in a community plagued with a host of environmental health problems prompted Jessica to major in Environmental Science at SUNY Purchase. After graduation, she had the unique opportunity to return to her community and serve as Project Manager for the NYU School of Medicine South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study (SBEHPS). This study was sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congressman Jose E. Serrano in partnership with four local community organizations, The Point CDC, WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, Sports Foundation, and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. Jessica worked closely with researchers and community partners in educating the residents of the South Bronx on the relationships between air quality, transportation, waste transfer station activity and its impact on public health. During her tenure, Jessica was inspired to pursue a Master of Urban Planning degree at NYU as she recognized the growing need to join activists in mobilizing community involvement to combat dangerous air quality that was proving increasingly detrimental to children and community residents.

In keeping with her commitment to social justice and helping the marginalized community, Jessica became the Executive Director of WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, a non profit community development corporation located in the Melrose section of the South Bronx dedicated to affordable housing, sustainable development and social services.

NANCY BIBERMAN, Founder & President
Nancy Biberman began working in the Bronx 30 years ago, heading up the city-financed reconstruction of 23 vacant buildings and 6 small parks in Highbridge. She soon realized that local residents had largely been left out of neighborhood planning. With the influx of new apartments and tenants, the schools remained dysfunctional; retail, health, safety, parks and transportation had been disregarded. Two years of conversations with neighborhood women resulted in a strategy of re-purposing vacant buildings and land to create community anchors, for homes, education, economic development and neighborhood planning. Partnering with a local parents association, in 1997 WHEDco transformed the old Morrisania hospital into Urban Horizons: 132 apartments, a Head Start center, and a commercial kitchen business incubator. A new K-8 public school was built next door. After an extensive community planning process, Intervale Green opened in 2009, with 128 affordable apartments, a Home-Based Childcare Training Institute and the Bronx Music Heritage Center Lab, plus a hub for organizing to revitalize the neighborhood’s commercial corridor. In January 2017, Bronx Commons broke ground: a $165M development designed to transform the last parcel of the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area into a vibrant center for living, working, shopping and entertainment. Guided by the Nos Quedamos plan, this community anchor features 305 all-affordable apartments, the Bronx Music Hall and retail stores.

WHEDco’s community development approach is grounded in the preservation, memory and history of the South Bronx, expressed through its architecture, design, culture and open spaces.

Nancy is a lifelong social justice activist, wife, and mother of three big kids. She was a legal services lawyer on the Lower East Side, representing tenants, immigrants being deported, and women seeking protection from abusive partners. She holds degrees from Barnard College and Rutgers/Newark Law School, and several post-grad fellowships. She is a board member of the Hostos Community College Foundation, the Freelancers Union Insurance Company, and the South Bronx Early College Academy Charter School.

SAJATA EPPS, Organizer, Board Member, Banana Kelly CIA
Sajata is a 40 year resident of the Bronx and has been a zero waster for the past 17 years. In 2004 she began growing crops in her home due to her limited income at the time. When she ran out of space to grow Sajata sought out other spaces to grow in. Luckily enough a new garden was built right across the street from her residence (Kelly Street Garden), Sajata became instantly involved. Four years later Sajata has become a certified grower from the Botanical Gardens, helped grow over three thousand pounds of food, and provides Consulting and Tech for all of Banana Kelly green spaces. Sajata is also the organizer for the KSBA, a tenant-led association providing job, housing, and workshop information to the Longwood section of the Bronx.

