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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Graffiti's Long History of Revitalizing the Bronx.

The following story from NY1 discussed the historical and social change impact of graffitti in the Bronx. We thought this story was relevant as we prepare for Artists Coming Together A.C.T., a project that will install permanent graffitti art in the 41st precinct in an effort to improve the quality of life in the area. Clicke the link below to view the video

Once Upon A Time In The Bronx: Fashion Moda Leaves Behind Artistic Mark

As the station continues its week-long look at the history of the Bronx, one local photographer recently shared her photo archives of an art gallery that many say made a difference in the borough. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

In the midst of the abandoned and burnt out buildings of the South Bronx during the 1970s and 1980s some artists found beauty. They saw something intriguing in all the despair and rubble.

"It felt important okay? It also felt permanent because it was so devastated. It was like how are they going to bring this back. But it felt important," said photographer Lisa Kahane.

Kahane's book titled "Do Not Give Way to Evil: Photographs of the South Bronx 1979 to 1987" illustrates the horror and hope of the borough. She was a photographer for a groundbreaking place called Fashion Moda, which opened in 1978 along the shopping district on Third Avenue. It was a gallery and performance space built on the theme of science, art, invention, technology and fantasy.

"Who is allowed to make art, who defines what art is, who gets to see it. Why does it always have to be situated in one neighborhood rather than another," Kahane said.

A lot of people from Downtown Manhattan ran the studio and invited their artist friends, like Keith Baring, up to the Bronx where they honed their styles. But the gallery was open to all, a sort of racial equality in art. Moda is the the Spanish word for fashion. And those in the South Bronx had their own fashion and art style.
"They would say. 'Oh well I have paintings can I bring them?' Yeah, sure bring them. And there was a South Bronx show every year," Kahane said.

In 1980, Fashion Moda was one of the first studios to open its doors to graffiti artists who had been making a big name for themselves on subway cars.

"This was wildly popular with the hundreds of kids who were doing graffiti in the neighborhood," Kahane said.

Some of the artwork and sculptures from Fashion Moda are actually still on display in the Bronx, including a series of castings of real people titled "We Are Family." The display was created in 1982 at Fashion Moda by artist John Ahearn.

"So we did the casting right on that stage. And after I did one casting, I realized that this was heaven, this was fantastic," Ahearn said. "As we would finish each one, we would put them on the wall. And as they accumulated, they would become the South Bronx hall of fame."

Fashion Moda closed its doors in the early 1990s, but its legacy and spirit lives on.

Putting the A.C.T in Action for My Community

Omar Camacho with the Community Service Crew (last person on the right).

Being a Bronx native, I have had the privilege to intern here at Bronx Community Solutions for two years. I have had the chance to do multiple projects in and outside the court house and all over the Bronx. So when I was asked to assist on a new project called Artist’s Coming Together (A.C.T.) mural project, I was more than happy to. Not only does this project bring color and life to an area in the Bronx that is plagued with graffiti and lacks certain municipal services like street cleaning: It would be right in my community-just blocks away from my house!

During the planning stages of the project, I have been able to talk to the graffiti crews and get their personal views on graffiti art, and their passion for doing murals in my community. I also had an opportunity to meet the officers that work behind the scenes for many of the police/community events, the 41st community affairs officers Warrick and Haddock.
This project has brought some of the best graffiti art crews in the city to participate and show how this native Bronx art form has impacted their lives. The artists are: D.Y.M ( Dream, Yearn, Materialize) which hale from Brooklyn , G.F.R (Get Fresh Rhythms) from Queens, and the Bronx's very own legendary "TATS CRU: The Mural Kings” to create beautiful community, Bronx based murals in the area of 165th and Whitlock Avenue. All crews may be from different boroughs and there may be some friendly competition, but they all have one common goal and that’s to represent their crew and even more importantly, represent THE BRONX.

As the unveiling date approaches (Saturday, September 18, 2010), Bronx community solutions, NYPD 41st precinct and the artists are working steadily to ensure that the day is filled with music, food, arts, and culture!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reflections on SBIRT Training

The BCS staff has had time to reflect on the SBIRT training provided by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Here are some reactions to the one day training that covered the Screening and Brief Intervention/Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) tool, motivational interviewing, and stages of change.

“The most instructive part of the training was the section on “reflective listening” based on Carl Rogers client-centered approach. This tool facilitates an interaction that flows more like a conversation - not an interrogation. This technique gives the client more opportunities to share their thoughts and experiences. Also, it gives the practitioner information that might have been missed by just asking questions. I believe that when put into practice; it will allow us to connect with the client more effectively. This approach will also differentiate us from the criminal justice system whose role is to pass judgment on the case. B.C.S. on the other hand, is an organization offering help and alternatives to incarceration.”
Orleny Rojas
Resource Coordinator

"I appreciated the reminder that our clients typically know what they need--they don't need us to tell them that. What they need is for us to explain what services are available to meet those needs. I feel like understanding this allows for a more collaborative and productive relationship."
Carrie Potts
Resource Coordinator

“One thing that stood out for me is that moving toward evidence-based practice deters practitioners from being subjective/arbitrary or doing what "feels right" or what seems to work for others. This drug and alcohol assessment tool has shown to have validity in different environments and across cultures and languages.”
Saudi Encarnacion
Clinical Coordinator

“More than anything, the training reminded me of the importance a first impression can make on a client/potential client (even from something as simple as the tone of our voice, or a first glance). As someone who has been working with this population for four years, I have become quite used to the environment in and around the Bronx Criminal Courthouse. However, there are tons of people who pass through my office and the courthouse on a daily basis who are having their first experience with the criminal justice system. It's important to not lose track of the fact that as an alternatives to incarceration agency, we're here to assist in any way possible - and it all starts with that initial interaction.

