Author Topic: Young Folks in J. Heights  (Read 4227 times)

Offline Ki-At

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Young Folks in J. Heights
« on: March 10, 2008, 02:50:01 AM »
Hello Everyone!
I heard about this site a while ago and finally got the chance to visit it. I've been reading past threads all night; I wish I knew about this sooner. Better later than never, right? I think it's amazing that people are communicating and building together through these forums!

I grew up in the neighborhood and still live here. As I was reading through some of the boards, discussions about issues of graffiti, gentrification, building a creative community and schools really stood out to me. I remember needing a creative, open, community space when I attended middle and high school here in J. Heights. It was really difficult for me and my friends to find places to go to where we would feel safe and welcomed outside school. Most of the time we hung out on the side walk where we would have to deal with alienating glares from passersby who probably easily branded us as delinquents. I never really felt part of the Jackson Heights community when I was younger and so I traveled to Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn to find spaces where I felt I could contribute something.

I work with High School age folks and I still think this is a subject that needs attention in our community. Is there an existing community space in the neighborhood? I know there is an LGBTQ center on 37th ave. but I don't really know much about it and what the space is used for. Do we have any art centers or facilities available to the public? How can we support young folks with their initiatives? How can they take part in this communal dialogue?

I hope people have some thoughts to share. I've been raising the same questions with students, friends, teachers, community activists, etc from the neighborhood and it would be nice to hear what people think in this forum.

peace
Ki-At

Offline JHICON

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2008, 04:41:08 AM »
Yeah it's unfortunate that a lot of kids have to go through that. I wish we had free workshops around the neighborhood for kids or teens. I know of one thats done by the freegans in brooklyn (amazing people) and it stays open becuase of donations. Plus the there works shops consists of screen printing, Building a bike from recycled bike parts, Teaching children, it's all free its all voluntary donation they love it when people volunteer to help as well.
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Offline toddg

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2008, 10:33:39 AM »
Ki-At,

Thanks for raising this issue.  Although my kids are still very young, the absence of apparent options for teens worries me.   

Let me ask you (or anybody else who grew up in the city) -- Did you have any friends in other neighborhoods where there were more things for teens to do?  What were they? 

As a teen in the suburbs, I spent many hours hanging out with friends in diners, but I don't how accommodating our local diners would be of teens spending hours & not much money!

Offline dimplez

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2008, 10:54:11 AM »
Finally, a topic about the teenage population of Jackson Heights  :rockon:

Like I said in another thread, Jackson Heights is not very tween/teen friendly. But hopefully we can do something for them. Any parents out there who have kids in the middle school who can give any input?
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Offline Chuckster

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2008, 01:50:26 PM »
Todd, my teen days are way past me, but I did happen to spend many of my teen years in this neighborhood.  We did a lot of hanging out at the local pizza shops, bowling alleys, music stores and even Flushing Meadows when we felt the need for grass!  (The lawn type that is).  We were very adept at finding the cheaper places that we could afford.  For instance, we discovered a Dunkin Donuts in Astoria near the park that was frequented mostly by teens.  Out of plain curiosity, and without our parents' knowledge, we also ventured out into neighboring areas like Forest Hills for the Midway Theater, Flushing for some arcade fun, Bayside for the diners, and like I mentioned above, Astoria.  Come to think of it, we completely took advantage of mass transit because we were all over New York City just having some innocent fun.

Back in the day when digital media wasn't all the rage, we went to the movies a lot.  We had 3 movie theaters in JH... the Jackson, Colony and the Triplex, so we really weren't deprived in that front.  The Eagle was a porn theater, so that was off limits.  The USA roller rink was on Roosevelt Avenue, so we skated a lot as well.

Since interests have understandably changed over the years, I agree that neighborhood teens need more places of interest closer to home.
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Offline Shelby2

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2008, 02:03:55 PM »
Interesting that you mention Dunkin Donuts, as one thing I have noticed many evenings when coming out of the NYSC in Rego Park that there is a Dunkin Donuts on that corner that is often full of several tables of teens who  have laptops.  I have always assumed they are meeting to do schoolwork as this is usually on weeknights, but I guess the presence of a laptop can indicate entertainment just as easily as work!

I definitely haven't noticed the same usage of the Dunkin Donuts in JH - I wonder why?

Offline Chuckster

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2008, 02:12:53 PM »
Shelby, it's probably all about a place to hang...free tables, cheap eats and no pressure to leave, unless of course you get rowdy and the manager then kicks you out, but that's just for that particular day.  Back then we didn't have laptops, but we did carry backpacks.  I confess, we weren't meeting at Dunkin for homework purposes.

Our neighborhood Dunkin seems to be frequented by the senior set.  Maybe that's the reason?  Any teens lurking out there wishing to offer some insight on the topic? 
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Offline kate

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2008, 05:01:33 PM »
Ki-At,

Thanks for raising this issue.  Although my kids are still very young, the absence of apparent options for teens worries me.   

Let me ask you (or anybody else who grew up in the city) -- Did you have any friends in other neighborhoods where there were more things for teens to do?  What were they? 

As a teen in the suburbs, I spent many hours hanging out with friends in diners, but I don't how accommodating our local diners would be of teens spending hours & not much money!

