Learning Kindnesses

School is mandatory for so many reasons but if graduates come out knowing how to be kind that is an added bonus. One Manhattan teacher – Christine Drago – has been using the coronavirus pandemic to work just that. The PS 20 Anna Silver School Phys. Ed. Teacher who has been teaching at the school for the last eight years explained:

“You’re a teacher, you’re a coach. Sometimes you’re a guidance counselor. You are listening to problems they have. You are a friend. You play a lot of different roles.”

Drago has seen many different needs emerge during this time from this underserved community. Her response has been to approach local organizations and formulate regional partnerships. This has resulted in food distribution to the needy including roasted chickens, produce, eggs, and grains which are being delivered every Friday. As for her students Drago has been putting out workout videos for them that they can do with their entire families to get them up and move. One example of this was when she made a Tic-Tac-Toe tutorial and her students sent back videos of their whole families engaging in it.

Other people also seem to be naturally moving toward acts of kindness as Amanda Hess wrote last month in The New York Times with the “clapping” that has been taking place in different neighborhoods in thanks to healthcare workers. She explained:

“It’s a cliché to describe a performance as “life-affirming,” but here the description feels true. I like it for smaller reasons, though. Like many New Yorkers, I don’t know most of my neighbors, and I’ve found myself using these few minutes every night to gather clues to their domestic lives. I notice who emerges from sprawling multistory brownstones and who from apartment buildings. One night the man with the pot was joined by a companion banging her own kitchenware. Another time, the spaniel failed to appear, and I reveled in my exaggerated disappointment. Did the dog have a previous engagement?”

Earlier on in the COVID-19 crisis an Associated Press meeting led to photojournalist Sally Stapleton’s promotion of a story of a Norwegian homebound woman who had used her Facebook page to ask for birthday greetings for her children. The response worldwide was incredible. And then there was the case of the New York college student who had to go home once classes were suspended and ended up organizing 1,300 volunteers in three days to help with deliveries for shut-ins.

Over this time, Fox News has assembled 700+ web- and TV-based stories under its ‘America Together’ banner.

SoHo’s Service in the Time of COVID-19

During this challenging time for many, there has simultaneously been a great deal of kindness and goodwill.  At the end of last month, local eatery Chobani Café followed suit.

Offering healthy fare of sandwiches, nutritious yogurts, fresh produce and more, the Café has now become a temporary food pantry for the entire community.  Anyone in the neighborhood is welcome to come and enjoy free food during this hard time.  They are “here to help.”

Following the social distancing guidelines and safety in order to beat COVID-19 the restaurant is open twice a week to hand out free products and support families and workers.  It is now staffed by both volunteers from #BeAShepherd and its regular employees.  The idea right now is to “give back to [the] local neighborhood and donate nutritious food to those in need.”

Opening a Restaurant During These Times

It wouldn’t be the best time to open a restaurant.  When most have closed and only a handful remain for deliveries, the industry has been one of the most hard hit with COVID-19.  But just a couple of weeks ago that’s exactly what Adam Leonti and Paul Shaked did in Little Italy, New York.

Sofia’s Panificio e Vino has opened yes, but not under its original planning.  However, the restaurateur (Shaked) and chef (Leonti) have adapted to the current COVID-19 inflicted circumstances.  They set up a deliver and to-go menu.

Situated on Mulberry Street (where Sofia’s of Little Italy once was – a business run by Shaked’s family) Shaked explained how Little Italy may sometimes “feel like this forgotten corner of Manhattan [but that opening his restaurant there has been “a way to reinvigorate and highlight what is a culturally rich and historic neighborhood.”

Chef Leonti is famous for Leonti in the Upper West Side that closed a few months ago and for the establishment of the Brooklyn Bread Lab.

Kindness in Times of Corona

In these distressing times it’s sometimes quite wonderful to see just how incredible community members can be toward each other.  True it’s very difficult, challenging and potentially incredibly depressing but there are also so many positive things happening everywhere and in Below 14 communities, we have seen many such cases.

