Monthly Archives: February 2017

Interview with Roy Blumenfeld, Co-Founder of Solidaritees

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On February 1st South Slope Pediatrics shared our cultures and promises with all of our patients and families, including our core value #7, being humble.  We’ve had such positive responses to this,  one of the most meaningful coming from SSP parents Justin and Kelly Brandon and Roy Blumenfeld and his wife, Lauren Links, who shared an incredible project they had just launched THAT week.  Their project, Solidaritees, ties in to SSP’s promise to always treating others how we would want to be treated.  Solidaritees is a non-profit t-shirt venture they started to show solidarity with the Muslim Americans and refugees after the current administration signed their executive order on the refugee ban.  These brave families decided to take their sadness and frustration and turn that energy into creating a t-shirt and movement with the most positive, inclusive message….hoping to create a dialogue and helping dissolve the fear of the unfamiliar.  Let’s learn more about this venture and how we can help support and get the word out about this amazing cause, started right here in the Slope.

SSP:  Before we dive into this awesome project you have just launched, can you please tell us more about yourself and the other SSP families who are behind this project?

This project was a joint venture of Roy Blumenfeld and Lauren Links (parents of Gabriel Blumenfeld, 22 mo old) and Justin and Kelly Brandon (parents of Ceci Brandon, 19 mo old). Lauren and Roy are both independent high school teachers (Lauren at Berkeley Carroll and Roy at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School). Kelly is a teacher at the Avenues school, and Justin runs a digital marketing company. Our families have been friends for a number of years now and the bond has grown closer since we have kids so close in age.

SSP: How did you connect and make this happen? What inspired you to do this?

Kelly and Justin organized a postcard making party the day after Trump signed his executive order on the refugee ban so folks could write to their members of congress. I was feeling exceptionally sad and frustrated that day. The immigration order, whether intentionally or not, was signed on Holocaust Memorial Day. I’m the child of four Holocaust survivors, so this day has always been challenging for me. I’m all too aware that refugee policy can be a matter of life or death. Sitting around the morning after, I had the idea of wearing a shirt with Arabic on it as a show of solidarity. Justin said he would do the same, and an idea was born. The seed is the shared belief that there’s nothing more important than standing up for those most vulnerable in our society.

SSP: Solidaritees is such a smart name for this venture. Can you please explain the phrase on the front, why you chose it and also the decision behind not including a translation?

The shirt says “ahlan wasahlan,” which simply means “Welcome,” and comes from a beautiful Arab tradition of welcoming strangers as family. We chose not to include a translation in order to encourage conversation. We hope people will wear the shirts in public and wear them often to encourage conversation with neighbors, colleagues, and strangers. We considered a number of possibilities for the shirt including American phrases like “this land is your land” written out in Arabic, but ultimately chose something that was both already familiar to the Arab community (and invariably elicits a smile from those who can read it) as well as something not overtly political. The shirt just says welcome — who could object to that? Only someone in the grips of xenophobia, which is what we hope to dissolve.

SSP:  I see on your website that you can opt to “buy one forward”. I love this idea, can you tell us more about this and why it is important to your cause?

This was Justin’s excellent idea. “Buying one forward” means you are paying the price of a shirt so that someone else can receive a shirt for free. This has allowed to give out shirts at rallies, such as the Yemeni bodega owners rally at Cadman Plaza. We’ve also given out shirts at Arab-owned businesses and to people who want to support the cause but cannot afford a shirt.

SSP: I understand that this is a non-profit project. Where are the proceeds going?

The first $1000 we raised is being donated to the Arab American Association of New York. All proceeds beyond that (we’ve raised close to $4000 so far) are being donated in equal parts to AANY, the IRC (International Refugee Council) and Immigrant Justice Corps, an organization that provides legal assistance for immigrants.

SSP: How has the response been so far? In addition to purchasing the shirts, how do we help get the word out and support this cause?

The response has been phenomenal. We’ve sold over 800 shirts across the country. You can see a map of where people have purchased shirts on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bksolidaritees . The next step of our project, now that many people have received their shirts and have been wearing them for a few weeks, is for people to start sharing their stories. Our hope is to create a Humans of NY-style account of people’s stories wearing these shirts across the country. We hope the conversation will spark into one that allows for understanding and acceptance. I firmly believe that people’s xenophobia is rooted in unfamiliarity; it’s easy to project when the issue is abstract. But when you’re talking about real people and real conversations, difference often melt away and people’s common humanity emerges. That’s the hope, at least. The best way to support the project is to tell friends and family about it across the country. Tell them to visit our facebook page and take a picture of themselves wearing our shirt! There’s already quite the gallery in the making at www.soldiaritees.org/photos — we recently had someone take a picture in front of the White House!

https://www.solidaritees.org/

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Things to do this Winter!

