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Watch Violent Femmes Frontman ‘Save the Village’ With ‘Blister in the Sun’

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An eclectic group of musicians – including Gordon Gano belting out his Violent Femmes classic “Blister in the Sun” – performed last night at a benefit to “put a stop to this destructive, environmentally calamitous process that’s destroying the city we all love.” At least, that’s how the evening’s M.C., Mark Crispin Miller of Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, put it shortly before announcing that Susan Sarandon and Matthew Broderick were among those who pledged money to a lawsuit against N.Y.U.’s expansion plans.

The idea behind the “Save the Village” concert at Le Poisson Rouge, Mr. Miller told an audience of about 200, was to show that the Village still rocks – even if “N.Y.U. does not rock. N.Y.U. rolls. It rolls its students; it rolls its faculty; it rolled the City Council. We’ve got to stop this.”

To that end, songstress Janine Nichols kicked off the night by cooing “This Land Is Your Land” with John Kruth on sitar. (It was that kind of evening: bongos, banjos, cowbells, canastas, and, yes, even scatting. At times the Greenwich Village club resembled a genuine Beat coffee shop.)

Noise rocker Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth got right into it with composer and saxophonist John Zorn. The duo launched into a cacophany of discordant free jazz that had all the abrasiveness of, well, jackhammering south of Washington Square Park. Read more…

At ‘Memorial Service,’ Residents Mourn Garden Bound to Be Uprooted by N.Y.U.

garden - donna shaperSarah Darville Donna Schaper, Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church, at left.

Local residents and N.Y.U. faculty members gathered this evening in a garden that will be demolished if the university’s expansion plan is approved. During a mock funeral scheduled a day before a critical City Council hearing about N.Y.U. 2031, they lamented the loss of trees and the displacement of wildlife due to construction, and shared memories of a leafy retreat where they had meditated and played with their children.

Tucked between the two towers of the Washington Square Village superblock, Sasaki Garden has a low profile in the neighborhood. That lends itself to peace and quiet, neighbors said — but it also makes their fight to save the park more difficult.

Jan Blustein, professor of health policy and medicine at N.Y.U., was saddened at the prospect of the destruction of what she said had been a “beloved resource” for her and her family. “I had such a great experience living here and being a young faculty member here, and I’d hate for faculty to not have that opportunity in the future,” she said. Read more…

In Tompkins, a ‘Rolling Rabbi’ Against Men With Sticks

Sitting on their couch one Saturday night while in college, Roni Jesselson and his roommate Mike Dabah started talking about how much they missed hockey. They had played in Jewish youth leagues, and discussion soon turned to how they could re-connect with the game they loved. They decided to organize a casual pick-up hockey league at Tompkins Square Park.

“We were like, ‘We have to do this’,” said Mr. Jesselson, 26, a documentary filmmaker who lives in Greenwich Village. “And from there it bloomed.”

At first, they used garbage cans instead of a net and goalie. Mr. Jesselson and Mr. Dabah would call friends late into the night trying to scrap together enough players for a game of three-on-three. But gradually, the scrimmages increased in organization, and in popularity. Today, five years later, the league’s mailing list boasts 45 people from as far as Queens or New Jersey.

The players are an “eclectic mix” of Jews (both religious and non-practicing, Mr. Jesselson said) and the game takes on a uniquely Jewish twist. Read more…

N.Y.U. 2031’s Booers and Boosters Face Off Before Planning Commission

museumNatalie Rinn

Critics and supporters of N.Y.U.’s planned expansion in Greenwich Village pleaded their cases before the New York City Planning Commission yesterday. The exchange was a critical one, since the controversial project must be approved by the Commission and then by the City Council before construction can begin.

For more than seven hours at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, speakers gave three-minute testimonies in response to the university’s pending build-out of the school’s core campus south of Washington Square Park. With the museum’s stadium-style seating filled to capacity, President John Sexton faced hissing and intentional coughing as he explained why the university was in “desperate” need of additional space, and why so much of it needed to be located in Greenwich Village. Read more…

N.Y.U. President John Sexton: ‘We Need More Space’

IMG_3105Natalie Rinn John Sexton addresses a student.