Delancey Street Seafood restaurant Grey Lady is using this opportunity to show kindness and consideration to the local community.  Chef Tadd Johnson spent an entire week preparing 30 gallons of different types of soup to give out to those in need in the community.  Together with its sister eatery Canary Club, these “protein and produce” bursting soups have been made in three delicious flavors: broccoli-cheddar, potato-leek mushroom and seafood chowder.

When we used to walk around the Lower East Side we may have seen the odd looking posters…what are they?  They are perhaps CovId-19 art, photos of people kissing while wearing surgical masks as a general call for doing this together, getting through as a nation, and holding on while the world takes a breath (inside) during the pandemic.

The Act of Love is a street art campaign created by Arina Voronova who explained:

“While scientists are working on finding a cure for the virus, we, humans, can only spread love and support each other.”

There are around 500 posters but an additional 500 will be distributed around New York in the coming days.  Another goal of the project is to make people aware of Asian American discrimination during these days.

People to See, Places to Go

Downtown Manhattan is always hopping with activity. Today, Glittering Places of Detroit Concert is happening at the Roseville Public Library on Gratiot Avenue, Roseville starting at 6:30 p.m.  You will be privy to a wonderful show about the critical role Detroit had in the development of Jazz.  Performed by vocal artist Pam Jaslove, there is music, a slide show and so much more.  It’s a great opportunity for the entire family to learn about the 1920s Jazz Age.

Two days from now the Chesterfield Township Library on Patricia Street is hosting a Marvels of Motion program between 2 and 2.45pm.  Mad Science will present the event which will discuss Newton’s three laws of motion in action.  This is set to be a real hands-on experience for the whole family, featuring competitions, physics education, sports and real experiments.

Next Tuesday at 6pm take the whole family and head back to Roseville Public Library for Up the Lazy River journey.  Use your imagination and try to see yourself on Tashmoo – a sidewheel steamboat – going from Toledo, starting in Detroit.  Take a trip back in time and look at the lighthouses that have disappeared over time as well as other attractions from the early 20th century that we can still see but have basically faded.  Learn all about the SS Tashmoo.

The Riddler

Looking for a champagne with a difference in the West Village?  Stop on by at The Riddler.  Owned by Jen Pelka, with her brother Zach Pelka, Une Femme is now available.

Jen has wanted to create her own champagne for a long time but from a house run exclusively by women.  Enter Une Femme brand which features the Callie (a rosé California sparkler) and  the Juliette (cru brut).

Following the success of her first San Francisco branch, a year ago Jen opened the second champagne home in the West Village.

Along with the female orientation of the firm, the Riddler also insists on serving champagne exclusively in wineglasses, enabling customers to truly “experience all of the different aromatic notes.

Cutting Congestion in Manhattan?

Congestion in Manhattan has long been a huge problem.  But now, part of that may be eliminated, at least to a certain extent.

With two modifications being made in the New York City Charter, the Department of Transport is anticipating a spillover into Manhattan’s traffic issue.  A month from today, those commercial vehicles that double park for 20  minutes or more will be fined.  This will be in Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan and neighboring areas.

The way the law currently stands is that such vehicles are permitted to double park so long as they do not block the only lane.  Also, the Department of Transport has now mandated that the streets (First through Eighth Avenues between streets 14th through 60th)   that do not allow for deliveries between 7am to 7pm  will be expanded to 12th Avenue.

Meatpacking District: “Watch Out”

Doyle & Doyle has had a presence in New York’s Meatpacking District for two decades now. Specializing in vintage and antique jewelry, the sister-run store also offers house designs.  And of course, as a jewelry store, they sell watches.

But now the Meatpacking District is about to get two new stores with a complete focus on watches: Audemars Piguet and Rolex, both of which have just signed a lease very near each other in the neighborhood, one at Gansevoort Street and the other near to Soho House.

Other jewelry stores (which sell watches) locally include: Tempvs Fvgit (which specializes in vintage watches including Rolex and also sells US- and Swiss-made watches);  Tissot (a maker of luxury Swiss watches founded in Switzerland in 1853); Tourneau 3 Bryant Park (a store that sells name-brand watches as well as pre-owned watches) and G-Shock Soho Store.