No Way Home: produced, filmed and edited by Tim Verheyden
Three times a week, 18-year-old Thonn McMillan travels with his mother from the outskirts of Brooklyn to the SUNY-Parkside dialysis center to get treatment for his kidney failure. Thonn is originally from Grenada, but three years ago he and his mother had to come to New York. At that time, Thonn was already more than a year sick and doctors couldn’t find what he suffered from. He got treated for tuberculosis, but once arrived in the United States, doctors found out he had Wegener’s disease. Thonn needs a kidney transplant to survive, but he can’t get on a list, because he is not a US citizen. On top of that, he and his mom have to find shelter. Now they are staying with family, but they have to move out soon. And they have no place to go…
Thonn is one of the 500,000 people in the US who suffer from kidney failure.
Thonn: I want to live a normal life like other children do and to grow up and to be a big man. I want to go visit my three sisters back in Grenada. I miss them really bad.
The reason why I am here is because my two kidneys are not functioning. I have to get my dialysis. The dialysis removes the toxics out of my body.
Thonn came from Grenada to the US to get help.
But he and his mom can’t find a place to live anymore.
Elfreda, Thonn’s mom: If the problems reach where I have to go back, I have to prepare for the worst. God, forgive me. Back in Grenada, they don’t have dialysis. If my son has to back, he will not live for long. He will die.
Thonn: The doctors back in Grenada didn’t really know what was wrong with me. They thought I had tuberculosis.
Nurse: How did it go? I went alright today? Are you ok? Your blood pressure is good.
A kidney transplant can save Thonn’s life.
But because he is not a US citizen, he cannot receive a kidney transplant.
Thonn: I am upset that as a non-citizen from America I cannot get a kidney until the immigration services are giving us a green card.
Elfreda: it is hard to deal with it that this is my only son, my only boy. He is so young. I don’t know how long he has to deal with this unless he gets a kidney. So I pray to God that the immigration can help us to be here. If I don’t get help I don’t know what other options I have.
Because the doctors in Grenada misdiagnosed him,
Thonn’s lungs heart, brain and kidneys are severely damaged
‘He was 15’, Elfreda says when she looks at her son getting kidney dialysis. ‘He came home from school and had pain in he chest and he could hardly breath’. We took him to the doctor. But he didn’t know what was going on. Neither did they in the hospital. Finally specialists in Grenada diagnose him with tuberculosis. I was reliefd, but after almost six months of examinations, Thonn finally could get some help’.
‘I wish it was tbc, but I wasn’t feeling better after getting treatment’, Thonn continues. After a year my mom took me to the US and the doctors found out I had Wegener’s disease’.
Wegener’s disease is an incurable form of inflammation of blood vessels that affects the nose, lungs, kidneys and other organs. Due to its end-organ damage, it is life-threatening and requires long-term treatment.
Now Thonn is getting treatment at the SUNY- Parkside Dialysis Center three times a week for at least three hours a session.
But still there is no final solution for Thonn’s disease. He needs a new kidney, but Thonn can’t get on a waiting list, because he is not a US resident. Every three months the family lawyer succeeds in renewing their visitor’s visa. But Thonn and his mom are hoping fro a green card, like so many others…
Still waiting for solution, Thonn and his mom are dealing wit a new problem; they can’t find a place to live anymore. When Thonn and his mom came to NY they could stay with friend. But by the end of the year they have to move out. With no money left, Thonn’s mother doesn’t know what to do. All she has is needed for Thonn’s treatment. If they have to go back to Grenada, according to his mom, there is a big chance Thonn will die. In Grenada they have no dialysis and is what Thonn need to stay alive.
Behind the scenes:
I see an 18-year-old-boy, just 90 pounds, skinny, his eyes are glazy. But he has a beautiful smile. That is what people tell him. So he keeps on smiling. I admire Thonn’s courage; fighting this disease, knowing that there is a chance he might never get better. Or the courage to go to the dialysis center three times a week for so many hours.
I feel like an intruder when I am next to his bed, filming what is becoming a routine for him. I feel like I invade his privacy. But he doesn’t matter. ‘That is what I am, that is what I have to do to survive. I am the one who has to deal with it’, says Thonn.