John Sexton, the president of N.Y.U., addressed questions about the school’s considerable expansion plan at a Town Hall meeting earlier tonight. At the open forum for students, Dr. Sexton addressed a recent outpouring of community opposition, as demonstrated by a unanimous vote by Community Board 2 on Thursday disapproving of the proposed expansion near Washington Square Park.

“The community board vote did not surprise me,” he said, standing before a room filled with undergraduate and graduate students at the university’s Kimball Hall. “It would have been surprising if there had been a single dissent.”

He added, “You learn that there are a small minority of people that you can’t reach. They’ve gotta be what they are and they’re not going to be persuaded right or wrong.”

A recent Ph.D. graduate in comparative literature, Patrick Gallagher, pressed the president on being insensitive. “It sounds like what you’re saying is the community is always wrong. Has there ever been a time when you’ve come around to their point of view?”

“First of all, respectfully, I don’t think I said the community is always wrong,” Mr. Sexton responded. “The dialogue with the community has been fulsome for three years and 40 [community] meetings, and we’ve made changes in the plan based on things that were said.”
Read more…

(A Few) Protesters Picket Town Hall With N.Y.U. President

protestersNatalie Rinn

In a protest organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a handful of representatives from the N.Y.U. Grad Student Organizing Committee distributed flyers outside of Kimball Hall at 246 Greene Street, where N.Y.U. President John Sexton was expected to hold a town hall with students at 4 p.m. The flyers, also signed by N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, demanded that attendees of the meeting ask why Mr. Sexton was not respecting the group’s right to organize.

Check back here for an update from the town hall, where the subject of the university’s controversial expansion plan just might come up.

Update: N.Y.U. President John Sexton: ‘We Need More Space’

Local Leaders to Borough President: Hear Us Out About N.Y.U. Plan

AndrewBermanProtestBeforeCB2MeetingNatalie Rinn Mr. Berman, right, at a protest on Thursday.

One of the most vocal opponents of New York University’s proposed expansion near Washington Square Park wants Borough President Scott M. Stringer to hold a public hearing before making an advisory decision about the controversial plan next month.

Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, drafted a letter to Mr. Stringer last Friday as the Borough President began his month-long review of the university’s proposal. The note, which came on the heels of Community Board 2’s unanimous advisory decision last Thursday against the expansion plan, was also signed by 15 community members, including block association leaders, preservationists, and Mark Crispin Miller of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan. Read more…

Welcoming The Village Beat

A video feature produced by students for The Village Beat.

We’d like to welcome a new blog to the neighborhood, The Village Beat, which features the work of undergraduate students from across the country in The Hyperlocal Newsroom Summer Academy at NYU Journalism.

Yvonne Latty of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute teaches one of the hyperlocal classes — and said that the site was created as a showcase for student work.

“We’re sending out these cub reporters and watching them grow,” she said. “They’re out on the streets, knocking on people’s doors, shooting video, taking photos — they’re hustling; we’re pushing them to be published. What you’re seeing is the future, and we’re planting the seeds.”

Other NYU Journalism professors involved in the project include Betty Ming Liu and Adrian Mihai, who designed the blog.

Be sure to check out their stories throughout the summer, and follow their Tweets, too.

What’s Next for NYU in East Village?

NYU Fourth Tower PlanThis image from NYU’s 2031 expansion plan depicts a proposed tower near Houston and Mercer Streets. It is still unclear how the plan will affect the East Village.

New York University’s so-called “2031 plan” for expansion contains detailed proposals for what it calls its “Core” around Washington Square. What concerns many East Village residents is a larger boundary that the university has drawn around the Core.

University officials call it “the Neighborhood,” and on maps published about the expansion plan it clearly contains the East Village. The Neighborhood figures in the university’s long-term plans, but the specifics remain unknown.

“We can’t live in a world where everything is no, no, no.” That’s New York University spokeswoman Alicia Hurley’s reaction to the welcome she received from the East Village’s Community Board 3.

