As someone who lives and walks this city daily…my blog is all about delving a little deeper, seeing what it has to offer, and capturing the true essence of New York City. Whether you live in Gotham, or just visiting…feel free to look around my blog. Bet you might find something new to do!
P.S. As of the end of April 2013 my more personal postings will now be at The Next Few Years.
CopyrightAll images and content on this site are copyright ©GothamGirl 2009 - 2013, unless stated otherwise. If you'd like to use one of my photos, please give proper credit and link back to this blog.
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Monthly Archives: April 2012
There are two mistakes one can make along the road
to truth – not going all the way, and not starting.
For those not as familiar with the neighborhoods of Manhattan, in the lower east part of the island is an area called the East Village. To me, and many others, it’s the real New York. Within the East Village is a smaller neighborhood called Alphabet City. (Its name comes from Avenues A, B, C, and D, the only avenues in Manhattan to have single-letter names.) It’s an area that I’ve chosen to get to know at a more intimate level by spending hours walking and discovering the many treasures it has to offer. A little funk, a little grunge, sometimes gritty, but real neighborhoods with diversity galore…and a plethora of beautiful small community gardens, many the oldest in New York City.
It wasn’t until the purchase of Grace Tankersely’s guide book on the Community Gardens of the East Village and my own conversations with garden members did I begin to understand the history and the meaning of these gardens.
Looking back, during the 70′s when NYC was on the verge of bankruptcy, there were budget cuts (police, sanitation, fire departments) and building owners abandoned their properties left and right. By default, these areas became city owned and because of their own financial issues they were unable to care for them. Eventually torn down, these areas attracted the homeless, drug addicts, rats, along with increased violence. But what it also brought was a sense of community with neighbors coming together to clean up these abandoned areas. A neighborhood group, the Green Guerrillas, created their own garden and began helping others who wanted to do the same.
With community gardens on the rise, gardeners worked with the city and in the late 70′s an organization was formed called Operation GreenThumb. One year leases were then drawn up for the gardens on city-owned land. Over the years the gardens brought a sense of community; a place for neighbors to meet, for children to play, for weddings, birthday parties and celebrations.
But then came the 1990′s, real estate boomed and gardens were sold. Neighborhoods exploded with public meetings, movements, lawsuits, and according to Tankersely’s book, even chaining themselves to bulldozers to preserve their gardens. In 1999, 114 community gardens all over New York City were put on the auction block. Imagine the intensity when at the very last minute the gardens were purchased by two groups, the Trust for Public Land and Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project. A few years later an agreement was reached resulting in the Department of Parks and Recreation taking ownership as long as the gardens remained active.
Of course there’s way more to this story and Tankersely does an excellent job providing the details in her book. But the bottom line to keep a garden active requires time, energy and money…all from volunteers. If you’ve been part of a volunteer group you know that brings its own set of problems. People come and go, often leaving a few to do all the work. There’s varying opinions, cultural differences, struggles to raise funds to keep the gardens going…and time needed, lots and lots of time. (If you’ve ever had a backyard or a vegetable garden you know.) I don’t have a full understanding of the leases that are held with these gardens, but I’m sure as I explore and chat with gardeners during the summer months, I’ll walk away with increased knowledge of how these treasures will (hopefully) continue to bring that sense of community for generations to come.
In future posts, I’m excited to share with you my photography and my discussions with the interesting and ever so eclectic group of garden members in this little community of Alphabet City.
Take a big deep breath and think about the aroma from lots of tulips. Perhaps you’re thinking…but tulips don’t really have much of a fragrance! True, but…did I happen to mention 15,000 tulips? Yes, it’s that time of year again for the annual tulip festival at the West Side Community Garden. Beautiful, warm, overcast day…picture perfect for photography and that aroma! Pure heaven!
Tomorrow I head for the farm and by the time I return all of these lovelies will be gone, but quickly followed by irises, bleeding hearts and more peonies. It’s one huge candyland with a never ending supply of beauty all summer long!
This week be looking for a couple of updates…one, my discoveries of some very unique community gardens in the East Village AND two, my adventure to Philly to photograph in the Eastern State Penitentiary! Plus I’m starting a new course this week about becoming best friends…with…guess who? MYSELF! Combined with photography, we’ll be honoring our memories, seeing our own beauty, thinking about our hidden dreams, and seeing where we are in the world. Susannah Conway promises eight weeks of unravelling (and who doesn’t need a bit of unravelling once in a while?) and it would be my pleasure if you’d follow along with me!
Sharing just a taste of an unforgettable day…
Stay tuned for more on the Eastern State Penitentiary!
Today is truly a wabi-sabi Saturday!
I’m off for a day of photo shooting at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia!
Stay tuned for more!
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing,
is giving up on being perfect
and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
In Spanish, de colores simply means “the colors.” It’s also the name of a song that praises the beauty of the diversity and simplicity of God’s creation. How perfect! More to come on these little treasures in the East Village! There’s so much there…not only the plantings, but the art and oh…the people of this community!
