This weekend I got to wander a Brooklyn landscape that resembled my old Suffolk home more than anywhere else I’ve seen this side of the pond — and it used to be a huge garbage landfill site. Gentle hills, empty trails, butterflies and wild flowers are all part of the newly restored Pen Park, just yards from the Belt Parkway. Thanks to the Jamaica Bay Greenway Coalition for setting up the trip, and to NYCDEP for access and the guided walk around the site.
“Where once was visible garbage, native little bluestem and other grasses wave in the winds off the water. Small plantings of cedars, oaks and pine trees are beginning to thrive. Osprey are nesting along the shoreline. Gravel roads circle the shoreline of the landfills and run to their summit, offering extraordinary 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline to the Atlantic Ocean.” From The Regional Plan Association.
I recently got invited to photograph the awesome buildOn students at their fund-raising event in Williamsburg.
“buildOn’s afterschool youth service programs mobilize urban teens to lift up their communities and change the world through intensive local community service and by building schools in some of the poorest countries on the planet. We are a movement of students, educators and communities. We believe in the power of partnerships that passionately act for the common good. Through our afterschool programs, teens inspire people across neighborhoods, across cities, and across continents to reach and think beyond their realm of possibility.”
Friends at RockStar Games invited me to shoot the Red Hook Crit — a series of bike and running races at the Brooklyn Marine Terminal.
“The Red Hook Criterium is an unsanctioned race series consisting of world class road racers, track specialists, bike messengers, and urban athletes competing over multiple laps around a short, technical circuit. Fixed gear track bikes are mandatory requiring riders to possess both street tuned handling skills and high levels of fitness.” More here >
In Gerritsen Beach in southeastern Brooklyn, near Marine Park, people are experiencing intense post-Sandy hardship. The flood damage to the area was severe, and residents have no prospect of power being restored anytime soon; one resident heard that Gerritsen Beach would trail at least seven days behind lower Manhattan in powering up again.
Many households are almost out of gasoline, with no methods of cooking or heating available to them. In every home I visited, the ground floor was sodden and covered in sludge. A strong, muddy-chemical smell pervaded the damp air. (New York magazine has some excellent reporting from Gerritsen Beach.)
People in this part of the city feel forgotten and cut-off, that their prospects are grim. They are steeling themselves for the unknown number of cold, dark days and nights ahead of them. Thankfully, the Red Cross is on the scene, and you can donate or apply to volunteer here.
Hundreds waited for MTA subway-replacement buses while dispatchers tried to keep things moving in Downtown Brooklyn today. NYPD checked cars had at least three passengers before allowing them to cross the East River into Manhattan. Many were avoiding the severe congestion and huge queues by cycling. You can see the full set of images here.
In the early hours of Labor Day, well before the sun comes up the J’ouvert party gets underway. The pictures here are a selection from my shots of the ’07 and ’08 parties.
J’ouvert takes place around the world on islands which were once French colonies, continuing the long tradition of celebrating the emancipation from slavery in 1830s. Its a full-on street party with dancing, live music and sound systems — and should be respected. Don’t expect to be spared from the clouds of dust or sprays of paint. Cameras are sometimes un-welcome, but sometimes embraced.
This year’s Labor Day parade starts around 11am on Eastern Parkway. J’Ouvert usually starts sometime around 4am and the last two I attended ran along Flatbush avenue. I joined them in the Prospect Park section.
“Participants follow steel pan bands south on Flatbush Ave. to Empire Boulevard, east on Empire to Nostrand, then right on Nostrand to Linden Boulevard…The celebration is big on dancing and clouds of baby powder, which celebrants throw in the air and on each other along the route.” More >