Sunday, November 30, 2014


This year, Sesame Street turned 45 and so did I.  To celebrate, I went this past weekend to The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens to see Sesame Street: The Parodies.  It was a generous, 90-minute long compilation of clips of Sesame's version of movies, songs, and television shows.  Many thanks to Craig Shemin, President of the Jim Henson Legacy and a former Jim Henson Company staff writer, for creating this awesome set of clips. (More info about Craig here.)

Here's a punch list of some of the reel's highlights:

3 Ways To Continue the Fun....

1. If you'd like more Sesame adventures, come check out the exhibition Somebody Come and Play: 45 Years of Sesame Street currently on view at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
2. Keep checking back with the Museum of the Moving Image website for the highly-antipated 2015 opening of The Jim Henson Exhibition and Gallery
3. Check out other Sesame-related posts from Creative Times:

Monday, October 06, 2014


Would you like a patient, focused educator to help your child with reading, and writing?

Look no further!

I am an alumna of Bank Street College of Education with 25 years of experience working with children in public and private school settings, as well as in cultural institutions such as The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and The Brooklyn Children's Museum.

A former Assistant Teacher at P.S. 29 and leader of family literacy workshops, I am a skilled writer with a 10-year-old arts blog and articles published on the web.

I support your K - 8th grade child to do the following:
  • Increase his/her confidence as a reader and a writer
  • Develop an enjoyment of reading and writing
  • Stay organized and on-task with homework assignments.
  • Establish patterns and routines to boost study savvy.
I work with families in the Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill neighborhoods.

If you would like to chat about your child's needs, please contact me.  I would be delighted to hear from you.

Eleanor Traubman

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


It's one thing to read a book by Roald Dahl, but it's quite another to see his books brought to life by an entire school.

Last Saturday, when I entered the playground of PS 32 in Brooklyn, here's what I saw:  Parents, children, and teachers dressed as characters from Road Dahl books such as Fantastic Mr. FoxCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches.  I saw families playing games based on Dahl books.  I heard songs from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie soundtrack floating in the air.  I felt the magic of these books embodied by a whole community of readers.

The principal, Ms. Florio (see photo above), was dressed at The Golden Ticket from Charlie.  "The art teacher, Dave,  made this costume for me," she proudly shared.  The back of the costume read, true to the ticket described in the book, "In your wildest dreams you could not imagine the marvelous surprises that await you!"

Over in another corner, a student was dressed like Violet when she turned into a blueberry.

A father and a daughter wore costumes which depicted the foxes from Fantastic Mr. Fox.

After milling around and taking in the pageantry, I stopped to listen to some of the people who had made this event possible; these included school librarian Adam Marcus and Deborah Florio, the principal.  School Chancellor Carmen Farina, who has a 30-year relationship with PS 32, also spoke to the crowd. Off to the side, I chatted with  Francine Cuomo, the school's Business Manager.  Ms. Cuomo, who had worked hard to help build the library and organize the day's event, was heartened by the impact of the library on the school culture.  Dave Chimoskey, the school's art teacher, was also instrumental in creating the enchanted event.

So how did this event, with its beautiful community of readers, come to be?

In the summer of 2009, Principal Florio asked teacher Adam Marcus to build a library for PS 32.  Marcus, with the help of a library advisory committee, raised more than $500,000 to create what would become the hub of the school.

Fast-forward to 2014, when PS 32 became one of 20 schools in the country to receive a Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory grant.  The grant was bestowed by Penguin Young Readers Group as a team with First Book Advisory Boards in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the legendary book.

The honor included multiple copies of all Dahl's books, a giant Charlie bean bag for the library,  and last Saturday's party, which was sponsored by First Book, Penguin Publishing,  Hay Rosie Craft Ice Cream Co., and The Chocolate Room.  The party, took place on September 13, Roald Dahl Day, and was generously staffed by 70 volunteers from places like Good Shepherd Services and The American Association of Publishers.

On a personal note, I am greatly inspired by the work and imagination that this school's teachers, administration, and parents have invested in creating the gem that is the PS 32 library.  Many public schools nowadays do not have a library, or have turned their library into a computer center.  What better way to foster young people's love of reading by building a beautiful, comfortable, cozy, friendly space where a child (or an adult!) can plop down on a couch and bury her nose in a book.

Keep up the great work, PS 32!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


The song "California Girls" by The Beach Boys is pretty sexist, but I had fun singing it with my husband Mike Sorgatz last Friday in front of a group of people.

We had zipped through a little Red Hook Gallery exhibit and wanted a bite to eat.  "How about Hope and Anchor?" I suggested.  It was a small, fun, neighborhood-y diner-like joint in Red Hook with super decent prices and stuff we normally do not have at home.  (Mac 'n' cheese fritters, anyone? Definitely a sometimes treat!)

