Reflections on service learning, work, play, peace, war, and March snowstorms.

Photo by Outi Popp  Ten years ago we screamed against the war. They laughed. People said we didn’t know what we were doing. We were arrested. Detained. And history has now prooven us right. Keep on screaming people.   As my friend Outi points out: 10 years ago we were marching against Iraq war but we were ridiculed. Still hoping 2 c Bush, Cheney, Blair in Haig and still marching and biking for peace! Pic: Piece of Berlin Wall @Battery Park City. Time’s Up & Peace Museum Peace Ride.



Thanks so much for organizing the amazing outing gang.

I wrote a long post on the trip, as well as my weekend speaking at the Museum of the City of New York about community organizing, our peace ride, war, peace, riots and March snowstorms.

I’d love your comments.

11 thoughts on “Reflections on service learning, work, play, peace, war, and March snowstorms.

  1. Ben – thanks for being our first-post-er! It seems that you had quite week — looking forward to reading about it, and hearing your thoughts on our trip to Sheepshead Bay.

  2. Thanks Jonas!!! Well, all new york is a living lab…
    question is is a march snowstorm part of climate chaos or just part of the usual?
    i can’ t remember another one. can you?

    • I remember the snowstorm in April. It was year 2000, it was weird beyond believe and the only reason I remember is because it was our first year here in the US, we did not have a car (of course) and I had to walk long distance to work, rain or shine!

  3. Hi all,
    The trip brought visual awareness about the neighborhood and the aftermath, but more than that, it showed me the strength of the people living there. They all seemed ready to make it work and their commitment and positive outlook amazed me. Had it been in academia, the likelihood is: we’d complain a lot more and take a lot longer to fix things. So I take from this trip the power of resolve and the truism that people together can make a difference.
    Assignments that tackle real life problems where studetns need to come up with some form of solution or to partake in it, may provide opportunities for critical thinking, problem solving, data use and gathering, data interpretation as well as information compilation. Finally, people skills is something we don’t get to learn in the classroom as much, but projects such as this one allow for that. The ladies who were our guides had great pioneering sprits. They inspired me. Lubie

  4. Ben, Thank you also for recognizing the anniversary of the Iraq war.. There is a documentary “World according to Cheney” advertized in “The New Yorker” – I am not sure what channel (Showtime??..) Something tells me you would like it.

  5. Ben,

    You capture the essential issues and plight of the residents we spoke to you with a vivid atmospheric writing. You are raising the bar for all of us. I will try to post some more pictures of the courts. Definitely a dangerous situation to be 3 feet BELOW the normal street level, let alone without significant stoops to raise up the floor level. These homeowners need support to raise their homes or some opportunity to live in safer conditions in the neighborhood.


  6. Thanks a ton for your kind words Karen… Really.
    I do hope we can stay in touch about the community survey
    so we can all follow this issue prevent others from getting
    lost the next time around.

  7. I was impressed by our visit to Sheepshead Bay. As Jason mentions taking the time out of the daily rush to see and meet people who experienced the devastation of Sandy first hand is unlikely, if not impossible, for many of us to do. As someone who lives in Harlem I would never have had a chance to see the aftermath of this tragedy first-hand. It strikes me that this is precisely the benefit of service learning, it takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to an experience.

    The woman who was my team’s tour guide (I believe here name is Philomena) was kind enough to show us her home. She lived in a small apartment, of a two-story building that she owned. As a retired, single woman her tenant in the first floor apartment was her source of income. The storm had devastated the apartment on the first floor. FEMA had given her $7000 but the cost of repairing the damage done by the storm was around $34,000. Philomena has not choice but to sell her home. When I asked her where she would go, she said she did not know. This will be a memory that will stay with me. It’s shocking how devastating the storm was and how many people (especially elderly) are left to pick up the pieces on their own.

    • Although I was feeling ill and had to leave early, I was also impressed with Philomena. As we were walking to her street to begin canvassing, she and I chatted a bit (while I was filling out a survey for her). She was prepared for the storm, and she is prepared if another should come along, but she made me realize that batteries and flashlights will only go so far in the face of this type of disaster. Listening to Philomena tell her story drove home the idea that individuals cannot survive such an event in isolation, no matter how well prepared. In the aftermath of a trauma such as this one, it becomes clear that community networks, infrastructure support, and a sense of interpersonal responsibility are absolutely necessary. Existence is contingent, no matter how much we want to imagine that we are fully in control of our own survival. If this project is able to build on and grow these existing network structures, I am confident that it can make a real difference for the community.

  8. Unfortunately, I did not participate in this worthy event.. But, I live in Staten Island and I experienced the effects of Sandy and Irene the year before firsthand. We actually had to evacuate during Irene and returned home two days later. It was almost undamaged, thankfully.. Not so after Sandy, when the entire neighborhood was badly flooded and still looks deserted. We don’t live there anymore, having moved in 2011, and I hope that the new owners did not suffer too much damage and received help. The whole block on Foxbeach Ave and Kissam Ave across the street from my old house, was devastated and majority of people decided to move out for good and have their damaged homes demolished eventually. This is described here:
    Saddest of all, there was a group home for men with developmental disabilities, about ten of them lived there, and they all had to be relocated after being saved from the flood. Their home was permanently damaged.. There were two homes like this on SI.
    We only lost power for 6 days in our new home. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, compared to what the other people experienced, but imagine spending 6 days and nights with no electricity and heat, with two restless kids, and no information…
    Anyway, we were all affected in many different ways.. My friend who does neurobio research at our IBR facilities in Staten Island, lost almost all of his precious ‘autistic’ mouse brains when the freezers thawed without power. My husband’s project in lower Manhattan was thrown back at least a year due to severe flooding and loss of all underground electrical equipment (new PATH station)..
    Almost 6 months after Sandy, Staten Island is still suffering, many people still are not in their homes, and may not be again, the beautiful parks and boardwalk along the South Shore are still closed and parking lots are used for the debris. So, even though I missed the event in Brooklyn, I know what the experience is like, because I see it in our Staten Island.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *