Tag Archives: Queens Documented

New storytelling series shares people’s tales of coming to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Queens Documented flyer final new


A new quarterly storytelling series is looking to share the tales of the people who make up the diverse borough of Queens.

Queens Documented, a project of the initiative Five Boro Story Project, which creates community events to showcase stories and art inspired by the city’s neighborhoods, will officially launch on Sunday at Terraza 7, located at 40-19 Gleane St.

The free event will feature stories from three speakers who will share their journeys coming to Queens, music inspired by the borough and an open-mic session for audience members to also talk about their Queens-themed experiences.

Bridget Bartolini, founder of Five Boro Story Project and a native Queens resident, said she hopes the series, which is expected to take place every three months at Terraza 7, will bring people together and create connections within the community.

“I really hope that people at the event will get to know each other,” Bartolini said. “I want to create an opportunity for people to get to know their neighbors. Come as strangers and leave as neighbors.”

When it came to picking a venue for the series, Bartolini said Terraza 7, located between the neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, was a “special spot” because it serves as more than just a bar; it is also a cultural venue.

Bartolini said she encourages people to contact the group if they are interested on being featured as a speaker.

The July 20 launch event, which begins at 6 p.m., will include speakers Susan Peret, Angy Rivera and Affandy Yacoob, and finish off with music by Nicholas Howard, singer-songwriter and music producer, and Danon Singh, East Elmhurst lawyer and MC.

The Queens Documented series was also produced by community-based organization SEVA and commissioned by nonprofit The Laundromat Project’s “Create Change” program.

For more info, visit fiveborostoryproject.org.

 

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Flushing woman uses experience in advice column for undocumented youth


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Angy Rivera

Angy Rivera, a formerly undocumented immigrant, knew which words she wanted to let out when she was invited to take the stage at Flushing Town Hall last month.

In her original poem, “Community Not Condominiums,” the 23-year-old Flushing resident describes in detail the communities of Jackson Heights, Flushing and Corona through following a food vendor named “Doña María.”

Doña María is up before the sun rises
Moon shining on her face she gets ready for the morning commute
It’s her job to feed others
Moon shining on her face ella empieza a cocinar arepas, tamales, café y chocolate
Arepas made with corn and cheese
They start to melt as soon as they touch your mouth.

“At first I thought, ‘Oh wait, what if someone doesn’t understand that,” Rivera said about writing the poem in both Spanish and English. “But that’s how it is here in Queens.”

The college junior, who is studying culture and deviance with a minor in human services at John Jay College, said she felt pride when writing the poem for being part of “such a beautiful community” and remembering all the great details of each neighborhood. Yet, she said she also felt sadness when thinking about the idea of growing up and facing changes.

How will Doña María sell her tamales, arepas, café y chocolate
When the streets becomes businesses she cannot pronounce
Will her café con leche compete with Starbucks?
These signs of a cleaner and safer Queens erase the resiliency already here
We weren’t dirty to begin with
Will her house stand untouched during gentrification?

“That’s what I wanted to make sure came across, as much as it’s a celebration of Queens, on the flipside it’s about things we can lose,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time Rivera’s words reached a much larger audience. In 2009 she joined the nonprofit New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first volunteer undocumented youth and membership led organization started in 2007, as an intern.

The Colombian-native, who was undocumented for 19 years and has recently obtained a visa, went on to create a national undocumented youth advice column in 2010 called “Ask Angy.”

“It was the first time I met with other immigrant young people that wanted to change things that they saw unjust,” said Rivera, who immigrated with her family to the United States just one week shy of her fourth birthday. “Through them I grew as a person.”

Now as a core member of the organization, she helps out in the media/outreach and arts/self-expression programs. Through her weekly column, she said she gets people writing to her from all around the nation about different subjects undocumented youths face, such as driving without a license and deferred action.

Although she said it is tricky at times because she doesn’t always have answers, especially when it comes to legal topics, she said the column has helped her learn different laws depending on states.

“Being involved helped me become more open about a lot of things and helped me learn a lot of new stuff,” she said. “It’s been very healing to meet other people in the same situation as you. It’s always been nice to have a group to understand.”

Continuing her involvement in activism, Rivera has also become part of Queens Neighborhoods United, a coalition created to build power and develop leadership in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. The group recently has gone around cleaning the streets down Roosevelt Avenue.

Rivera now plans to recite “Community Not Condominiums” at a new quarterly series called “Queens Documented,” which launches on July 20 at Terraza 7 located at 40-19 Gleane St. in Elmhurst and features stories and music from people who migrated to Queens.

To read Rivera’s full poem, click here.

 

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