We sat down to order, and eventually a family with two young daughters came in.  They both looked super excited to be there, and they were definitely there on a mission.  That mission was to sing as many songs as they could on Karaoke Night.

 Every Friday and Saturday evening, the owner Pete gets into drag, hands out huge books with thousands of song choices, and tells folks who want to sing to write down the name and number of the song on a post-it before handing it to him.

Pete - a/k/a Stella Dora - is a great host.  S/he has a great sense of humor and a pleasant singing voice, but lets the guest singers shine, too.  The two aforementioned sisters, around 12 and 7, sang about 8 songs together.  Some of the wait staff sang, and one young man boisterously belted out the theme song to Sesame Street. I couldn't help but high-five him when he was done; his enthusiasm was contagious!   The songs ranged from Daft Punk's "Lucky" to Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'".   Ah, memories!

I was one of those children who was always making up songs, dances, plays, musicals, and radio shows, so karaoke was right up my alley.  It was so great  to sit there and sing along to songs from a variety of decades.  And even more fun to do it in a small and cozy neighborhood setting with an expert host.

Was I nervous getting up in front of the group?  Yes!  But no one cared what your voice sounded like.  It was all about fun and participation.

We will definitely be back!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014



Taste of Red Hook” will take place on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, from 6-9pm at Pioneer Works, Center for Art + Innovation (159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn).

 More than 40 local restaurants, distilleries, and wineries will offer a wide sampling of their signature dishes and drinks. “Taste of Red Hook” is the annual fundraiser for the Red Hook Initiative (RHI), a community-based nonprofit that works to confront poverty through a model focused on youth development, community building, and local hiring.

 "Taste of Red Hook is a unique event in our neighborhood," says Jill Eisenhard, RHI's Founder & Executive Director. "It is one of the few occasions where small business owners, home owners, public housing residents, elected officials, and local supporters are all gathered under one roof. Not only is it a fun event, the proceeds also contribute to true systemic change and pathways out of poverty for Red Hook youth."
"We've participated in Taste of Red Hook since it first began eight years ago, and are proud to be a part of it," says Ben Schneider, co-owner of The Good Fork, a nationally acclaimed restaurant. "Taste is a special night of the year when Red Hook businesses get together to eat, drink, and celebrate our community."
All proceeds from Taste of Red Hook go to RHI, winner of the 2012 New York Magazine Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. RHI employs over 100 local residents, a majority of whom are teenagers or young adults. Many of these youth participants will be present at the event to speak about their role at RHI.
Tickets for RHI’s only fundraiser of the year are available on the RHI website:
This year's event is sponsored by Terra CRG, The O'Connell Organization,, Kamco, Koya Leadership Partners, Massey Knakal, New York Water Taxi, EILEEN FISHER and International School of Brooklyn.
The following establishments are some of those that will participate in Taste of Red Hook 2014: Alma, Baked, Blue Marble, Brooklyn Crab, Brooklyn Ice House, Court Street Grocers, Defonte's, Fairway Catering, Fleisher's Pasture-Raised Meats, Fort Defiance, Good Fork, Grindhaus, Hometown, Hope & Anchor, IKEA, Jack from Brooklyn, Kevin's, La Slowteria, Margaret Palca Bakes, Mark's Pizza, Nightingale9, Pok Pok NY, Raaka Chocolate, Red Hook Bait & Tackle, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Red Hook Winery, Six Point Craft Ale, Steve's Key Lime Pie, The Chocolate Room, Uncouth Vermouth, Van Brunt Still House, Whipped Pastry Boutique, and Widow Jane.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I am proud to be a lady biker.  A Brooklyn-based lady biker.
But I wasn't always one.  I was too scared to ride a bike alone and in traffic.

My man bought a bike for me many years ago when we were newer to Brooklyn.  I rode a few times with him, and that was it.  I was too scared to ride in traffic on my own, so Pink Bike sat idly, chained up to to a street sign on our block. 

Years passed.  I joined a health support group at a local YMCA. We set goals each week and rallied around each other to reach those goals.  One week, I said to the group "I am going to get on my bike and ride it for TWO BLOCKS to the neighborhood park." "That is a great goal!" said the group.

I was scared, I mean really scared, to get on the bike without the company of my husband.  I did not know traffic rules.

But I got on the bike, and started pedaling toward the park. 

Once my trip was underway, a strange thing happened: I got to the park, but instead of stopping there, I kept pedaling.  I somehow remembered the way, more or less, to a path by the water that went through Brooklyn Bridge Park and then into DUMBO.

Wait a sec, how did this happen?

