Saturday, December 22, 2012

My favorite NYC Christmas Photos

Staten Island Staying Strong

I have only been to Staten Island 3 times. The first time I stood at the starting line of the NYC Marathon with 35,000 runners waiting to tackle the 26.2 mile monster. The second time, I wanted to experience the city's best free attraction, the Staten Island Ferry. Last week I witnessed how resilient the people of this borough are when I traveled to the Midland Beach section to help with the cleanup of Hurricane Sandy.

Staten Island is often referred to as the "forgotten borough" by many publications and wikipedia. This was certainly the case in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Mayor Bloomberg, FEMA, and the Red Cross all took their sweet time sending help to Staten Island after this storm, even though more the half of New York's casualties from the storm occurred on Staten Island. NBC did a report on the desperation officials and residents felt.

After taking the ferry to the island and making my first trip on a New York City bus to Midland Beach, I witnessed the devastation and anger firsthand as I took pictures of the wreckage. This house had its roof blown off, and these 3 men were none to happy that I was taking pictures. They approached me like they wanted to drop the gloves and go at it. But once I told them I was volunteer and a writer looking to help, we talked for 10 minutes.

I've always believed New Yorkers are more approachable and amicable than Bostonians, and my experience in Staten Island didn't change that belief.

I volunteered through Occupy Sandy as their group was far and away the best at finding work, distributing supplies, and meeting with residents. Regardless of whether you like the politics and the methods of the Occupy movement, they have done an amazing job at gathering supplies, food, water, tools, and building materials desperately needed by residents. Occupy Sandy has set up an account on Amazon similar to a wedding registry where people can choose gifts to send to Occupy's headquarters. This is a small sample of what they were able to gather.

 After loading water and supplies into the Occupy Staten Island headquarters, I was sent to Bob Dennis' house nine blocks away with my new friend Dave from Colorado. We spent more than 5 hours demolishing a basement that had been flooded with eight feet of water. This was truly one of the most memorable days of my life. I was amazed at Bob's positive attitude through such difficult times, and I was also touched by David's generosity taking time off of work and coming to New York from Colorado. After having dinner with my two newest friends, Bob drove me 10 miles back to the ferry for my journey back to Boston. Not even my car overheating on the Merritt Parkway in the dark on my way back to Marlboro could dampen my spirits on this day. Hopefully I'll have a chance to go back.

These pictures above are of Bob's house.

My new friends: Dave on the left, Bob on the right

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kennedy to Kent State

For those traveling to Worcester, you need to check out the Kennedy to Kent State photographic exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum. The photos that caught my mind the most were Mark Shaw's photographs of the Kennedy family, Eddie Adams photos of the Vietnam War, and photos from the 1969 moon landing. Some are as disturbing as they are amazing like the photo of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling in grief over Jeffrey Miller's lifeless body during the Kent State shootings. David Davies has created a compelling collection of photos that chronicle the turbulent history. The Boston Globe's Sebastian Smee talks about it:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sandy's Wrath on Westerly

This past October Hurricane Sandy unleashed its wrath on New York, New Jersey and the northeast coastline. We heard a lot about Breezy Point, Queens and the Jersey Shore, but we didn't hear a lot about another popular summer destination on the Rhode Island-Connecticut border. Misquamicut Beach in Westerly, Rhode Island was littered with debris and suffered major erosion. Before Thanksgiving I worked with Serve Rhode Island to help with the cleanup. I worked at a beach resort moving debris and shoveling sand out of a pool and a hot tub. Rather than use a lot of fancy words, I thought I would let these pictures and video speak for themselves.