Tag Archives: 37th road plaza

Video: Queens residents share how to say ‘I love you’ in seven languages

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube

The first video of a series, looking to bringing awareness to public plazas throughout the city, gives a taste of the different ways Queens residents say “I love you,” just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, a nonprofit organization of The Horticultural Society of New York, released the YouTube video “How to Plaza like a New Yorker Tip #1: Say ‘I Love You,’” two days before the Feb. 14 holiday.

In the video, which takes place at Diversity Plaza, officially called 37th Road Plaza, in Jackson Heights and was filmed by P2Films, people are asked how they say “I love you” in languages other than English.

The clip features people speaking in seven out of the 138 languages spoken in Queens. The languages featured are Farsi, Bangla, Hungarian, Italian, Urdu, Basaa and Tibetan.

Almost all the people in the video were just walking by the plaza during the filming and were asked if they would participate in the project.

“Everybody was just on their way, coming and going, and we just tried to stop people and asked if they spoke another language other than English and if they wanted to teach others how to say ‘I love you,’” said Micaela Birmingham of P2Films. “It was just fascinating to stand on one block and have all these voices pass by.”

Although seven languages are featured in the video, filmmakers encountered more than a dozen languages during the two to three hours at the site.

“These days you always have people on the street asking you to do something,” Birmingham added. “I was just so happy that people were generous enough to take a few minutes.”

This “how to” video is the first of a series by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, which will highlight activities that might already be happening at plazas throughout the five boroughs and showcase the neighborhoods surrounding them.

“I love this video,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Queens and especially Jackson Heights is a mix of languages and cultures. This video is a sweet way to showcase our diversity and Diversity Plaza. Hats off to Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.”

The idea of the video series came after the organization noticed that although bigger plazas, such as the one in Times Square, receive a lot of attention, there were smaller plazas in neighborhoods in the outer boroughs that people need to know exist.

“These videos are about getting more people to know about the plazas and understand all the great social capital that exists in and around them,” said Laura Hansen, managing director of the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership. “There are a lot of people that know about these plazas, but we really want people beyond that to recognize the vibrancy and importance of the plazas.”


Leaders, merchants reach deal on Jackson Heights plaza

| brennison@queenscourier.com


An agreement reached by store owners and local leaders aims to rid a year-old Jackson Heights plaza of vagrants and begin bringing business back.

A pedestrian plaza on 37th Road between 73rd Street and 74th Street, which consists of mostly South Asian businesses, opened in September 2011 to create a court for residents to walk, sit and relax, but local businesses said it instead drove customers away.

Stores complained the plaza was plagued with homelessness, drunkenness and crime, forcing some shops to close early.

To combat these problems a nonprofit partnership — Social Uplift Knowledge and Hopes Initiative (SUKHI) — was formed to take ownership of the plaza, make it a vibrant shopping area and deal with the issues that arose there.

“This plaza without amenities, safety measures, development and management would create problems, and that’s what we saw,” said Agha Saleh, founder of SUKHI.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm said it was not easy to reach this “historic day” at a Friday, August 10 press conference announcing the agreement.

“We have gone beyond any differences that we may have had in the past,” Dromm said. “We have established a relationship of trust.”

SUKHI — a Punjabi word meaning prosperity and happiness — was formed by husband and wife Saleh and Shazia Kausar, the group’s president.

Kausar said the partnership changed what was a nightmare into “a dream of prosperity.”

“If we don’t work together, we will lose everything,” said Kausar, who also owns a shop on the block.

DOE Fund workers are now cleaning the plaza thrice daily and security cameras are being installed.

Events are also planned for the plaza including an Eid Bazar and Chand Raat Festival that will take place from August 16 through August 20.

“The object of this plaza is to promote this area, to bring more customers from outside,” said Mohammed Pier, president of the Bangladeshi Merchants Association.

Saleh said his dream for the plaza is a place where residents “can walk and talk and enjoy music every single night.”

“A small block, but very vibrant.”