I pedaled home, not believing what I had done.  When I got off my bike to lock it up, I was shaking pretty hard.  I don't know if it was from fear, fatigue, or both.

But I had done it - I had ridden my bike through traffic all by myself!

It's weird, because adults aren't supposed to get excited when we overcome fears.  But I think we should! And we should celebrate our successes and share stories of overcoming fears with other adults.  Why?  Because it breaks down the isolation we experience around the fears we carry, and  because we can help inspire each other to address our fears with support.

Example:  I was chatting with one of the employees of the place where I bank.  He told me he would love to learn how to swim, but never had taken it on because of a near-drowning experience he had when he was very young.

I told him about my experience with riding a bike alone. I said that I thought it was much easier to deal with fears with the support and accountability of a group, like the one I was part of at the Y.  I told him that the Y taught people just like him how to swim.

The next time I came into the bank, I asked Banker Man if he had taken any steps toward swimming. He said he had told his girlfriend about the idea, and that they were thinking about taking a swim class together.  I was so excited to hear this!

Back to biking for a minute.

There are some other things I did to keep building courage and support around being a lady biker.  I discovered a great organization called WE BIKE NYC.   WE BIKE is a community of women who ride bikes and who provide a safe space for women to ride together regardless of speed, skill, and riding style.  Every month, they offer different events to get more women on the road. These events include social rides, training rides, mechanics workshops and field trips.  

I went to a WE BIKE Rules of the Road workshop, a social gathering at a Lower East Side bar, and met up with some WE BIKE cyclists in Red Hook after they had rode their bikes in from Manhattan.  (I'm not quite ready to do the Brooklyn-Manhattan round trip yet.)

I also went to the New York Bike Expo just to hear a group of women panelists speak about Women's Biking in NYC: Your Questions Answered.  Very inspiring!

And guess what?  I did once injure myself, trying to be a bad-a**. Yes, that's right, I tried to jump a curb, but did not have enough speed to clear it.  So I sustained a painful soft tissue injury on my hand for a number of months.  But I survived and kept going.

Now, basically anywhere I would normally walk to, I ride my bike. 
Also, my bike has gotten me out of some pinches, like the time the F train was not running and I was going to be late for a doctor's appointment where I would have been fined for not showing up.  I hopped on my bike, raced through traffic to another subway line, and got to my appointment.

One last thing:  I am still scared when I ride my bike.  But I am also having a great time.  I am so glad I decided to push past the initial fear, with the help of a great group, and pursue my desire to ride. 'Cuz now I can ride like the wind!

Do you have any fears that you have overcome with the help of a group or another person?  Do you have any current fears you would like to overcome?  What might be a next step for you?

Whatever your goal may be, I am here cheering you on!
Do you have a fitness or movement goal of your own?  Would you like to start taking better care of yourself on a day-to-day basis?  
Imagine if you had your own personal cheerleader while you took on these goals to make them realities!
I coach women who want to create increased joy, energy and confidence that comes from regular physical movement and other self-care practices

Right now, I am offering a 30-day program which includes the following:
-Weekly coaching calls
- Email check ins 
- Motivational messages 
- Self-care tips 
- Strategies to get you moving in ways that are satisfying and pleasurable to you
- Techniques  for addressing internal and external barriers to getting more physically active and taking better care of yourself 
Contact me if you are interested in setting up a complimentary 20-minute discovery session. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


I am beyond excited that my friend Lesley Ware will be hosting a sneak preview of Sew Fab: A Guide for Pre-Teen Fashionistas,  the book into which she has poured her heart, soul, and wisdom.

 Lesley has spent the last bunch of years teaching sewing to girls, and leading fashion camps where girls get to conceptualize and create their own fashion designs.  And now we get to glean all of her amazing expertise as a teacher, fashion expert, mentor, and skilled artist, and craftswoman.

I hope to see many people I know at her book preview.  She will be showing some of the projects featured in the book.

Lesley, I wish you much success and many adventures with your soon-to-be published book!

Here are the deets of this Saturday's gathering:

 Sew Fab Preview
Saturday, August 9th, 2014
6 PM -  9 PM


Sweet Lorraine Gallery
183 Lorraine Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn 11231

*show open from August 9th - 29th*


Thursday, July 17, 2014


This here is Frosted Tart, a roller derby gal who is visiting NYC from Melbourne, Australia.

I just met her on the NYC subway.

Frosted skates for the North Side Rollers, and more specifically, with The Sisters of Anarchy.  (See her second from left.)

I looked up the Rollers on the internet.  They describe themselves as "a women’s flat-track roller derby league, located in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. We’re a not-for-profit association, owned and run by our members, and we train and play in the Reservoir/Preston area. We’re also an Apprentice League in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA)."

