English Drive

The canvassers were hopeful as they stood on a sunny 8th Avenue, one Saturday afternoon last week, clipboards tucked under their arms, trying to flag down speeding pedestrians and hand out fliers.

No, they were not trying to give people lunch special coupons to Seafood Delight, these were volunteers for a new education drive aimed at ESL courses for Shang Heights’ Chinese residents.

Canvasser“Not too much luck so far!” said plucky volunteer and  area local, Sara Greenwald. “I’ve had a few people stop but no takers yet.”

Sara and many others have signed on with community volunteer, Rachel Pappas, who holds an ESL class at Brooklyn Spiritual Center on Monday nights that has so far been sparsely attended.

“I started the program on Monday nights because of a few of my neighbors who wanted to improve their English,” Pappas said “but now we want to try and expand that program and help even more people.”

Back on the street, Sara had successfully engaged a group of teenagers.

“They could all speak English but were going to tell their parents about it. That is the most important thing, getting the word out. Unfortunately the Chinese-language abilities of our staff are limited, that’s why we’re always looking for English instructor volunteers as well!”

The course is available on Mondays nights with a suggested donation of $5 per person, which includes one hour of instruction and access to the Wellness Center’s donated lending library of over 100 titles.

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A stack of donated books at the BSC

Visit the Wellness Center for more information on taking the course, or for volunteer/teaching opportunities.

Celebrities Move In As SH Moves Up

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South Brooklyn’s reigning queen and king

Shang Heights has long been both eager for a star to make our neighborhood home and wary of the added attention we might receive as a result. Now it seems we must form an opinion: Television star and Indie-film darling America Ferrera has closed on a home in our beloved ‘hood.

Yes, the beautiful face of Ugly Betty might now be glimpsed on 8th Ave. We at this blog couldn’t be more pleased with our newest famous addition.

This is not to say that our resident film star, Oscar winner William Hurt, has been displaced as the celebrity face of Shang Heights, but it is nice to see a star of a younger generation take interest in our corner of the borough.

Hurt, who only last year moved to 53rd Street (The address? Decency forbids us!), seems to have started a trend that could bring more famous faces.

So what does this mean for Shang Heights? Park Slopers have your Maggie Gyllenhaal. Cobble Hillites: Norah Jones. Red Hooksonians: Michael Shannon. Celebrities love Brooklyn, and people who love Brooklyn are naturally drawn to neighborhoods with real character. By that criteria, Shang Heights is a star on the rise.

Another Moving Season Threatens SH

Only a matter of time??

Only a matter of time??

As Fall begins, each neighborhood braces for a new influx of residents. Whether those will be stop-overs before their move to Manhattan or permanent neighbors, each corner of Brooklyn must deal with the neophytes as they can.

For those of us who have lived here for a few years, Shang Heights has seen many such Autumns. We can’t help but wonder what may be in store for our neighborhood this year. Will this be the year that our beloved SH is not only listed (for the first time) on the city’s registry of best neighborhoods, but is listed high on such a roster? Only time will tell.

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Straphangers Weigh In On Future Of SH

We nabbed straphangers for impromptu interviews hereat the 8th Ave N stop.

We stood outside of the 8th Ave stop a few nights ago and asked people coming off the train one simple question:

What would you like to see more of in Shang Heights?

“I think we need just a just like a really cool place to watch sports. I know that may seem like a stupid thing for an up and coming neighborhood, but some of us really want to watch baseball to just like hang out.” -M, 29
“I think we could really benefit from a farmer’s market. I mean we have so much seafood, but really if we could use a corner of Sunset Park as a place to get some killer local produce. That would just be so great.” -F, 23
“We just had our first baby this summer, and I’m worried that we’ll have to leave the neighborhood once she reaches school age. I think it would be nice to have a charter school established here by then.” -F, 36
“I would say that we need a Whole Foods, but definitely a bigger grocery store. I love all the little Chinese markets and seafood stands, but I also want to be able to get tough to find staples, like quinoa or really decent yogurt when I need it.” -M, 26
“Nothing, man. I love this place!” -M, 23