The View from Up Here!

New York Wheel-thumb

By the time Staten Island’s giant observation wheel finally opens in 2017, it may not be the tallest in the world. But right now, its planned 625-foot height tops all other Ferris wheels, and its views, unsurprisingly, have been touted as the main attraction. (Along with the promise the project, along with its neighboring outlet mall, holds for revitalizing St. George, the area by the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and the Staten Island Yankees’ stadium.) While we await the wheel itself, enterprising Staten Island resident Scott Grella sent a drone up from the site to scope out the views during a particularly lovely sunset. First, the rest of the city, while beautiful, looks mighty tiny and far away. Second, just remember that because of FAA regulations, the drone couldn’t fly all the way up the wheel’s highest point. Third, seeing these views when the wheel is actually built will be costly as heck: $25, $35, and $45 depending on when you go, with the ticket price escalating as the day turns into night.

Check out the drone video on

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Run to get PEARL today!

NJ couple Guy and Dana Patton’s self-financed micro-budget action movie PEARL has been acquired by California distribution company Indican Pictures, got its international release last Tuesday. And one of it’s stars is Staten Island’s own George Morafetis!

2015-06-08_14-24-24In Pearl the lone survivor of a horrific home invasion mounts a violent campaign of vigilante justice. It’s a genre picture in the style of Death Wish, but with a female lead, Dana Patton. The award-winning movie screened at numerous film festivals before catching the eye of Cut Entertainment Group‘s Jeff Cooper, who licensed the film.

Indican Pictures, distributor of indie favorite Boondock Saints. The movie will be available on DVD and on demand through iTunes, Amazon and on XBox streaming.

View the trailer and read a review at Write a review at Rotten Tomatoes

About Pearl

Jersey City couple Guy and Dana Patton have done stage productions, web and festival comedic shorts, and a few independent television pilots. Both have been on the sets of features as extras or filled in as crew for small independent productions done by friends. They had always talked about making their own feature, and they had a small germ of an idea. And so Pearl was born.

Shot locally in Jersey City and Hoboken, New Jersey, the film features locations such as Grace Church, Canco Lofts, and DCs Tavern.

Pearl debuted last year at Golden Door International Film Festival in Jersey City where it won “Best Local Feature”. The debut took place at the Landmark Lowes Jersey Theatre.

Pearl went on to screen in Manhattan at Anthology Film ArchivesThe YOFI Festival, and at several other venues.

Pearl represented Jersey City on the West Coast at the 10th Annual Action on Film Fest in Monrovia, California in August 2014

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Africa 411 – An Evening of Short Films

Africa 411AFRICA 411 – An Evening Of Short Films By African Directors

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 | 7:00 PM | FREE EVENT | CULTURE LOUNGE

Get the 411 on African cultural realities through the eyes of several emerging film directors from the continent. Staten Island Arts Folklife is proud to partner with the African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) of New York to produce this special evening in honor of the Cultural Feedback Project Community Archive.

AFF is dedicated to advancing an enhanced understanding of African culture through the moving image. It offers diverse platforms for the wide distribution of African media through its flagship annual film festival and complementary year-round programming.

The Cultural Feedback Project is thrilled to host a specially curated series that pays homage to “traditional culture and contemporary struggles” facing the African continent, as part of the exhibit’s programming. As a living and community-driven digital folklife archive, the Cultural Feedback Project seeks to tell the stories and showcase the cultural heritage of Staten Island’s three largest West African communities (Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia) from the inside out, in their own words and on their own terms. It also documents West African traditional arts for future generations.

The films that make up Africa 411 each address ways in which traditional knowledge found in story telling and religious practice as well as daily life can be used to better understand and combat contemporary issues such as evolving gender roles, drug addiction, mental health, and the aftermath of political violence. A short Q & A with festival directors will follow the showing.