She and I chatted for a minute about Drew Barrymore's awesome lady roller derby film called Whip It.  Haven't seen it yet?  Please do!

Monday, June 16, 2014


When someone starts starts shouting on the subway, I usually freeze up and pray that it ends soon. But not this time.

A few days ago, there were crazy problems on Manhattan-bound subways, and we passengers were being bumped from train to train and sent back into Brooklyn. 

One woman loudly proclaimed that she had been on 5 trains, and was being sent back to Brooklyn for the second time.  She started cursing and shouting, then began to cry.  People were either staring at her or looking away in discomfort.  I mean, nobody is supposed to act like that in public - right?  And I know that there is this training a lot of us get to mind our own business in public places, especially if someone seems like they're on edge.

The woman said out loud, but to no one in particular, that she was supposed to be picking up her daughter from school in Manhattan.  I thought about going over to her, hesitated for a minute, then finally decided to head her way.  Sitting across from this woman, I offered to go above ground with her and call her daughter's school.  Her story was pretty involved, but I just listened and told her several times that it wasn't her fault.  She got calmer and softened. I've felt like this woman before - enraged and panicked at the same time - but kept the feelings tucked inside.

It's definitely an interesting challenge to intervene in spots where people could use a hand in the moment and out in the public sphere.  Maybe the mom being super harsh with her child on the subway is actually overwhelmed and could use some friendly contact with another adult.   Maybe the teens who are being disruptive at the park could use an ally to come over and joke around with them.

Of course, it always makes sense to use one's discretion when approaching a tense scenario.  Maybe it's good to recruit  others to help in a dangerous situation instead of trying to handle it solo. But I think we're all more capable, creative and courageous than we think we are when it comes to being thoughtful in the direction of "strangers" out in public.  

We can always try, and make mistakes, but it's sometimes better to actually do something and learn from the experience than to be passive out of fear.

We don't always have to know each other in advance in order to offer comfort or assistance to each other.  We don't have to occupy an official role, title or position to come to someone's aid in a public space.   Appoint yourself whatever title you need to step up to the plate when a situation needs your courage and intelligence.  Be a Minister of Kindness in the workplace.  Be a Keeper of the Peace on the subway and in the streets. 

I'm curious to hear about where you've thoughtfully intervened in a tense public situation. What was the outcome? What did you learn from the experience?

Let's support each other to be wisely brave out there in the parks, subways, grocery stores and sidewalks.  Our communities need us to stay on our toes and ready to take action at a moment's notice. 

Whether it lasts 30 seconds or 30 minutes, your act of courage in someone else's direction could make all the difference in the world.

Photo credit:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


SC Gathering Brooklyn 2014, #1SC Gathering Brooklyn 2014, #3
SC Gathering Brooklyn 2014, #2Listening

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a tour of The Brooklyn New School to learn more about its incredible efforts to promote sustainability.  The tour was organized by Emily Fano, who heads up the New York Eco-Schools - National Wildlife Federation.

After going on the tour, I understood why this school was recognized with the Green Flag by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program.  The staff there - from the principal to the science teacher to the sustainability coordinator - work closely as a team to help the whole school community conserve natural resources and incorporate environmental education into the curriculum.

What first impressed me is that BNS has its very own Sustainability Coordinator, Johanna Esteras. This seems crucial in pulling all the different sustainability efforts together, so it's not just people doing their own thing off in different corners of the school.  The fact that there is a dedicated staff member tells me that this is a big priority for the school.

The other thing I noticed is that as Johanna showed us around the schoolyard and its various eco-friendly projects, different children came up to her to make contact and to chime in about these various projects.  They seemed to have a great tie with her and a real sense of ownership over everything.

Also, it was clear that Johanna has good relationships with different staff, and I thought "Right! All of this is possible because of those solid, cooperative connections."

Here are some of the other reasons BNS is outstanding in the field of sustainability:

* The school  has its own green blog: Ecorama.  Do check it out!

* Students took on a variety of sustainability initiatives; these included forming an Eco-Action team, increasing green space and biodiversity on school grounds, saving energy, and implementing award-winning waste reduction measures.

* The school recycles and composts 75 percent of its cafeteria food waste, turns hard-to-recycle items into art projects, and is an official city Compost Project demonstration site.

 * The school’s garden includes a “pollinator palace” and bug hotel,

* BNS students learn about a variety of globally important issues across the grades and curricula:

First graders raise crops in the school garden, use the compost they produce from their cafeteria scraps on their raised beds, and harvest and serve their produce. They explore green spaces in and around the school community — including parks, community gardens, and other urban farms.

Second graders learn about the importance of water as they engineer ways to collect water, including: designing a water filtering system, creating rainwater catchment systems, and building pipe systems to meet a variety of challenges. This spring, they created pipe systems to irrigate the school’s gardens.