(This is a series of posts on Jan Phillips’ book, God is at Eye Level, Photography as a Healing Art. For an intro check out the first post here.)
Mindful Seeing, Mindful Being
We know that voice, that craving to dance to the inner beat, express our passions, create something new from the stuff of our lives…Jan Phillips, author
The voice…the craving…the addiction…There’s no two ways about it. I’m addicted to seeking the light, capturing a moment, an emotion, a story. I could so connect with this chapter as it reflected on that “inner compulsion.” Phillips shares stories about Dorothea Lange and Laura Gilpin. Lange, known for her famous photograph of the “Migrant Mother,” suffered from polio, was abandoned as a child by her father, failed in her marriage and had many other illnesses, yet was driven. Gilpin, known for her photography of the Navajo Indians, was 77 years old when her book was finally published and age 81 when she received a grant for a major study of the land and people of Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Both immersed themselves and allowed their empathy for their subject to prevail.
With my eyes constantly searching…engaged…wrapped up and only concerned for my immediate surroundings in the very moment…I find myself spending hours in this mode while it feels like only minutes…resulting in a sense of balance, the feeling of belonging, and ultimately the precious moment of sharing what was found. Phillips’ sums it up in her last sentence of the chapter…It is good to remember the source of the healing, that it began in the soul of one who went looking, who brought back from the journey a mirror for us all. Well said.
Next week: Chapter Eight – New Images for a New World
Joining in for the very first time? Catch up on the previous chapters!
Chapter One – Through the Eyes of a Child
I need 72 hours in a day to do all I want to do.
Stay tuned for more on this topic!
Growing up I really don’t recall any Jewish acquaintances in our family, at school or at work, so there’s never been a real understanding of the various traditions during Passover. However, I’ve always been interested in all religions and have the desire to better understand the various beliefs.
As mentioned several posts earlier, I recently was adopted into a blogging community of women called Vision and Verb spearheaded by my blogger friend, Marcie Scudder. She writes, photographs and posts daily on her blog, Marcie Scudder Photography.
I’ve read and reread Marcie’s post for Passover and for the first time I get it. I mean I really get the meaning of Passover in the simplest of terms. No one has been able to put it into words like Marcie has, at least for me.
WHY IS THIS NIGHT?
Why is this night different from all others?
Because – the story tells us – this is the night we celebrate our right to be free. Our exodus from the tyrrany of slavery and bondage. On this night – we gather and sit and re-tell this story. This one that has been told and re-told time and time again.
It is the story of one Pharoah’s attempt to enslave the Jews. It is the story of Moses – born of a Jewish mother and raised by that same Pharoah. How it is that he found himself exiled and in the desert..answering to God’s call to set his people free.
It is the story of the 10 plagues – that began with the all of the waters of Egypt turning to blood..and ended with the killing of the firstborn in every Egyptian family.
It is the story of how – in their hurry to leave – the Jews had only enough time to gather their belongings and bread that had not had time to fully rise. When they arrived at the sea – it magically parted…allowing them to cross over into a land that was safe and free. It was there that it began. The long journey across the desert and search for the promised land.
Why is this night different from all others?
It’s the coming of spring. It’s the passing over. It’s a fresh clean start…a new chapter and a new beginning.
As a young child – I first asked that question…as it is the tradition that the youngest of the children ask.
As an older child – the questions I began to ask were a little different. Yes – I wanted to know ‘why’..but the why’s were less about the story itself. They were more about challenging the tradition and why this annual ritual and meal? Why the cleaning of every closet and cupboard? Why the need to remove every trace of bread? Why all of this effort and fuss? I was no longer wide-eyed..captivated by the magic…young and innocent.
As a young mother – I returned to my roots and my beginnings. What was passed to me..I passed on to my own. I watched proudly – as each of my three – had their turn to ask these same questions…that I had once asked myself.
Why is this night different from all others?
Because – on this night we gather. We celebrate. We tell the story of how it is we came to be here on this day. We eat matzo – to remind us of the unleavened bread. We dip our spring greens in water that is salted with our ancestor’s tears. We eat bitter herbs so as to never forget. We drink four cups of wine. We recline..because we are free.
Now – as an older mother..and with grown kids of my own. I get to sit back and watch. I’m looking forward to that someday when my children will sit with theirs as I did with mine. To their passing along the telling of this story. That this night will always be a one that is celebrated as different.
It is on this night that we not only honor and celebrate the Passover holiday..but every person’s right to be free. No matter the race or religion or nationality or language. We eat and we sing and we honor the tradition.
Year after year. Time after time again. We ask the questions. We answer with the telling of the same story.
Once – it is said – we were slaves in Egypt. Now – we are free.
Every time I’ve read this post (and it’s been several) …it’s brought tears to my eyes. What resonates with me so is the passing of tradition from generation to generation. Living in a Jewish community here in the Upper West Side of NYC, it’s been so enjoyable to see all the family gatherings and the importance they place on gathering for Seder.
So all of this has made me think more about the importance of traditions and my hopes are for more Marcie’s of the world who are keeping those traditions alive for our future generations.