‘What do you want to become?’, I ask Thonn. ‘A big man and I want to go back to Grenada to visit my family’. He stops talking and starts crying. I switch the record button off and let his mother comfort him.
But I feel grateful that Thonn and his mother have let me in their lives for a few days. I hope they find a solution for this. I am convinced that there are many more stories like Thonn’s: people in desperate situations, trying to survive. I’ll hope he and they will manage it.
On Catholic Charities, who support families in need:
Dialysis as a treatment:
Organ Donation Statistics:
Facts about organ donation:
The Closing of Re/Dress by Zachary Kussin
Re/Dress NYC, New York’s premier plus-size vintage and modern clothing boutique closed its doors on Nov. 20 after three years in business. Deb Malkin, the owner, says it was a tough decision to shut it down, but this is not the end of the store.
This stuff is getting donated. So these are the items that, you know, are left over and nobody wants to buy. So, we’re just donating them and saying goodbye to the last bits and pieces of the store.
My goal with Re/Dress was always to create a positive environment and the conduit that was why people would come here, why women would come here, would be shopping. We had men who were cross-dressers and men who didn’t cross-dress and drag queens and all genders—everyone across the gender spectrum was welcome here.
I think we made a statement about fashion as a tool, about the importance of creating your own image—falling in love with your body and putting it out there, not to be judged, but to be kind of experienced.
It was a difficult decision to close the store and end this glittery, magical fashion experiment after three rollercoaster years. You don’t need me to tell you that times are hard, but it is important for me to close Re/Dress the same way that I opened it: with intention and heart and a lot of love.
The Re/Dress online store opened in August. It’s not going to be the same—it can’t be the same. It’s not going to be the same experience as walking in the store and talking to the shopgrrrls and having people pull things for you, but it will be a great and fun resource for folks.
So I think it’ll be the great next incarnation.
To commemorate the store’s final weekend, Malkin held a Friday night fashion show that featured lines from six independent plus-size designers. A Saturday and Sunday shopping event also gave customers the opportunity to buy clothes from each designer’s line. Despite the somber occasion, the atmosphere inside the store stayed lively and fun—mainly because customers knew this was not the end of Re/Dress.
Back in August, Malkin launched the online iteration of Re/Dress, which she’ll operate from San Francisco when she moves there this month. She says she also plans on going on tour to hold Re/Dress pop-up shops around the country. It won’t be the same as having the old store and her team of employees (the “shopgrrrls”), she says, but the online shop will still be a good resource for her loyal customers.
This was an emotionally difficult story to report. Not only was a one-of-a-kind store shutting down, but Malkin’s employees were also losing their jobs. Especially considering these tough economic times, I truly felt sorry for everyone involved. But during my weekend of interviewing and shooting, I was impressed to see that Malkin and her employees put on hopeful faces. Sure, the store was closing down, but all Re/Dress personnel felt happy for having the chance to be part of the store’s community during its three years of operation. Through my reporting, I learned a very valuable lesson: no matter the circumstance, we must forge forth to keep living. Great things are bound to happen to all of us.
A Tree Sells in Brooklyn: A Canadian Christmas Tree Vendor in Brooklyn by Patrick Wall
In which a French-Canadian travels to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to sell Christmas trees for one month each year, while sleeping in his van and brushing his teeth on the sidewalk.
Every year, like in July, I say: Am I going to go to New York City again? Maybe I’m getting tired of it. But then, October comes and I say: What am I going to do?
My name is David and I’m from the province of Quebec, Canada. I’m selling Christmas trees right now, in Brooklyn.
Customer: “Can you put Christmas lights on it too? And a star?”
Yeah sure, I’ll do it. I can sit on top, too, if you want.
“Oh, you can sit on top?”
When you sell Christmas trees on the corner, you cannot go away. So you always have to watch the trees, watch the customers. You have to brush your teeths here, you have to sleep in the van for the whole month, about 35 days.
It’s weird to say, but sometimes I feel more at home here.
Customer: “What’s up brother man, how are you? Carrie, what are we going to grab, a seven-footer?”