Fifth graders study weather and climate change and the benefits of alternative energy sources. They demonstrate what they learn at the school’s yearly sustainability “science fair” — Ecorama.

 * Students and staff have ventured out into their community to plant and care for trees, participate in ecological restoration and cleanups at nearby Plumb Beach, and raised and released native pollinators like monarch butterflies.

* Other gems include the Green Studio — a room devoted to sustainable projects and activities; the cafeteria recycling stations; an outdoor composting center and garden, and the Eco-Casita — an outdoor classroom in a converted shipping container, topped off by a green roof.

Photo Credit: Cynthia Carris

Thursday, May 29, 2014


JJ Byrne Playground is a Home Away from Home

First thing in the morning, I pedal out to either a local park or the lounge-lobby of a small neighborhood-based hotel.  Doing so helps me clear my mind and start the day on an upbeat and note and energized mood.

There's something useful about finding a spot that's away from home, to get a bit of distance from day-to-day routines, but not go too far away, so I can return to my abode with some fresh ideas and inspiration for living.

When I was very young, and not able to go far away on my own, there were a few homes away from home.  One was the forts I built with my brother in our living room.  We took hours to fashion these structures where we could have our own space, a place to fill with sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals.  A little bit later, maybe during middle school years, I sometimes pitched a camping tent in our backyard to create the same kind of thing, only I would use bring a short wave radio in there to listen to music.

During college and post-college years, when I was became an east coast transplant from CA, my refuge became the Doylestown, PA  home of our dear family friend Rosie McVay.  Rosie, who gave me my own cozy room to sleep in, would include me in fun projects like making chocolate chip scones, washing down her patio furniture, and working in the local community garden.  She was like a Godmother to me, and I regarded her as a more laid-back, socially conscious version of Martha Stewart.  Rosie was so active in her community, that the mayor declared her 50th birthday "Rosie McVay Day" there in Doylestown.

Now, in midlife, I have several homes away from home.  One is my graduate school library, which is where is where I go to write and think.  While the local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is much closer to where I live, it's a bit too wild and woolly for real concentration and reflection.  Plus, the school has a cafeteria with gluten-free options!

Another retreat spot is a local boutique hotel.   The staff there is relaxed about having non-guests hang out in their lounge, so I often pedal out there very early in the morning to have a glass of water and read out of an inspiring book before heading home to eat breakfast.

A third spot is 2 places rolled into one.  It's The Old Stone House, a historic site in the center of Park Slope that also encompasses J.J. Byrne Playground.  It's a super short bike ride away from our place, and a great place to start the day:  it's filled with quick, mischievous black squirrels that are fun to watch; early-rising parents with their young children; and a few folks doing their a.m. exercise routine.

What are your favorite homes away from home, and what do you love about them?

Thursday, May 01, 2014


Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you well and enjoying Spring! I am excited to be celebrating the 10th year of my blog, Creative Times.

If, after taking a look at the info below, you have an idea of someone who you think I should meet, or an opportunity I should know about, please send me an email. I value your creative input!

I am looking for part time work close to my home in Carroll Gardens. Ideally, it would be a bike ride or short subway ride away.

I would love a job that allows me to use some combination of these talents:
  • Community- and team-building
  • Writing/researching/promoting the arts and culture scene in NY
  • Connecting people of different generations
  • Facilitating hands-on, interactive learning experiences
Specific settings that appeal to me are ones which center around these themes:
  • Arts- and culture- related (especially the performing arts!)
  • Literature/books (especially children's books!)
  • Local community work
  • The natural environment (e.g. parks and gardens)
Here's a little bit about my background: I'm a seasoned, Bank Street-trained educator and Brooklyn-based arts and culture writer with a history of providing hands-on, inquiry- and play-based learning experiences in school, nonprofit, and museum settings, including The Brooklyn Museum, The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and The Brooklyn Children's Museum.

Currently, I am a docent in the Education Department at The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. There, I welcome parents, caregivers, tourists, and children into The Fragrance Garden and help them connect to opportunities to learn about the natural world. I also help run children's activities for members-only and special events. I would like to do similar work in a similar setting.

My appreciation of the rich cultural landscapes of Brooklyn and Manhattan is reflected in my work as Editor-In-Chief of the blog Creative Times. Now in its tenth year, Creative Times shines the spotlight on the performances and projects of New York's literary, performing, and visual artists and cultural institutions.

