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Vendy season

20 Aug 2016
20120915-222763-VendyAwards-VendyCup

Big news was made this week when the Michelin Guide finally opened their fancy minds to street food vendors, awarding Singaporean hawker stall chefs Chan Hon Meng and Tang Chay Seng one star each.

Well done, Michelin! And what better time for you to step up. In 2005 we created the Vendy Awards for the very same reason – to recognize deserving chefs who were being ignored by the so-called food elite. Worthy or not, we’ll take an ounce of credit for helping change who the white-tablecloth crowd deems as worthy of praise. And in less than a month — on September 17th —  we’ll recognize this year’s line up of yet-unsung star chefs. As always, one of them will hoist the Vendy Cup. Come celebrate with us — tickets to the event (recognized as one of the best food events in NYC) are available here.

Vendy Plaza 2016

17 Jul 2016
elsie2

Street vendors are part of our everyday lives. But on the weekends, in cities around the world, people love food markets, whether its La Boqueria in Barcelona or Borough Market in London or Seattle’s Pike Place. 

We’re thrilled to be running our own outdoor public market again this summer — we call it Vendy Plaza. Unlike many markets, this one happens on public space with public support (from the NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City’s Economic Development Corporation). Why is that important? Because private space in NYC is very expensive, driving up prices and keeping out all but the best-capitalized few. We are proud to offer the stalls at Vendy Plaza for free. We are equally proud that the vast majority of vendors there are women and/or people of color.

Just ask Elsie Darrell (above) After working for the city for 30 years, Elise opened a highly-regarded cafe in West Harlem. But after a few years, the landlord doubled the rent. To keep cooking while she plots her next move (while passing along her recipes to her son,) Elsie vends each Sunday at the Plaza. Until you’ve tried her callaloo, you haven’t really lived. Find her and about twenty other vendors each Sunday from noon to 6 pm, at 116th Street and Park Avenue.

Say my name!

10 Jun 2016
Bronx Photo League/Bronx Documentary Center

Images from Jerome Ave Workers Project.  

Taken July, August, September 2015

OPENING RECEPTION
Saturday, October 3, 2015 5-8PM
Vasquez Muffler
1275 Jerome Avenue, Bronx, NY 10452
#4 train to 167th Street
(please note this is not at the BDC's gallery)
Free and open to all

ON VIEW
October 3-18, 2015
Monday-Saturday  4–7PM
Sundays 11AM-2PM

FEATURING:
Ed Alvarez
Trevon Blondet
David “Dee” Delgado
Melissa Bunni Elian
Jesus Emmanuel
Giacomo Francia
Michael Kamber
Netza Moreno
Heriberto Sanchez
Jonathan Santiago
Rhynna M. Santos
Adi Talwar
Berthland Tekyi-Berto
Edwin Torres
Elias Williams
Osaretin Ugiagbe

This exhibition documents and celebrates the workers and trades people of Jerome Avenue, one of New York City's few remaining working class neighborhoods where many still make a living in small shops and factories, or repairing automobiles. The city is considering a plan to rezone two miles along Jerome Ave: speculation and rising rents are already evident.  If passed, the rezoning will lead to construction of housing units, but also, many believe, to the end of a proud culture of industry and work in this last bastion of New York City’s working class. 

The Bronx Photo League, a project of the BDC, is made up of 16 Bronx photographers committed to documenting social issues and change in our borough.  The Photo League works to present a balanced and nuanced image of the Bronx.  The Jerome Avenue Workers Project is the Photo League's first major exhibition. 

The portraits in this show were shot on Kodak Tri-X negative film with Hasselblad cameras and lenses.  Authentic silver gelatin darkroom prints will be on display.

With street vendors, one pattern is clear: people often render them nameless. Even some of the most famous vendors (i.e. “the Dosa Man“, aka Thiru Kumar and “the Arepa Lady”, aka Maria Piedad Cano) are described primarily by what they sell, not who they are. Some vendors eventually give in, turning their anonymity into a brand, as the Halal Guys have done with great effect. Others are given these arguably demeaning/endearing monikers (“Cart Lady” ?? ) despite their best efforts to develop their own business brands, as happened here to SVP member Fauzia Abdur-Rahman, proprieter of Heavenly Delights.

Sure, some vendors can do a better job of marketing. But so too do customers need to start asking vendors their names. We appreciate that this time, at least, the NY Times got it right by proudly naming and sharing the stories of two hard-working vendors in the Bronx — Angelica and Antonio. Not so hard, now, is it?

 

Spring party!

30 Mar 2016
GSM 2016 square

Every spring, SVP’s whole family (staff, Leadership Board, members, friends, Advisory Board, funders, party crashers…) gets together at Judson Memorial Church to celebrate the year past and look forward to the year ahead! It’s a gala, but unlike any gala you may be thinking of — no round tables, no rubber chicken, no long speeches. We eat good street food and drink vodka punch and have a good time.