What do you want? Small trees, big trees? Bigger than daddy, huh? OK, let’s go big.
You know, people are glad to see me after 10, 11 months. You can feel they are missing me. Because you bring Christmas, you bring some good mood to the neighborhood.
Customer: “What do you say, thank you. Look it’s our tree!”
The drive from his small town in the province of Quebec, in Canada, will take 14 hours. When he arrives, he will park his van outside of a Rite Aid, and there it will remain for 30-odd days. During that time, Dallaire’s only bed will be a sleeping bag in the back of the van; the sink where he will rinse his mouth each morning is the sidewalk.
Yet, every October, Dallaire decides that, come Thanksgiving, he will drive south again. After all, someone must sell the Christmas trees.
Before this year’s annual drive – which Dallaire has made during each of the past five years – he was working at a truck stop in the Yukon territory, flipping burgers at a greasy spoon diner. He tends to take work where he can find it; if it involves traveling to some unknown destination, all the better.
“I kind of like the fact that I just don’t know what I’m going to do in the next couple of months,” says Dallaire. “It’s improvisation – like jazz.”
After five years, he has become friends with many Brooklynites. Some stop by his Christmas tree stand to drop off freshly baked bread or pie. Others let him use their indoor plumbing.
Back in Canada, Dallaire has a girlfriend and an apartment that he loves. But he says that, unless he leaves them for at least a little while each year, he won’t appreciate what he has.
“I have to go away to feel like a resident, you know,” says Dallaire. “You need vinegar, if you want to taste the honey.”
at least three suitable links to the subject, story or theme from other sources
NYC tree-buying guide: manhattan.about.com/od/citylife1/a/nychristmastree.htm
A New York Times series on a tree vendor in Manhattan: cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/christmas-pends-remember-the-tree-man/?ref=christmastrees
A CBS New York video on the science of tree buying: newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/12/04/tree-sellers-say-theres-a-science-to-buying-your-christmas-tree/
As you can imagine, David Dallaire has acquired many fascinating stories about the residents of Bay Ridge. Some are heartwarming: the women who bring him baked goods. Others are interesting: the shopkeepers who trade trees for bottles of wine. And some are slightly unnerving: the group of inebriated young men, all wearing Santa outfits, who stole a tree one night, then tried to pick a fight when Dallaire attempted to stop them. I could go on and, trust me, so could Dallaire. When you have 16 hours a day to hang out on a sidewalk, that leaves a lot of time for storytelling.
“Finding Her Identity, Degree in Hand: Lessons learned during the Great Recession.” (Lisha Arino)
Lindsay Pankok graduated in May 2011 with a master’s degree in social work, but like many young adults, she has yet to find a full-time job. Listen to her talk about post-grad life and what it’s like to be young and educated during the Great Recession.
I was raised being told “Stay in school, work hard in school and that’s how you’ll be successful.” So I did that, and I stayed in school for a long time [laughs] and I worked really hard, and I did really well in school.
And so, I was told that all of those things would promise me this future that now is not the case.
[Text on screen: Lindsay Pankok graduated in May from New York University, where she earned her Masters in Social Work degree.
Like millions of other recent grads, Lindsay has been unable to find a full-time job, let alone one in her field of study.
To make ends meet, she’s a hostess at a restaurant.]
When I first graduated, I was just so happy to be done with graduate school. I was like, “I don’t have to write papers any more, like, this is awesome.” I graduated on my birthday and it was the best, ya know? And I was really excited.
In August was when I started to get worried. And there was a time when I was really frantic like, “I don’t know how to pay rent.” I had to borrow some money from family to pay my rent and that time was really tough and that’s when I decided “Okay, let’s back away and do the practical thing of applying for whatever job I can get just to pay rent.”
I’m glad I got the restaurant job when I did because that was sort of the right time to pick me back up.
There are those moments where I just cry, and yell, and listen to angry music [laughs] and I’m like “This is not fair,” because it’s not fair. But that’s what it is.
A lot of people think I must be devastated and desperate not to have this job in my field but I’m really not. I have this job that I really enjoy, I’m having a few volunteer gigs that I’m having a lot of fun with, and gaining fun experiences and meeting new people. I have great friends. Like, I’m happy.
