This article made possible by a donation to our Writer’s Fund by Anonymous.
Internet trends come and go and if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss out on some interesting social science that happens right before your eyes. If we had this amazing communication tool one hundred years ago, those 20 year art movements like Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism would have happened much faster. Every few weeks, I will try to break down the micro-trends and world wide fads that sometimes make surfing the net more fun than interacting with actual people.
Photo-taking trends come and go on the Internet. There was Horsemanning, Owling and eventually, the longer lived Planking, but that was last year. This year comes a whole new breed of micro-trends, often coming from the original land of absurdity, Japan, such as Dragonballing: schoolgirls have been staging fake energy sphere attacks (known as the “Kamehameha“) made popular in the manga and anime series, Dragon Ball.
And also a photo trend that features teens appearing to play Quidditch, a fictional sport from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe played on broomsticks.
And finally, originating from this side of the Pacific: Vadering, where users appear to show an individual using Darth Vader’s signature Force Choke to raise another person off the ground.
But speaking of Japan, some other choice nuggets to be found this week includes making wasp shouchuu, an alcohol like Vodka with fermented giant wasps. The whole process takes three years and it’s maker says that its properties create “beautiful skin, recovery from fatigue, and the prevention of ‘lifestyle disease’”. Uh huh. And have we mentioned Japan’s love for Ray Charles in animatronic form? Continue reading →
Sorry for this last minute update (I was in Florida for 2 weeks!), but tonight Thursday, 1/24 at 7pm at Greenpoint Reformed Church (136 Milton St) there will be an open forum, the first of many, to discuss the recently opened homeless respite at the church. All are welcome but I spoke to Pastor Ann and she wants to keep the meeting as constructive and positive.
So put down your pitch forks and bring you manners, people! See you there!
And if you miss it, don’t worry there will be more.
Each year, in the dead of winter, the Department of Homeless Services sends volunteers – as many as 2,000- to less-than-scenic neighborhoods around the city to do a hand-count of the city’s homeless population. This year’s survey, on January 28, 2013, will require 3,000 volunteers, and they are currently recruiting. If you’re interested in issues of homelessness in Greenpoint, I highly recommend volunteering if only to get a glimpse at the internal workings of the city’s homeless outreach machinery.
The controversy over these counts largely concerns the timing of the survey and where volunteers are looking. It is intentionally conducted late at night at the end of January, an unpleasant time to be on the street, and specifically skips pseudo-private locations favored by the homeless such as ATM vestibules. Groups such as Coalition for the Homeless believe that the result is “a flawed effort that, year after year, has resulted in a significant undercount of New York City’s homeless population.” The implication is clear: the survey undercounts by design, masking the problem. However, according to the survey’s designers, it is intended to provide a street-level estimate of those individuals who are truly homeless, those who do not even make it to shelters on one of the coldest nights of the year, and thus expects a smaller number to be found.
To their credit, DHS does an excellent job of creating a methodology that answers their primary question without being too perplexing to the relatively untrained surveyors. However, while I was performing the survey, there was still a significant amount of deviation from the method on the part of my fellow volunteers. Their directions call for each group to make one pass along each side of each street in a given area, administering a short survey to anyone encountered. However, my group found it impossible to resist the temptation to call across the street to passers-by, for example- while this was done in the spirit of making the count as inclusive as possible, it undermined its accuracy as a statistical sample by effectively surveying areas twice. Opponents of these surveys also include the variability introduced by these sorts of errors and the failure to adjust counts accordingly among their complaints.
Still, especially now that homelessness has become a major local issue, I think the experience of participating in the survey is valuable even if the data generated is more questionable. You can review the informational materials and sign up here: 2013 HOPE homelessness survey
This is a very important and illuminating comment written by Fr. John Merz of Ascension Church regarding the recently opened Homeless Respite on Milton St that has received a lot of attention from the community. An open meeting will be held at a to be announced date:
I am the Reverend John Merz, Episcopal Priest and Vicar of the Church of the Ascension on Kent Street. I want to say at the outset that I would prefer this conversation happen in a congenial public forum rather than internet discussion boards, a phenomenon which as one of my bemused foreign seminary classmates labeled “assertion boards.” This format tend to ruffle feathers and peter out rather than produce consensus or reconciliation. That being said there are some simple facts that need to be cleared up.