“We have heard you, and we’re very conscious of your concerns. Our most recent dorm purchase was at 23rd and Third, well outside the Neighborhood.” But in response to discussions with East Village residents she says, “Help us to understand which areas are most sensitive. Are there sites which are under-performing. Are certain types of use acceptable?”

She wonders whether an extension of the Tisch School of the Arts would be welcome in the area. “If you want to just say no, and be afraid, there’s not much I can do. We’re happy for you to coach us.”

Read more…

About The Local East Village

YellowBuildingRachel Wise

On its face, The Local East Village is a collaborative experiment between a learning institution, the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, and a newspaper, The New York Times — but it’s much more than that.

The Local has been conceived and designed to help foster a journalistic collaboration with a third partner, our neighbors in the East Village. The site is designed to reflect our community, report on its issues and concerns, give voice to its people in a wide-reaching online public forum and create a space for our neighbors to tell stories about themselves.

Our coverage area — which extends from Broadway to the East River, 14th Street to Houston Street — is home to roughly 70,000 people and features a sturdy and robust blogosphere. What can we contribute? A healthy respect and appreciation for our neighbor blogs; the academic and intellectual resources of NYU; the vast journalistic experience and high professional standards of The Times; and a commitment to do our best to reflect the richness and texture of life in the community we share.

We hope, too, to provide innovation: For years now the lines between those who produce news and those who consume it have become increasingly blurred. And so we hope to bring our readers even more into the process of producing news in ways that few other sites have tried before.

One of those ways is through the Virtual Assignment Desk, an application produced by students at New York University and which makes its debut on this site. It is designed to provide readers with a seamless, intuitive tool for interacting with the process used in producing and shaping news. Those who use the desk can identify stories that they would like to see covered or volunteer to cover assignments themselves.

Read more…

Welcome to The Local East Village

east villageJenn Pelly The East Village.

For much of the past year, The New York Times and the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University have been working to bring you — our neighbors in the East Village — this experiment in journalistic collaboration.

As we launch The Local today, know that what you are seeing is not the culmination of that work, but rather the beginning of it. And so we start with our most important task, extending an open invitation to everyone in our community to participate in our site, which is designed to provide news, offer a forum for perspectives and opinion and promote a neighborhood-wide conversation about the issues that mean the most to us in this community.

You’ll see posts about some of those issues today — stories about culture and politics, the voices of established neighborhood institutions and those that are emerging — that will give you some idea of what we’re about as a site.

We’ll talk more about the The Local’s mission later today, but first I’d like to introduce you to some of the people behind the site and invite you to engage with us all.

I’m Rich Jones, the editor, and a former reporter at The New York Times who is now a visiting professor at NYU. I consider myself a storyteller in the tradition that puts the focus on the story and not the teller. So in the days and weeks ahead, my voice will recede from the site and be replaced by all of you telling your own stories about our community.

Some of you have already met Kim Davis, our community editor, who is an important liaison between the site and our neighbors.

Mary Ann Giordano, a deputy metro editor at The Times, is a coordinator of The Local blogs under whose guidance we will produce the site. Jim Schachter, an associate managing editor at The Times, will also play a key oversight role.

At NYU, the project has been led by Brooke Kroeger, the director of the Carter Institute, and Jay Rosen, whose students and faculty colleagues in the Studio 20 concentration, especially Jason Samuels, have played a crucial research and development role in laying the foundation for the site.

Many of the posts will be contributed by the students in the Hyperlocal News class, which is led by Yvonne Latty, Mary Quigley and Darragh Worland, and recognition should be given to the support provided by the larger community at NYU, including students, professors and administrators in journalism, at the Stern School of Business, at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, as well as from our deans of the Faculty of Arts and Science, Jess Benhabib and Dalton Conley. The project has also benefitted from the good offices of NYU Provost David McLaughlin and President John Sexton.

And, of course, I must acknowledge the most significant ingredient in our collaboration — you. Ours is one of the most distinct neighborhoods in New York — full of color and energy, heart-wrenching sadness and unexpected humor and uncommon grace. In other words, it is a wonderful place for us to tell stories.

Let’s all get to work.