Tag Archives: Diversity Plaza

Take a guided walking tour of Jackson Heights this Sunday


| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Jackson Heights Beautification Group

It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City with a “Little Colombia,” “Little India,” “Little Bangladesh” and “Little Nepal.” It features a historic district, the country’s first planned garden and cooperative apartment community, and authentic ethnic restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. And finally, it was the first home for such celebrities as Susan Sarandon, Howard Stern, Lucy Liu, John Leguizamo and even Don Rickles.

This Sunday at noon, Kornblit Tours will lead a four-hour, guided stroll through Jackson Heights, focusing on the area’s architecture, history, sights, sounds, scents and tastes. Participants can expect to check out inner courtyards, marvel at gargoyles, and then make stops at five or six eateries like La Gran Uruguaya, Delhi Heights, Himalayan Yak and Arepa Lady.

The agenda was created by Adrienne Onofri, a licensed guide who wrote the book “Walking Queens,” which maps out and provides details for 30 tours of borough neighborhoods.

This Sunday’s expedition is based largely on the Jackson Heights chapter in the book. However, Onofri sustained injuries in a recent car crash and is currently recovering. Thus, she will not direct the group, but company owner Steven Kornbilt, another experienced guide, will take her place. (Onofri hopes to make a cameo appearance in her wheelchair.)

For more information, click here.

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$24K raised at Jackson Heights candlelight vigil for Nepal earthquake victims


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Pralay Rajbhandari

Jackson Heights and the surrounding communities have come together to show the victims of this weekend’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal that they are not alone.

Members of the Queens Nepalese community and the New York Nepalese Football Club have begun a fundraising campaign to collect money that will buy necessary items for families left devastated after the earthquake hit the country on Saturday, claiming more than 3,200 lives.

“Whenever these things happen, we get together,” said Pralay Rajbhandari, a player and member of the New York Nepalese Football Club. “We are all united for this great cause.”

Rajbhandari, who has been living in Jackson Heights for eight years, has his whole family in Nepal and spent hours trying to contact them after the earthquake hit. He was finally able to contact his father and found out that his home in Nepal had partially collapsed and his family is currently staying at a shelter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Rajbhandari said. “After I heard the news I was trying to find [my family] but finally after a few hours I talked to my father. There is panic everywhere and the fear is still there. The whole country is in pain right now.”

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

On Sunday, close to a thousand people gathered in Jackson Heights to hold a candlelight vigil and pray for loved ones in Nepal. By the end of the day, $24,000 was collected.

“I was surprised. So many people came, so much support,” Rajbhandari said. “It was not only Nepalese people. All people donated generously and the figure is still going up.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm also attended the Sunday vigil to show his support.

“My heart goes out to the thousands of families who have lost someone in the catastrophic earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday,” Dromm said. “On Sunday, I joined many of my constituents in Diversity Plaza as a show of support for the earthquake victims. Many established organizations such as Adhikaar, the Red Cross and UNICEF need our support in the form of cash contributions. This is the best way to help right now.”

The organizers of Sunday’s vigil are currently still set up at Diversity Plaza, located at 73rd Street and 37th Road, and are accepting monetary donations as well as clothes or other items.

The president of the New York Nepalese Football Club, Wangla Lama, traveled to Nepal after the quake and is visiting shelters and writing down what people need.

Rajbhandari said that people in Nepal are in dire need of food, water, tents and blankets, and that any kind of donation would help. He also encourages people to donate to the Red Cross.

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

He added that some members of the club have also applied to head to Nepal to volunteer and are just waiting to get the permission to travel.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who represents parts of Jackson Heights, is also opening his office for any members of Queens’ Nepalese and South Asian communities who are in need of assistance.

“To New York’s Nepalese community, I send this message—the family of New York is behind you and we will support you in your time of need,” Moya said. “All of New York mourns with you in this moment of sadness.”

A candlelight vigil is expected to be held this Friday at 8 p.m. in Times Square. Anyone who is looking to donate or who has any questions on how they can help can contact Rajbhandari at 347-891-9841.

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Open call for Queens-based LGBTQ performing artists for Jackson Heights concert


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Flushing Town Hall is looking for LGBTQ entertainers to help kick off Pride Month in Jackson Heights this June with music, words and the performing arts.

The nonprofit organization is holding an open call for Queens-based LGBTQ performing artists to take part in a free, outdoor concert on June 6 at 5 p.m. in Diversity Plaza, located at 37th Road and 74th Street, in Jackson Heights.

The LGBTQ-themed concert, sponsored in part by Councilman Daniel Dromm, will celebrate the start of Pride Month and the immigrant LGBTQ communities in the borough. The following day, the organization Queens Pride will be hosting the 2015 Pride Parade and Festival in Jackson Heights down 37th Avenue. 

Flushing Town Hall is encouraging all LGBTQ musicians, dancers, poets and spoken word artists, actors and theater artists, and other performing artists based in Queens to submit applications. 

“It’s a great opportunity for artists based in Queens to perform for their peers in a free setting,” said Sami Abu Shumays, Flushing Town Hall deputy director. “It’s an exciting outdoor event.”

Applications must be submitted by May 1 through email to Shumays at sshumays@flushingtownhall.org with the subject line “LGBTQ OPEN CALL 2015.”

The emails should include a statement of interest and description of proposed performance (200 words maximum), biographical details (300 words maximum), and work samples. Artists may submit mp3, jpg or video files. The samples can be included as an attachment or via a URL where they can be viewed, for example on YouTube or a website link.

