April 29, 2014

Busloads of Bronxites take part in the 2nd Annual Bronx Day in Albany

On Monday, April 27th, several hundred Bronxites made their way to Albany by bus and car to participate in the 2nd Annual Bronx Day in Albany. Sponsored by State Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, State Senator Jeff Klein, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., this year's theme centered around supporting small businesses and economic development in the Bronx. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the county, the event highlighted Bronx pride and the successes of small businesses, many who were in attendance.

Residents and business owners were treated to a luncheon and networking session upon arrival, followed by an opportunity to direct concerns and statements directly to legislators and state agency leaders in a first-of-its-kind listening session. Many of the questions focused on the growing number of regulations that have becoming stumbling blocks to many start-up and existing businesses. Having the opportunity to present a question myself, I drew attention to the concern of supportive housing developers circumventing city zoning requirements for ground floor commercial areas on Webster Avenue in Bedford Park, thereby eliminating the potential for thousands of square feet of commercial space and the jobs that they could bring to the northwest Bronx. Other concerns expressed were how to create a friendlier business environment for minority and women owned businesses so that they can also participate in the urban renewal that is taking place throughout the Bronx. 

After the listening session, Bronxites were able to take a tour of the capitol building and visit the Assembly and Senate chambers in live sessions. Others chose to catch a glimpse and marvel at some of the great architecture throughout the capitol building. After the tours, their was a reception at the Egg Convention Center, where dozens of local businesses and institutions were present to provide information or free samples of food, drinks, and deserts. The cocktail event was hosted by Rhina Valentin a BronxNet television personality who hosts "OPEN" every Fridays. Rhina introduced a number of the musical acts and the elected officials, who thanked everyone for coming out and participating in the event. 

This event could not have been made possible without the vision of two individuals; State Assemblyman Gjonaj, who conceived of the idea for the first Bronx Day in 2013, and local businesswoman Jacqueline Acevedo of Marketing & Advertising Solutions (MAS), who coordinated the promotion and many of the days activities. This year's event of course would not have been possible without the support of dozens of major sponsors, including the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and the New York Yankees, and the various small business sponsors that represent the lifeblood of commerce throughout our borough.

Please visit our Facebook photo album for more pictures from the day's event. Are you a small business with a story to tell about your experiences? Let us know at Bronx On the Go!

April 25, 2014

Bronx BP helps high schoolers ‘tie’ into manhood - Fifth annual Monroe College Male Empowerment Event

By John DeSio

On Thursday morning April 24 Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. joined Monroe College President Stephen Jerome and dozens of mentors at the college’s fifth annual Male Empowerment Event to help more than three hundred high school students ‘tie’ into manhood.  After delivering an impassioned keynote speech in the college’s Mintz Auditorium on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, Mr. Diaz individually greeted many of the youngsters and helped them put on specially-designed royal blue and gold (Monroe colors) ties that gave them a more business-like wardrobe and symbolically moved them into manhood.

“What does it mean to be a man?” Mr. Diaz asked in his keynote. “Before all these mentors got to do what they do and before I became the borough president, I was a man, a man to my brother and sister, a man to my wife, and a man to my friends. We may not have the winning lottery numbers for you in life,” he said, “but we know what all the losing numbers are.  What we want is to identify where it is you want to go and define how you are going to get there.  The first step is education.”

 Mr. Diaz was reflecting the theme of the day that was established by Mr. Jerome, who emphasized college as a key goal.  The President of Monroe referred to choices he had made as a student as being a key to success.

“If I didn't make the decision to pursue a college education in spite of some obstacles, I wouldn't be here speaking to you today,” he said.

After the speeches, the ties were distributed to the students and the mentors who were from all realms of the professional world - judges, businessmen and entrepreneurs, lawyers, and professors - helped them put them on, figuratively and literally, “tying into manhood.”

“The mentors made it clear that if they can make it through, these kids can also be successful and move their lives forward,” said the event’s creator and Monroe Director of Admissions Cecil Wright.

For additional pictures from the event, visit the Bronx On The Go Facebook photo album

April 19, 2014

Dozens of Bronxites lend their support for Art for Autism

On Saturday the 19th dozens of Bronxites came out to support the "Art for Autism" event to raise money for autism awareness, advocacy, and support. Taking place at 'El Fogon Center for the Arts' in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, the event featured local Bronx artists who donated over 30 pieces as part of a silent auction, with most of the proceeds going to Autism Speaks, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for research and legislation to aid the parents of autistic children. 

Organized by Gladys Rosa LaFrossia and Carmen Acosta-Sanchez, today's event was inspired by the Autism Walk held earlier in the month at Orchard Beach, where they both marched. Gladys, who is also one of the artists, had the idea last year of putting together an art exhibit as a way to raise money for Autism Speaks. After a year of playing around with different ideas, today the pair were able to fulfill their dreams of an art exhibit, featuring 15 local artists who dedicating their time and artwork to raise funds for autism research. 