Featured Films Include:

Ekah Christa Essam, Cameroon, 2013, 26min
Set in a small village in Cameroon, Beleh examines the relationship between Ekema and his heavily pregnant wife, Joffi. The difficulty she faces in her pregnancy is made worse by demands of her selfish husband. One day there’s a mysterious role reversal between the sexes and Ekema gains a whole new perspective on his wife’s situation.

Soko Sonko
Ekwa Msangi, Kenya/USA, 2014, 22min.
When her mom gets sick, Kibibi’s dad must take her to the market to get her hair braided before school begins. Soko Sonko is a hilarious, fish-out-of-water roller-coaster of a journey about a well-intended dad who goes where no man has gone before…

Curse of an Addict (Documentary Short)
Lovinsa Kavuma, Zanzibar / Tanzania / 2013, 25min.
Seif a young Muslim and heroin addict believes he is cursed. In a battle to be free, Seif seeks help from a Shiek-a spiritual leader who conducts an exorcism and summons the curse on stage. She, arrives in the form of a spirit to confront Seif. She says he is a free man but there are conditions he must abide to in order to maintain his freedom from life of drugs.


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Staten Island’s Fresh Food at its Finest


Farmigo? It’s no secret that SI FYI is always looking for great food, so we were delighted to discover that Farmigo has a location in the St. George section of Staten Island. Food coops aren’t new but Farmigo is fast becoming the most popular in town.

By creating farm-to-neighborhood access to fresh food, this small startup hopes to give people access to fresh food and benefit local farmers at the same time. Their goal is to bring the best fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and artisanal products from local growers and producers directly to you table.

Here’s how it works … You can join a group or start one in your neighborhood. Pick-up days depend on the location you choose to participate in.  Orders are processed online and you pick-up your food on your group’s designated day. Easy-peasy!

Catagories include Fruits & Veggies, Daily & Eggs, Meats & Seafood, Bread & Sweets, and Pantry & Snacks. The platform is easy to use on your phone, tablet, or desktop.

Farmigo is proud to be a certified B Corporation, a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Give it a try! Just choose create a login or use FaceBook and choose your neighborhood.

Staten Island Location

St. George Staten Island – 76 Bay St. (2nd Floor), Staten Island. Pick-up on Wednesdays from 6-8pm

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Staten Island Obscura Day

2015-05-14_13-30-03Obscura Day 2015 is almost here, with 160+ curious and awe-inspiring events taking place around the world on Saturday, May 30.

Obscura Day is the real-world manifestation of Atlas Obscura – a day of expeditions, back-room tours, unusual access and discovery in your hometown. More than just cataloging the curious, wondrous and overlooked places of the world, we’d like to encourage you to actually go out and explore them. Special events will be taking place at unusual locations across the globe as we highlight obscure collections, eclectic museums, hidden wonders and curiosities near and afar to show that the same sense of wonder invoked by exotic travels can be found close to home if you know where to look.

Check out just some of the cool sites Staten Island offers:

The New York City Farm Colony – Built in 1898 as a self-preserving housing community for the impoverished or otherwise socially outcast, its beginnings were utopic in essence; 2,000 residents would produce over 3,000 vegetables, more than enough to sustain themselves. Due to the advent of Social Security and drugs like Thorazine in the 1950s, however, the community was stripped of most of its able-bodied workers and essentially became a geriatric center. And so, like many other farm colonies, the colony could no longer sustain itself and was sealed and abandoned in 1975. But this only marked the beginning of a far more sinister period of its existence.

Fort Wadsworth – The first fortification on the site was a small Dutch fort built in 1663. The fort passed into English hands in 1776, when the British took control of New York during the Revolutionary War, then reverted to New York’s control at the war’s end. The city expanded a bit, starting work on three more forts, but none of them were finished by the beginning of the War of 1812, and the new Federal government had to step in and rush the job. Only 15 years later, the government declared the slapdash forts “unfit” and decided to start over, knocking down all four and replacing them with a pair of much larger forts — Fort Richmond, on the beach, and Fort Tompkins, on the hill just above. They completed both structures in 1861, shortly after the onset of the Civil War.

