Community Archive

Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls and Ben Yee at Solidarity Space

From left to right: Nomiki Konst, Ben Yee, and Dawn Smalls. Photo by Daniel Hetteix.

During the 2019 polar vortex, three Public Advocate candidates braved the cold to meet with Bay Ridge residents. Nomiki Konst, Ben Yee, and Dawn Smalls were joined by moderator Ross Barkan at Solidarity Space. The candidates outlined their platform, traded some barbs early on, and answered numerous questions from residents.

In our estimation, this was one of the most entertaining of the Public Advocate’s events hosted by Solidarity Space, and the three-person format kept things lively, if a little unweildly. The event went over-time, clocking in at an hour and twenty minutes, but covered a wide range of issues. Topics included decriminalizing sex work, climate change, congestion pricing, and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Have a listen, check out our analysis below, or watch Solidarity Space’s full live stream of the event!

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Community Archive

Melissa Mark-Viverito at Solidarity Space

Left to right: Ross Barkan, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Kadia Goba. Photo courtesy Melissa Mark-Viverito for Public Advocate.

At A Glance

  • Solidarity Space and Bklyner are hosting a number of in-depth forums for the Public Advocate.
  • Former City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represented the South Bronx and East Harlem, discussed her record and qualifications.
  • The MTA and public transit was a focal point for the candidate.
  • Questions from residents focused on affordable housing, education, climate change, and gender equality.

Continuing their successful Public Advocates series, Solidarity Space recently hosted former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. For about an hour, the Public Advocate candidate outlined her proposals and took questions from Bay Ridge residents. Solidarity Space founder Ross Barkan and Bklyner journalist Kadia Goba moderated.

There was a strong focus throughout the night on the MTA and public transit, which made sense considering that Mark-Viverito’s party line in the upcoming election is “Fix the MTA”. Residents however focused their attention to affordable housing, climate change, and education. You can check out the full livestream over at Solidarity Space’s Twitter account.

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Community Archive

Danny O'Donnell at Solidarity Space

Left to right: Ross Barkan, Danny O’Donnell and Kadia Goba. Photo: Solidarity Space

At A Glance

  • Solidarity Space and Bklyner are hosting a number of in-depth forums for the Public Advocate.
  • Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, from Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side joined residents for a conversation about his values, experience, and vision for the office of Public Advocate.
  • O’Donnell wrote and passed the Marriage Equality Act, and would support the Public Advocate being granted subpoena power.
  • He emphatically does not want to run for Mayor.

Assemblyperson Danny O’Donnell visited Solidarity Space on January 10th, and spoke about his views on and ideas for the office of Public Advocate. Kadia Goba and Ross Barkan moderated the talk, focusing on affordable housing and Assemblyperson O’Donnell’s tactic of downzoning in order to get concessions from developers. The audience asked questions about education, climate change, justice reform, and more.

Unfortunately, both Solidarity Space’s and Radio Free Bay Ridge’s mics cut out near the end of the talk, but we have about 48 minutes of audio covering most of the session, ending with a dialog about Community Boards.

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Community Archive

Rafael Espinal at Solidarity Space

Rafael Espinal speaking at Solidarity Space
Left to Right: Ross Barkan and Rafael Espinal. Photo by Rachel Brody.

At A Glance

  • Solidarity Space and Bklyner are hosting a number of in-depth forums for the Public Advocate.
  • Councilman Rafael Espinal of Brooklyn was interviewed by Ross Barkan and Kadia Goba, and took audience questions.
  • Topics focused heavily on affordable housing and green initiatives.
  • Barkan dug into Espinal’s background with the Conservative Party and his transition to progressive politics.

Continuting with their successful Public Advocates series, Solidarity Space hosted Rafael Espinal to talk to Bay Ridge residents about his candidacy for Public Advocate. Rafael answered questions from Ross Barkan, and Kadia Goba (from Bklyner), and then took audience questions.

The conversation covered Espinal’s background of public service in East New York, as well as some thornier origins with the Conservative Party. He also emphasized his green initiatives and advocacy for community gardens. Questions focused heavily on affordable housing and the economy, with additional emphasis on education programs, hate crime legislation, and his opposition to the BDS movement. You can check out the full livestream over at Solidarity Space’s Twitter account.

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Community Archive

Jumaane Williams at Solidarity Space

Left to right: Ross Barkan, City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, and Kadia Goba. Photo by Rachel Brody.

At A Glance

  • Solidarity Space and Bklyner are hosting a number of in-depth forums for the Public Advocate.
  • Council Member Jumaane Williams, from District 45 in Brooklyn, spoke to a packed house about his life experience, qualifications, and ideas for the office of Public Advocate.
  • Williams is running to be “the People’s Advocate,” and recently ran in the 2018 State Democratic Primary for Lt. Governor.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams joined a packed Solidarity Space on January 8th, answering questions from Kadia Goba and Ross Barkan before addressing issues raised by members of the audience.

From questions about NYCHA to addressing concerns about schools and testing, take the time to listen to Williams’ forum with our progressive neighbors at the link above, or watch Solidarity Space’s livestreamed video on Twitter.

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Episode 17

The Art of the Gerrymander

One artistic interpretation of State Senate District 22 (Bay Ridge is on the left) as seen at the Art of the Gerrymander art show.