First off, if there are any issues with the claim of “secrecy” then people need to take them up with me. I served on the homeless task force along with many other local clergy and residents. As Ann mentioned she was gone from the task force over the last 12 months. Furthermore under no circumstance did Councilman Levin or Rev. Kansfield obscure or try to do anything “in secret” or “get anything by” the community. The fact is that the 10 bed respite program (not a shelter, there are, in fact, significant differences) was to be housed at my church right until the very last minute. Period. I think that kind of innuendo about people’s character and honesty ought to come to a close straightaway.
Numerous times I met with high-level people at DHS and neither Rev. Kansfield or Councilman Levin were present. Once things had been worked out–the funding and politics of how this deal would take place, where it would be housed (Ascension)—there was no need to have Councilman Levin in on the day to day negotiations between myself and the City and Common Ground as we literally shifted pennies from this line to that to see how it could work
The intruding issue was that for well over a year I had been in an endlessly stalled development deal for two upper stories of our parish hall. In order for the respite bed program to take place at our church City and Common Ground needed certain assurances that there could be geographical consistency. It was my hope that were the development deal were to take place it still would give us enough time to house the program for the six cold months so we averted anymore deaths like we have had in the past and perhaps bring some people into a better state.
Late October it looked as if our deal might go through though nothing was be set in stone, nothing signed. Quickly I informally spoke to two other local churches as to see in the event we had to make a last minute switch could it be done. Approvals came through in late October. As Sandy hit, besides putting up the homeless at Ascension there were emergency meetings of a few task force members to see what we could do to relocate the program asap as the cold was going to set in. That is when Reformed stepped up, not to run it, but to house it.
Again, one point that needs to be made clear is that this is not Ann Kansfield’s program, this is a community based, broad ranging effort, over four years in the making. I do believe we did our best though no doubt improvements could be made. There is no doubt that if we use our common energy, engage the best of our common humanity we can find a way to make this program work, change people’s lives for the better and, perhaps even more importantly begin to address the larger issues of why in such a wealthy city there are 50,000 people homes and 20,000 of those the age of our own children. With patience and care I have faith that these concerns can be worked through.
The Reverend John Merz
Church of the Ascension, Vicar
If you live in Greenpoint, you are aware of the homeless population. As it gets considerably colder, the need for warm shelter is of great importance.
I recently received an email from a concerned resident on Milton St regarding a newly opened shelter at the Greenpoint Reformed Church, who has witnessed and heard stories about public urination and defecation on the block as well as smashed liquor bottles and a man sleeping in her front yard.
Despite this she, ”fear[s] that there will never be an acceptance of the services that the church provides, unless they move off Milton St.”
She referred a neighbor to me, a homeowner who started a task force against the shelter, who despite reaching out to me, failed to answer my questions.
How would you feel about a homeless shelter on your block? What if your block was as pretty as Milton where the property values are in the multimillions? A drunk man vomiting on your lawn isn’t so pretty. “Not in my backyard!” Then where?
How about in your own home?
Ann Kansfield, pastor of Greenpoint Church, who lives above the church and the homeless shelter explained the situation:
The situation is a little more complicated than just “we have a homeless shelter at the church” … In a nutshell, it’s a 10-bed program operated by Common Ground on behalf of the City for LOCAL homeless folks. This was in response to many people’s demands that “the city do something” about local Polish homelessness. The total cost for the entire program is $100,000, the bulk of which goes to pay for two full-time employees being present with the men at all times. The city is only reimbursing the church for building-related costs to host the program. This amounts to 44% of utilities and some small expenses related to hiring someone to clean each day. This is no “windfall” for us.
In a recent 94th Community Council Meeting, as recorded by New York Shitty, Stephen Levin spoke about the shelter and said it wasn’t Ann or Jen’s (co-pastor) “idea,” rather they offered the space after the community asked for it years back. He went on to explain that it is unique for the city to fund a church shelter, which are usually volunteer, and in this case a professional staff supervises the residents.
What are your thoughts on the newly opened shelter on Milton St?
