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NYer Of The Week: Richanda Rhoden Makes Brooklyn Neighbors Feel Like Family

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This week's New Yorker turned a card table and chit-chat into a neighborhood tradition – for more than forty years. John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

When Richanda Rhoden and her husband moved to Cranberry Street in 1960, they didn't know a single person. So Richanda went out with the hope of meeting some of her Brooklyn Heights neighbors.

"I had a little table out on the street, you know, selling little things, thinking I could talk to people who came by. I got to know a few people, and that was really the way it started," says Richanda.

That little table is now the Cranberry Street Fair – a tradition that's repeated every fall in front of her house.

What was once a simple flea market is now an all-day affair with live music, crafts and food, pumpkin painting and carving, and Richanda's favorite: Bellydancing.

Today, almost everyone knows Richanda. At 96 years old, she still sits at her table, selling knickknacks and getting to know people.

"She's the inspiration for the whole Cranberry Fair," says Cranberry Street Association member Mike Rycheck. "I don't know if she has an official title, but she's kind of the heart and soul behind it."

She's been that way since moving from Washington State to study art as a young woman. She still paints every day, surrounded by sculptures made by her late husband, artist John Rhoden. The home is something of a gallery – a gem in the community for more than half a century.

"I was stunned when I went into her home and the entire thing has turned into a really inspiring friendship." says the Cranberry Street Association's Katy Browning. "Because she doesn't have any immediate family, she considers the neighbors and this street her family."

It's a family she brings together every year, at least for one day, on Cranberry Street.

"I love Cranberry Street," Richanda says. "You can be in a big city that's very interesting, but you still want to be included in some kind of group."

And so, for creating a gathering place for her neighbors for more than four decades, Richanda Rhoden is our New Yorker of the Week.

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