While Bronx Community Solutions is not certain exactly how the SBIRT process will be implemented into our operation, one place it may definitely help is with screening potential clients who are waiting for arraignment (prior to sentencing). By utilizing the SBIRT process, court staff will able to better determine the type of sentence (whether it's something as simple as an Individual Counseling Session or something more involved such as treatment) that is most appropriate for each client.”
Danny Abriano
Resource Coordinator

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bronx Community Solutions Staff Attends SBIRT Training.

On Wednesday August 11 and Thursday August 12, 2010 BCS Staff attended training on a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

The SBIRT is an evidence based screening tool that represents a paradigm shift in screening and treatment for substance use and abuse. While traditional screening methods have been used for persons with more severe substance use or those who have met the criteria for a Substance Use Disorder according to the DSMIV, the SBIRT tool is designed to assess a person’s risk before there is a diagnosable condition. This tool targets those with nondependent substance use and provides effective strategies for intervention prior to the need for more extensive or specialized treatment. The SBIRT tool can be used by anyone in the social service or medical field and does not have to be administered by a specialized drug and alcohol counselor.

The Department Of Health and Mental Hygiene has an initiative to implement this screening system within community and medical settings, in order to screen and identify individuals with or at-risk for substance use related problems. Screening determines the severity of substance use and identifies the appropriate level of intervention. The system provides an avenue for brief intervention or brief treatment within the community setting.

The training included a review of the stages of change, motivational interviewing strategies, an overview of the effects of alcohol on the body, a review of the SBIRT tool, and the ability to practice administering the tool. Melissa Novock, BCS STARS Case Manager states: “I think that a tri-level approach including the stages of change model, motivational techniques and validation practices will be beneficial to our clients both in creating awareness and establishing change in behavior(s).”

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Reflections on the Juvenile Service Learning Cycle

By Saudi Encarnacion, Cinical Coordinator

The highlight of this cycle was our trip to the Museum of Modern Art. We received VIP treatment since Tuesdays are not open to the general public and we had a great tour guide. I really wasn't sure if the kids would be open to the experience of going to the museum but I received a HUGE surprise! The kids were impressed with the architecture of the building, the paintings and they also participated in a discussion of the art work presented by our tour guide, Calder Zwicky. They were very inquisitive and asked well thought of questions regarding the art work presented. They made impressive efforts in trying to formulate an understanding of the message the artists wanted to send. They observed work from Picasso, and learned about his art form, "cubism" and had a dialogue about two of his famous paintings: Three Musicians and Girl Before a Mirror.
They also observed Andy Warhol’s piece, Campbell's Soup Cans. They also learned about “futurism" as an art form and observed work from Fillippo Tommaso Marinetti. They learned about the history of modern art, and participated in a thorough discussion of what "modern art" means to them. They also asked about the process undertaken for an artist to have their work in the MOMA and they even asked how art work is valued. They were flabbergasted when they found out the price value of the art work they were seeing. They were wide-eyed and engaged throughout the whole and like sponges absorbed all the information provided. At the end of our visit, our tour guide, Calder Zwicky gave the kids MOMA passes where they are able to bring four more guests for free. They were ecstatic and immediately began making plans as to who they would invite. On our way to the train station one of the kids said, "Yo, this trip wasn't bad".

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BCS Assists with National Night Out Events Throughout the Bronx

By Moises Reyes

Yesterday Bronx Community Solutions participated in the 27th annual National Night Out Against Crime; a national event that heightens awareness about and strengthens community participation in local anticrime efforts. This event occurs the first Tuesday in August every year. This year, Bronx Community Solutions worked in 4 Precincts across the Bronx (43rd, 44th, 48th, and 52nd)

The morning began with a collaborative cleaning effort with BSC’s Crew 1 and John Corbin from Sanitation #4. We assisted the 44th Precinct with their National Night Out event by cleaning the streets and empting garbage cans along the perimeter. We also assisted Community Affairs Officers DET. Watley and P.O. Lonesome with unloading packages and setting up tables. They were very thankful to have us there!

We then visited the 48th Precinct, the Bronx host site for Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly District Attorney Robert Johnson. We worked with Community Affairs Officer Tony DiGiovanna to help him clean and set up tables. The location site was 187st Street /Arthur Avenue (BX. Little Italy).

Crew 2 handled our afternoon agenda. Bronx Community Solutions went to the 43rd Precinct to assist Community Affairs Officer Dais and L.T. Timony. We assisted by unloading shirts, hats, toys and other supplies for the day’s event.

Our last stop was at the 52nd Precinct. We worked with Community Affairs Officer Ortega and Parks Superintendent Acosta to help them set up the various stations/tables, balloons and clean the park.

It was a great day, just knowing that we participated on such important event.

The clients not only behaved well but they enjoy the many perks like free hamburgers, and t. shirts!