Murals Helping Kids Turn Destruction Into Beauty

In Brooklyn’s Park Slope, a number of teenagers are showing the rest of us what giving back looks like. Groundswell is a community mural service organization that is hosting the Recovery Diaspora Project. This project, created by the street artist Swoon is bringing together kids from all five of NYC’s boroughs with the purpose of painting their Sandy stories from the terrible hurricane that ravaged the area a number of months ago.

The murals will grace the walls of five of the hardest hit area including Coney Island, Red Hook, the Rockaways and Staten Island. In addition to the murals they plan to put in each location, the organization will combine elements of their murals for a piece on the Houston Bowery Wall for the one year anniversary of the storm on October 29.

As lead artist Yana Dimitrova said, “When it comes to Sandy, we’ve talked about the difference in how men and women are often affected by storms. Women are often tasked with taking care of more than just themselves.”

As Al Huang wrote on the National Resources Defense Council’s Switchboard blog, “The grim reality is that the storm disproportionately impacted our city’s most vulnerable populations—low-income people, people of color, and the elderly—in communities that are already overburdened with an unfair share of toxic pollution and health problems.”

The Recovery Diaspora Project is trying to bring beauty where there was destruction. As Tasleem Sheikh, a 17 year old senior at Brooklyn High School of the Arts said, “No one else is going to make our point. We want to keep our voices heard and speak to what really happened.”

As Shawntell James said about the project, “This is one way for people to express that we’re stronger than Sandy.”

New York Gets Back to Business After Hurricane Sandy

Certainly, we’ve all been hit by Hurricane Sandy. Now, as areas of New York rebuild, we can be grateful for locations that weren’t hit by the storm, and by those that have been able to slowly get back to business.

New York is not a city that will remain still for long, and people have felt a renewed sense of spirit as hotels remain open, restaurants sweep up the mess, and Broadway shows resume.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, for instance, owned by Triumph Hotels with Shimmie Horn, welcomes all of those looking for a warm, inviting location to relax. With 130 guess rooms, it’s a quaint, peaceful place to enjoy. Part of Shimmie Horn’s collection of elegant hotels, this is one that’s a bit off the beaten path and great for seeing many sites. As their website reports, “We are happy to report that the power has been restored in Lower Manhattan and that we are fully operational once again. Our heat and hot water have also been restored.”

Broadway shows are back in business as well. Right after the storm, as Patrick Page of the play “Cyrano De Bergerac” headed to the theater for a matinee, he said, “Broadway is as important an icon of New York City as the subways, so to get back to work is a sign that we can bounce back. This has been such a tough time for so many and it’s vital that we show the lights are on and there’s great work being done onstage.”

Saying Goodbye To An Area Icon Thanks to Sandy

Boom, located at 152 Spring Street, is going out of business. And with it will be a little piece of Soho history. Unfortunately, Boom isn’t alone in the Sandy aftermath that has left us all reeling with water, debt and debris; but they have certainly been one of the hardest hit in the area.

Boom had a flooded basement kitchen as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and over $100,000 worth of damage. They are closing for other, perhaps more disturbing, reasons which include their inability to keep up with the $150,000 a month rent. Certainly, Boom symbolized the changes in Soho when it started twenty years ago, moving from an industrial district to a hype place to eat, enjoy and be seen.

As former Boom partner Rocco Ancarola told the Post, “The rents are just ridiculous. It has become really hard for smaller restaurants and shops to survive when big luxury brands want flagships in Soho, the Chanels and Louis Vuittons of the world, even though there are never people in those stores. It’s just too costly to fix things up from the hurricane and fight the high rents.”

Goodbye Boom. We certainly hope it’s not goodbye to the boom in economy we’ve seen in the Soho area as well.