I think that when you’re in college — or at least when I was in college — I thought that my identity would be very much defined by my field. You know, my major, and then my eventual job and that would be what forms my identity.
That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. That, “What do you do? I’m a restaurant hostess.” That’s not my full identity. Yea, that’s where my paycheck comes from but I’m all of these other things that I may not be getting a paycheck from but they’re more important to me.
Young adults have complained about their employment prospects in the Times, New York magazine, NPR and several other news outlets. We’ve heard them worry about paying off their student loans, about moving back in with their parents and of taking jobs they wouldn’t have considered even a year ago.
At 24 years old, with a newly-minted master’s degree from New York University and a social work license, Lindsay Pankok should fit in with that group, groaning that her life’s been put on hold because of the economy.
She could complain about the uselessness of her graduate degree in her restaurant hostessing job. Or how financial woes forced her to move back into her Brooklyn apartment, and to share what was once her own room with a friend, because she can’t afford it otherwise.
But ask her how she feels about putting her career on hold and scraping by and she’ll just shrug.
“That’s just the way it is right now,” she’ll say cheerfully.
Pankok’s outlook is what sets her apart from many young, educated adults in today’s economy. While she’ll concede that things are less than ideal, she chooses instead to look on the bright side. Watch the video about to meet Pankok and to see why she’s not depressed about the economy and what she’s learned from her recent employment struggle.
“Educated and Jobless: What’s Next for Millenials?” npr.org/2011/11/12/142274437/educated-and-jobless-whats-next-for-millenials?ps=rs
The Project on Student Debt: projectonstudentdebt.org/
Brazen Life (career blog aimed at Generation Y) blog.brazencareerist.com/
behind the scenes……
The difficulty young, college-educated adults have in finding a full-time job in today’s economy is the last thing I want to think about right now, much less report on.
I too, am graduating, and in a few days, I’ll join their ranks once again and become yet another degree-holding, unemployed statistic. It’s an exciting and terrifying time.
My own impending doom — I mean, graduation — is part of what drew me to Lindsay’s story. She’s gone through a lot of the things I faced in my first foray into the “real world” (when I got my bachelor’s degree in 2009). But unlike me, she hasn’t been scarred by experience. Despite her difficulties and the expectations of her friends and family, she’s still managed to look on the bright side and enjoy life after school.
Lindsay’s a pretty effervescent person in general, so it was easy to dismiss her bright outlook, but then she wrote this awesome and personal blog post. Like me – and millions of other kids our age – she too faced rejection, felt like she wasn’t “good enough” and snapped at family members who wanted to know how the job search was going.
But instead of letting all that get her down, she thought about her life, rewrote her life goals, accepted that the economy wasn’t great and began to enjoy her life instead of wait for it happen.
So many news articles have focused on my generation’s frustration, despair and hopelessness, but as Lindsay shows, not all of us feel that way. Life after graduation isn’t what we expected it to be, but maybe if more of us knew more people like Lindsay, we could learn to accept things as they are and look on the bright side.
Keepin’ On…by Channon Hodge
The first of the baby boomers turns 65 this year and will add to a senior population that is expanding rapidly. Seniors no longer adhere to age-old stereotypes – they are flocking to senior centers to work out, learn new skills and even become senior citizens.
Everybody wants to be rich, everybody wants to be healthy. And everyone wants to like living longer.
“First one, stay home, is very boring for me. When I go out to teach, it’s not the money, the problem not the money. When I go out to teach, you take the subway, that is exercise, too. When they become a citizen, they are very happy. I’m happy too. This I feel I can do something for them. Even I’m old, I can do something.”
There are over 200 senior centers in New York City alone, and they all say that they are bursting at the seams. They offer far more than a place to wile away the hours. At New York City’s senior centers, you can find Tai Chi, French classes, cooking classes, gardening, ping pong tournaments and more. Highlighted in this video are Rego Park Senior Center in Queens and City Hall Senior Center in Manhattan.