Flushing Town Hall will then select three to five applicants to perform during the June concert. Artists will be notified during the week of May 11. 

For more information, click here.

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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.”

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Real estate roundup: Inside the Hallets Point deal, what’s with the new structure on Parsons Boulevard?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Equities Group, LLC

Anatomy of a deal: Inside Durst’s complex Hallets Point play

The Durst Organization is projected to spend about $130 million to acquire three parcels where it plans to build a massive $1.5 billion residential and commercial development known as Hallets Point in Western Queens, several sources told The Real Deal.” Read more [The Real Deal]

What’s it going to be?

“This construction site, 75-43 Parsons Boulevard is owned by Great Neck-based developer Mayflower Enterprise LLC. It posted two renderings on the construction wall. One shows a beautiful brick structure with a church bell tower on the corner. The yellowish rendering to the left, however, shows a boring two-story commercial structure without any architectural flair.” Read more [Queens Crap]

Brainstorm About the Future of Diversity Plaza in ‘Visioning Session’

“Officials are hosting a visioning session to discuss the future of Diversity Plaza. The Department of Transportation is set to host the meeting on Saturday, Oct. 18 at P.S. 69 at 77-02 37th Ave., starting at 2 p.m.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Jackson Heights to celebrate arts during day-long festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Carlos Martinez, Hibridos Collective

Jackson Heights will bloom with the arts on the first day of summer.

For the second year, the Jackson Heights Arts Festival is slated to bring the community an all-day public event featuring free art workshops, music and outdoor art exhibitions during a Summer Solstice Celebration. The event will take place on June 21 at Diversity Plaza, a pedestrian plaza located on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets.

The outdoor festival is organized by the Friends of Diversity Plaza, a community partnership of local organizations and residents committed to re-envisioning Diversity Plaza as a space opened to the community.

Co-organizers of the festival are Hibridos Collective, an interdisciplinary collaborative co-founded by Carlos Martinez and Beatriz Gil, and Jackson Heights artist Nitin Mukul.

“In collaboration with the Friends of Diversity Plaza we want to build on the local arts community, increase the visibility of artists that live and work in the neighborhood, promote community-based arts and open a dialogue for empowerment through the arts,” Gil said.

The day-long festival will kick off at 11 a.m. with two art education workshops, followed by hourly musical performances starting at noon as part of Make Music New York. Artists performing include Bethany Wild, CoCo Wade, Roopa Mahadevan, Nova Safra Bateria, AC Haley, Roberto Buscarsi, SA, and The Live Cultures.

“Our community represents one of the most culturally diverse ZIP codes on the planet. There is no better way to celebrate that diversity than the arts,” Mukul said. “This exhibition brings together community artists in a public space, creating both intentional and accidental intersections as a metaphor for the strong, vibrant, eclectic community we are.”

 

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Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights lights up for the holidays


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Daniel Dromm's Office

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with State Senator Jose Peralta, the nonprofit SUKHI NY, Moin Choudhury of Association for Justice Inc., Friends of Diversity Plaza and local residents at Diversity Plaza, located at 37th Road between 73rd and 74th Streets in Jackson Heights on Sunday to light the plaza’s 16-foot holiday tree.

The Friends of Diversity Plaza includes members from the office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and the Birchwood House.

“I want to thank everyone for pulling together to make this space better each year,” said Dromm. “The second annual tree lighting was a success.”

 

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Jackson Heights plaza to get $500K in enhancements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

One Jackson Heights plaza is getting a little extra help to fully shine in the community.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm recently announced he will allocate $500,000 in capital funds for enhancements to the 37th Road Pedestrian Plaza known as Diversity Plaza.

“Diversity Plaza has become an integral part of our community,” said Dromm.

“These improvements will go a long way to build out an asset that our community has come to adopt as a town square. Despite its slightly rocky start, this truly is the ‘little plaza that could.’”

The funding will allow the plaza, which is still in its design phase, to include seating, lighting and other features. Other amenities will also include the installment of community maps, guiding residents and visitors to local businesses around the neighborhood.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has also reserved $2 million to provide extra improvements to the plaza, including a public pay toilet, permanent seating and an improved street surface. Later this fall, Dromm’s office and the DOT will set up a meeting at which the public will have the chance to give their opinions on the amenities.

“Diversity Plaza is a result of tremendous community effort, from the intensive transportation planning sessions that developed it, to the efforts of the local merchants and civic groups that are now sustaining it,” said Andy Wiley-Schwarts, Assistant Commissioner for Public Space at the DOT. “We look forward to working with Councilmember Dromm and the Jackson Heights community to build a safe, beautiful public space for generations to enjoy.”

The councilmember also secured $10,000 in discretionary funding to include the services of the Horticultural Society and ACE New York, which will offer a monthly power washing and horticulture care as part of daily maintenance and cleaning services for the plaza. Dromm had already allocated $60,000 to the Doe Fund to clean both the plaza and surrounding area.

The nonprofit organization SUKHI New York was founded to become the plaza partner and take care of maintenance and events.

“We are eager to involve the broader Jackson Heights community in a discussion about what they would like to see on their plaza,” said Shazia Kauser, president and one of the founders of SUKHI New York.

In the past months, the plaza has hosted the first ever open-air community board meeting with Community Board 3 and a series of short films as part of the Queens World Film Festival.

 

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