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Around Brooklyn: Mental health advocates worry about pandemic

April 30, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Mental health advocates worry about pandemic

As Brooklynites continue to shelter in place to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, mental health advocates worry about the range of new problems compounded by pandemic, and by the absence of people’s everyday coping mechanisms. “There is a whole host of things that people are experiencing, whether you are someone who has been sick or lost a loved one and not being able to grieve properly,” said state Sen. Andrew Gounardes. Many mental health agencies, such as Brooklyn Counseling Services, have moved their services online. “We are doing a lot of free, online groups so people can connect for bereavement, parenting and social isolation,” said Dr. Nicoletta Pallotta, the organization’s founder and director. “All those things can give people an outlet.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park to reopen Squibb Bridge

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The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will reopen the Squibb Bridge on May 4, after a years-long struggle to replace the original, structurally flawed crossing, according to Curbed. The walkway provides a direct connection from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1.“The new bridge has the same overall aesthetic feeling of the previous bridge that people loved, with full functionality,” says Eric Landau, the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. The replacement bridge, which was designed by Arup and constructed by Turner, purposefully mimics the look and feel of the first span, albeit from structurally sound metal rather than timber.

Brooklyn Tech principal leads school from basement

As principal of Brooklyn Technical High School, New York City’s largest specialized high school, David Newman is used to a busy environment, with 6,000 students, 300 teachers, and constant buzz and bustle in hallways and classrooms, according to Quartz, an educational website. Newman is now leading the school alone, from his basement. Amid the massive collective effort to make sure kids continue learning, Newman has been struck by how hard it is to do the thing that teachers do naturally when in a building together: connect. “I feel really disconnected,” he lamented during an online panel discussion last week for a global education conference. “I tap into students through the student government, but it’s not enough.  We’re doing a poor job of replicating the dynamism that exists in our schools.”

How distance learning is bothering parents

Daniel Levin’s son, Linus, was supposed to be doing math. Instead, he pretended to take a shower in the living room. As much as he tried, Levin, who lives in Brooklyn, could not get Linus to finish the math, according to the New York Times. Parental engagement has long been seen as critical to student achievement, as much as class size, curriculum and teacher quality. That has never been more true than now, and all across the country, moms and dads pressed into emergency service are finding it one of the most exasperating parts of the pandemic. With teachers relegated to computer screens, parents have to play teacher’s aide, hall monitor, counselor and cafeteria worker — all while trying to do their own jobs under extraordinary circumstances.

Mermaid Parade becomes mask-making contest

Even though Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade has been canceled, the organizers behind the yearly parade are bringing their quirkiness and creativity to a new contest, according to the Brooklyn Paper. The “Put On a Funny Face Mask Contest” celebrates unique masks while honoring mask makers who have provided the world with needed protection. “We want to take advantage of this moment of an incredible explosion from the creative community,” said Mark Alhadeff, a board member of the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA. The virtual contest asks participants to submit photos of their handmade creations.

Pol slams virus treatment at Central Brooklyn hospital

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, talking about University Hospital of Brooklyn and other medical institutions in Central Brooklyn, said the area “has been left to die.” He tied the woes to state budget cuts and on Tuesday called for legislation to protest disproportionately affected communities from further cutbacks. Myrie also called for an investigation into the hospital’s unfulfilled request for a Cobas 6800 machine, which can perform 1,440 coronavirus tests in a day.

Pandemic gives rise to more noise complaints

Before the pandemic put the state on PAUSE, New Yorkers were used to the sounds of everyday life: sporadic whistling from a crossing guard, snippets of a cell phone conversation, and bar chatter over speaker-blasting bass, according to Gothamist. But since the stay-at-home order went into effect, our ears are being fine-tuned to the intimate habits of our neighbors. According to Gothamist/WNYC’s analysis of NYC 311 calls from the beginning of March through mid-April, residential noise complaints have gone up by 22 percent compared to the same period last year — from 28,599 calls in 2019 to 35,972 in 2020. “They were playing Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ on the keyboard, but they kept getting the notes wrong,” said Carson Minarik, who’s 24 years old and lives in Bushwick.

Bed-Stuy artist raises funds for animal shelters

Brooklyn artist Laura Connelly never raised money for a cause, much less gave away her art for free. But the coronavirus pandemic changed that — and she’s glad she did, according to Patch. Connelly recently raised about $12,000 on GoFundMe for five local animal non-profits. Her path toward drawing 1,252 custom artworks began as she watched as New York City shut down as the coronavirus outbreak spread. Many of her illustrations are of pets — people’s “little babies,” she calls them — and a little free joy never hurt anyone.

Man accused of stealing stimulus checks from mail

A Brooklyn man is accused of stealing at least nine stimulus checks, along with credit cards and other checks, from mailboxes in Sunset Park, according to NBC4. Police said they saw the man, identified as Feng Chen, look inside a medical collection bin on April 28. He then walked to a nearby residential building to examine the mail there before walking into the gated area of a nearby apartment building. After following him, police said they saw a large bulge in his pocket and searched him. Federal officers plan to charge Chen with federal mail theft, NBC4 said.

Artist uses street trash to send messages of hope

For several years, multidisciplinary artist Sara Erenthal has been using abandoned furniture, used mattresses, bookcases, broken TVs and the like as the “canvasses” for her artwork, according to Gothamist. But her work has taken on new resonance in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic has hit the city.” On a regular day without a world pandemic, maybe my work speaks to a hundred people with the same emotion that day,” she said. “Right now, because we’re all experiencing very similar things on a daily basis and our minds are occupied with the same thoughts, I feel that my work suddenly became a hundred times more relatable.” Her pieces are sometimes memorials for first responders, while others are optimistic, empathetic slogans.

Compiled by Raanan Geberer.


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