Historic Richmond Town – What do you do when you lose your county seat? Stop Time!

What to do when you lose your county seat? Stop time. At least, that’s how Historic Richmond Town dealt with the end of their hey day as Staten Island’s commercial and civic center. Originally a crossroads settlement, Richmond Town became the center for business and government on Staten Island in the 1700s, bustling with blacksmiths and shoemakers and court sessions. But by the time SI became a part of the five New York City boroughs in 1898, the once happening town found itself in a gradual decline. So they stopped moving forward!

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Learn More About the Underground Railroad in Staten Island

2015-05-20_13-35-03WHEN: Fri, May 22, 7pm – 9pm

WHERE: Unitarian Church of Staten Island, 312 Fillmore Street, Staten Island, NY 10301

The Sandy Ground Historical Society in partnership with theUnitarian Church of Staten Islandwill host a lecture and book signing on May 22nd. Authors Tom Calarco and Don Papson will present from their book, “Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City.”

Underground Railroad activities on Staten Island will be included in the presentation.

Light refreshments will be served. Suggested donation of $10.

RSVP (718) 317-5796 or (917) 992-8652


Don Papson was awarded the 2012 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize in Leadership for co-founding the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association and establishing the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. He lives in Plattsburgh, New York.

Tom Calarco is a professional writer whose antislavery research is widely recognized. He was awarded the 2008 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize for advancing the knowledge and study of the Underground Railroad. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the fourteen years Sydney Howard Gay edited the American Anti-Slavery Society’s National Anti-Slavery Standard in New York City, he worked with some of the most important Underground agents in the eastern United States, including Thomas Garrett, William Still and James Miller McKim. Gay’s closest associate was Louis Napoleon, a free black man who played a major role in the James Kirk and Lemmon cases. For more than two years, Gay kept a record of the fugitives he and Napoleon aided. These never before published records are annotated in this book. Revealing how Gay was drawn into the bitter division between Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, the work exposes the private opinions that divided abolitionists. It describes the network of black and white men and women who were vital links in the extensive Underground Railroad, conclusively confirming a daily reality.

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CBCF’s 8th Annual Golf Classic to Tee Off June 22nd at Mountain Ridge Country Club

2015-05-01_14-35-28The 8th annual Cure Breast Cancer Foundation’s Golf Classic is set to take place on Monday, June 22nd at the Mountain Ridge Country Club, site of the USGA 2012 Men’s Senior Amateur Championship, the 2014 MGA Mid-Amateur Championship and one of Golf Week’s “Top 100 Classic Courses in America.”

The daylong event – which is one of the most successful fundraising efforts sponsored by CBCF throughout the year– will tee off with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. at the West Caldwell golf course.  Registration and breakfast will begin at 10 a.m.  A $1 Million Hole-In-One Shootout and raffle drawing for a 2015 Ford Mustang convertible will also take place.

The festivities will conclude with a dinner reception where Dr. Larry Norton, the Foundation’s Scientific Advisor, will address guests.  CBCF’s fundraising efforts support breast cancer research efforts under the direction of Dr. Norton, who is the Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs and the Medical Director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, at Sloan-Kettering and other national and international research facilities.

“The Golf Classic is our most popular event and has been the centerpiece of our fundraising campaign,” says Andrew Abramson, Treasurer and Co-Founder of CBCF, which is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization.  “Every year the total raised grows and allows us to advance the important work of Dr. Norton and his colleagues.  We are incredibly grateful to all the participants and sponsors who show their support for our efforts during a fun-filled day at one of New Jersey’s premier golf facilities.”

