Monday, November 23, 2020

Dredging through History, Birthday Hellos and Goodbyes.

Billy and Savitri and 
Billy and Savitri and a quiet Saturday. 
A tough teenager in the park. 

On Monday,  I opened my email to find a message about my neighborhood: 
“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Pete Lopez will be joined by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and other local and federal officials to witness the start of major dredging of contaminated sediment in the main channel of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday, November 16, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.”

In between morning errands, I walked down to Bond and First, along the polluted waterway, to watch the construction machines digging up piles of the “black mayonnaise” at the bottom of the toxic canal. 

I remembered when the superfund started a decade prior when the kids crossed everyday on the way to school.

The toxins in the physical and mental environment are many.

A hundred years of  oil spills and pollutants and PCBs are not easy to clean up in one decade, much less one day. 

“I wonder if they are going to dig up a dead body,” said a man standing there watching.

 "Dove Pinto?" the union organizer said to have found landed here in cement shoes.

Brad Lander, the councilman in the district, stood up to praise the process, relieved that the process of federal support for the cleanup had moved forward from planning to action.

"It almost makes you proud to be an American," said he. 

In the distance, a woman held a sign declaring, “No Gowanus Rezone!!!” opposing plans to build housing on the brownfields surrounding the canal.

I walked home thinking about all that had happened the last ten years,

the friends who'd come and gone.

I thought of Charles, who my godfather had known since his college years Sewanee, five, six decades prior. 

They knew each other in college in the 1950's and Vietnam and then San Francisco.

We'd have dinner together every time I went to San Francisco. 

He didn't come back from the hospital; neither did Georgianna.

We held her memorial later that week. 

Andrea Elliott, New York Times Reporter, who wrote her obituary, said:

"She was willing to talk….. to  articulate a sense of justice… As a social worker, she said we can have expectations of power.  We can push politicians to do the same. Fight for the right thing. Keep fighting because this is what is right… Listen to people where they are at… at Auburn Shelter… in the cold.  Listen to their stories...

"All that she was," she is, concluded Victor, her close friend.

 "Stay safe and heal."

Dion told me about his days with Charles. 

Meeting and letting go. 

My 51st birthday, all week. 

Jazz and bonfires and friends and Barbes, and five hour Union meetings, schools closing. 

The center is not holding I thought, looking at a tight vote over a strike.

The gaps between us are growing vast. 

Can we find a center, I thought along my bike ride to Ocean Ave to pick up cards to register voters in GA, for a special election for the senators from Georgia.

The center is not holding, I thought 

Along the walks to to Dumbo, 

and back to see the girls, 

and then to the AIDS memorial to see friends for a coffee,

where our friend Tim was not able to make it, ALS grasping his body.  

Via Tompkins Square Park with the teenager, 

back to see Rev Billy and Savitri.

And another bonfire with friends, where we talked about the organizing over the years, 

the creativity that needs recharging. 

And a walk through Red Hook on Sunday. 

Looking at relics in the streets, 

Our favorite houses, with vines crawling, retaking them, paint crumbling, a gatto behind a fence.

Pieces of what was and is becoming in the streets, a bike covered in vines, a mural on the Valentino Pier and the waterfront, Lady Liberty in the distance.

The winter is coming. 

But inside us remains, that invincible summer, says Albert Camus, 

“ matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back."

Sitting in the cold with infection rates rising, we're all looking for that summer. 

George De Castro Day.  
 Photo by Jackie Rudin  

 Photo by Jackie Rudin 

 Photo by Jackie Rudin 

 Photo by Jackie Rudin 

 Photo by Jackie Rudin 

Jackie Rudin photo and caption:  
Rise and Resist gathered at The NYC AIDS Memorial to demand GSA Chief Emily W. Murphy stop delaying Joe Biden's Presidential transition which threatens to harm everything from the government's response to the coronavirus to matters of national security.“Here, where the NYC AIDS Memorial meets Lenox Health Emergency Care, we are reminded of the hundreds of thousands who have died from government neglect, both then and now. We refuse to allow our loved ones to again be placed in the refrigerated trucks that served as morgues on this very spot last winter and spring." Robert Croonquist 
"We demand Emily W. Murphy ascertain Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President-Elect and release transition resources!"

Monica Hunken, photo and caption:
BREAKING: Nov 20, 2020
Resistance starts before sunrise.
Brownsville, Brooklyn residents have a message to send to National Grid. At the site of toxic ‪#fossil‬ fuel pollution on Linden BLVd. we say: Black health matters. Black neighborhoods matter.
“Brownsville Matters: No North Brooklyn Pipeline”. @BrownsvilleRGC @NoNBKPipeline #NoNBKPipeline

Tim Murphy photo and caption:
"Yesterday’s inaugural Saturday Village NOON kaffeklatsch in the AIDS Memorial park was AMAAAAZING. So many friends old & new showed up, bookended by a great performance from
Sing Out, Louise
and a short but powerful silent protest from
Rise and Resist
to demand that Emily Murphy, head of GSA, certify the Biden transition. But mostly we just chatted and had fun...that’s the point! I will create a special page for the kaffeklatsch later today. I won’t be here next Saturday but someone else can certainly “host” if they wish. I’ll host the next one on Sat Dec 5. Join us!"

Bonfires and birthdays... 




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