Tag Archives: Jackson Heights

Queens parents decide to ‘opt out’ kids from state testing


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Parents across the city are coming together this week to stand against standardized testing and the effects it has on their children.

Starting Tuesday and running through Thursday, students are scheduled to have to take the English Language Arts (ELA) test at schools throughout the state. The following week, students are scheduled to take the math standardized test.

Parents and education advocates have spoken against the tests, saying it brings too much pressure onto students and is not being properly used to evaluate the students, but rather to assess teachers. This has led some parents to forbid their children from taking the tests, and the schools have been prohibited from taking any action against those parents.

“I’m here as the chair of the [City Council] Education Committee to call into question the validity of these tests and the reason these tests are being given, and actually question why they are being used the way they are being used,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who on Tuesday stood with parents who have decided to have their children opt out of taking the tests. “These tests actually are not tests to show our children’s strength, they’ve become tests to make our children look like failures.”

Having served as a teacher for 25 years, Dromm added that he is not opposed to tests being used as “one piece of a child’s overall evaluation” but he believes that too much time is spent on taking and preparing for these tests.

“We have heard stories about children who have collapsed under the pressure, who get sick from the pressure, who wet their pants from the pressure of these tests. This is not what education should be about,” Dromm said. “I do not believe that our students should be used as guinea pigs in the governor’s battle against teachers.”

Danny Katch, whose daughter is a fourth-grader at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, decided to have her opt out of the exams last year and believed the decision served as an educational experience for his daughter because it showed her about standing up for what you believe in.

Katch also said he is not opposed to tests, but the standardized tests do not come from the teachers or schools. Instead, they are being used as a form to evaluate teachers rather than assessing the students.

“If you tell teachers that 50 percent of their evaluation is going to be based on two standardized tests, then you are going to believe that most of what the kids are going to be doing all year is preparing for those standardized tests,” Katch said. “If you want to improve our schools it’s not about shoving more tests down their throats, it’s about improving the resources that they need and they deserve.”

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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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Tree giveaway to be hosted in Jackson Heights on Sunday


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Jackson Heights is about to get greener.

This Sunday the Jackson Heights Beautification Group is coming together with the nonprofit New York Restoration Project (NYRP) to host a tree giveaway.

The giveaway will be located at the JH SCRAPS compost site on the corner of 69th Street and 35th Avenue, and will run from 10 a.m. to noon.

Even though the online registration for the event is already closed, there are still more trees available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of one tree per address.

When picking up the tree, participants must agree to plant the tree in one of the five boroughs, keep the tree properly watered and maintained, and to not place it along streets or city parks, or on terraces, balconies or roofs.

The NYRP and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group will also conduct follow-ups on the trees given away.

A list of trees that will be available during the first hour of the event, such as Cornelian Cherry Dogwood and Serviceberry, can be found here.

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More Queens Library locations loaning mobile hot spots, tablets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, and now more cardholders will be able to stay connected while on the go.

The Queens Library announced Tuesday that it will be expanding its mobile technology lending program in the upcoming weeks to more libraries throughout the borough.

While using their Queens Library cards, customers will be able to borrow free mobile hot spots, providing Internet access anywhere to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices with cellphone reception. Customers will also have the chance to borrow free Google Nexus tablets.

The hot spots are available for one month, and there are three renewals available afterwards. First-time hot spot borrowers will have to sign an agreement and bring a photo ID.

Locations that have been offering the free mobile hot spots and tablets since last year include branches at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 41-17 Main St., Flushing; and 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights.

The new locations offering the hot spots include 214-20 Northern Blvd. in Bayside and 37-44 21st St. in Long Island City. They will also be available at the branch at 218-13 Linden Blvd. in Cambria Heights starting April 8; 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows on April 15; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village on April 22.

The Google Nexus tablets are now available at Queens Library branches at 2012 Madison St. in Ridgewood; 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village. Starting later this month, the tablets will be available at the following locations: 187-05 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest; 103-34 Lefferts Blvd. in Richmond Hill; and the Langston Hughes Community Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd.

A full list of borrowing sites is available at www.queenslibrary.org.

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United by English at Jackson Heights center


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

One recent morning at the South Asian Center in Jackson Heights, around half a dozen women sat in a classroom and joined Audrey Olsen in reciting, “First, I woke up late. Then, I didn’t have time for breakfast. Finally, I was late for work.”

This was one exercise that Olsen, a volunteer English teacher at the center, uses to teach the class the basics of sentence sequences.

The center, a branch of the Christian organization Urban Nations Outreach, offers free English classes to immigrants. Every semester, about 150 students enroll in the classes, said Camille Samuel, the director of the center.

