Women In Uniform: A Photo Essay of the Women’s March

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Where Broken Hearts Congregate: Part 2

where the wind tears through the thickest coats as we huddle in awkward clumps, side by side, for warmth. praying the show will start so we can go. peer into the horizon, gobbled up by the explosion of lights. sanctioned dynamite, the cold, and pretty dyes are all that separate us from a war zone in Aleppo.

where we gaze at the skies, waiting.

for them to come back. to reach down out of the full looming moon and grab your hand. and skoo dee whoop, scat, skip, and shimmy across constellations. to throw in a twirl or two so that your yellow dress whirls in the approaching star’s gleam.

where mouths stiffen instead of commence kissing

is there such thing as a new beginning? it is started by definition, therefore it was new. once lived, if uncaptured, its never reclaimed. remade. re-hymenated.

wherein that sliver of sour before one cries at another’s pain. before the shouting is deafening. before the thunder of fireworks bashing an eardrum. before we fade into the blankets of night, trying to regain life and limb in the warmth. 

where the before exists

and hearts heal

and the broken

no longer congregate

 

Jamaica Bay Machhua

she slang her dress over her knee

tightly bundled 

tucks her carefully pinned dupatta into her sweater

already damp and heavy

from leaning into the water all afternoon

squatting into scaly run off 

legs and back bent like a frog’s

As the sun runs 

from the docks 

she scrapes peanut bunker into a bucket

from the tarp 

spread across their commandeered

section of the pier

Warning the ladkis not to play

near the railings

she spies the looming quiet

amongst the overhead planes passing

the quarreling chess players

brightening bachata music 

and distant rumbling of cars on the Belt Parkway

that surrounds her family 

Serenity seeps into every fisher face

gazing into the bay

the darkness soon come

as they say

Time to get home for dinner

Solar Power Prepares Southern Brooklyn For the Future

The realization that clean energy, namely solar, can save the city in a crisis such as Hurricane Sandy, is sweeping through neighborhoods. Solar, which is renewable, efficient, and off-the-grid, provides energy which was needed throughout the damaged areas of the boroughs lacking in emergency preparation.

A press release in November 2016 announced that the Office of Storm Recovery, funded by Governor Cuomo, appointed 26 facilities and 19 service providers under the New York Rising Community Center Program to create a network of neighborhood-based recovery centers for extreme weather events.

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Caesar Nash, a Solar One employee from Yonkers, pulls apart the summer stage in preparation for fall.

In 2014 the reconstruction plan for Canarsie was set in motion, which was directly inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Two of the hubs are in the Canarsie area, having been identified by the community center program committee as necessary. They will be fitted with solar power and sustainable batteries.

The Canarsie planning committee members include established local organizations such as the Canarsie Disaster Recovery Coalition, Flatlands 108th Block Association, Fresh Creek Civic Association, and the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie. Major non-profits, such as Solar One, the largest weatherization organization in New York State, help connect these local residents with the program’s renewable services.

Kristin Devoe of the Division of Emergency Services for New York City said, “Through our stockpiles, we can provide generators, light towers, etc. to local emergency managers for local use to power essential buildings such as gathering centers, warming centers, critical infrastructure public buildings. However, none of these items are fueled by renewable energy.”

Solar energy is a powerful resource. The lithium ion batteries, its non-toxic counterpart device, stay charged with the sun’s energy for when it is needed, while the excess is sent back into the city’s electrical grid. The Energy Association reports that, “Today’s electricity grid is increasingly vulnerable to threats from nature, terrorists, and accidents. Power outages cost as much as $130 billion annually, while hitting the job-creating commercial and industrial sectors the hardest.”

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The rebuilt Stuyvesant park nature trail behind the Solar One facility at sunset.

The Solar One site at Stuyvesant Park Cove on The East River was pummeled when Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, 2012. According to their program report that year, they were able to quickly adapt their solar panel system into a crucial charging station for people nearby during the city’s recovery. Without alternative methods for powering electronics, and in one case a child’s nebulizer for asthma, people’s communications and safety would have suffered.

“You have to be prepared,” said Elba O. Melendez and Community Emergency Response Team volunteer from Canarsie.

Melendez and the committee have dedicated their time to readying their neighborhoods for natural disasters. The idea is to transfer Solar One’s adapted crisis methods into full-blown emergency and environmental education centers. “Many sources encourage the use of solar chargers by the general public in the event of a power outage for small items such as personal cell phones, rechargeable or crank operated lanterns, flashlights, and weather radios and these are considered effective in these instances,” said Devoe.

The organizations determined that solar powered devices, panels, and storage batteries would be the most helpful to maintain communications and basic comforts during a crisis recovery in Canarsie. Even suggesting in the reconstruction plan that resilient street lights powered by solar energy would improve safety during an emergency.

Angelica Ramdhari, Solar One Project Director of NYRCR Solar and Battery Backup Program for Community Facilities, hopes to create backup power for neighborhoods in need with elderly or local residents that have less access to charging, resources, and transportation.

 

 

 

Minister Mama

no stabbing demons

or slaying dragons for me

I didn’t save your legs from breaking

or solve the world’s aching

heroics aren’t really my thing

no mountain of lies did I chip away at

or speak great truths to be had

I lack luster and deservedness

less than special

but I did get through this day

Doggedly rode out the pain

in between bad caffeine shots

and propped eyelids and bandaged hearts

because the mission mandates 

that I just

I just 

make it to tomorrow 

The Month After September

It’s cold out as tourists snap pictures of the gaping hole in the center of the 9/11 Memorial site. People are unfazed by the rain as it mixes into the constantly churning waters. The sound of the giant, cubic waterfall drowns out the rest of the city in this congested part of lower Manhattan. In the distance, the museum gleams, packed with even more people.  

Officers wielding large weapons appear every few minutes or so, scanning the area instead of taking it in. Some people march by, dressed in suits or business attire, barely glancing at the memorial as they file by in herds towards the rebuilt train station. Others stare down into the gushing rapids, or carefully run their hands over the hundreds of names engraved in the black stone surrounding the water. Everyone is trying to take the best picture to bring home in commemoration. They have to bend in awkward angles because the memorial sites for both buildings are vast in depth and size, and hard to fit into frame.   

The blown out windows in all of the bordering buildings are all fixed. Dust in the streets has been replaced by sturdy, dark concrete that stretches in every direction. A new Starbucks is bustling, while the destroyed corner church’s construction is still underway. It’s walls will have vines, green patches, and an observation deck overlooking both of the tower memorials. In the background, the freedom tower is tall and brightly lit in the onslaught of night. The first few floors flicker on and off in a subtle pattern. From the plaza there is no bottom in sight to the waterfall. It seems to go on forever into the ground.