Listen to some of the stories we've recorded...

7:00 - 8:30 pm on Wednesday, June 9th
LaunchPad - 721 Franklin Avenue
(Between Park Place and Sterling Place)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ms. Bernadine's Advice

Linda Mark, Quanaisha and Floyya

On March 13th, my girl Floyya and I interviewed two people in one day. We rocked the conversations.

The first conversation we had was Linda Mark who lived in Crown Heights for 20 years and worked in the Postal Service. She talked about learning how to read at the Eastern Parkway Library Learning Center.

The second woman we interviewed was Melina Bernadine. She answered questions about the neighborhood that I didn’t even know I had to begin with. She also gave us some interesting and memorable advice. She said, "Get involved in your community. Get to know who your politicians are. Ask questions. And - The most important thing of all is to love yourself and love where you come from."

Melina Bernadine fills out paperwork after being interviewed

She was so interesting that I remember her full name and I usually don't remember peoples’ names. I had a great time listening to her voice (she had a great storyteller’s voice) and her stories.

These were my very first interviews so it was very exciting and I look forward to what is next.

Monica, Melina Bernadine, Ansie, Quanaisha and Floyya

Desmond and The Kingston Lounge

Treverlyn and Floyya interview Desmond Atkins

Desmond Atkins is 59 years-old and has lived in Crown Heights for most of his life. He knew a lot about the history of the neighborhood and enthusiastically shared his knowledge with us at LaunchPad.

Photograph taken by Richard Nickel, Jr. at

Desmond told us about the live music scene at Kingston Lounge, a now abandoned bar and grill on Kingston and Bergen. Desmond remembers listening to musicians play the songs of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Lloyd Kitchener. Jazz, rock n' roll, blues and calypso music played to large audiences from 1944 until the establishment was closed down in the 1980s after being cited for health code violations. "If you go by there you can still see some of its original splendor," said Desmond. He talked about the fluorescent lighting with great nostalgia. "But now," he said, "the place is pretty much a shell of its original self."

Photograph taken by Richard Nickel, Jr. at

"A dance [at Kingston Lounge] was typically a family affair," Desmond told us. "You'd have everyone from Grandma and Grandpa to a baby in the stroller. People would typically bring their food and they would sit there and eat together. That had a lot to do with keeping the family together - through socializing."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our First Interview

From Left: Monica, Treverlyn, Ms. Porter and Floyya

On Wednesday, March 3rd, we recorded our first interview! Evangeline Porter. We have talked to Ms. Porter before, but this time she gave us more facts and details about things we were curious about. Ms. Porter was born in North Carolina in 1937. She lived with her grandmother and her mother. In 1973 she moved to Crown Heights and got married. Ms Porter stated her earliest memories of this neighborhood. She said it was a different place and people were afraid to walk after dark.

Ms. Porter made a comparison for us, showing us what Crown Heights has now that it didn’t have then - things like drugs stores, medical offices and other health businesses, for example, are in abundance now. “The community had very little to survive on back then,” she said.

Many people who lived in the Crown Heights area didn’t care much unless crime directly affected them. But, Ms. Porter cared, because it affected her. She was mugged and robbed twice, but as the strong fighter she was she still wasn’t afraid and wasn’t going to give up. “I had a lot of faith in God,” Ms. Porter said.

A final word of wisdom from Ms. Porter: “Within the next 10-15 years from now, if people don’t get more involved in what is going on in this community, it is going to go back to the way it was.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

Interviewing and Chicken Wings

On Monday March 1st 2010, we met at our recording space. We went over questions for the interview. We learned how to conduct a good interview such as welcoming participants and good eye contact. We learned how to ask open and closed questions. An open question is a question that people will most likely have a longer answer to. For example, “What was your childhood like?” A closed question is a question that can be answered with a short phrase or a single word. For example, “How old are you?”

In addition, we took turns acting like the person telling the stories and like the interviewer. We learned our weaknesses and strengths. We came up with ways to improve our interviewing skills. We worked really hard and I can’t wait until my first interview. I have a good feeling about it.

Finally, we ate some chicken wings from Super Wings nearby. The wings were delicious. There were four kinds of different wings. My favorite ones were the Chili Cilantro and the Island Barbecue. They were the best wings I ever tasted.

Chicken wings from Super Wings NY