If seniors don’t know how to do these activities, all the better. Scientists agree that learning when you’re older not only adds to your life but keeps your brain active and growing. The brain stays malleable for life.
For more on active aging and staying sharp:
For Rego Park Senior Center – queenscommunityhouse.org/index.php/Senior–Centers/programs-rego-park-senior-center.html
The New York Times Blog on the “The New Old Age”
For the Story of how New York City is trying to Gray Gracefully by Channon Hodge:
A Parent’s Journey by Cheryl Chan
Marion Viray is a stay at home dad to seven-month-old Olivia. Together with his partner of 10 years, Karl, they decided to last September to start the adoption process. Being gay or adoptive parents doesn’t faze him. Above all, Marion wants the best for his child and hopes to instill in Olivia the fact that she is special and was a very wanted baby by both her sets of parents.
I don’t want to be naïve to the fact that people in Manhattan are going to be open to that. Because in a city there are pockets where people aren’t open to that.
For us it’s the reality that we live in right now. People aren’t going to be as friendly.
In addition to the other things of rising a kid, is more of like, how will people perceive us.
You know, people you don’t know in the playground, you think kids are going to go running away, like don’t play with Olivia or something like that. I think that’s the Godzilla moment.
Now I’ve met so many people in the playground, gay, straight, single parents, I’ve never had an issue, so it’s been great. I feel comfortable that I was able to be comfortable with her, being myself, without having to worry about creating a story and pretending to be heterosexual, I guess.
Being a gay parent hasn’t really crossed my mind. And that fear of her being angry with us or not, for not understanding why would we do that to her, that we are gay parents, adopting a little girl. It hasn’t crossed our mind once we adopted her.
I think all our fears and skepticism really disappeared when we saw her at hospital.
All that stuff of were we going to be good enough parents, really kind of faded away.
Hopefully she’s’ going to be strong willed and assertive and tell people that’s ok. That’s what we hope she will grow up to be. To be that voice for a lot of people and say, yes, my parents are gay. So what? And that’s ok. If your not going to accept it, threes a lot of people, friends out there, that will accept it.
Olivia has an open adoption. Marion and Karl say they want her to know her birth parents gave her up for a very special reason. “It was because her birth parents wanted her to have a better life and hopefully we can provide that for her, says Marion. “We will definitely try.”
“What makes it different for our situation being either adopted parents or gay adopted parents? People will always have that conversation of, am I the nanny or am I the father,” chuckles Marion.
Initially he was worried about how stranger would react to him in the playground, but he realized that it wasn’t about him; it was about his time spent with Olivia. “I’m here for her, not others. And if people don’t like it, they can play over there, and we will play over here.”
He doesn’t fear that Olivia will reject him and Karl when she’s old enough to comprehend she doesn’t have a mother. His worry is, “will other people in her class, the playground, be accepting of her once they find out.”
He and Karl hope that by staying home with her during her formative years, they are being the most supportive parents they can be. Marion says he envisions himself as a “open” and “understanding” father who will “let her explore things.”
“We’re raising her to say, we will support you and do our best to to let you decide what you want to do with your life,” says Marion.
To find a NYC Dads Meet Up Group:
Center Families welcomes LGBTQ, couples, parents, prospective parents:
The Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center offers six different types of monthly support groups for couples and singles seeking to adopt:
I found Marion through a local New York stay at home dads meet up group and was captivated by the chemistry between him and Olivia. At first I though the story focus was the challenges and issues that stay at home dads face– the bucking the gender stereotype of men as the sole breadwinners. Here were fathers banding together to start their own unique parenting group to offer each other support.
However from talking to Marion I realized that it wasn’t about being a parent who chooses to stay home with the baby, it was about his and his partner, Karl’s decision to try to be the best parents they can be. I was interested in how being gay wasn’t even a huge consideration for them. They felt that like anybody else, gay, lesbian, heterosexual, they wanted to take their relationship to the next level and have a child.
It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, or work status is. The decision to have a child is a huge responsibility and these two adults felt ready to be good providers and nurturers to a baby. Like everyone else they had initial fears of being an inadequate parent. However their love for their baby gives them the conviction that they will always try to be the best parents to Olivia and raise her right.