“They come from different backgrounds. Some are educated, some didn’t have the chance to go to school,” Samuel said. She rattles off a list of countries her students come from: India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Pakistan, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Peru, to name a few.

Many of these regions have long-standing conflicts with each other, such as India and Pakistan or China and Tibet. Yet in class, these issues don’t rear their heads.

As Olsen explained, “All the women have the same problems: trying to give their kids a better life, learning a new language. There is so much common ground that all the differences fall away. Many times, a Pakistani student sits next to a Bangladeshi or Indian student. It doesn’t matter. They work in pairs with people they’d never speak to if they were in another country.”

The students build friendships that go beyond the class hours. Shan Shiyandani, from Sri Lanka, went shopping with her Korean, Indian and Bangladeshi classmates. Ayesha Ali, from Bangladesh, is happy that she can now speak in English and is friends with her classmates from India, Pakistan and Tibet.

It’s not just the women. Bob Tsui, 78, an immigrant from China, is in the advanced level class taught by George Vengal, from India. One of his classmates is from Tibet.

“We are not political,” he said. “We are friends, classmates.”

“I’ve had Pakistani students,” added Vengal, “and never had any problems. We are all the same. We learn from each other about their way of life, and to respect other cultures.”

The class, which also consists of Kitchtat Tassanapanich from Thailand, even went out for Thai food together.

The only thing that seems to matter is that everyone is learning a language that makes it easier for them to navigate the society of a foreign country.

“The aim is to not just speak English, but enjoy life here,” Olsen said. The differences, Tsui noted, are just government politics.

As Tassanapanich put it, “Four years ago, I joined the beginner’s class. When I visited the doctor, I couldn’t explain my problem. I needed a translator.  Now, I can talk to everybody in every situation.”

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Police looking for suspect in string of NYC cellphone store thefts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A cellphone thief has been swiping high-priced devices from stores around the city — including three businesses in Queens — for more than a year, police said.

Each time the male suspect steals a phone by cutting the security wires and grabbing the item before fleeing on foot, according to authorities.

Police say the crime spree started as far back as December 8, 2013, at an AT&T store located at 39-15 Main St. in Flushing, where the suspect took a Samsung Galaxy Note II.

The same man didn’t strike again until August 4, 2014, when he allegedly took a Samsung Galaxy S4 from another AT&T store, located at 30-67 Steinway St. in Astoria.

He returned to the same Main Street AT&T store on August 16 and February 4, stealing a Samsung Galaxy S5 both times.

The suspect is also accused of taking an iPhone and iPad from a T-Mobile store at 82-19 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights on Jan. 5, along with an AT&T store on Canal Street in Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach in October. Police have released photos from the Jan. 5 incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Suspect arrested in stabbing death of Jackson Heights man


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police have arrested a man in the murder of a 25-year-old Jackson Heights resident who was stabbed to death just outside his apartment late last year.

William Avila, 22, was apprehended at his East Elmhurst home on Friday, according to authorities, and charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the killing of Steven Shimabuku.

Shimabuku was only steps from his home on 90th Street, near 35th Avenue, at about 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 19, when Avila allegedly stabbed him in the torso. The two were involved in an ongoing dispute, police said.

He was able to make it back to his basement apartment, where his girlfriend called 911, according to the Daily News. Shimabuku was then taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Earlier this year, police released a video of a suspect in the stabbing, and in late February identified the man as Avila.

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Queens World Film Festival to kick off fifth year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy Jamil Lahham

Along with recent celebrity sightings, including Oscar winner George Clooney, Astoria is ready to continue shining with this year’s Queens World Film Festival — bringing over a hundred unique local and international films to the booming borough.

The festival, celebrating its fifth year running, will take place from March 17 through March 22 and feature 117 films, with 19 works from Queens. The films include short and feature narrative, documentaries, animation and LGBT pieces.

“It will be a week of something for everyone,” said festival director Katha Cato, who arranges the event along with her husband Don and a group of volunteers. “I’m so excited about the caliber of what we are about to expose Queens to.”

This year the six-day festival, which officially received a nonprofit status this year, brought in over 400 submissions from across the nation and around the world.

“Five [years] just feels like I can breathe a little bit. We made it to year five and that’s important,” Cato said. “We are experiencing and feeling it.”

The festival begins on March 17 at 8 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria. The evening will feature a block of six films, including two from Queens filmmakers.

“You can do any kind of shot and any type you want in Queens, to represent any nation or any demographic. You can find it somewhere, somehow in this borough,” Cato said. “You can create a lot of different worlds here and with these studios starting to understand that and with a film festival, this could be a huge industry here in this borough.”

The short narrative "Short Steps" by Queens filmmaker Laura Aguinaga is one of 19 Queens films at the film festival.