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Let’s all agree, this isn’t the most lively time of the year.  It’s cold, the excitement of the holidays is over, and the Spring seems so far away in the distance.  The sun, if it’s out, isn’t warming us as much as we want it to.  The playground is not usually the best option, unless we want to freeze and listen to our kids complain they are cold.  So…what do we do?  How about sampling some of the best hot chocolate NYC has to offer…or try out some origami?   Here are ideas which are fun for ALL of us (parents included)!

If you’d like to stay warm indoors…

* Try out the best hot chocolates Park Slope has to offer…Le Pain de Quotidien on 5th Ave let’s your child swirl the dark chocolate syrup into the frothy milk themselves (what kid doesn’t LOVE to mix everything)!  There’s also The Chocolate Room and Colson Patisserie, both serve up a yummy cup of chocolate goodness.

* Check out the Brooklyn Children’s Museum pop-up exhibit, Industry City, at 274 36th Street in Sunset Park.  Through February 26th you’ll be able to check out an interactive art exhibit, which will ask kids what it takes to create a happy and healthy neighborhood.  There are interactive programs for families with children 1-8 YO. Thurs-Sun.  Free!  

* Go to a book reading at Powerhouse or Barnes and Noble in the Slope! 

* Try your luck at bowling at Melody Lanes in Sunset Park or Family Bowl on Saturdays at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg.  A major draw for Brooklyn Bowl is that you can enjoy some of the best fried chicken around, brought to you by Blue Ribbon.  It’s SO good.

* Get crafty at Taro’s Origami Studio at 95 7th Avenue, between Union and President.  Follow directions on touch-screen tablets (fun for the little ones) or learn from the staff.  Make your origami flowers, spaceship or whatever you choose – and decorate with stamps and paint!  

* Check out a new puppet show at Puppetworks, right here in our hood of Park Slope.  Through April 9th, Puss in Boots will be performed!  Based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 French Fantasy, with an original score.

* Get that energy out at Bounce U, about a fifteen minute drive from Park Slope on 67th St and 9th Ave.  $16 per kid, reservation required (remember to bring socks).   There is a “preschool playdate” for kids 7 and under:  

* How about a little culture to brighten up that dreary cold day?  BAM offers theater and film with kids in mind.   On February 19th at 2pm check out a matinee of “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown” about Charlie Brown and the gang traveling to Europe for fun and adventure.  And for a live theatrical performance, check out Do Not Disturb (2/11-2/12), about factory workers assembling a giant wheel – combining dance, physical theater and a clown!  Ages 6+.

If you want to brave it and have fun outdoors…

* The Prospect Park Zoo is open year-round!  You can go celebrate the “Year of the Rooster” 2/11 – 2/12 from 11am-4pm.  There will be puppet performances, a scavenger hunt, fortune cookies and a calligraphy workshop!  

* Also in Prospect Park, go ice skating at the Lefrak Center at Lakeside!  There’s even a skate school and a hockey program if your child is interested.   Grab a hot beverage after at the cafe!  

* The next time it snows, have a plan as to where you are going to sled!  There of course is the big hill at 9th street in Prospect Park, but there are other spots in Fort Greene and Bay Ridge.  Check this list for top sledding spots in NYC.

SSP Core Value # 7: Be Humble

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We are thrilled to share with you our Culture, Values and Promises. We want to make sure you understand what we stand for and what we promise to offer you.

So, first a little HISTORY:

Dr. Cao and Matteo opened South Slope Pediatrics in July of 2012 with the goal of offering a different patient/doctor experience and contributing to the growth of the local community.

 

OUR PURPOSE AND EVERYDAY GOALS:

At SSP we value relationships. Building strong relationships between patients, doctors and team members is at the center of our purpose and focus. We want to make sure that when you call us, come visit us or communicate with us in any way (email, social, verbal, etc.), you know that you are HOME and that we are here for YOU.

Our mission is to give you the best experience of your day. We are here to help you and most of the time we will go above and beyond what’s required or expected to do so. Our goal is to establish a strong and trusted relationship with you.

 

OUR PROMISES:

We promise to always LISTEN, be KIND, be HUMBLE and to be HELPFUL.

 

We simply ask you to reciprocate so we can work on creating a strong relationship based on trust and open communication.
 

OUR CORE VALUES:

Your SSP Team has established a set of 10 Core Values that we base our behavior and decisions upon. Every month we will unveil 1 core value to you and discuss it at the office and via social media.

We encourage questions about our values and we would love to hear your side of the story as well. Engage with your SSP team members when you see them and ask questions.

 

The February 2017 Core Value is:

BE HUMBLE

(Core Value #7).

Here is what we mean:

“At SSP we believe that no matter what happens, we should always be respectful of everyone.  While we celebrate our individual and team successes, we are not arrogant nor do we treat others differently from how we would want to be treated.”

Please send us your thoughts, questions or stories about being humble.We would love to collect them for our Culture Book and for our social media stories.

Yours,

Dr. Cao and the South Slope Pediatrics Team