Sister Francis Gerard Kress who Greenpointers profiled last year in its series on important local women passed away on January 17th in Brentwood, Long Island. She was 104 years old and was a nun for an amazing 87 years. Sister Francis, a beloved local figure, taught for many years at the Saint Anthony of Padua school (862 Manhattan Ave.), but it was her work as one of the first local environmentalists that is perhaps her greatest local legacy.
The future activist was born in Hells Kitchen in 1914 and by age ten she had already organized her first protest, a pot and pan demonstration of local children in favor of the first Catholic presidential candidate. She joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1932 and became an elementary school educator. In the 1960s, she arrived in Greenpoint, teaching local children who loved her charisma and energy in the classroom. In those days, Greenpoint was severely polluted with local residents at the time enduring a shockingly high cancer rate, but few locals knew the extent of the environmental damage.
In 1977, a plume appeared in Newtown Creek, the first evidence of a 15 million gallon oil slick that poisoned the surrounding earth. That same year Sister Francis, learning from a city bus driver about the spill, began to make inquiries among local residents. Discovering that almost everyone had a story about the black mayonnaise that oozed in Newtown Creek, she also learned about the spiking local cancer rate. She recalled that toxic fumes stained people’s clothes drying on the line outside and that it gave them headaches and made their children agitated, but locals simply lived with these dangers, but she was determined to take action. Continue reading →
Last week we talked about speed cameras being voted out of the city budget, which could be a major road block for Vision Zero, de Blasio’s ambitious campaign to end all traffic deaths in NYC. But what’s been most fascinating about the conflict, is seeing the ways in which New Yorkers have responded.
Tomorrow (4/9) Right of Way, a “direct action street justice group,” is taking their protest to the streets, staging a demonstration that will involve stenciling the outlines of 40 bodies on Grand St (Between Columbia and Lewis in the LES), the number of lives they believe will be lost as a result of the speed camera bill. The protest will point fingers directly at lawmakers in Albany, whom they hold ultimately accountable, using #killedbyalbany as a slogan, transposed over a logo of a bloody handprint.
After traffic tragedy after tragedy after tragedy in North Brooklyn, we all agree that something has to be done (aside from ticketing jaywalkers) about speeding – (especially on McGuinness Blvd) to prevent future traffic related deaths.
Don’t forget to join GWAPP & NAG for a Special Community Workshop on the Greenpoint Landing & 77 Commercial Street Developments on Thursday June 27th, 2013 at 6:30-8pm at the Newtown Creek Visitor Center (329 Greenpoint Ave). This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. RSVP
With the summer months ahead and significant increase in pedestrian traffic to and from the East River Ferry and Transmitter Park, many Greenpointers are complaining that the Greenpoint Waterfront is filthy. They want the city to put more garbage cans in pedestrian areas and clean up more thoroughly and more often. The Change.org campaign reads:
The streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn are disgusting, smeared with dog feces and full of garbage. THERE ARE NO GARBAGE CANS in the area. There does not seem to be regular street cleaning despite the street cleaning signs that indicate street cleaning times.
With the growth of the residential developments, businesses moving in (Kickstarter), the East River Ferry nearby and the opening of Transmitter Park, the neighborhood has experienced a significant increase in pedestrian traffic.
Over the past year, residents in our neighborhood have submitted multiple online requests for garbage cans via the Department of Sanitation’s website to no avail. Despite numerous requests by residents, the Department of Sanitation has simply ignored these requests and nothing has been done to rectify the situation.
All individuals signing below are petitioning the NYC Department of Sanitation to provide public garbage cans at all intersections of West Street between Greenpoint Ave and India Street as well as Franklin Street intersections between Greenpoint Ave and India Street. Additionally, the NYC Department of Sanitation should regularly dispose of the garbage in the public garbage cans and provide regular street cleaning to all named streets and surrounding areas.
Today while we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr, let us also think about the people who continue to struggle for equal rights both here and abroad, and how the decisions we make in our every day lives can make change.
We’ve come a long way since Martin Luther King Jr’s day, but we also have a long road ahead.
Last night I was really excited to meet a dynamic duo, Kiri and Heidi, who are leaders of a huge network of pro-feminist musicians, artists and activists called Permanent Wave. Earlier this year I attended a show booked by these gals at Death By Audio, a DIY all ages venue in Williamsburg. The show was a benefit for Right Rides, which offers women and LGBTQ individuals a free, safe, late night ride home on weekends. Talented local bands fronted by lady musicians jammed in the packed space with an upbeat and positive crowd.
It’s all about collaboration. According to their mission statement, Permanent Wave seeks “to challenge gender inequality as it manifests itself in art, politics, and our personal lives” with the belief that, “women should see each other as collaborators and inspirations, not rivals.” Right on, ladies! This plays itself out when booking as an organization, explained Kiri, rather than just trying to book your own band at a venue. Strength in numbers. Continue reading →