The short narrative “Short Steps” by Queens filmmaker Laura Aguinaga is one of 19 Queens films at the film festival.

Opening night will also recognize director Leon Ichaso, known for movies such as “El Cantante” starring Jennifer Lopez, as a “Spirit of Queens” honoree. The festival will also present Ichaso’s film “Bitter Sugar” on March 18 at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Throughout the festival, the independent films will be divided into different blocks based on subject and shown at venues such as The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, and, for the first time, daily showings at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“It’s about pairing [the films] together to create the proper context so they all look, sound and feel the way the filmmaker wanted it,” Cato said. “And we are creating community within these filmmakers who are perhaps on the same journey and might perhaps work together [in the future].”

Closing night of the festival will feature a screening of the film “Dukhtar (Daughter)” by Afia Nathaniel and be followed by an award ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“I just hope everyone knows that a lot of love went into this festival and we’re going to fix any mistakes we encounter, but we want you to really experience the films,” Cato added. “Just experience them, don’t judge them. It’s a different medium, there aren’t studio films.”

Tickets for opening night and the rest of the festival are still available at www.queensworldfilmfestival.com.

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What to know about Queens rents in January


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Charts courtesy of MNS Real Estate

Overall most Queens renters didn’t see much of a change in rates from December to January as prices increased just 0.21 percent to $2,103.96.

However, select areas experienced more significant changes, revealing important neighborhood trends, according to data from MNS Real Estate’s January Queens Rental Market Report.

It’s back over $4,000

The most expensive rents for studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments can be found in Long Island City, as is the norm. But in January, the average rents of two-bedroom apartments in Long Island City climbed over the $4,000 mark for the first time since May of 2014 to an average of $4,044, according to the report. After hitting a low of $3,747 in June of 2014, prices fluctuated for a few months before slowly rising toward the end of the year.


A bargain in Jackson Heights  

Tenants paid about an average of $1,514 for rental studios in Forest Hills in January, which is 6.62 percent less than the previous month and the largest percent drop that month. It was a significant decline in rates, but renters looking for a bargain should focus on Jackson Heights studios, where prices are $114 less at an average of $1,400 per month. Of the neighborhoods analyzed in the borough in January, Jackson Heights has the lowest prices for studios.

Rocketing Rego Park

Rego Park is continuing its hot streak. Average prices in the neighborhood are continuing to burn through residents’ wallets as new luxury units recently entered the market. For the month of January, average prices for two-bedrooms in the neighborhood rose a whopping 17.1 percent during the month to $2,598. From November to December 2014, Rego Park rental studios saw an stark increase of 12 percent in average rents.

 

Click here to read the full report.

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Selling Point: Retail property in Jackson Heights fetches $16.4 million and more sales


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark

A couple of buildings located on the Jackson Heights commercial strip and an apartment building with nearly 50 units in Flushing are some of this week’s big transactions in the borough, based on city records.

Address: 37-46/48 82nd St./37-50 82nd St.
Price: $16,425,000

A group of investors bought these adjoining commercial properties at 37-46 through 37-50 82nd St. for $16.7 million. Clark Stores Inc., a firm based in Manhattan, is the seller. Jackson Heights Retail LLC, one of the buyers, now has a majority stake in the buildings, according to property records filed on Thursday. The larger two-story building at 37-46 82nd St. was once home to a women’s apparel store called Clark’s and later a KB Toys before the company went out of business. Combined, the buildings, which have two floors each, have more than 12,400 square feet of space. The property is part of the Jackson Heights Historic District.

Address: 41-40 Parsons Blvd.
Price: $10,750,000

This corner property is a six-story multi-family rental apartment building in Flushing with 48 units. There is a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments in the building. There is more than 44,000 square feet of living space in the structure, which is a few blocks from Main Street. Wai Realty Corp. bought the property for $10.7 million from Bronx-based Bright & Sunny Corp., according to city records filed on Friday.

Address: 48-05 Metropolitan Ave. 
Price: $7,000,000

WM Capital Partners XXV LLC bought this old manufacturing-zoned building in Ridgewood for $7 million, according to records filed on Feb. 17. The building has nearly 141,000 square feet of space.

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Suspect identified in deadly December stabbing of Jackson Heights man


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

60-15 115 PCT HOMICIDE WILLIAM AVILA

Police have identified a suspect in the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old man who was killed just steps from his Jackson Heights apartment last year.

Steven Shimabuku was murdered close to his 90th Street home, near 35th Avenue, at about 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 19, police said. He was able to make it back to his basement apartment, where his girlfriend called 911, according to the Daily News.

Shimabuku had been stabbed in the torso after getting into an argument on the street, police said.