Those interested in participating in the 8th Annual Golf Classic can call (973) 471-CBCF (2223) or email

CBCF has raised in excess of $5 million to assist the dedicated team of physicians and scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and New Jersey and their national and international collaborators.  Fully 100% of the net fundraising proceeds received by the foundation are donated towards research projects coordinated by Dr. Norton who is leading the fight against breast cancer with groundbreaking work and have discovered that cancer cell mobility and the interactions between the cancer cell and its microscopic environment are the key pathways to understanding and eventually eradicating breast cancer.

CBCF hosts a number of fundraising events and informative seminars throughout the New York metropolitan area and is aggressively expanding its outreach throughout the United States and beyond.

For more information on the CBCF and a full schedule of events, please call (973) 471-CBCF (2223) or visit

Cure Breast Cancer Foundation

The Cure Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is a Clifton, N.J. – based not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charity devoted to fund research on the growth and spreading of breast cancer cells, also known as the Self-Seeding Theory, at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan and other national and international cancer research facilities under the direction of Dr. Larry Norton, who serves as the Foundation’s Scientific Advisor.  The founder and president is Carly Abramson.  Her father, Andrew Abramson, is Treasurer.  For more information, call (973) 471-CBCF (2223), e-mail or visit

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Visit the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden This Spring

2015-05-06_12-56-01The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is truly unique attraction that adds new dimension to our understanding of life in ancient China and serves as the perfect setting for a host of multi-cultural events. It features magnificent rockery that resemble mountains that inspired the poetry and paintings of Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist monks and other scholars.

Visitors can explore eight pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a Koi-filled pond, Chinese calligraphy, and a variety of Gongshi scholar’s rocks including a 15-foot formation that towers over the central courtyard.

The Garden is a compilation of different gardens in China. It is based on Ming Dynasty Gardens (1368-1644). The New York Scholar’s garden is the one of two authentic scholar’s gardens in the United States. A team of 40 Chinese artists and craftsmen spent a year in China creating the Garden’s components and another six months in Staten Island as craftsmen-in-residence at Snug Harbor to complete the construction.

Snug Harbor partnered with the City of New York, the Landscape Architecture Company of China, the Metropolitan Chinese American Community and hundreds of volunteers to build the Garden, which opened in 1999.

The Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm


$5 Adults, $4 Seniors/Students and free for kids 12 and under

Support the Chinese Scholar’s Garden

For twelve years, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden has been one of the most popular attractions at Snug Harbor. Tens of thousands of visitors have enjoyed the beauty of the architecture, plantings and ponds. However, climatic conditions andbut budget cuts have made maintenance a challenge. You can help to keep the garden beautiful for future generations by giving to the campaign to support maintenance and restoration of  in the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden.

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St. George Greenmarket Set to Open


St. George’s Greenmarket will be open at St. Mark’s Place and Hyatt St, Staten Island
Open Saturdays, 5/2 – 12/26
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Set on a hill overlooking New York Harbor and the downtown Manhattan skyline, this market draws a dedicated following of neighborhood shoppers who line up each Saturday to get first dibs on the freshest seasonal fruit, produce, cheese, meat, seafood and baked goods. An array of plants, berries picked just as they have ripened, juice pressed from upstate orchard fruit, heirloom tomatoes and much more will entice you to keep checking back in on the market to see what’s new each week, and experience the change of the seasons through the food made available by these regional farmers.

Community activities, cooking demonstrations, and recipes exchanges all add to the diverse nature of this particular market.

