The Daily Plant : Wednesday, August 14, 2002
THE MAGIC FRIENDS CAN DO
I have never been so inspired as I sat amidst hundreds of kids in a small neighborhood park on the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn. But this is not a piece about my thoughts, my opinions, or my feelings. This is a piece about the slow and steady turn around of one of the city’s worst parks, and I hope that at the end you feel the same inspiration as I did.
Crispus Attucks Park sits on the corner of Fulton and Classon Avenues in Brooklyn and was once a place that neighborhood residents feared. For many years the park was used by drug dealers, drug users, and criminals. The park was abused so badly that the park building was closed, and rumor has it the piping was actually stolen. But within the last year, a concerted effort by community members in the forming of a "friends of" group has brought new life to the park.
With the help of Parks, City Parks Foundation (CPF) and Brooklyn’s Partnerships for Parks crew, the Friends of Crispus Attucks Park have made the park cleaner, safer, and once again, frequented by neighborhood adults and children alike. PRM Lena Neglia praised the Friends of Group for bringing children back to the park, and taking on the challenge of restoring a park that had long been ignored. Throughout the summer, CPF’s Arts in the Parks program has helped to solidify this park’s new place in the community. On July 16, Crispus Attucks Park held a puppet show that delighted over 500 neighborhood children with the telling of the classic tale of Cinderella. This event was followed up by a reading in the park that entertained 300 local youths with the wonderful story of "Sweet Potato Pie and Such".
On Tuesday, July 30, I was fortunate enough to attend the third installation of Arts at Crispus Attucks Park, a magic show by master magician Phillip Jennings. Mr. Jennings performed for hundreds of local kids who in turn had the pleasure of seeing the comedic magical styling of Mr. Jennings. The Friends of Crispus Attucks have spent countless hours building relationships with daycare centers and camps in the neighborhood, creating a sea of colored t-shirts in Mr. Jennings’ crowd. With kids on hand from the Flatbush YMCA, St. Phillips Christian Youth Center, the Arts & Literacy Summer Institution, the 88th Precinct Summer Youth Program, and more, the Friends of Crispus Attucks, the neighborhood members and a visitor like myself could see just how far this park has come.
The work at Crispus Attucks has really just begun. Getting the park cleaned up and getting the neighborhood involved in park activities is a great start, but there is more work to do. It is estimated that it will cost about $765,000 to fix the park building. The Friends of Crispus Attucks plan on attacking the task of fundraising over the upcoming months. With $200,000 already set aside for the project by Borough President Marty Markowitz and former Council Member Annette Robinson, they hope to see these funds matched by other local representatives.
As the day was winding down, I turned to Dale Charles, one of the leaders of the Friends of Crispus Attucks group, and asked where she finds the energy to do her work. "The payment I get from this is more then money, I mean, just look…" and look I did, at hundreds of smiling, cheering, happy kids enjoying a day that a few years ago would have been an impossibility. The story of Crispus Attucks made me want to see the park and meet the people, and doing that made me want to make a difference. Perhaps this article will inspire a new group of friends in a new park to take on the crime and grime and make a change. If you know of a Friends group that is making, has made, or is working towards making their park better, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that they too can be recognized for all their hard work.
Written by Jeffrey Sandgrund
Thirteen Years Ago In The Plant
(Wednesday, August 23, 1989)
HISTORIC BRYANT PARK RECEIVES
$2 MILLION TOWARD RESTORATION
Named after the poet, editor and orator William Cullen Bryant, 105-year-old Bryant Park is the largest public space in Midtown Manhattan. Its 9.5 acres, which host the main branch of The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, have long had historical significance in the city. In fact, long before Bryant Park was planted with English plane trees and ivy, the site served as a Revolutionary War battlefield, a paupers’ graveyard, a reservoir, and the location of America’s first World Fair.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community."
Anthony J. D'Angelo