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPS, HOST & MODERATOR
Banana Kelly. Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc. is a non profit community development corporation located in the South Bronx. Our mission is to contribute to a revitalized, safe and economically vibrant South Bronx through the development and management of affordable housing and the provision of targeted human services. Annually, we provide direct services to approximately 5,000 residents and support services to the community at large. We empower residents through supportive services and vocational, educational, and cultural programs that assist in the retention of affordable housing accommodations and foster self-sufficiency and collective capacity through self-help, mutual aid and cooperation. For more information: www.bkcianyc.org

Community Action For Apartments (CASA). CASA is New Settlement’s Housing Organizing initiative has been working since 2005 to build tenant power through community organizing to, not only address prevailing threats to tenants’ rights and existing affordable housing stock, but also to expand access to safe and affordable housing. CASA works primarily in Community Board 4 (CB4), or the Highbridge/Concourse section of the southwest Bronx, but our campaigns often pursue city- and state-wide impact and thus rely on vibrant and diverse coalitions. For more information: casapower.org

We conduct strategic outreach and organize tenants’ associations, provide monthly housing workshops and legal clinics, hold monthly membership meetings and both lead and participate in local, city and state-wide policy campaigns. Our recent campaign work has focused on reforming Housing Court (including but not limited to a citywide campaign to guarantee universal access to representation for all tenants fighting eviction in Housing Court), building city-wide support for a rent freeze on all rent-stabilized units, a local tenant coalition fighting Major Capital Improvements (a legal mechanism to pass off building wide improvements onto tenants that permanently increases rents), a local tenant coalition fighting 2016’s “Worst Landlord in NYC” according to the Public Advocate that is part of a city-wide campaign to end predatory equity, and coordinating a coalition organized around the rezoning of the Southwest Bronx. All of our campaigns are member-envisioned, member-led and member-implemented.

The POINT CDC. The POINT Community Development Corporation is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. We work with our neighbors to celebrate the life and art of our community, an area traditionally defined solely in terms of its poverty, crime rate, poor schools and substandard housing. We believe the area’s residents, their talents and aspirations, are THE POINT’s greatest assets. For more information: www.thepoint.org

WE STAY/Nos Quedamos. WE STAY/Nos Quedamos is a non-profit community development corporation comprised of residents, homeowners, and business owners from the South Bronx who are committed to promoting, supporting, and advancing ideas of healthy and sustainable growth, both for local communities and the larger society. For more information: www.nosquedamos.org

WHEDco.
Celebrating its 25th year, the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) is a community development organization founded on the radically simple idea that all people deserve healthy, vibrant communities. Working in the South Bronx, WHEDco builds award-winning, sustainable, affordable homes that serve as anchors for strong communities that residents can be proud of. WHEDco's mission is to provide the Bronx with access to all the resources that create thriving neighborhoods - from high-quality early education and after-school programs, to healthy food, cultural programming, and economic opportunity. For more information: www.whedco.org

HOST. Bronx Culture Collective (BxCC). The Bronx Culture Collective (BxCC) is a network committed to preserving and amplifying the cultural community and legacy of the South Bronx.

The Collective is composed of the following South Bronx-based cultural, social service, environmental and faith-based organizations: Bronx Music Heritage Center, Bronx Documentary Center, BxArts Factory, Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, En Foco, Dancing In The Streets, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture,The Literary Freedom Project, The Laundromat Project, Mothers on the Move, Pregones / PRTT, The Point CDC, Save Our Streets - Bronx, South Bronx Unite, Young Urban Christians & Artists (YUCA), and WE STAY / Nos Quedamos.

"South Bronx Baton:" is a community engagement initiative of the Bronx Culture Collective that brings together like-minded stakeholders to the table throughout the year to discuss issues of relevent concern in the South Bronx. For more information: bronxculturecollective.nyc

MODERATOR. DEAN MEMINGER, NY1.
Dean Meminger is one of the city’s most recognized reporters on the street with 20 years of experience covering news in New York City on TV and radio. In April 2011, he was named NY1’s Criminal Justice Reporter. Prior to that, Meminger was NY1's long-time Bronx reporter covering some of the city's major stories ranging from the site of the World Trade Center after 9/11 to the police shooting deaths of Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006. In 2009 he captured the only video shot of US Airways flight 1549 minutes before it made its miracle landing on the Hudson River. Full bio HERE Or download it HERE

Image Credit: © Joe Conzo, Jr. All Rights Reserved.

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