Good morning, Greenpoint! Over a year ago when I wrote my first post, I did not imagine how important this website would be in critical times – such as Hurricane Sandy proved to be for New York City.
As a local website, we received an unprecedented amount of online traffic from Greenpointers seeking information about conditions here. We are happy to have been there and grateful that much of the information reported and all the photographs came from you, the readers. Talk about hyper-local, on the ground, real time reporting!
While we wait for things to return to normal, it’s important to think about the lessons that such a huge natural disaster can teach us about life in Greenpoint and New York City.
10 Lessons Greenpoint (and NYC) Can Learn From #Sandy
1. Precautionary Actions Are Critical During Times Of Crisis (And Also Before)
How many of us were saying, “Really? They shut down the subways?”
Mayor Bloomberg would have been ridiculed if Hurricane Sandy had not turned into “a storm of historic intensity.” And if he had not taken such important precautionary actions when he did, like shut down the subways early on, there would have been more emergencies, deaths and damage.
Next time the city government plays it on the safe side, remember we would have been sorry if they had not done so this time around.
2. Evacuate Means GTFO (Get The F$&K Out!) Greenpoint
Evacuation orders are not a minor inconvenience and should be taken seriously. No one wants to leave belongings, impose on family members or move into a shelters, but staying not only risks your own life, but the lives of rescuers when they have to come and save your sorry ass.
In Greenpoint Zone A, there was significant flooding from the East River and the Newtown Creek. The water was reported to have contained raw sewage released from the sewage treatment plant. In places that sustained unprecedented devastation due to flooding and fires, such as Breezy Point, we can see how important it is to take evacuations order seriously.
3. Stay Inside Means Stay Inside; And Don’t Take The Baby To The Park
When winds are over 90mph, there is no reason to leave the safety of your home and unnecessarily risk your own life and the lives of rescuers.
It may seem fun to check out the East River or take photos of downed trees or flooding, but none of those photos are worth the risk of being crushed by a tree or electrocuted by live power lines.
And, I can’t stress this enough: the most dangerous place to go during and right after any storm is to your local Park!
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I witnessed parents wheeling baby strollers through McGolrick and McCarren Parks. That is just stupid!
Entire trees can not only fall on top of you, but branches can kill or severely injure you.
4. Local Businesses Should Think Of Public Safety First
What a great article I could have written about what bars and restaurants were open during the hurricane and what great parties were going on, but I chose to encourage readers to stay inside and not patronize local businesses. I was torn because I did not want to hurt business in Greenpoint but in the end, public safety comes first.
For business owners, it is irresponsible during times of great emergency to expect employees and encourage customers to risk their safety in order to patronize your business. While at first you may feel like you are doing a service to your customers, but you are actually unnecessarily putting them in harm’s way.
We can all go without drinking for one night. (Shake. Shake.)
5. Social Media Is A Great Tool During A Crisis (But Also A Great Liar)
While I found it extremely useful that the @NYCMayorsOffice was live tweeting updates from the Mayor’s regular press briefings, information which I could then pass on to Greenpointers, there was also a lot of noise and a lot of lies.
Just like it is important for drivers to avoid using roadways during times of crisis so emergency crews can move around more quickly, internet users should also think twice about keeping the social media airways clear, but more importantly not put out false information that alarms and frightens people just to get attention.
The toxic state of our waterways, the sewage treatment facility that overflows into them, the under ground oil spill, the hazardous plumes that contain carcinogenic vapors, the garbage processing facilities – these are all facts of life in Greenpoint that potentially pose a significant threat to public health, especially during near catastrophic weather events that challenge local infrastructure.
What kind of affects do such weather events have on public health in Greenpoint? How should Greenpointers safeguard themselves? Is there a specific plan in place to deal with emergency situations that could negatively impact residents with respect to environmental hazards? These are important questions for our local government.
On a global level let us take seriously the state of the planet, how global warming results in such extreme weather, the most extreme I have seen in my entire life living in New York City. At the same time, think about each and every action you take and how that affects the world.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost, Eat Locally, Walk, Bike (Drive Less) and Stop Buying So Much Shit!