Gladys and Carmen also sought out the assistance of Ricky Quintana, a Bronx DJ and artist, who not only helped to organize the event, but also emceed it and donated some of his own personal artwork to be auctioned off. One of the highlights of the event was when Ricky (aka DJ Menyu) introduced 10 year old Jacob Sanchez who has autism and is the son of Carmen Sanchez, to the stage and sing karaoke to the audience. Ricky spoke about how the people who attended this event represent "the real Bronx", referencing a movement of people looking out for one another.

One of the pieces was developed by Mark Valle, a theater workshop instructor in the Bronx who found inspiration in one of his autistic students. This particular illustration highlights that one in 88 children (at the time) were diagnosed along the autism spectrum, but are no less special than other children. Additionally, there was a fashion designer, Nelly Escalante, who demonstrated two articles of clothing that were meant to inspire autism support. One of these designs included blurred clippings of an IEP, or Individualized Education Program report, a tool frequently used to evaluate autistic children in school. Nelly, who has two autistic children of her own, met Gladys via Facebook and bonded through their artwork. Nelly spoke at the event and shared her own story of trials and acceptance in raising two autistic children, recalling her own personal struggles and how she overcame them through her art and clothing designs.

Speaking with many of the participants and artists, they expressed with great pride how this event was part of the new Bronx, a Bronx that was centered around family, around rallying for a good cause, and about leading by example. The participants also commented and thanked the owners of El Fogon (The Stove), who transformed a former bodega into a cultural center in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

To learn more about El Fogon and the artists, musicians, poets, and cultural projects they provide, please visit their website at www.elfogon.org. To see additional pictures from the day's event, visit our Facebook Page Photo Album.

April 17, 2014

"Tomorrow" comes to Fordham Road, artwork having its impact today

After completing six-months of negotiations on an art project, the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID) worked with community artist Akihiro Ito to unveil his "Tomorrow" sculpture on Fordham Road on Wednesday. The sculpture, made of 600 pieces of wood blocks and formed into the shape of a baby, transforms an empty, drab concrete space into a symbol for the relationship between humanity and nature. 

The sculpture, sponsored by the NYC Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program, was first noticed by the Fordham BID's deputy director Daniel Bernstein in a park in Brooklyn. When he was notified that the artwork's contract for the space had expired, he immediately jumped at the opportunity to bring the artwork to the Fordham Road area. "I think that this has the opportunity to attract more people to the BID" states Bernstein, whose intent for the artwork was to draw people to the area for more than just shopping, but to also demonstrate the importance of supporting art in this community. This piece follows on the footsteps of another successful art project on Fordham Road, "Silver", that was on displayed in 2011-12 on the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road. Many of the attendees expressed the same accolades, including a number of art students from Monroe College that popped up.

According to Mr. Ito, who has displayed similar pieces in New York, New Jersey, and his native Japan, the artwork is designed to help stir a transformation of the human soul. "I hope this sculpture provides an opportunity for people to think about humanity's connection to nature, and reminds us that we are all part of earth's family." Mr. Ito's art stands in stark contrast to the cemented area of Rose Hill Park near the Metro North Fordham Station, brilliantly capturing the natural sunlight and bringing a sense of warmth despite the cold temperatures.
Also on hand were several representatives from the Department of Transportation, including Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design and Art, Emily Colasacco, the Urban Arts Program Manager, and Dr. Charles Ukegbu, Deputy Bronx Borough Commissioner. Without the partnership between the Fordham BID and DOT, Bronxites would not have the same opportunities to interact with public art as is the trend now throughout New York City and other cities around the world. 

After the unveiling, the Fordham BID and Mr Ito hosted a networking event at Applebee's Restaurant to discuss Mr. Ito's background and inspiration for his art. Mr. Ito, who originally studied graphic design in Japan, expressed how he needed to find a way for his art to come alive and have purpose. He discussed how he began to use wood as a medium to artistically express the need for humanity to reconnect with nature. After his presentation, participants had a chance to network and socialize, even taking opportunities to talk one-on-one with the artist.

Where can we have more urban art projects in the Bronx? Would urban art work in your community? If you agree, check out the DOT's website at www.nyc.gov/urbanart. To find out more about events, projects and deals on Fordham Road, go to their website at www.fordhamroadbid.org. Check out more pics on the Bronx On the Go Facebook photo album here, and don't forget to follow us on our Page. And let's speak up for public art!

April 15, 2014

"La Reina" continues her voyage in the Urban Enviro XC 10k!

La Reina Del Barrio, Inc.’s founder and host of Open Fridays on BronxNet, Rhina Valentin, continues to set the stage for the conclusion of her web-series, “Rhina Gets Lean – Race: The Final Frontier”. Rhina’s journey will not only serve to bring attention to a healthy lifestyle, but to increase domestic violence awareness, children’s education through the arts, and women empowerment.
Photo Credit: J. Spock

During the first two seasons of “Rhina Gets Lean”, she learned that failure is part of the journey.  Rhina has cried, laughed, given up, pushed up, pushed back, you name it!  But, today, she realized, failure is not an option, moving forward is!  “There are two important things you need to accomplish your goals. One is to be mentally prepared, without this preparation you will not succeed on the change you would like to make. The second is you need a goal. Without a goal, where are you going? What do you see? A goal does not have to be huge--it can be as small as, I want to lose 5 pounds per month….My goal is to run the NYC Marathon and I’m mentally focused to accomplish this task!”, says Rhina Valentin. “Follow me on my journey.” 