Not sure what neighborhood has things specifically for teens. On one of my jaunts to Roosevelt Island, they have a teen center, seemed pretty nice. I have to say when I grew up back in the days before laptops and cellphones, I did the diner thing as well. There was always McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc, etc. The parks (however, will not go into what I did there so maybe that's not a great example)

I must say that I  didn't grow up in New York, and let me tell you, not a lot of teen specific things in terms of the community there either. So, it's not just something lacking in Jackson Heights, probably more universal in the United States.  I remember belonging to the art club in high school and there was the YWCA, etc. But, I don't recall any specific teen club or businesses that specifically catered to teens/tweens (not even a phrase back in my day).

I would think the public library should or could sponser some stuff, that would be educational, not necessarily recreational since that seems to be the focus here. Mostly things cost money even if it was an art class for teens.

Offline Chuckster

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2008, 05:12:43 PM »
I'm not sure of the mindset of today's teens, but from my experiences, I knew that I just didn't want to hang out in one particular neighborhood, and we did have recreational places available where we lived (inexpensive, but not free though).  Many of my friends shared the same opinion, hence we traveled throughout Queens and the outerboroughs in general.  Maybe we were bored with the same things day in and day out.  I know my younger brother would bike over the Triborough into the Bronx for no particular reason.  This absolutely freaked my parents out.  My dad couldn't understand why he would have to bike so far when our neighborhood had many streets he could explore.
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Offline Ki-At

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2008, 11:22:07 PM »
JHICON, thanks for the 123 Community Space shout out. I am part of the group that runs the silkscreening studio and are currently running a for youth by youth social justice and arts program. I HAVE ALL THE LOVE FOR THAT SPACE.

I enjoy reading people's stories of what they would do to pass the time when they were younger and although most people think that its much different now because of technology, I have to disagree. I haven't been out of the public school system that long and back then we would hang out at Jahn's hoping that one day we could afford to buy the "Kitchen Sink." People knew us there so much that we would sometimes request late passes written on their receipts. The local bowling alley and the BQE pool hall was a frequent hang out spot too.
 
The reason I brought up this issue is because I AM part of the space that JHICON mentioned. Although I must admit that sustaining that place is really difficult, I know that if it can happen in BedStuy, why not in Jackson Heights? I have a deep concern about youth from the neighborhood feeling really out of place especially when Young Urban Professionals (otherwise called YUPPIES) start pouring in with the building of new condos and the rapid gentrification (i am crossing my fingers that this doesn't develop into a wild fire of criticisms now that i mentioned the G word). How can we maintain a sense of community when so many changes imposed by external forces are happening right in our backyards?

I know young folks have a lot more to contribute if they are given the space and resources. I'm sure if I had a place to go to make something creative and positive, I wouldn't be killing time in Dunkin Donuts or the diner. I wouldn't be tagging up on the street either...

Offline JHICON

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2008, 01:21:29 AM »
JHICON, thanks for the 123 Community Space shout out. I am part of the group that runs the silkscreening studio and are currently running a for youth by youth social justice and arts program. I HAVE ALL THE LOVE FOR THAT SPACE.

I enjoy reading people's stories of what they would do to pass the time when they were younger and although most people think that its much different now because of technology, I have to disagree. I haven't been out of the public school system that long and back then we would hang out at Jahn's hoping that one day we could afford to buy the "Kitchen Sink." People knew us there so much that we would sometimes request late passes written on their receipts. The local bowling alley and the BQE pool hall was a frequent hang out spot too.
 
The reason I brought up this issue is because I AM part of the space that JHICON mentioned. Although I must admit that sustaining that place is really difficult, I know that if it can happen in BedStuy, why not in Jackson Heights? I have a deep concern about youth from the neighborhood feeling really out of place especially when Young Urban Professionals (otherwise called YUPPIES) start pouring in with the building of new condos and the rapid gentrification (i am crossing my fingers that this doesn't develop into a wild fire of criticisms now that i mentioned the G word). How can we maintain a sense of community when so many changes imposed by external forces are happening right in our backyards?

I know young folks have a lot more to contribute if they are given the space and resources. I'm sure if I had a place to go to make something creative and positive, I wouldn't be killing time in Dunkin Donuts or the diner. I wouldn't be tagging up on the street either...



I love the 123 spot i got there with my friend for the bike workshop sat where there!
I love controversy geezer's brace yourselves lolol.

Offline Aronan

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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2008, 12:00:31 PM »
Ki-At !

Thanks for your post! As a youth worker / teaching artist born and raised in Jackson heights I have long thought our neighborhood lacks a space for young people where they can be engaged in a positive environment.

As a teen-ager I had to leave Jackson Heights to find programs and activities I could engage in. I did do my share of  hanging on street corners and stoops but that was mostly in Woodside and Astoria. I guess I wanted to stay out of my parents' sight :) not that I really got in to any thing bad, we really did just sit and talk on our friend's stoops until the wee hours. 
 
For the past three years I've had the pleasure of working with  students at the Renaissance Charter School on 81st St. From what I gather, those students that live in the area tend to stay there for after school programming and even weekend programming. Still, there seems to be more need than there is available activities for the youth population of our area.

There may be some spaces in the neighborhood that would rent space for programming, I've looked in to the Jewish Community Center, and the Diversity Center of Queens (where Queens Pridehouse is). It's mostly a matter of money. Isn't it always ?  There may also be an option or two for a more permanent  space as well.  Something I'd love to develop, but will certainly need some help on.

Bottom line, yes Jackson Heights needs a youth center, that channels and focuses the energies of our young people in to positive and productive activities. We certainly have talented people in our neighborhood who can contribute time and energy to successful programming in the neighborhood, all we really need is the location and the money.
 
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Re: Young Folks in J. Heights
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2008, 12:00:31 PM »