Enjoy Governors Island in August!

Summer is over halfway through and soon Governors Island will be closing until next year. If you haven't made your way to the island yet, August is a perfect time to take advantage of the smaller crowds and breezy trade winds.

Here are some of the great activities going on at Governors Island this summer:

Better Than Jam Pop-Up Shop: Handcrafted items from over thirty artisans from the {NewNew} team are featured in a pop-up shop in one of the Island’s historic buildings. See www.betterthanjam.wordpress.com for more details.

Bike & Roll: Rent a bike to explore the car-free island! On Fridays, you can take advantage of their one hour of free biking.

Mark di Suvero at Governors Island, presented by the Storm King Center: The exhibition is the largest outdoor presentation of Mark di Suvero's sculptures to be shown in New York City since the 1970s and includes loans from public and private collections, including a number of sculptures from Storm King's own celebrated installation of the artist's work. The exhibition is free and located throughout the island's vibrant public spaces. Learn more about the Storm King Art Center.

FIGMENT 2011 Mini Golf: This summer, FIGMENT is giving its own participatory, free and inspired twist to the unknown and fascinating world of bugs with a return of the celebrated FIGMENT Minigolf Course, themed this year around "Bugs and Features". In the Liggett Hall courtyard, man and bug can putt away in harmony. The FIGMENT Minigolf Course is open and free for the public to play. For more information, visit www.figmentproject.org/minigolf.

Added Value Farm: Come to Picnic Point to take a tour and see the workings of Added Value’s three acre organic fruit and vegetable farm. Beginning in July, visit their Farm Stand where you’ll find locally grown produce, cut flowers and more. For more information, visit www.added-value.org.

See you on  the island!

Windows of Agate

Better Than Jam Partners with the {NewNew} at Governors Island!

This summer, the Better Than Jam Co-op is bringing the work of some of New York City’s most talented artists and crafters to historic Governors Island!
From May 27 through September 5, one of the island’s historic houses will become a veritable treasure chest, filled with the work of local designers who have turned their eye toward the island just off the shore of Manhattan for inspiration.
Once used by the local Lenape Indians, Governors Island received its name when New York was a British colony and it was reserved exclusively for the royal governors.  Two historic fortifications were placed here preceding the War of 1812.  In 2001, this strategically located island became a national monument and remains the perfect summer day trip destination thanks to its vast public open spaces, biking, concerts, festivals and more.
“Because of its special place both geographically, Governors Island has a feel that is completely different from anywhere else in New York City,” says Karin Persan, proprietor of Better Than Jam. “This has been a source of incredible inspiration for our participating artists, who’ve drawn on the island’s past and present—both real and imagined—to create products especially for the shop.”
For example, Groundsel is producing a line of recycled cotton messenger bags, hand-embellished with motifs inspired by the history and architecture of Governors Island. It’s the perfect bag for your bicycle outings around the island and elsewhere in New York.
J. Topolski has created hand-cut and -etched copper pieces in the shape of a giant squid, spinal vertebrae, and an ouroboros (the snake that eats its own tail). The ouroboros also features real snakeskin in the groove of etched metal, covered in resin, continuing the artist’s use of natural materials like shed reptile skins and bones.

 “Ultimately, the goal of Better Than Jam’s collaboration with Governors Island is to offer visitors a handmade and local shopping experience within the setting of a unique and historically rich public space,” says Persan.

In partnering with Governors Island, Better Than Jam hopes to create context around artisanal processes and inspiration. Better Than Jam’s pop-up shop will complement and add to the Island’s growing popularity, allowing visitors to take home a tangible memento from their Governor’s Island visit—a souvenir that was designed and created just a ferry ride away!
About Better Than Jam: Established in Bushwick Brooklyn, a neighborhood rich in history and brimming with an artistic community, Better Than Jam Handmade Co-Op showcases a variety of clothing, jewelry, and accessories created by some of NYC’s most talented artists and craftspeople.  It brings to the forefront local accomplished designers that make 100% handmade and high quality items at a fair price.
WHAT: Better Than Jam Summer Pop-Up Shop
WHEN: 11am – 4pm Friday, 11am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday from May 27th-September 25th 2011
WHERE: Historic Home 6B, Nolan Park, Governors Island

Cooling off in NYC

Getting away from the Summer's heat is not always easy. You find yourself wishing you could just go to some island, sit in the ocean's breeze and go for a relaxing, cooling swim.
Do you know about Rockaway Beach? It's free and is a subway ride away, located in Southern Queens.

Rockaway, like much of New York City, has a very rich and interesting history but I won't bore you too much: Rockaway was originally inhabited by the Canarsie Indian tribe until the 1600s. In the 1800s Rockaway was a getaway for New York's rich and famous, including such notables as the Vanderbilts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Washington Irving. Hotels lined the shore for miles, and Rockaway was known as the "The Playground of New York".

Through the next century, Rockaway remained a place where a good time was to be had and a place to just enjoy the summer and cool down. Lined with many bars and restaurants, Rockaway was soon to be inhabited by mostly Irish immigrants instead of just a vacation spot.

After WWII, Rockaway started to become more of a neighborhood, but we still had our beach and one last amusement park: Rockaway's Playland, providing enjoyment for the community and all of New York City until the 1980s. I run into people all over the city and to this day when I tell them I was born and raised in Rockaway, most of them had spent a summer or two in Rockaway and went to Playland. A really short personal history: my grandfather and grandmother (maybe the only Italians in Rockaway at the time) settled there around the 1940s. They had a house on 80th Street and a huge garden; they also owned a fruit, vegetable and meat store there. They moved to 69th street after the city decided to build a school on their property.

(not our house just an example of a typical old style Rockaway house)

Fast Forward to today: Rockaway is still a place for playing and relaxing (just a lot fewer bars and resaurants). Take the "A" train to the end, get off at the Broad Channel Station and switch to the Shuttle. As soon as you get off the train you can see and smell the ocean air and amazingly it will be at least 10 degrees cooler than wherever you were when you got on the train. If you get off at 90th street, you can watch the surfers, head to Boarders Surf Shop on 92nd street, and maybe hook up with some lessons. There is a new taco stand on 96th street for a nice bite to eat. Bring your bike and ride along the boardwalk. If you keep riding uptown you will head directly into Riis Park and Fort Tilden (a retired WWII army base). Of course, the main attraction for me is to just relax on the beach and swim all day long. Don't forget your sunblock.

photo credits: forgottenny.com and farrockaway.com