Here are some sample work projects:

  • Collaborated with a team of 25 organizers to plan and oversee GO, a historic borough-wide open studio weekend designed to foster personal exchange between 1700 Brooklyn artists, their communities, and The Brooklyn Museum. Resulted in 147,000 studio visits in a single weekend.
  • Conceptualized and Co-produced The Brooklyn Blogfest, an annual event for 300 bloggers, journalists, and community leaders. Recruited and managed 30-person volunteer staff. Organized monthly, neighborhood-based gatherings of Brooklyn bloggers.
  • Consulted with Bank Street College of Education to use social and new media platforms to publicize alumni events; galvanize alumni activity on LinkedIn group and Twitter accounts; and strategize content areas and recruitment of writers for alumni blog.
  • Managed PlayNet, a grant-funded project at The Brooklyn Children's Museum designed to increase educators', parents’, and caretakers’ understanding of play and capacity to facilitate play with children.
Thanks so much for your support! Please feel free to email me with questions or ideas.

How to Contact Me

Eleanor Traubman

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The image that led me to The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
A little more than a year ago, I kept getting images in my mind of flowers, plants and trees, and of me being surrounded by these things.

During that time, I found a greeting card (pictured above) which perfectly captured the feeling of what I wanted to be around.  Putting the card on my desk where I could see it each day seemed easier than going through all the steps of making a vision board.  So I just let the image stay there for a good long time so it could stay in my consciousness.

As the days passed with the garden-themed card on my desk, I started thinking about the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and decided to go up there during the the weekend of the Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival.  It was a total madhouse, just thick with the bodies of thousands of people.  I made my way into the Visitor's Center where I happened to run into BBG's Director of Visitor Services and Volunteers, Lou Cesario.  He was an affable, down-to-earth guy with a fun guitar tattoo and stories of growing up in a big, Italian family.

I told him that I was interested in being part of the BBG, and he sent me online to apply to be a volunteer.

I was recruited to serve as a docent in the Education Department, and was lucky enough to be trained by two fantastic women - Shaquana Boykin and Ashley Gamell. 

Fast forward a year, and I am still in my post as an education docent, helping children, parents, educators and caregivers interact with all the mystery and magic of The Fragrance Garden, a section of the BBG which is set up so that everything in it can be smelled or touched.  After arriving in the morning, we docents set up several stations - a worm bin so that people can learn about composting (they can even hold the worms!); a story mat full of picture books about the natural environment; and one or two information tables full of objects which relate to the theme of the week and which the children can explore in a hands-on fashion. 

The information table has been a home to all kinds of interesting things - seeds of a variety of  shapes and sizes; nests; gourds; plants; objects related to pollinators.  We almost always have a scavenger hunt where children can check off things they find in the garden.  Sometimes, they get to pot up plants.  It's so rewarding to see young people, including toddlers, as well as adults, make a connection, their very own personal connection, with the natural environment. 

Aside from serving in my post as a docent, I've also had a blast helping to run children's science and art activities as the members-only and special events of the BBG.  Last spring, hundreds of young people came and decorated cardboard top hats with every kind of craft supply under the sun.  Feathers, ribbons, and pom poms were flying everywhere that day, and I could see the NY Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham a few feet away, snapping photos of the children and the hats.

There's such a positive vibe at the BBG, and everyone - staff, volunteers, and visitors - are so friendly, that it's hard to NOT feel good while you are there.

I've particularly enjoyed my interactions with President Emeritus Betty Scholtz, who has been at the gardens for 50-plus years.  She comes by car service almost every day, gets around on a walker, and is extremely sharp and interesting. She is my inspiration!

I love hearing behind the scenes stories of how people let their pets loose here (they are not supposed to), and tales of how raccoons sneak into places they are not supposed to be and end up scaring people.  I keep thinking about what a great movie that would make, a movie about how the animals take over the gardens at night, have dance parties in The Palm House, read books in the library, and have relay races on the Cherry Esplanade.

This year, there are two special things happening at the BBG: They are celebrating the 100th year of The Children's Garden and they are receiving an honorary medal from The Institute of Museum and Library Services. The award will be presented by Michelle Obama at The White House.

I look forward to many more years of adventures and friendships at the BBG, and am glad I let that image guide me to this very special, important, and magical place.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Six Bridges at Urban Folk Art Gallery - Work in Progress

Six Bridges at Urban Folk Art Gallery

Believe it or not spring is almost here and so is Mike Sorgatz's new solo art exhibit at Urban Folk Art Gallery. Mike will be showing a combination of paintings and prints - including a series of six paintings of the Brooklyn Bridge.
 You can view the event page on Facebook at

Hope to see you there!

Opening Reception March 21st from 7-10pm
101 Smith Street, Brooklyn

Saturday, February 08, 2014


February 18, 2014 · 7:00 PM
BRIC House Stoop

Brooklyn goes to the Oscars with this Stoop Series featuring nominated films selected by Filmwax Radio’s Adam Schartoff.