See Spot Read: Lending a Paw to a Reading Program by Ian Thomas
When a child is learning to read, sometimes they need an extra hand, or in this case a paw.
The most popular children’s reading program at the Sachem Library in Long Island is taught by a different type of teacher, one who isn’t scared to chase away children’s reading fears, or after a bone or a ball.
The child comes in and it’s like they have a friend, as opposed to a teacher, teacher is an authority figure.
I’m a more of a gentle support, who has a dog on the end of a leash.
When it started it was children who were all having difficulty and needed to practice their reading with someone who instead of in front of class or in front of a teacher, but in front of someone who had no criticism.
So they knew they were okay to say whatever word they wanted to say wrong, ask for help if they needed to, or not if they didn’t want to, and they’re able to talk to the dog, cuddle with the dog. It gives them a whole different feeling if they were coming to a teacher.
sachemlibrary.org/pages/children.aspx – Sachem Library’s Children Section.
bideawee.org/ – Many of the dogs at the library are taught by Bidawee, an organization that provides therapy dog training.
tdi-dog.org/ – Therapy Dogs international, a database of info on therapy dogs.
While shooting this video, I thought the biggest problem I’d have was with the children and making them feel uncomfortable while I was there, and the last thing I wanted to do was disrupt them. However, all the children were extremely open, and many thanks go to them and their parents for cooperating. The dogs on the other hand loved the camera, and often stopped in their tracks to stare at me while I moved around with the camera.
New York’s Crowded Car Service – Dan Rosenblum
You know, it’s a fast way to make good money. Not a lot of pressure, not a lot of requirements and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work it. So it is a good way of keeping a lot of people out of trouble, basically. You know, where they could make good money without having to do stupid things. Stupid things means selling drugs, this, that or the other.
I think the people who have the hardest time are the drivers because they are the ones dealing with the traffic and the customers. You know, you have a certain amount of money to bring home, there’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of pressure to work outside. I was a driver before, myself, so I do remember those days. I mean, you could ask me or you could probably ask somebody else and they’ll say another answer, but to me the way I see it is like I have it easy compared to what they do. Because they gotta be driving all day. Sometimes 15-12 hours in the traffic, in the city, you know good bad weather whatever it is, they’ve gotta pull through.
You know, there’s not a lot of jobs out there right now, I’ll put it that way. There’s not a lot of jobs where you could go make $700-800 a week and when you come work for a car service and you have so much freedom – because at the end of the day, it’s all about freedom with us. That’s why anybody comes into this industry, it’s hard for them to leave once they come in. Because once you come into this industry, you have so much freedom to go and come back, go in and out, you’re your own boss. You could work as much as you want or as little as you want.
But soon, with a little help from Albany, the right to hail will extend across New York City.
Jesus Rodriguez is a dispatcher at New Elegante Car Service in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Working from a crowded and small room there, dispatchers respond to dozens of phone calls an hour and walk-ups from people who need rides.
In neighborhoods like Sunset Park, yellow cabs never come. So, it’s up to community car services (liveries, as they’re known) to offer rides. They’re much more expensive than the subway, but are still popular among residents especially in bad weather.
Highlight: Sunset Park and Borough Park in Brooklyn have the highest concentrations of taxi services. I went into Sunset Park with a list of 20 taxi places to go, assuming it would be hard to find a place willing to speak with me and let me film. New Elegante was the first one, and by an odd coincidence, one of the headquarters of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, one of the biggest groups lobbying for taxi issues in the country.
nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/home/home.shtml – The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission has a wealth of information on the city’s taxi industry.
cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/to-hail-a-livery-cab-in-the-bronx-go-to-albany/ – Recent protests by livery cabs and yellow cabs have been covered by NYC’s media.
liverytimes.com/ – One of the few magazines that serves the For Hire Vehicle industry
The Empty Night – New York’s Growing Problem of Light Pollution by Vincent Trivett
It goes without saying that New York City is not the ideal place for stargazing. To anyone that’s been staring up at the heavens for the past few decades, it is obvious that ugly orange skyglow has been getting worse as the city develops.
