Tag Archives: Manhattan

Plant sales honor beloved local florist

10 Jun

Note: This story was published in “The Village Beat” in June 2011. I’m recording it here, however, because the site will no longer be live once this internship ends. Here’s Bill Curry and Cornell Edwards’ story:

In a bittersweet tribute to a local florist’s life, his partner has raised close to $4500 through the sale of his plants to locals who revered him as an active, kindhearted member of the community.

Cornell Edwards died suddenly on March 29 due to a stroke, and for the last seven weeks, Bill Curry has opened the doors of the Flower Stall on 143 East 13 St. to accept donations for the plants to go towards one of the pair’s favorite causes: the Seneca Village Restoration Project.

Started in the 1820’s, the Seneca Village was Manhattan’s first community of African American landowners. Short-lived due to the construction of Central Park, there have been efforts ever since to rehabilitate the community. Edwards was very passionate about this project.

“Cornell was an advisor on the board for the Seneca Village,” Curry said. “He was very involved. Anything he was part of, he was not passive.”

Also involved the community board in the seventies as well as heading up the housing committee, Edwards’ role in the community was admired.

“Cornell was a lovely, gentle person with a good sense of humor who truly enjoyed being around people, and that was evident due to his community involvement,” customer Diana Wall said.

As Curry slowly lets Edwards’ plants go, he finds comfort in the fact that “the plants are being converted into something substantial.”

The shop, an eclectic mix of things the pair had purchased together over their 50 years of partnership, was a staple in their neighborhood and brought locals together.

“Cornell’s flower shop was one of the few places that anchored the neighborhood as a place of neighbors,” long-time customer Claire Moed said.

As locals make generous donations in honor of a beloved community member, the future of the shop has come into question.

“As I sell plants, I’m really throwing [Cornell] away piece by piece,- again- but I can’t take care of all this,” a tearful Curry said.

Curry, who still evokes deep emotion when discussing the passing of his partner, is currently looking for a tenant who will bring something unique to the Village and do some good for the community.

“[Whatever business goes here] has to be something that can contribute to the community,” he said. “I want to find something that would carry on Cornell’s vision.”

As Curry works tirelessly to sort papers, sell plants and keep the shop running, locals have been contributing in the form of donations as well as spending time in the shop and helping Curry out.

“I come in here all the time,” Moed said. “He was a neighbor. I don’t think people understand that word today. I mean neighbors, like, who know your kids and care about your family and have your extra set of keys. That’s what we are.”

While Curry opens the shop each Saturday to continue his sales, locals realize the end of the Flower Stall era may be near.

“This is a rare New York store,” Moed said. “And once it’s closed, there’s not another New York store like it.”

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One hand in the air for the big city

26 May

Well hello once again, WordPress! I’m sorry to have neglected you but I’ve definitely had some things I needed to take care of before coming back to the world of blogging. Here I am though, and I’m back with a vengeance!

This is one of the first views of East Village that I had. I fell in love right then and there.

Since I’ve last blogged, I’ve made my way to the fabulous New York City(the East Village in Manhattan, to be exact) and have started what will prove to be an absolutely remarkable six-week learning process.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m at New York University for six weeks for an internship/class partnered with the New York Times. Basically, it’s about 30 journalism nerds who write stories about the East Village for the Local East Village paper. We’ll be doing everything from reporting to editing to multimedia and everything in between. A dream come true for a journalism junkie like myself.

Before I get to logistics about the class, let me break down some of my first impressions of the East Village:

  1. This town is as unique as they come. I was walking down the street Saturday, my first day here, and was told that TomKat (for my followers who are less caught up in celebrity news and more focused on things that actually matter- that’s Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) live in the building behind mine. However, I walked less than three blocks down and homelessness and poverty were clearly visible. What I’m trying to say is this town has the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.
  2. If you’re bored in East Village- that’s your own fault. There’s always, and I mean ALWAYS something to do. Whether it’s hanging out in Washington Square Park, taking a few block walk to Chinatown, or simply exploring the multitudes of businesses and restaurants, something’s always going on.
  3. People aren’t even kind of kidding when the say the city never sleeps. Since moving into my apartment, I’ve had approximately zero minutes of complete silence. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying.
  4. It’s just as easy to blow all your money on food as it is to blow all of your money on clothes. This realization has been a tough one for me. Two things I love- food and clothes- are in constant competition for my extra cash. Unfortunately, food is winning this battle so far. My new fave food source? Street vendors. Convenient, cheap and so so good.
  5. Even though the city is a grid, getting lost isn’t such a far-fetched idea. I know, I know. The city- East Village especially- is a grid. One giant square (well…Manhattan is kind of an oblong shape, but for sake of the analogy…) divided into numerous smaller squares. Avenues run up and down, while streets run side to side. (Or maybe it’s the other way around. I couldn’t really tell you. I am, after all, the one who cannot maneuver my way around a square.) All joking aside, I don’t care what anyone says. It’s confusing, getting lost is easy, and finding your way back is quite the struggle.

Ignore the construction, but this is just a shot of Cooper Square- where my classroom is located. It's a short walk from my apartment on 14th street.

Now back to what I’m actually doing here. I’m taking the class called Hyperlocal I. My professor is Yvonne Latty. This woman’s done it all. She’s written, taken photographs and is currently producing and directing a documentary. I’m truly honored to be under her instruction.

This is basically an intensive six-week course that’s going to push us all to places we’ve never been before. The content we’ll be reporting on will be fed to the Hyperlocal Newsroom website and, if we’re fortunate enough, our stories can get pitched to both the Local (East Village’s paper) or the New York Times (no explanation necessary).

All in all, this is going to be the time of my life. I’ve already experienced two street fairs, gone to Times Square, Central Park and Ground Zero, joined a yoga class -which, if you know me, you know I am the furthest thing from graceful- and tried so many new foods I can’t even name them all.

This summer is definitely going to be one for the books. I’m going to leave NYU with new friends and experiences, a stacked portfolio, contacts and networking skills that will help me for the rest of my career, memories to last a lifetime and maybe, just maybe, a New York state of mind.