02/21/17 10:33am
Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Let me introduce you to the 5th Brooklyn Scouts, where their motto is “traditional scouting for everyone.”

Don’t be fooled by the word “traditional.” Part of the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA), an all-inclusive scouting organization that has been in existence worldwide since 1907, the 5th Brooklyn Scouts is not the gender-segregated experience that you remember from being a Cub Scout or a Brownie, and does not have the same history of discrimination against gay and transgender children and leaders. (Last month, The Boy Scouts of America finally announced that they would allow transgender boys to join.)

Just as importantly, Brooklyn Scouts seamlessly blends the joys of forest school, the community service of a social justice club, and outdoors-focused field trips, all for $180 for the entire year. Children spend a lot of time outside, and learn real skills.

The Brooklyn chapter speaks openly about their challenge to diversify in their Park Slope enclave, which is a focus for their organization this year, as well as a historical value of the organization. “Scouting has even transcended and risen above racial divisions and prejudices in the movement’s past,” says scoutmaster Jillian Tate. “Our founder, Lord Robert Baden Powell, refused to allow racial segregation in scouting until his death in 1941–even in countries like South Africa and India where the ruling colonists attempted to create all-white organizations.” (more…)

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09/06/16 11:24am

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Welcome back from the long weekend! Now let’s get right into it, Brooklyn.

If there’s one theme that has emerged in this long, strange trip of an election cycle, it’s that Americans, New Yorkers included, are ready for political change. If you are dedicated to change then you have to vote–not just every four years in November, but in election cycles big and small. It just so happens that the New York State and Local Primary is next week on Sept. 13 and you should vote in it.

Why? Here’s a quick and dirty explanation. New York City leans heavily Democratic in most races, state, local and national. If you are a new candidate challenging an incumbent of the same party, as is usually the case, that means that your state and local contest is in September. Come November, the Democrats who win next week (again, most state and local offices in NYC are held by Democrats) will be largely unchallenged on the ballot, either running unopposed or against Republicans with minimal backing, funding or actual intention of serving. When very few people vote in September, and the people who do vote are dedicated to the status quo, it makes changing up our representation in Albany very difficult–and leads to the incredibly long terms in state office that we see so often in New York City.

What does that matter? Well, did you know that New York state had one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country during the national primary? Did you read that only 9% of the entire U.S. voted for Clinton or Trump? Do you find it disappointing that pretty much every major candidate in this election cycle is close to 70 years old? There can be no new energy in politics, no new ideas, if voters don’t vote, starting with state and local elections.

Here are two Brooklyn candidates who will be on the ballot for State Senate next week, each running against other Democrats who have been in office for more than a decade. (You can view all the seats up for election here.) We’re not endorsing these candidates–we’re not here to tell you how to vote. We’re making the point that if you actually care about the system as whole, every race matters and there’s more opportunity to get involved in our political system than you might think. It’s also a chance to make sure that you are registered to vote on Nov. 8–the deadline to register for the general election in New York State is Oct. 14.  (more…)

10/22/15 1:00pm
Kristen Wiig and Sebastian Silva star in "Nasty Baby."

Kristen Wiig and Sebastian Silva star in “Nasty Baby.”

Going into Nasty Baby, the new sort-of-comedy from Sebastián Silva, I was under the assumption, based on a short press release I had read, that I was about to watch Baby Mama crossed with Modern Family, with maybe a splash of faux seriousness, a la Silver Linings Playbook, but starring Kristen Wiig. Nope. Not at all, not even close. And while the movie I just described would be a lot easier to watch, and would probably do well at the box office, Nasty Baby, which many viewers may well hate, accomplishes what films do so infrequently–it left me uncomfortable and puzzled in a productive way.

The basic plot here is simple. Polly (Wiig), and her gay BFF Freddy (Silva) are trying to have a baby. Turns out, his sperm count is low, so they convince his boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) to be the donor. They all stroll around Fort Greene, gawking at multi-racial babies and imagining themselves as the perfect post-racial, all-inclusive, multi-culti, perfectly modern messy family. 

Played straight, this is a saccharine plot at best, the kind of depiction of Brooklyn that makes half the country view the borough as a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, the other half long to move here (until they discover that Freddy and Mo’s one-bedroom apartment in a brownstone would likely run them upwards of $3,500 a month). (more…)

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