Despite many issues, North Brooklyn is always welcoming
by Emily Gallagher
Feb 28, 2017 | 1414 views | 0 0 comments | 126 126 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Friday night I went out with some friends who used to live in Greenpoint, but were displaced.

I know this is a story that is only beginning for me and is one that many of my neighbors have been painfully experiencing in much more dramatic ways for decades. Nevertheless, it can feel strange.

As I calculated the time it would take for me to go see them, I couldn't help but feel a nostalgia and a memory of when I just had to walk across the street to visit with them. As you all know from my columns, I can be quite sentimental, so I allowed myself to travel down memory lane for a while that night.

After my return trip home, I went to bed feeling lonely.

The next morning I woke up and remembered I was scheduled to speak at Archestratus, a bookstore on Huron Street that is hosting a monthly Women's Table, where neighborhood women come together to discuss politics and community.

I had never been there before and I was quite nervous that I would end up not quite being who they thought I was.

I rode my bike over and was delighted by what I saw: a very warm, welcoming space full of unique and thoughtfully placed items and food lovingly made in the back.

I've since read that Paige Lipari bases some of the food off of her grandparents, who owned an Italian grocery store in Bushwick. She greeted me with enthusiasm, told me she was excited to hear my thoughts, and offered me a coffee while the room filled with other neighborhood women I had never met before.

Over the next hour, we were both serious and silly, and I felt like I was growing a bond with the multi-generational community that had been presented before me.

I had never met any of them before, but because we were neighbors and women, we already had so much in common.

When I left, I pleaded with them to connect with me on Facebook, because I wanted the conversation and the camaraderie to continue.

Luckily for me, my next stop was just as illuminating. I went to meet with a friend to discuss, what else, local politics, and he invited me into his synagogue.

Service had finished and a lunch was being hosted to celebrate a family anniversary of one of the members. I was greeted so warmly, there was not one side-eyed glance wondering why I was intruding on this special occasion, only welcome.

I ate some delicious kugel and challah and then I was invited up to look at the sanctuary. The Greenpoint Synagogue was constructed around 1901 and is being lovingly restored by it's current congregation.

I was introduced to the photos of the founders, Greenpoint Jewish residents who had lived in a community of about 2,000 in the early 20th century.

My friend told me that, like so many other tenement districts, when the families could leave the neighborhood, they did and went on to other places.

We walked around for the better half of the afternoon, looking at new construction and new storefronts, stopping by familiar favorites, running into and having sidewalk conversations with familiar friends.

At 3 p.m., I delivered my friend to his house, hopped back on my bike and rode home. As I rode by and saw the many friends meeting and passing in the street, I felt refreshed to know that Greenpoint is an ever-renewing place of fellowship and love.

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