He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives have identified William Avila as a suspect in Shimabuku’s murder, just over a month after police released a video and photo of a suspect.

Avila is 22 years old, Hispanic, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 160 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Jackson Heights fire caused by food on stove: FDNY


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@nicky_andacatnamedmishu

A fire at a Jackson Heights apartment, which injured two people last week, was caused by food left on a stove, according to fire officials

The two-alarm blaze began at 11:33 p.m. on Feb. 12 on the top floor of 35-64 81st St. and was under control about an hour later, the FDNY said.

The two injured people were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with serious, non-life-threatening injuries.

Fire officials also found no working smoke detectors in the home.

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Woodside fundraiser to help 4-year-old boy with leukemia


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Victoria Panos

Over a year ago, Lauren and Joseph Williams heard four words that changed their lives: “Your son has cancer.”

Now, as the parents struggle to remain strong for their 4-year-old son battling leukemia in a California hospital, they are getting much-needed support from friends back home in Queens.

Benjamin Williams, one of five children, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2013 after visiting the doctor for a regular checkup. At the time, his mother, Lauren, was pregnant with her fifth son.

Although the Williams family moved out of New York before Ben was born, and are now residing in San Diego, California, as Ben receives treatment at Rady Children’s Hospital, they are still feeling the love from the Big Apple.

Benjamin Williams

Benjamin Williams

Victoria Panos, of Woodside, has been friends with Ben’s mother, a Jackson Heights native, since they were children, and she knew she had to do what she could to help out the family.

Panos is organizing a fundraiser for the family on Feb. 28 at the Big Six Towers shopping center, located at 60-10 Queens Blvd. in Woodside, to raise money to help with any medical expenses.

Along with supporting the Williams family, Panos said the fundraiser also aims to raise awareness to the topic of childhood cancer.

“No one really hears about [childhood cancer],” said Panos, who is also Ben’s godmother. “I want to bring it to light and I want to help out Ben and his family because it is really rough with having a child that is sick and had to go through all that treatment. Raising awareness is my main goal, other than helping out my friend.”

Panos added that many people are not aware the leukemia awareness ribbon is orange, and the ribbon for childhood cancer awareness is gold.

“You don’t really understand what it is until it hits close to home,” Panos said. “I just need people to know that it is real. It does happen. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.”

After a previous fundraiser was held for Ben, Panos said Lauren was in tears knowing that the family was receiving support from loved ones. The idea of this current fundraiser was kept a surprise to the family until recently because Panos did not want them to worry about any details or organizing it.

Benjamin Williams (far right), 4, with his brothers, parents and grandmother.

Benjamin Williams (far right), 4, with his brothers, parents and grandmother.

“It’s super humbling. I really don’t have any words,” Lauren said a day after finding out about the fundraiser. “When you’re in a situation like this, anything helps. It’s wonderful. I can’t be thankful enough.”

Even with facing the struggles of fighting leukemia, Panos said the family has stayed positive through it all, including Ben.

“His older brothers are always helping out, whatever Ben wants he gets,” Panos added.

The fundraiser, also being organized by the Towers Play N Learn Center at 60-10A 47th Ave., will feature a bake sale, raffles, face painting by local artist The Cheeky Chipmunk and Brooklyn-based artist Onalee Rivera, and other activities.

“Even though the benefit is going to be a fun time, I want people to realize that they are there for something that is so devastating,” Panos said. “’Your child has cancer.’ Those four words can change your life in three seconds.”

Ben’s fundraiser is on Feb. 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. Updates on Ben’s battle with leukemia are on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamBen2010.

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Medical company moving to Jackson Heights Shopping Center


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Muss Development and Scott Bintner/PropertyShark 

The newly renovated Jackson Heights Shopping Center is filling in another vacant slot.

Jackson Heights Cardiovascular Associates, a firm that offers cardiovascular imaging, ultrasound and medical billing, among other services, signed a 10-year lease for a 13,780-square-foot space in the recently revitalized shopping complex. Bill Bergman, of Muss Development, represented the company in the deal and Brian Jaffe, of DY Realty Services LLC, represented the new tenant.

The medical company is moving from its old location in the neighborhood to the shopping center because of its need to expand. Its new office will take up the entire second floor of the renovated section of the center and it is expected to open within the next couple of months.

“Jackson Heights Cardiovascular Associates’ new space will feature an open layout to accommodate their multifaceted business and fulfill their growing need for more office space,” Muss Development Principal Jason Muss said.

Night shot

Following the completion of renovations last year, pet store giant Petco moved into a 13,500-square-foot space in the 142,274-square-foot shopping center.

Jackson Heights Shopping Center has about two dozen retail and office tenants and is anchored by Rite Aid, Waldbaum’s and Santander Bank.

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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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