We keep ticket prices reasonable so you will everyone will come. You can get them here. See you on May 3rd!

RIP, Claudia Lopez

25 Feb 2016
Claudia

In organizations, as in life, people come and go. But why is it that the strongest members of our community frequently leave us too soon?

Last year, we lost our beloved Derrick Wilmot. And a few days ago we saw the passing of long-time Corona food vendor, SVP leader and community activist Claudia Lopez. Claudia, who sold churros and peanuts along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens for nearly twenty years, was an inspiration to us all. We are lucky to  have known her and spent time with her, and we can only watch videos like this with great memories of an amazing woman. Her family is raising funds to have her body shipped back to her native Mexico. Please consider making a donation here.

You’re fired!

25 Jan 2016
trump2

Friends sometimes innocently ask us, “who doesn’t like street vendors?” They are hard-working people, they are honest, they provide us with stuff we need every day, etc. Who doesn’t like ’em? A fair question. The answer is easy. People like Donald Trump don’t like street vendors. Billionaire real estate developers do not like street vendors. Racists and xenophobes do not like street vendors. Arrogant, bombastic, narcissists do not usually like street vendors.

In fact, it’s not just people like Donald Trump. Trump himself has personally been a powerful voice against vendors in NYC. In 1991, and again in 2004, he lobbied to remove disabled veteran vendors from Fifth Avenue because, he thought, they would “downgrade” the area. SVP even once protested the presence of illegal sidewalk planters (visible here), displacing vendors, outside Trump Tower.

We don’t get involved with Presidential elections. But street vendors are proud to call Barack Obama our friend. And equally proud to call Donald Trump our great enemy.

Cut the tape

11 Dec 2015
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Politicians love to talk about supporting small businesses and reducing the bureaucracy that makes it so hard to run one. We were thrilled to hear that NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer had created a Red Tape Commission and scheduled a series of hearings to listen to what kind of government obstacles stand in the way of small business survival and growth.

After all, no small businesses face greater government regulations than vendors on the street. So yesterday, about 15 SVP members attended the Manhattan hearing, where they spoke movingly about the biggest piece of red tape in the city — the cap on vending licenses and permits. Gothamist was there to help amplify what was said. The testimony became part of the permanent record. An hopefully the Commission will recommend, in its final report, that the permit cap be lifted.

Simple economics

31 Oct 2015
mex-blvd12

Politicians always love to talk about supporting small businesses. But when it comes down to policy, sometimes they are slow to act. And that failure can affect people’s lives.

We saw this again this week when another popular food vendor – Mexico Blvd — announced they are closing their truck for good. The difficulty getting a permit, and the hassles with parking, finally got to be too much. Luckily, the Loaeza family has a brick-and-mortar, so hopefully they will be ok. But how many vending businesses quietly go under, and they don’t make the news? How many entrepreneurs look into starting a food vending business and, reading how difficult it is, never even start?

As things get cold in New York, and summer permits expire, let’s hope that many food vendors are able to survive this winter. Let’s hope that, by the time spring comes, our City Council and Mayor will have repealed the permit cap that is such a burden on small business in NYC. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake. The solution is simple. Let’s hope our politicians act.

529 Days (and counting)

23 Sep 2015
Permit rally square for web

Yesterday it had been 529 days since April 11, 2014, the day we kicked off our campaign to Lift the Caps, decades old, on vending licenses and permits.

We’ve been patient in the meantime, as important bills got introduced at City Hall, debated, and signed by the Mayor. After 12 years of a billionaire in office, and a new administration concerned about lessening inequality, there was a plenty of work to be done. But we won’t wait forever while trivial concerns take precedence. This summer, when a dozen or so (semi) topless women began taking pictures with tourists in Times Square, DeBlasio quickly convened a high-powered task force. And yet here we have thousands of immigrant workers and entrepreneurs, and their families, calling out for change on an issue of basic equity that affects their lives every day.

Yesterday, we rallied in Lower Manhattan, calling for action. More than 250 vendors and their supporters spoke their minds. Hopefully, someone will listen.

A simple story to #LifttheCaps

2 Jul 2015
cute video image square

Many people love street food and support vendors, but they don’t have time to read long articles about city policies arguing this and that. People have short attention spans these days! Even City Council Members, who we elect to wrestle with these matters, are incredibly busy with a million issues.

For them, we created this short animated video that explains why we need to lift the NYC street vendor permit and license caps (#LifttheCaps) after all these years. We premiered it on Monday to legislators across from City Hall, and its now garnering hits on Youtube and Facebook, where its already been viewed over 10,000 times.  A popular local food blog picked it up, and a Spanish language TV station covered our little action.

Please watch the video and forward it to your social media contacts! And let us know if you think it is effective.