A sampling of this year’s farmers:

American Seafood – Wild caught seafood from Suffolk County, NY
Apple State Hill Top Family Farm – Honey from Sullivan County, NY
DiPaola Turkeys –  Turkey from Mercer County, NJ
Francesca’s Bakery –  Breads and baked goods from Middlesex County, NJ
Jersey Farm Produce –  Vegetables, herbs, and small fruit from Hunterdon County, New Jersey, a New Farmer Development Project participant
Mi Ranchito Farm –  Vegetables, Mexican specialty produce, and herbs from Monmouth County, NJ. A New Farmer Development Project participant.
Millport Dairy –  Cheddar cheese, pickles and baked goods from Lancaster County, PA
Rabbit Run Farm –  Certified Organic vegetables, goat cheese and meats from Bucks County, PA
R & G Produce LLC –  Vegetables from Orange County, NY
Staten Island Family Farm –  Vegetables, Mexican specialty produce from Richmond County, NY. A New Farmer Development Project participant.
Stony Mountain Ranch –  Grass-fed Piedmontese beef from Schuylkill County, PA
Troncillito Farm –  Orchard fruit from Ulster County, NY

The manager of the market is Nan Smith.  A native Staten Islander, Nan Smith’s love for the country took her to the Blue Ridge Mts. of Virginia where growing food is a way of life.  Although back in NY for many years, her attention focused on local environmental concerns while working as the office manager for design firms. She shifted interests toward the “environment within” when she graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2011. Now she shops, chops, cooks and blends up nutritious dishes made with local nourishing food and teaches others to do the same.  Passionate about teaching children, their parents and all who want to learn, Nan shows how to support their health by eating real food. As a master composter she maintains a small garden in the back yard. When not playing with food, you find her sewing sock monkeys or knitting plastic yarn and teaching sewing for all ages at the Staten Island MakerSpace.

2015-04-30_13-46-02About GrowNYC

GrowNYC is the sustainability resource for New Yorkers: providing free tools and services anyone can use in order to improve our City and environment.
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Staten Island’s Turning Point?

A view of URL Staten Island, a new residential and retail complex rising in the Stapleton neighborhood, from the Stapleton platform of the Staten Island Railway. URL overlooks Upper New York Bay. Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

A view of URL Staten Island, a new residential and retail complex rising in the Stapleton neighborhood, from the Stapleton platform of the Staten Island Railway. URL overlooks Upper New York Bay. Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

C.J. Hughes features Staten Island development in this week’s The New York Times.

From the article:

A wide bay may separate Staten Island from the rest of the city. But in terms of real estate, differences between the borough and other enclaves seem to be lifting like a morning fog.

New rentals and condominiums, some with perks like a pet spa or rooftop beehives, are rewriting the island’s skyline. Big-city cool is popping up in a place not always noted for it: Small-batch espresso will soon flow at a coffee shop; a jug band played kazoos at a recently opened brewery; and stores selling brand-name skinny-leg pants are on their way. And a fresh crop of renters and buyers, unable to afford pricier precincts and unfazed by stereotypes about how the place can seem insular, bland or run-down, are setting sail for the island.

 Rising on a desolate stretch of waterfront is URL Staten Island, short for “Urban Ready Life,” a $250 million mixed-use project with about 900 rental apartments in a series of buildings resembling factories, with bands of windows and flat roofs, the better to house bee hives.

The first phase, with 571 studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, will open this fall. Interiors will feature stone counters and bamboo floors, plus stacked washers and dryers. Studios will likely start around $1,600 a month, and two-bedrooms at $2,800, said David Barry, the president of Ironstate Development, the developer.

The site will contain 35,000 square feet of retail space, more than half of which is now leased. Among the future tenants are a pizzeria, a store dedicated to specialty olive oils and Lola Star, a Coney Island clothing shop that is soon to open a branch in that other rising outpost, the Rockaways. Coffeed, a chain that brewed its first cup in Long Island City, Queens, will also be there.

National chain stores, such as those that dot Staten Island’s strip malls, are not welcome at URL. “This place has its own special character,” Mr. Barry said. “The stores should reflect that.”

URL will also have a 5,000-square-foot plot planted with vegetables that can be purchased from an on-site farm stand. Or, for a fee, residents will be able to request that its kale, spinach, rainbow chard and mizuna be prepared by a chef who will do double duty as the head farmer, said Mr. Barry, who was sifting through résumés for the post as he spoke.


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