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Boro luminaries look back on a great year

for The Brooklyn Paper
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“This was the year I came to Brooklyn, bringing all of my memories, ghosts, and dreams with me. I grew up hearing story after story from my mother about her childhood in Sheepshead Bay. A natural entertainer, she would imitate her brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, all of whom lived together near Avenue X. I’m sure I got my love of the theater from my mother’s stories, which usually extended into impersonations of the stars of her time – Danny Kaye, Louis Chevalier, Ethel Merman, and more. I came full circle this year when I became the executive director of Kingsborough Performing Arts Center where we present artists from all over the world that I know my mother would just love to impersonate.”
— Anna Becker, executive director, Kingsborough Performing Arts Center
“For me, small businesses were the big story for Brooklyn in 2010. On Brooklyn Based, we frequently report on start-ups, and in 2010 we covered a ton of new borough businesses including Snap Goods, Eastern District, Ovenly, and ioby. In the midst of a recession, Brooklyn’s climate of creative entrepreneurialism has come to define us. On a personal level, we’re also a small business, and we’ve had a bang-up year. My husband, who is an owner at The Meat Hook, my Brooklyn Based partners and I have all chosen to live, work and build in Brooklyn and I’m thrilled to see so many others doing the same.”
— Annaliese Griffin, senior editor, Brooklyn Based
“One of the many great moments in DUMBO this year was watching the World Cup under The Archway with thousands of soccer enthusiasts. The games brought together fans from all over the city, new friends were made, and the energy was contagious!”
— Jane Kojima, spokeswoman, DUMBO Improvement District
“Joy to the waterfront! The opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Piers 1 and 6 was a highlight of 2010. After 25 years of advocacy, we — the community, elected officials, civic and environmental groups — successfully transformed a set of abandoned, industrial piers into one of the most magnificent stretches of waterfront in the world. Thousands of visitors flocked to the sweeping lawns of Pier 1 and the adventure playgrounds of Pier 6. And there’s more to come. With the city’s commitment of $55 million in additional funding to complete Brooklyn Bridge Park, we are at the onset of a new era in New York City’s enjoyment of our waterfront.”
— Nancy Webster, executive director, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
“This year represented a push towards the democratization of the city culinary landscape, with the line between professional and amateur chefs blurred even further. Perfect examples are the home chefs competing in local cookoffs like the Food Experiments, or the dozens of newly created Brooklyn food businesses or even attempted virtual restaurants selling the likes of lobster rolls or grilled cheese sandwiches directly from home apartments. Even lawyers are quitting their day jobs and opening up Canadian smoked-meat restaurants on a whim (I love Mile End). All while restaurant chefs turned their backs on fancy concepts and leaned towards serving cheap, soul-satisfying American comfort dishes like fried chicken, mac ’n’ cheese, pizza and hamburgers. If the food world was a political spectrum, we would all be overweight centrists by now. Maybe we all need backyard vegetable gardens, like the White House does, in order to lose weight in 2011?”
— Nick Suarez, co-founder, The Food Experiments

With 2011 upon us, we asked borough luminaries to reflect on this past year in Brooklyn. Here’s what they had to say:

Updated 12:07 am, December 31, 2010
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