About Rhina Gets Lean
Launched in 2012, Rhina Gets Lean is a BronxNet monthly web-series with over 50K views.  For more information, please visit www.bronxnet.org/rhinagetslean

About La Reina Del Barrio Inc.
Incorporated in 2013, La Reina Del Barrio Inc. (LRDB) is an independent media production company.   The principals of LRDB have released several projects over the last 10 years through self-finance as well as the use of Fortune 500 corporate sponsors.  For more information, please visit www.lareinadelbarrio.org

About BronxNet
Launched in 1993, BronxNet is an independent, not-for-profit organization, established under the Cable Television Franchise Agreement between the City of New York and Cablevision. BronxNet provides local television by the people of the Bronx, for the people of the Bronx. BronxNet has a commitment to: train Bronx residents in television production, provide hands-on internships and solid media career preparation for high school and college students.  For more information, please visit www.bronxnet.org

About Urban Enviro XC 10k
Presented by the Van Cortlandt Track Club.  This 10K of true cross country trails including stream crossings (with optional bridge) is suitable for all standards of runner with a love of running and a sense of fun and adventure.  To learn more, visit http://www.vctc.org/page/urban-enviro-xc-10k

About Van Cortlandt Track Club (VCTC)
From its humble origins in the late 1970's as a small group of runners meeting for jaunts around the Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx, VCTC has grown into one of the oldest and most prominent running clubs in New York City, with members from all five boroughs and beyond.  To learn more, visit http://www.vctc.org

April 12, 2014

First signs that spring has sprung - KHCC celebrates annual Neighborhood Festival

The Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (KHCC) took full advantage of the first 70+ degree day to kick off its 4th Annual Neighborhood Festival on Kingsbridge Terrace. KHCC's festival also hosted a "Service Learning Day 2014" with the Horace Mann School, where dozens of students and instructors volunteered to beautify the grounds.

KHCC, a Settlement House program that serves the Northwest Bronx, provided numerous activities for kids as part of their neighborhood outreach, such as face-painting and educational activities, while an outdoor flea market with local vendors was situated outside of the center. There were also local entertainers performing both music and dance, including a very colorful Mexican traditional dance.

For additional pictures of the event, visit our Facebook album, and visit our Page to find out about future events and notices. Check out additional services offered by KHCC by visiting their website at: http://www.khcc-nyc.org/

April 6, 2014

Bronx Walk Now for Autism Speaks Draws Thousands of Families to Orchard Beach

On a brisk and bright morning, thousands of families and supporters for autism research participated in today's walk at Orchard Beach for Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. People from across the borough gathered into various teams, designated in support for a family member or friend of someone whose child has autism.

"This year's event is so much more organized," stated Arlene Rios, supporting 'Team Jacob'. "Last year, when all five boroughs walked together at Citi Field, it was a mess. There was not enough room for people to walk. I wasn't sure how much support there was going to be, now that each borough holds their own event, but I'm glad it went well. This year is so much smoother than last year." Carmen Acosta, the leader for Team Jacob and Jacob's mother, agreed. "This is fun to see people participating and supporting a good cause," she commented, as she and over 10,000 people walked around Orchard Beach and the surrounding parkland. This was also evident by the various signs, banners, t-shirts and costumes worn by many of the participants, who advocated for their child, for a cure, and for autism awareness. This year's Bronx walk raised over $136,000, with the top team, "Faith, Hope, Love" raising $7,680. Deanna D'Ariano, of team "Faith, Hope, Love", was the top individual fundraiser, raising $4,000 for the event.

From the Autism Speaks website, the "Walk Now for Autism Speaks" event is deigned to be a, "fun-filled, family friendly event and is our single most powerful force to fund vital research that will lead us to the answers we need." Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disorder in the U.S. – with 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

On a personal note, my son Joshua is also autistic. In the beginning, I didn't know how to deal with his condition. I remember telling myself back in 2002-03 that maybe it was a temporary condition, or that a cure could be found soon. I also went through the gambit of finding something to blame for his condition, some external factor to soothe my own mind. As he got older (he's 17 now), I have found acceptance for his condition, but that doesn't mean I don't continue to fight for him. One thing I learned from this walk and from other events that I have participated in, I don't have to fight alone.

While today I marched with Team Jacob, who has always supported my son in the past, I also marched for Team Joshua today.To all the parents of autistic children who haven't received or don't know about the support that's out there, please know that you are not alone. And more importantly, you autistic child may be different, but is not 'less than' other children. Seek out a support group. Fight for his/her education. Know that whatever some people may think, there are many more that love you and child. Take a chance and get to know them. And maybe, I'll see you at next year's walk.

For more pictures of today's event, visit our Facebook Photo Album. And don't forget to check out our official Facebook Page for more information on autism and Bronx events, places, and businesses!