B91 Garden Art Show A Victory!

The success of the Beach 91st Street Community Gardens’ art show last Saturday, featuring works by Clare Hilger, was beyond my expectations! So many neighbors and friends came to support us, to view and purchase artwork and enjoy the garden space. We had people in and out all day! I met a few neighbors that I never knew before and some mentioned how they’ve always walked by and wanted to come in. That makes me truly happy because community gardens should have a community impact and I feel we accomplished that.

I wanted to thank a few individuals in particular –  Kristi Dickerson and Clare Hilger, who spearheaded the event, the volunteers who set up, cleaned up and helped with other tasks – thank you Jeremy Jones, Elisa Dorn, Miranda Moleski, Fon Tongsomboon, Jill Lauri, Riva Richmond, Christy Illius and Susan Graham… I fear I am forgetting someone!

Neighbors viewing the artwork Hanging out in the Garden! Artwork by Clare Hilger (Left to right), Paula DiGioia, Clare Hilger, Kristi Dickerson Next generation of Rockaway Beach artist


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Art Show / Fundraiser Featuring Works By Clare Hilger


I’m excited to share that the community garden I am a part of is hosting an art show / fundraiser! It will be held this Saturday (tomorrow!) Sept. 18, from 1-5pm at the Beach 91st Street Community Garden (beach block). The artworks of Clare Hilger will be featured. All are welcome to view/purchase art and enjoy the garden space.

Clare many of you may know, as she holds the position of Secretary on the Executive Board of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association. Or you’ve met her at community stewardship events such as garden plantings and beach clean-ups.

Clare is part of the Rockaway Beach Bodysurf Underground, the group that organizes the body surfing competition, which was held last weekend. This event has grown tremendously becoming one of the most anticipated end-of-season happenings in Rockaway. International pro bodysurfers and locals have participated in this awesome sporting event for the past 5 years.

Clare attended Pratt Institute receiving a MS in Art and Design Education. She continued her studies and focus on art, earning a BFA in painting at Kansas City Art Institute. Clare and her husband moved to Rockaway over 16 years ago, and was part of the first wave of surfers/bodysurfers that put Rockaway on the map, as a premier surfing destination.

I’ve been a fan of Clare’s screen prints and collages for some time now. I love her bold use of color, subject matter and organic compositions. Mostly her works are depictions of Rockaway, nature and animals, mixed with elements of urbanism.

When I worked as a graphic designer at The Wave, Mark Healey and I were discussing the summer guide cover, this was 2020. I immediately thought Clare’s prints would be perfectly fitting. After reviewing many notable submissions, myself and Mark both agreed that her work, Oystercatcher, was the winner! I’m happy to have been a part of that artistic decision-making process, and others at The Wave, because it’s so important as a community that we support and promote local artists.

Clare’s artistic statement from her website reads:

My work represents my reactions and my appreciation for the environment in its natural beauty, but not without representation of how urban life intrudes upon nature. Sometimes I find modern civilization coexists with the natural environment in ways that are humorous, harmonious, or sadly harmful. My paintings, collages and prints draw from memory suggesting familiar and surreal scenarios.

To explore Clare Hilger’s artwork visit www.clarehilger.com and follow her on instagram – @swimmonstersandwich. I hope to see you at the garden art show tomorrow!

Follow the garden gram at @Beach91CommunityGarden.

tagged in art

Raw Onion Roti

I went to Trader Joe’s for the first time since the start of the pandemic. I especially get excited over their canned goods, in particular the Grecian eggplant with tomatoes and onions sauce, the chickpeas with parsley and cumin, and — oh!– the canned stuffed dolmas. Spending way too much time in the flower section and buying Trader Joe’s herbal soap is another big draw for me.

Raw Onion Roti 2

Then you always find the unexpected. I came across the most perfect, clean, and fresh onions. The shape was flat and wide. The label revealed they were sweet onions. You don’t see these around too often in Rockaway, so I grabbed a netted bag full.

The next day, I’m reading the NY Times Magazine with my morning coffee. I flip the page and there’s a beautiful photo of red onions that looked like a painted still life.

Two days and two different types of onions entered my food sphere. I thought the onion must be my column topic this week.

The article, Raw Onions by Iva Dixit, is an account of the author’s journey as an extraordinarily picky eater. Her mother, after struggling with her daughter’s aversions, figured out there was one vegetable her child enjoyed – raw red onions. After moving from New Delhi to New Jersey, Dixit found comfort when seeing the root vegetable at markets. And once again, the author writes, the red onion and associated memories got her through the pandemic.

Dixit’s favorite – a plain roti with finely chopped red onions, salt pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

She writes, “When cooked, the onion is a sturdy and gracious supporting character that quietly allows the dish to take center stage. But when consumed raw, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, a bitter alchemy transmutes its heat into an experience so intense that a single bite contains an entire sensory universe.”

Those words! About an onion!. I wanted the experience and intensity. Here is the recipe:

Raw Onion Roti


Plain Roti (Naan as alternative)
1 small raw red onion
Salt, fresh ground pepper
1 lemon
Side of greek yogurt (optional)

Directions: Very thinly slice half of the red onion. It should be paper thin and translucent. A sharp knife is required. Evenly spread the onion over the roti. Add salt and fresh ground pepper. Use a citrus squeezer to evenly sprinkle the lemon.

This simple recipe has anything but a simple flavor. The taste is fiercely sharp and tart. It will satisfy your salt craving. I’m not a food minimalist, so I would suggest a side of Greek yogurt. This is an exciting dish to eat.  If you’re a thrill-seeking food person, make the recipe, no doubt. If you’re not, I encourage you to eat outside your comfort zone. You never know what may inspire you.

Raw Onion Roti 1

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Important – Register for NYC Curbside Composting STAT


The NYC Curbside Composting Program halted during the pandemic due to funding issues. This past April, Earth Day 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city will resume this vital service in the Fall.

But there’s a catch.

The new version of the compost program is based on an “opt-in,” first come, process. This means, renters, homeowners and landlords need to register for consideration. The zip codes with the most people registered receive priority. And unfortunately, not all communities are eligible for the program. It’s unclear whether neighborhoods with low registration will get service at all. And if so, how long will that take?

The roll-out messaging from DSNY I’ve seen on social media is confusing. Until I actually clicked and read the information carefully, I didn’t understand the many caveats. If I had known it was structured on priority, I would have signed up weeks ago.

Composting, in particular in our city and other large cities, is vital for numerous reasons:

  • Disposing of organics properly through composting, prevents unnecessary waste from inundating NYC’s already stressed landfill system. Organics make up 30% of the city’s garbage.
  • Organic composting reduces more than 50% of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, which is a significant way to fight our climate change crisis.
  • The soil produced from composting is used around NYC Parks and private residences, providing plants and trees with valuable nutrients. Caring for our community gardens in this way enriches quality of life and beautifies our neighborhoods. Compost is a safe, non-toxic replacement of chemical fertilizers.
  • Your kitchen scraps are converted into renewable energy by The City of New York, which will lower your monthly energy bills.

The list goes on…

Composting and sustainability is a cause I feel very strongly about. Participating in the NYC Curbside Program is a way for us as individuals to do our part to fight climate change and to make Rockaway and our world sustainable for future generations. I’m urging you to sign up for the NYC Curbside Composting Program by scanning the QR code. We need to make sure Rockaway is part of this green program STAT.


To learn more about the importance of composting read my column here. This is another informative resource to educate yourself on composting organic waste: makecompost.nyc

tagged in compost