If you look up and you just see one or two little bright lights in the sky, it doesn’t say, “Here I am look at what is out here!”
If you see something with your own eyes, it’s not in the book. You’re seeing it in real time right now. And usually most people and most kids kinda say, “Wow, yeah, you were right, it’s not a picture, it’s reality, I’m seeing the thing at this moment in time.
Kids today, the only time they really become aware of the sky is when I drag them out. And then they say, “oh wow! Look at this stuff.”
From the time that I got started stargazing I found that the light pollution was only a little problem.
Uh, I could go in the backyard, set up my scope, and be able to do some semblance of stargazing in this area of downtown Brooklyn. But, unfortunately the downtown area has developed. And you have companies that feel they need to tell everybody where they are and who they are. It just adds to the overall glow of light that’s in the area. It’s sad
I think our ancestors going back hundreds of thousands of years ago had a better connection with the sky than we do today. And they wanted to know what is the relation between those things out there and us.
The stars, the planets, the phases of the moon, the event of darkness itself runs deep in our evolutionary and social history. Darkness helped early people schedule harvests and planting. The darkness reminded us that we are at the mercy of nature. The stars reminded us that there is more to the world than just human society. The magnificent band of stars, the Milky Way, showed that there are bigger things out there.
Today, the night is no longer dark. The brilliance of the night sky is replaced with nothing but a faint orange glow. There is almost nothing that we can see in New York City that is outside of human society. Nothing is beyond our reach.
That permanent orange full moon that urban skies reflect back is called light pollution, or skyglow. For astronomers, the growth of light pollution is more than just a cosmetic difference. It cuts us off from the cosmos and isolates us from the rest of our galaxy.
Light pollution also messes up the migration of nocturnal animals and makes it difficult for prey animals to get a chance to forage under the cloak of darkness.
Light pollution can be prevented. When outdoor lighting is reflected off of surfaces, or shined straight into space, dust particles and moisture in the atmosphere reflects our light back at us, making an artificial daylight.
It is more cost-effective and environmentally safe for cities to employ streetlights with different chemistry that only point downward, rather than into the sky.
. The city of Flagstaff, Arizona has been regulating streetlights and other outdoor lighting to preserve the brilliance of the night sky for decades. The Czech Republic has made nationwide efforts to eliminate unnecessary glare.
I have been interested in light pollution since I was about ten years old. I was, of course, an amateur astronomer, and the skyglow from my town frustrated my efforts to see things like the Milky Way, other galaxies, and nebulae. I looked into amateur astronomers’ associations in New York and met Art through the Amateur Astronomer’s Association. We met at Floyd Bennett Field, New York’s first airport. This was the only place in New York City that I have ever been where light pollution was at a minimum. As you can see in the footage, even there, the intense population density of New York is visible in the clear night sky.
Light pollution links:
A story in NatGeo about the effects that artificial daytime has on animals.
Resources from the International Dark-Sky Association
NY Section of the IDA:
An article about an art project about light pollution:
Sensible and Efficient Lighting to Enhance the Nighttime Environment:
Long Island Sierra Club on light pollution:
Amateur Astronomers Association:
Jerin Arifa of the National Organization for Women on Feminism By Nida Najar
Creating a More Representative Discussion
Jerin Arifa became a feminist activist as an undergrad Hunter, where she worked with the CUNY administration to create the first ever CUNY-wide sexual assault policy.
JERIN VOICEOVER: I think I was always an activist, but it was really Hunter that helped foster my feminist activism. It spoke to me because V-Day deals with violence against women which is something that’s so pervasive and it’s such a pandemic and especially as a college-aged young woman it’s something that I came across too many times with my friends and peers, because college aged women are at a high risk. So that was kind of my beginning into that.
You know I started doing this work because I knew someone who had been assaulted, but once I started doing this work on campus more and more women started coming towards me because they knew maybe I was someone they could trust. So it started out as one story, end then it started being more and more stories because people thought maybe they could trust me.
JERIN SOT: Violence is in a spectrum so obviously on one side you have things like rape and murder. But on the another spectrum you have things like making sexist jokes…
JERIN VO: Universities are supposed to be places of education, and I think it should be a place not only where you learn how to write an essay or do math, but how to be better citizens.