Filmwax Radio is a 30-minunte program on BBox (Brooklyn Community Radio) that consists of interviews with folks from the Brooklyn indie film scene. Schartoff, a long time resident of Brooklyn, is founder and programmer Filmwax.

BRIC’s Stoop Series illuminates the arts and life around us in Brooklyn through artistic performances and presentations, framed by dynamic conversations with some of the city’s most innovative artists, thinkers, and tastemakers. Programs will explore the performing arts, film, media, visual arts, spoken word, and other creative fields. Engage with of the most innovative artistic voices in Brooklyn's ever-expanding cultural scene on the monumental interior stoop of BRIC House, Brooklyn's new home for the arts in downtown Brooklyn. Free, on most Tuesday nights.


February 25: The Shed Storytelling Salon
March 4: Into the Loop: Friendly Falcons
March 25: Bklyn Artisanal Army
April 29: Real Characters

BRIC Arts | Media House
647 Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Tel: 718.683.5600
Fax: 718.802.9095

Subway to BRIC House:

2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St
B, Q, R to Dekalb Ave
C to Lafayette Ave
G to Fulton
Steps from the Atlantic Terminal and the Long Island Railroad

Monday, February 03, 2014




8 PM | Dance Party featuring CHERYL and Bushwig $10 Adv / $13 Door

Find your WOW factor, as BRIC celebrates individuality and imagination with a host of all-ages activities. Dance the night away with performers from Bushwig, Brooklyn’s annual festival of queer expression, drag queens, and music. CHERYL, Brooklyn’s video and performance art group, caps off the night with its exuberant sound and high-spirited displays of creativity sure to bring out your inner party monster.

All Day
Come play games such as Checkers, Connect Four, Candyland, Uno, Twister and more on the Stoop and in the gallery, all day long!

Digital Remix

Green screen activity engaging visitors of all ages to create masks and props to perform with in front of a personally chosen green screen fantasy environment.

Family Dance Class: SOCA with instructors from The School at Mark Morris Dance Group
SOCA is a fun dance experience accompanied by Soca music (a blend of calypso and soul music created in the early 60s). The class will start with a short warm up, teach you some basic moves, and end with a short choreography sequence. No previous dance experience required.


Super Storytelling and Bookmaking Activity with 826NYC
826NYC, which is the home of the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., will lead youth and families through creating a character, imagining a dramatic storyline, and resolving the scene with heroic style. Participants will walk away with their very own book and have the opportunity to share their story with the crowd!

Brooklyn Free Speech TV Screening
Hosted By Amar Taborn of Love We World Tour, we'll check out the colorful variety of short videos produced by everyday people here at BRIC House, including:
*  Dare 2 Dream: A Father’s Guide to Success – Teaching the values of being a father  (Produced by Coach Stevan Lynn.)
*  Paper Girl - A colorful exploration of fashion and entertainment (Produced by Ftema Raysor.)
*  The Hambone Show – Edgy sketch comedy that tackles real life and the movie (Produced by Powell Burns.)

Paris Is Burning Screening

Paris Is Burning is a critically acclaimed documentary filmed in the mid-to-late 80s, chronicling the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it.

Dance Party!

CHERYL with a performance by BUSHWIG
To purchase tix to dance party, click HERE

BRIC House Ballroom
A flexible performance space (240 seated to 400 standing capacity) that accomodates a wide variety of configurations and performance styles. Located on the first floor of BRIC Arts | Media House. 

647 Fulton Street
(Enter on Rockwell Place)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Google Map

Contact Information
Tel: 718.683.5600

2/3/4/5 to Nevins St | B/Q/R to DeKalb St | G to Fulton St

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


 Seeing Color: Casting African Americans in Shakespeare
 Sunday, February 9th, 6:30pm

  Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY

In this 50th anniversary year of the Civil Rights Amendment of 1964, Theatre for a New Audience presents “Seeing Color: Casting African Americans in Shakespeare.”

The panel includes actress, poet, and playwright NEHAISSAIU DeGANNES, actor JACOB MING-TRENT, Shakespeare and ‘race performance’ scholar AYANNA THOMPSON (George Washington University), and award-winning actor JOHN DOUGLAS THOMPSON. Moderating the panel will be KATHARINE GOODLAND (College of Staten Island), who has interviewed hundreds of actors, directors, producers and artists for her groundbreaking project, “Mythologizing Cultural Trauma: Representing Blackness in Contemporary American Shakespeare Productions."

"Seeing Color" is intended to cut to the heart of colorblind casting in Shakespeare today, asking not ‘do we see color’ but ‘should we see color,’ especially in Shakespeare. Focusing specifically on the performance history of African Americans in Shakespeare and the experience of black actors and theatre professionals today, we will explore these and other questions in a determined attempt to define and question our perceptions of race.