At A Glance

  • Fight Back Bay Ridge’s first fundraiser brought together the local art and activist communities.
  • The art auction was filled with creative interpretations of Senate District 22’s gerrymandered boundaries.”
  • We interviewed guests and attendees to ask about the intersection of art and politics.

On October 22nd, local activist group Fight Back Bay Ridge held their first fundraiser. Unlike many other groups, which focus on three-hundred-dollar-a-plate dinners or a cheesy speech, they did something both creative and community-building. They sent out a call to the Bay Ridge arts community, including Stand 4 Gallery and many more.

They challenged local artists to create artwork they’d be willing to donate for a silent auction. The theme was to raise awareness and creatively interpret the gerrymandered boundaries of Bay Ridge’s state senate district, SD22. The resulting gallery show brought together the activist and artistic communities of Bay Ridge for one of the first times. Our co-host Rachel Brody interviewed people at the event, discussing how they felt about art, politics, and their community.

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Episode 16

Fact Check: Golden vs Gounardes


At A Glance

  • We’re bringing you Live Audio and Fact Checks.
  • Golden took credit for many things the state did as a whole.
  • Post-debate spin by the Conservative Party doesn’t hold water.
  • Gounardes kept answers short and to the point. Golden took up the majority of speaking time.
  • There were some fireworks moments near the end.

On October 3rd, 2018 we had one of the long-standing Bay Ridge debates occur under the auspices of our local Interagency Council on Aging. Held this year at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center with longtime moderator Peter Killen. The event was a whos-who of local politicians and included debates between every local candidate running in this year’s midterm elections. Today, however, we are focusing on just one: Golden vs Gounardes.

After the #BRForum debates, we asked our listeners what we should do with the audio. A majority of you said we should fact-check the debate… so we did! Today, co-host Dan will be breaking in between questions to provide context and fact-checks.

We’ll hear questions on a wide range of issues, much of it focusing on children. While this may seem jarring for a senior center debate, remember that older adults often have child safety as a top priority, especially as grandkids come along. So sit back and enjoy!

Note: We’ll also be posting the audio for the other debates that day! The include Mathylde Frontus vs Steve Saperstein, Adam Baumel vs Nicole Malliotakis, and Max Rose vs Dan Donovan. They will be available in the show notes below shortly.

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Episode 12

March for Pablo Villavicencio Calderon

Protestors in Bay Ridge hold up signs as they pass through John Paul Jones Park during a 2018 March against ICE and the detainment of Pablo Villavicencio Calderon at Fort Hamilton Army Base.

At A Glance

  • A deliveryperson named Pablo Villavicencio Calderon was detained by ICE at Fort Hamilton Army Base while delivering pizza on June 1st.
  • Bay Ridge residents gathered a few days later in solidarity with Pablo at the Fort Hamilton Army Base.
  • This episode is a recording of the march and speeches given, and a narration of the civil disobedience that occured.

On June 1st, a Queens pizza deliveryman was arrested at Fort Hamilton Army Base and handed over to ICE. His name was Pablo Villavicencio Calderon, an undocumented immigrant without a criminal record and father of two. After the story of his detainment broke, Bay Ridge residents mobilized to stand in solidarity with Pablo against Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They gathered in John Paul Jones Park on the evening of June 6th, with speakers and a march toward 86th street. Near 87th street a nonviolent act of civil disobedience by seven nearby residents blocked traffic on 5th Avenue for four minutes, and the rally continued in an unattended parking space.

On today’s episode, we’ll bring you recordings of your fellow neighbors, activists, and friends. Listen in to the impassioned speeches made by those in attendance as we document the march and bring you back to that day.

Another action will be held in solidarity with Pablo on July 19th, one day before his scheduled court date, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. It will take place in front of the Fort Hamilton Army Base. You can RSVP on Facebook.


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Uncut Recording

Jeremi Suri at Poly Prep


A few months ago, Poly Prep reached out to us to ask if we would be interested in recording a new, public event series called Context: Conversations at Poly Prep. The first lecture, with professor and historian Jeremi Suri, was a quick but wide-ranging lecture discussing the evolution of the Office of the President throughout American History as discussed in his new book The Impossible Presidency. While the subject isn’t necessarily local, we were thrilled to bring you a progressive, thoughtful lecture given locally at an institution with over 100 years of history in the neighborhood (and to pal around with the excellent Bookmark Shoppe too!).

I always remembered, as a kid, being taken by my grandfather to go throw bagels at the ducks at the Poly Prep pond (By the way, folks, don’t do that! It’s terrible for the ducks. There are signs now. Probably because of me. Sorry.) But it always was a mysterious entity for much of my life, and a closed campus. So we are very excited to see the institution open its gates and beautiful campus to the neighborhood and provide a much-needed event space for lectures and discussions. You can sign up for future events on their calendar or monitor their Twitter feed.

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Uncut Recording

Coffee with Dan Donovan in Gravesend, Brooklyn


As part of his ongoing whistle-stop tour of the district, Rep. Dan Donovan appeared at David A. Boody High School in Gravesend, Brooklyn. There, a gathering of about 15-20 constituents were able to ask him questions on a variety of issues.

During his discussions, there were a number of issues that arose where information provided was either not complete or may require additional context. During the podcast, you’ll hear this signified by a soft “ding”. Below are the “footnotes”, so to speak, that we believe will help you take greater benefit from the recording.

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