Archive for the ‘Conference House museum’ Category

The 1776 Celebration at the Conference House

September 7, 2011

The following describes the 2010 1776 Peace Conference Celebration at the Conference House on Staten Island. It is by Nicholas Zvegintzov, whose many interests and projects are visible here:

I successfully but sleepily caught the 11:01 train in St. George, about 45 minutes to Tottenville, the end of the line, where the front of the train almost ends in the water at a long-abandoned ferry landing.

I first took this trip in 1979, when there were still some old wooden rail coaches on a siding and on the street approaching the ferry a boarded-up porticoed building, perhaps part of an old hotel. Both are gone, but otherwise it is very much the same – well, more clustered town houses on the far side of the Kill van Kull.

Reenactors with soup tureen

I walked through prosperous tree-lined streets past some pleasant houses built on the shore, and got directions from a man who was exercising two dogs and two teenage daughters. He comes here every Sunday, but had little idea what the Conference House was or the Conference. ‘In 1976? Ah, 1776. Tell my daughter, she should learn.’ His daughter of course not very interested. (more…)


What Sense of Entitlement…

May 21, 2010
End of Massachusetts Street

End of Massachusetts Street

On Tuesday, I drove home with a Parks employee, let’s call her Q, who had discovered that day that three 60-foot oaks had been girdled (the bark cut all the way around to kill the tree) in Conference House Park. The damaged trees and a cleared area were behind the Park’s fence directly opposite a brick house on Massachusetts St., which borders the park.

Hmm. That’s bad. Why would someone do that?

The Sighting

On my way into work on Wednesday, I drove down Massachusetts St., and who was there but an older gentleman standing at the end of the street, scraping dirt off his adze with his foot. (That might explain the damage at the bottom of the trees—easier to do with an adze than an ax.)

So I got out of my car and said, “I’m from the Conference House Park and we noticed some damage to the trees here. Have you seen anyone working in this lot?”

“No,” he said, “I just moved in two weeks ago.”

“Oh,” I said. “Maybe landscapers or gardeners? Someone caught vandalizing a tree has to pay something like $80,000 for the damage, so….”

He seemed a bit startled by that. I said, “If you see anyone, could you call us, please? Let me give you my card.”

He took the card, and I said, “Come visit us sometime!” and smiled, and he smiled back. I didn’t go behind the fence to look, however—not yet. (more…)

Two places to find money

November 25, 2009

The Staten Island Not for Profit Association had two interesting pieces in their latest newsletter:

  1. Chase and Facebook launch innovative giving program for small and local charities: JP Morgan Chase will give away money to organizations based on the number of votes they receive from Facebook members. Awards are $1 million top prizes,  $100,000 for the five runners-up, and $25,000 for 100 finalists. If you can handle that much cash (not every organization is geared up to manage or spend large amounts of money), it might be worth drumming up votes among your Facebook friends and fans. See
  2. New Fame for the Everyday Donor is a New York Times article. The author Stephanie Strom points out that, although non-profits often scour the earth for big donors, going after the little donors may be at least as effective. For example, the average March of Dimes gift is only $14, but those $14’s add up to 22 percent of their revenue. Check it out–the stories she finds are pretty good.

Here’s a small one from the Conference House: This year, because we had a sponsor for our Halloween Harvest Fair, admission was free. Hoping to make up some of the revenue we might be losing,* one of the board members grabbed a big plastic kibbles container, cut a slot in the top, labeled it “Donations,” and put it out at the gate. She was shocked to find out that, by the end of the day, the container contained more than $500.

Moral of the story: Always put out a donation bucket.

* The sponsor couldn’t cover all expenses, so we weren’t sure if food and blow-up ride sales would make up for some of our upfront costs.

Being Good Non-profit Employees

November 24, 2009

One of the things you’re always told about working in non-profits (and small businesses) is that you need to be willing to do anything that needs to be done, even if it’s not in your job description.

So last Friday, Kirsten Teasdale and I proved that we’re willing. Meg Ventrudo, executive director of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, offered us old pedestals, built by Jim Clements (who I know from South Street Seaport Museum, coincidentally), with plexiglass tops.

We’ll use them to display items for or from the Rutan-Beckett House (which is supposed to open FY2010 but no date has been set yet) in the Visitors’ Center.

Here are photos of us in front of the Visitors’ Center. The temperature hovered around 55 degrees F; the paint can said the paint shouldn’t be applied if the temperature was lower than 50 degrees.

Note: The original connection to the Tibetan Museum was through Materials for the Arts. If you’re in the five boroughs and you’re a non-profit, you need to sign up and visit their warehouse. It’s wonderful: Tons of fabric, furniture, office equipment, paint, paper, etc., etc., and the only cost is a thank-you letter.

If you’re not a non-profit but have good things you need to get rid of, donate them to MFTA. Win-win.