Howe’s Brooklyn: Laurels & Darts, 03.01

March 1, 2023 Sam Howe
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LAURELS, To The Expansive, Illuminating World of Digital Intercourse

Where else could our passionate Mayor, whose vivid and colorful expressions have been a trademark since his days as Borough President, open a veritable can of worms at a live interfaith breakfast with this vibrant line: “Don’t tell me about separation of church and state. State is the body, church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.”

Immediately and broadly online, the New York Civil Liberties Union responded with clarity and balance: “We are a nation and a city of many faiths and no faith,” said Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “In order for our government to truly represent us, it must not favor any belief over another, including non-belief.”

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“It is odd,” Director Lieberman continued, “that Mayor Adams would need a refresher on the First Amendment. After all, he has sworn to uphold the Constitution more than once, first as a police officer, later as a state representative, and then last year upon becoming mayor. The very opening passage of the Bill of Rights makes clear that church and state must be separate.

“On matters of faith, the Mayor is entitled to his own beliefs. On the Constitution, he must uphold his oath.”

Well said by both.

Mayor Adams has passion and experience that comes from a wider than usual swath of service, suffering and management of the political jungle that is New York, most of his life in a setting of faith. New York Civil Liberties Union Director Lieberman is just doing her job, and doing it well.


LAURELS, To The Plucky Architects Who Engage In Unique Projects That Make This City More Interesting

A recent NYTimes piece noted that Danish architect Bjarke Ingles, who resides in DUMBO, spotted some unusual aspects of the long empty St. George rooftop when he was jogging in Brooklyn Bridge Park. He immediately jogged up the hill to Brooklyn Heights and visited the lobby of the St. George tower building to discover that yes, the rooftop was unoccupied. Ingles made overtures, applied to Landmarks Preservation Commission and is now renovating that rooftop space as a potential future home. He spends his Sundays working on the site and enjoying one of the best views in the world.

Michael Ingui is a long-admired partner at Baxt Ingui Architects, which may be one of the only firms in Lower Manhattan that features an indoor bicycle parking facility inside their office. Both partners, long-time residents of Brooklyn, are passionate bicycle advocates. Michael Ingui has become the undisputed ‘king of passive house renovation’ in Brooklyn Heights and beyond: he has converted more than a dozen houses in Brooklyn to a low-carbon or carbon-free footprint. Recently, he purchased a digital magazine called Passive House Accelerator, and possibly leads the U.S. in advocacy for lower (or non-existent) carbon footprints in new houses as well as renovations of landmarks. His current project is a landmark row house on Remsen St. that features a rare full garden extending all the way back to Grace Court.

Recent press reports, particularly in Brooklyn Daily Eagle and on, note that Heights resident Marc Wouters has recently revised a plan, originally hailed by the Department of Transportation, to reconfigure the BQE cantilever and avoid damaging, or losing, the landmark Promenade. Two lanes of traffic both ways, including shoulder space, would be extended over Furman St. on the lower cantilever, which would be shored up by pillars. Wouters will be pushing for approval of his plan by the community and the Department of Transportation.

These are just briefly noted items that remind us how fortunate we are that Brooklyn in the 21st century, particularly our first landmark district (Brooklyn Heights), remains an appealing challenge to those who design, build and renovate.


DART, To Someone In Queens

Someone in Queens, whose name we will never know, erected a road sign for the Jackie Robinson Parkway and misspelled that iconic name as “Jakie.”

As if we don’t have enough problems with our public roadways… We admit, moving all these people around the city is a huge balancing act. And, our beloved former Brooklyn Dodger cannot really be harmed by such a typo. We just worry that whoever hung that sign may never be able to get into heaven.

Sam Howe, who describes himself as “long-retired, but far from tired,” is a former sales rep, stand-up comedian, freelancer and blogger who splits his time between Clearwater, Florida and his beloved Brooklyn. He is reachable at [email protected].

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