The event will take place on Sunday, February 9th, 6:30pm, at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY.

To RSVP or for further information, contact or visit

Thursday, January 09, 2014


You might know BRIC as the force behind the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival held in Prospect Park.  They've been running that show since 1979, but they've also acted as a creative home for Brooklyn's arts and artists.

BRIC is about three main things - contemporary art, performing arts, and community media.  Up until recently, these three divisions have been housed in 3 separate places.  But now, happily, each component lives under one big roof called BRIC House.

Located at 647 Fulton Street  (at Rockwell Place), BRIC House sits amongst other great art organizations and instituations like BAM Harvey and 651 Arts, Mark Morris Dance Center, and Theatre for a New Audience.
Here is a description of BRIC's spaces, taken directly from their website:

  • A flexible Performance Space (240 seated to 400 standing capacity), known as the BRIC House Ballroom, equipped with a sprung floor for dance and flexible seating to accommodate a wide variety of configurations and performance styles. An entirely new professional resource for the performing arts in Brooklyn, the Ballroom also features dressing rooms, a green room for artists and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment –supporting high-quality production values.
  • An intimate, flexible Artist Studio dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists, with an audience capacity of 75 for rehearsals and performances in workshop settings. This space can also transform into a workspace for visual artists.
  • 3,000-square-foot Gallery with dramatic 18-foot ceilings permits major exhibitions focused on emerging and mid-career artists and curators. A Project Room adjacent to the gallery will be an added resource for video work, BRIC’s emerging curator program, small-scale exhibitions and experimental curatorial projects.
  • state-of-the-art public access television center includes a new glass-walled studio and control room on the ground floor of the facility (fully visible to the public), as well as fully renovated and upgraded studios, editing suites, public equipment and media training lab on the second floor.
  • The Stoop, an all-new public cultural gathering space, featuring free, drop-in programming for all ages.
  • A café from Hungry Ghost, a Brooklyn-based coffee bar and café.
  • Classroom space to expand BRIC’s media education program.
  • All programming spaces, as well as the lobby, are to be fully wired to the master control room to support live cablecasts of select events to over 500,000 Brooklyn households and beyond on the web.
  • BRIC House is open every day. Free admission to the facility. 


I was looking for ways to experience BRIC House, "a multidisciplinary arts and media center designed to support artists and engage the public."

So when I read on BRIC's Facebook Page that they would be filming an all-women's AfroBrazilian Samba Reggae drumming band live and that the public could attend for FREE, I jumped at the opportunity to be there.  

Wow, so glad I ventured out in the cold!  These women produced some seriously powerful and joyful sounds.  Their director explained that there are many Batala bands all around the world, but only 5 of them are all women; New York's group is one of the 5. 

Turns out that two of my friends - Anne Pope and Keka Marzagao - are in the group. What a great surprise!

One nice thing to note about BRIC's new space is that there is a beautiful cafe where you can grab a tea or some grub and enjoy it while you watch a performance right there at The Stoop.

BatalaNYC has shared the bill with the likes of Reggie Watts and Cyndi Lauper.  They've also opened for The Rolling Stones50th Anniversary Tour.  They've performed at the NYC Figment Festival, The World Maker Faire, The Museum Mile Festival, The Mermaid Parade, and many more big events.

BatalaNYC gives some of their background info on their site:
The music of Batala originates in Salvador de Bahia, in North Eastern Brazil.  The international Batalá family owes its existence to Giba Gonçalves, a drummer and composer from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. In Brazil, he was one of the founders of Cortejo Afro, an arts education project to help underserved young people living in poor communities.  When he moved to Paris in 1997, he started up Batalá in Paris as the European wing of the project. Batala has since spread to over 30 international cities.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Creating a Theatre for a New Audience: The Intersection of Architecture, Design, and Theatre

Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 5:30pm
Theatre for a New Audience
at Polonsky Shakespeare Center
262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn
In 2000, Harvey Lichtenstein, recently retired executive director of BAM, invited Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), a modern classical theatre, to build its first home in what was previously known as the BAM Cultural District. Established in 1979, TFANA produces Shakespeare alongside a wide range of other major authors.

Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director, wanted space that would be both intimate and epic, but without one fixed perspective, so that artists could change the configuration of the stage and audience depending upon the needs of a particular play and production.

Over the next year, TFANA will host a series of free public discussions, which will focus on how theatrical design can support art. Part One of the Series is a conversation between Jean-Guy Lecatscenic designer and architectural consultant for Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris and BAM Harvey Theater, and consultant to Jeffrey Horowitz on the Scripps Mainstage at TFANA's Polonsky Shakespeare Centerand Randy Gener, award-winning editor, writer, critic, and artist