Food for Good: How Non-Profits Are Creating Change Through Food

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An Essex Street Market “Talk & Taste” event about food-based social enterprise

Many organizations are recognizing the value of entrepreneurship and culinary arts to inspire young people, build their skills, and equip them for challenges ahead. At this Talk & Taste event, offered in partnership with the Essex Street Market Vendors Association, we brought together three organizations that see the incredible value of food. The panel discussion included Lyn Pentecost, executive director of the Lower East Side Girls Club, and one of their longtime participants, Jocelyn. The Girls Club not only offers programs and facilities for young women to learn about cooking, but their La Tiendita stall in the Essex Street Market offers them the opportunity to learn the retail side as well, selling baked goods, aprons, potholders, and other textiles made by their participants. Jordyn Lexton is the founder Drive Change, a nonprofit that works with young people who have had contact with the criminal justice system, and operates for-profit enterprises run by their participant, including the Vendy Award-winning Snow Day food truck. Reconnect works with a similar population, helping young men in Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, and Williamsburg who have become “disconnected” to gain skills and confidence by running businesses, including the Reconnect Graphics print shop, Reconnect Café, and the Reconnect Bakery in the Moore Street Market. We were joined by Reconnect’s founder, Father Jim O’Shea, bakery manager Daytoine Shaw, and one of his bakers, Rayvon.

[UPDATE 7/10/17: We are deeply saddened to have to share the news that Daytoine Shaw of Reconnect Bakery passed away suddenly last week. Daytoine was an incredible baker, mentor, and friend, and we will miss him terribly.]

If you missed the event, you can watch the whole discussion below or on our Facebook page.

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Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Baldev Duggal

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Baldev Duggal in the Duggal Greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Duggal Visual Solutions

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Baldev Duggal (1937–2016)

So far in this series, all of the individuals we have profiled worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when it was still a naval shipyard. But Baldev Duggal was an individual who played an instrumental role in the long process of transforming the Yard from a dilapidated naval facility into a thriving industrial business center. (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Stanislaw Kozikowski

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Kozikowski photo

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Stanislaw Kozikowski (1895–1967)

Stan Kozikowski came to fame as a young man in the First World War, but spent much of his life as an unheralded machinist in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was born in Poland – then part of the Russian Empire – in 1895 (according to his naturalization record; other records cite 1894 and 1896) and emigrated to the United States in 1912; five years later, about age 21 and not yet a US citizen, he was drafted into the US Army. There he joined the famed 77th “Statue of Liberty” Division, 308th Infantry Regiment, which is where he would demonstrate his remarkable bravery as a member of the “Lost Battalion.” (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Frederick Lois Riefkohl

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Frederick Lois Riefkohl as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy, 1911

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Frederick Lois Riefkohl (1889–1969)

The histories of Puerto Rico and of the US military are deeply intertwined, and much of that history runs through the career of Frederick Lois Riefkohl, the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the US Naval Academy, to win the Navy Cross, and to achieve the rank of rear admiral. Normally we would not consider someone from Puerto Rico an immigrant – they are US citizens – but Reifkohl lived in a complicated time. (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: James Diani

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

"Old Jim" Diani's obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 4, 1908

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


James Diani (c.1833–1908)

So far in this series, we have profiled commodores, admirals, and captains of industry. But the real history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard is the massive collective labor of thousands of individuals coming together to accomplish extraordinary things. The Navy Yard provided opportunities for newcomers to this country to get decent-paying jobs and apprenticeships (if you could successfully navigate the patronage system) to better their lives. One such person, who spent more than 50 years in the service of this country, was someone we know very little about. (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Peter Asserson

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Adm. Peter C. Asserson, printed in "A History of Long Island, Vol. III" (1902)

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Peter Christian Asserson (1839–1906)

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has always adapted to change. Over its first 165 years, rapid changes in naval ship designs forced the adoption of new shipbuilding technologies, materials, and techniques, and the construction of new facilities. No single person did more to shepherd the Yard through these transitions than Peter Christian Asserson, civil engineer of the Navy Yard from 1885 to 1901. (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: John Ericsson

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Portrait of John Ericsson by Avid Nyholm

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


John Ericsson (1803–1889)

John Ericsson was perhaps more of an engineer than any man who ever lived. Of his 85 years on this earth, 75 of them were spent as an engineer, and he worked in almost every conceivable field of engineering a person could in the 19th century, spanning the apogee of the Industrial Revolution.  (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Henry Eckford

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

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This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Henry Eckford (1775-1832)

The long, arduous, and risky journey to America has a way of bringing to our shores the most ambitious, talented, and daring people; Henry Eckford was certainly one of those. Born and raised in the Scottish town of Kilwinning, located not far from the famous shipbuilding center along the Firth of Clyde, Eckford set off from his homeland for Canada to learn the shipbuilding trade at just 16. Like John Barry, he apprenticed with his uncle, and became a skilled shipwright in the yards along the St. Lawrence River. (more…)


Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: John Barry

Filed to: Brooklyn Navy Yard

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This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


John Barry (1745–1803)

Born in Ireland’s southeast County Wexford, John Barry grew up with an abiding hatred for the English. When he was 12, his Catholic family was dispossessed of their land by an English landlord, forcing them to live with family nearby and beginning a period of immense hardship for the family. Barry began apprenticing on his uncle’s fishing vessel, learning the trade of the sea, and at 15 he left Ireland for the Americas, eventually settling in Philadelphia. His career was remarkably successful, as he became master (captain) of a small merchant vessel at just 21 and was the trusted master for one of Philadelphia’s most prominent shipowners, John Nixon. When war broke out and the Continental Navy was formed, Barry became the first commissioned captain to command an American naval vessel, taking on the 14-gun USS Lexington on December 17, 1775. (more…)


The Lo-Down: Essex Street Market Debuts Historical Mural

Filed to: PressPublic Markets

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The Lo-Down, January 30, 2017

by Ed Litvak

If you visited the Essex Street Market this past weekend, you probably noticed this new historical mural celebrating the legacy of the 77-year-old public facility.

The 20-foot display presents a timeline from 1900 through the opening of the market by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in 1940, up to the present day. It was a collaboration among the Lower East Side Partnership, the Essex Street Market Vendor Association and Turnstile Tours, which provided research for the project. It was made possible through a grant from Avenue NYC, a program of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. The mural was installed in partnership with the Economic Development Corp., which operates the market.

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