Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Exploring the Brooklyn Waterfront, from the East River to Coney Island, with a few rides through Manhattan, to and from Garrison to Princeton and Back - Summer 2015

This summer, like all summers, we welcomed the warmed with  trips to Coney Island and throughout the ever changing borough of Brooklyn, riding along the waterfront, where estuaries connect the East River with water that flows out to the Atlantic ocean, and throughout the state.
The space is ever changing.  So are our lives, with school graduation and summer dance parties.  A few of these moments, hikes, bike rides are highlighted through this small photo essay. 

The last days of school, walks through Brooklyn, a summer rooftop party, graduation, and a walk through Princeton along the Delaware & Raritan  Canal State Park.

Summer hike along the Delaware& Raritan  Canal State Park.
The fist few adventures of the summer took place between Pier Six and Coney Island, along the waterfront, where the kids frolicked among the swings, rides and waves.

 Later that night, we enjoyed the first paella of the summer on the grill.

Summer days in Washinton Square Park. 

Later that week, we explored the waterfront, riding along the East River admiring the changing landscape of the city along the East River from Williamsburg down to Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge Park out to Red Hook.

Monica wrote in invitation for public space party for the June 4th ride:

Discover new public spaces all along the Brooklyn waterfront. We'll bring music and start some spontaneous dance parties en route. Enjoy sunset in Red Hook and then conviviality and music at Sunny's Bar. You, your bike, Brooklyn and a friendly crew on a summer eve, dance parties in the street. We'll check out the changing landscape- from the blight of the high rise condos in Williamsburg, to the last shreds of the Domino Sugar Factory, to the Brooklyn Navy Yard's Admiral Row before their imminent destruction, to the new beaches, BBQs and soccer fields in Brooklyn Heights to a neighborhood hit hard by Sandy- Red Hook- finding its way back. 
How can we develop in a way that is equitable? Where have we come from and where are we going?
Lots to think about on our ride. Enjoy the trip!

As we finished the ride, we talked about policies that could help the space survive rising sea levels and other changes, challenging this endangered space.  As the North Brooklyn Waterfront Estuary Stuart Program highlights. 

Over the past 10 years, North Brooklyn has become a major development area in terms of housing and restaurants. With the rapid development and growth of the community, there are numerous risks to the watershed, especially the East River. These risks include: Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO’s); harmful land use practices; litter; and lack of vegetation and green space, which leads to increased runoff. With a long history of limited waterfront access and estuary pollution, the goal of the North Brooklyn Estuary Stewardship Program was to highlight the importance of the estuary in the community and offer free hands-on learning opportunities and resources for community members to better experience the estuary.

A few of us talked about plans for the waterfront, strategies by Rebuild for Design. But more will be necessary if things continue as they are, with polar ice caps literally melting in front of our eyes. The Brooklyn Bridge Park advertises salt marshes to protect the waterfront tidal ecosystem from rising waters.  But the biggest tide hitting the shore is hyper development.   Could de growth be our solution?

Adventures along Brooklyn's majestic, ever changing waterfront, and its tidal flows from Williamsburg to DUMBO to Red Hook. 
That weekend, everyone dropped by a pool party in Garrison, where number two celebrated with her buddies.

Friends from around the city joined the party. 

A few days later, we rode through Manhattan.  Monica invited everyone for our Museum Mile Ride on June 9th

It can cost a pretty penny to get access to art in this city sometimes. The free admission days are usually sponsored by some offensive corporation and if you give a dollar donation, they'll often look down their noses at you. Well, on this day, The Museum Mile Festival, 9 museums open their doors and are completely free to the public and Fifth Ave is free of cars. A perfect excuse for us to get on our bikes, ride through the park and soak up the culture.  

The girls and I met everyone at Columbus Circle.

The Museum Mike Ride was a blast with the public space party.  With kids chalking,  people hoola hooping, and jogging through the streets, music playing, museum mile with public space party highlighted all the possibilities of what public space can and should be in New York City.  We even recruited a new member to film monica as she completed her interview with a tv crew from Singapore. 

Later in the week, we had dinner with a few friends, including a New York writer, whose fedora cap was legendary.

Friends, new york legends, and few stray cats lingering in the summer streets.  Public space for the people. 
The summer offered so many surprises.  The last day of school, I called Mom, who told me she was going to see a show of work by the Florentine master Donatello in the city that afternoon.  Mom turned me onto Renaissance art decades ago, sending me to live in Florence to study with Dr Timothy Verdon, who become a mentor of sorts.  Connecting a love of art, beauty and the sublime, his tours of Florence stuck with me, teaching me about politics, sex, art history, and even spirituality.  So number two and I joined Mom after saying goodbye to the best teacher she has ever had.  Third grade is a big deal.  And having a rocking understanding huge hearted teacher really helps.  A cool older sister doesn't hurt either. We all need essential others.

Mom and number two comparing notes about the Donatellos. 
In between rides, we meandered throughout Coney Island, for still more culture. 
The mix of high and low is part of what makes life in New York grand. 

Countless Summer adventures at Coney Island.

That weekend, after a few more rides and romps about the city, we celebrated kids day at Judson, where they read psalms and poems, joining the chorus to sing, Better Things, by the Kinks. The kids ran around for weeks before singing the old Kinks song.  "I hope tomorrow you'll find better things."
 The point of the services is there is a theology to poetry to help us make sense of living and As Kathleen Norris explains,“Though as adults we want answers, we will sometimes settle for poetry.”

Later Andy preached about poetry and faith.  He explained:

One of my favorite definitions of poetry comes, again, from Dylan Thomas:  “Poetry . . . makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.”

I love prose, but it’s different. As the poet Dunya Mikhail says, “With poetry, I feel I am in love.  With prose, I feel I am in a marriage.”   Interpret that how you will.

You’ve already heard from just a few of my favorite poets this morning.  We all have favorites, those poets whose words have a particular charm over us.  I am reminded that the Irish are said to have once had a god of eloquence who went by the name of Ogmios, who was depicted as having thin, long chains of amber and gold running from the tip of his tongue to the ears of his listeners, who, with cheerful faces, were said to willingly and quite happily follow him to the ends of the earth.  So perhaps we should just blame it on the gods. 

Poetry not only speaks to us, but at times, can speak for us.  Adrienne Rich says “we go to poetry because we believe it has something to do with us[;]” that the poet’s “I” can become a universal “we” through a “common language . . . to which strangers can bring their own heartbeat, memories, images.” 

There can also be a commonality between poetry and the idea of faith, however one chooses to define that word.  In a book entitled A God In The House:  Poets Talk About Faith, the editors, Ilya Kaminsky and Katherine Towler, say “what poetry and faith share, perhaps more than anything else, is a sense of awe.  In awe is the beginning of a life of wonder.” 

I like to think we had that awe all summer long. 
The last week in Brooklyn, the kids enjoyed a few more trips and picnics to Brooklyn Bridge park and time with their buddies, before a goodbye to our amazing neighbors who are going to Paris for the year. 

So we said goodbye, headed out to Garrison and Princeton, enjoying a taste of immortal summer, in between changes and plans, as friends headed out for points everywhere in between, the girls headed for summer camp and we're off to Cancun and Spain, as summer 2015 unfolded in front of our eyes, but not without a few trips to the beach and the pool in between. 

In Princeton we took a few strolls through the old neighborhood, where we all lived back in the 1970's.  Mom shared a few pictures and the girls were off to their next adventure, while we made our way back home.

Sending the kids to camp and coming back to our garden at home. 

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