I mean you look at the feminist movement and we’re definitely doing much better as far as including women of color, trans women, queer women, but a lot of these movements are started by people who are in a position to start movements, people who have more money and resources. I think the best way to combat that is to get involved yourself. I am a immigrant, young woman of color and I am on the national board of NOW, and that happened because I got involved. No one’s going to bring our issues to the table if we don’t bring them. It’s not a perfect system but we have to do it, and once one of us is on the table then we can talk about all our issues. We all see injustices, we all have reasons to complain, and as New Yorkers we love to complain, and that’s fine, but do something about it.
Over the next two years, Arifa and a group of other activists worked with the administration to establish the policy// villagevoice.com/2010-07-27/news/cuny-sexual-assault-anonymity//. It’s easy to imagine the difficulty working with an institution as sprawling as CUNY, with its almost half a million students at 24 colleges, would be difficult. And Arifa admits that it was. A couple of issues she wanted in the policy, including a clause for anonymous reporting that would protect the identity of the victim and one for a minimum education requirement that CUNY schools would have to perform for their students did not make it into the final policy.
Arifa now volunteers at the National Organization for Women// now.org//, the largest multi-issue feminist organization in the country, as head of the Young Feminist Task Force//youngfeministtaskforce.blogspot.com//, taking on issues on the federal and state levels. But she credits the rise of her feminist activism to those first couple of years at Hunter, and the community she worked to foster there.
Though she moved from her native Bangladesh as a child, Arifa has lived in New York for most of her life, and is devoted to working on issues such as gender violence, reproductive rights, and creating a feminist movement that reflects the diversity of the city.
I came across Jerin’s work through my sister, who is a graduate student at Hunter and received an email about a rally for birth control rights that Arifa was promoting. The issue was one I was familiar with, I had just spoken the day before to a doctor at the Hillman Clinic who was incensed about the same issue, that certain groups in Washington were lobbying against women having access to birth control without a copay.
As it happened, Arifa couldn’t make it to the rally, which was a small affair in front of the Federal Building in downtown Manhattan. Later, I managed to make to a talk Arifa gave at Hunter, and as we talked I learned of her activism there. While we talked she said something interesting—that protests aren’t the only answer to controversies, that they are one of many recourses. Working with the administration on the CUNY-wide sexual assault policy was another, and one that had significant results.
It was thought-provoking to see these many different responses to what many groups see as social inequality and injustice, at a time when protests and sit-ins are spreading all over the country. But while Occupy Wall Street is undeniably an important social force, it’s easy to forget that they didn’t create activism, that people have been standing up for what they believe in for quite some time. Perhaps nowhere as freely as at college campuses.
Golden Christmas by Kevin Sheehan
Commodity prices have been falling for the past year. Gold is the only commodity bucking this trend. Bucking the trend may be underselling it… Gold has risen nearly twenty five percent since last holiday shopping season! The higher prices are beginning to encourage alternate gift ideas.
Usually, for my sister, I’ll get her little gold earrings. She likes jewelry and if you get small enough earrings they’re not too pricey.
I’ve done this for the last couple of years, but this year the prices have been… They seem to be a lot higher than I remember. Especially for the smaller stuff.
I always thought of the smaller stuff like the little studs or the little hoops to be pretty reasonable.
So this year I got her a handbag instead. It’s a lot more value for the money.
Experts, like Lipper analyst Tom Rosen, have gone on the record with Reuters recently saying that Greece and Italy are creating a “looming concern” which is responsible for the large flows of institutional cash into gold and bonds.
Meanwhile, large institutional outflows of capital continue for the balance of commodities. Only gold continues to see price increases year-over-year.
Unfortunately, the fear driving these macro-level dollars is having an unintended micro-level impact. Higher jewelry prices for holiday shoppers this year.
In this short video, one young woman in New York who has traditionally bought gold earrings for friends and family as Christmas presents decides to change her holiday spending pattern. Seeing more value in clothing and accessories, she notes that the sale prices this year are higher than the full prices listed last year.