7. It Takes A Neighborhood To Run A Blog
Without contributions from locals this blog would not have been such a crucial information source for people living in Greenpoint, especially those who were evacuated from their homes and wanted to see photographs of their blocks and find out hyper local information.
Information from the Mayor was very broad, which made it so important that on a local level we could communicate and share information that immediately affected the neighborhood.
Thanks to everyone who contributed!
8. “We Can Judge The Heart of A [City] By [Its] Treatment Of Animals (& Homeless)” – Gandhi, sort of
I found it surprising, relieving and inspiring that hurricane shelters accepted evacuees with their pets. Greenpointers are animal lovers and would find it hard to leave pets behind.
Let’s hope the next Mayor takes into account this great city’s love of animals and realizes that sheltering pets can encourage people to evacuate.
Let’s also really look at the local homeless population we have living in Greenpoint. Many people live in our local parks, the worst place to be during a storm. Outreach to the homeless is very important. The homeless are not problems, they are people, our neighbors who we need to think about everyday, not just during times of crisis.
9. Thank The Mayor And City Employees
You may not like the Mayor, but he did a good job. Think about how f’ing crazy it must be to run this town, especially during times of extreme crisis. He kept calm and took care of business with a team of tireless city employees who worked around the clock and risked their own lives to take care of all of us. And they still have a lot of work to do.
Lesson learned here is that it’s important to have one information source and a strong chain of command. There is a reason why the Mayor is an elected official who is in charge of keeping us safe. Ultimately what he says during these times goes. So listen up and stay out of the way to let his team do their job safely. With Sandy this meant staying inside and keeping roadways clear. The less people out, the safer everyone is.
10. Greenpoint (and NYC) Is the Greatest Place In the World!
There is a local charity based right here in Greenpoint called Flying Kites that is building The Flying Kites Leadership Academy, a home and school for abandoned, abused and orphaned children in Kenya, which currently has 27 children in their care.
Another Greenpoint organization called the Temporary Tattoo Project has created some amazing temporary tattoos that you can buy, and all the proceeds are donated to Flying Kites.
Greenpointers & Yummy Eats invite you to a Cajun Feast to benefit the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 8pm at the Greenpoint Church (136 Milton St).
Each week, the Greenpoint Reformed Church Hunger Program provides no-cost groceries and a weekly hot meal to hungry people in Northern Brooklyn. It takes $6,000 per week to feed all these people. Much of the money comes from government food programs, but $1,500 more per week is needed for additional food, plus utilities, building maintenance, volunteer coordination and overall administration.
Join us for a delicious dinner prepared by Joseph of Yummy Eats.
Proceeds from the dinner will be donated to the soup kitchen. It’s a great cause and will be a fun and very yummy night.
Greenpoint has a very evident street homeless population. It is important for the city to understand how many homeless people are living in our neighborhood to evaluate how effective their strategies are. Polish speaking volunteers are especially needed.
Email from DHS:
“The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) conducts the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) survey, every year to find a point-in-time estimate of the number of unsheltered homeless individuals in New York City. This year HOPE will take place on Monday, January 30, 2012.
DHS needs 3,000 volunteers to make HOPE 2012 a success, and the participation of our fellow city colleagues is very important. I encourage those who have volunteered before to sign up again, and for first-time volunteers to experience how truly gratifying a night of HOPE can be. Volunteers commit to assist us overnight on Monday, January 30, 2012 from 10:30 pm until 4:00 am.
HOPE is critical to helping DHS evaluate the effectiveness of our current strategies to overcome street homelessness as well as developing appropriate housing resources for the most vulnerable New Yorkers currently living without shelter. HOPE’s methodology has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the gold standard and I am proud to say that this is in large part due to your help.
Registration for HOPE can be found on the DHS homepage, at www.nyc.gov/dhs, or CityShare. Questions regarding this event can also be sent to the HOPE Team at HOPE@dhs.nyc.gov or by calling 212-607-5366.”
Over the next few days you most likely will be stuffing you face with delicious food. Everyone deserves the gift of stuffing your face. Take a minute to give to our community Greenpoint Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry. Even $1 can help feed a hungry neighbor. $100 can feed a lot of hungry neighbors.