In Our Backyard Documentary

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http://inourbackyard.nyc/
Iryna said: We need people who are teachers to share this.

There I was at the perfect intersection: attending this film at my church in Park Slope, teaching in a New York City High school, had taught for 7 years in East New York, and the girls they were talking about could have been my students. While I was teaching at the former George Gershwin Junior High School two girls were shot, one killed near the public track and they were undoubtably wrapped up in the sex trade.
I wrote a poem about the incident.

Two girls were shot, one killed,

Two weeks ago on Linden Boulevard.

The news might have said outside our school,

Although the spot was nearer to the park and athletic field.

I walked around the block the next day,

When I needed some air.

And I followed a trail of blood,

From the corner to the corner, around the block.

 

A little life was lost here,

A little blood.

A little rain washed it away.

The sidewalk was wet today.

 

I listened to the radio at home.

The market was down today.

A few more dollars gone.

I thought of things I might have done.

I thought of how I paid and paid,

Not to listen, not to think, not to think for myself.

 

My eyes got a little misty

A few tears washed the pain away

I thought of the rain

And a little life washed away

 

 

 

Danielle Rose’s documentary and the women, Iryna, Shandra, Ashley completely turned my mind around in a passionate and empowering expose about the sex trade in Brooklyn.

I have to say, apart from my sadness about the shootings of the two young women in East New York, I had never considered the suffering of the women who became the victims of the sex trade.

Every one is a story, a name, a person.  Everyone deserves the possibility of escape .

 

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Hand In Hand Mural: Phase Four, Results

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Hand In Hand Mural: Phase Four, Results

Hand In Hand Mural: Phase Four, Results

On 8/21, Hannah interviewed me about the mural project.  It was exciting to see the project take on yet another dimension.  In addition to being appreciated and discussed by church members and the community, especially the block residents, other people who may not even live in Brooklyn will learn about the mural and its message.

This was an opportunity for me see the mural’s power and the power of art in a new way.  Hannah has been inspired to document this project.  She is attracted to its beauty, its positive message, and its spiritual connection.  She meets Lourdes Zephier and is inspired to share her story as an audio project for her class.

How many more spiritual connections will the project make?  Already I see new friends in our congregation who have come to worship with us. What else is a possible result of this project?

Now Hannah’s article has been published on-line. See below Hannah’s article in Brooklyn Ink.

Behind the Hands: The Making of a Mural

Hand in Hand Mural Project: Phase Three, Installation and Completion!

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Hand in Hand Mural Project: Phase Three, Installation and Completion!

What happens when you set out to create a loving and inclusive work of art?

A great deal. People meet in a church basement, sharing snacks. People write their ideas on post its and others read them. People talk about the differences between words that are nouns, like “forgiveness” and words that are verbs, like “forgiving”. People discover shapes and symbols and reflect on their meaning. People talk about how colors make them feel and what their neighbors might think about colors being too bright or dark.

Kathy Hand in Hand draft

Kathy Creutzburg, the artist/ designer  of the Hand in Hand  mural  took in all of this communication and convergence of ideas and interest in art and created a beautiful watercolor draft of the mural.

It all finally came together when we met to install the mural.

 

I was a little nervous.  Would we have the volunteers that we needed?  Was the heat going to crush us?

Then I met Ethan Sanchez, our intern, and Kathy Creutzburg at 10AM.

We got set up that first day and Janice Brown arrived, a good friend who’s just returned to Brooklyn and is an artist activist.  We met Lourdes Zephier and her family the first day, by accident or miracle, depends what you want to call it. Kathy, our artist guide, Ethan, our intern, Janice and Lourdes became the creative, dedicated working force that would see this project through to completion.

As Kathy described the process to us, we would begin by installing the mosaic portion of the mural. After locating space in the church for storing materials and tools for the mural process, we started by cementing the tiles to the wall that became the trunk of “tree of life” symbol overshadowing about half of the wall. That first week was just about laying in this “trunk and branches” portion. We created the leaves in a workshop including church members, Sunday dinner guests, Lourdes, Brooklyn, Derek and Janice.

Lourdes is a total delight and her kids are among the sweetest I’ve ever met.  I will never forget the sight of Brooklyn, age 7, totally absorbed by arranging and sorting tiles of different colors and shapes on the white table top. It was enchanting.

So much creativity and wonder has become part of the project. As Janice’s video documents, community members became part of the project as it grew from the mosaic, into a primed wall, into the sketching, and finally the painting of the mural.  Every time I visited the artists, people gathered to talk about the mural, children asked us questions, mothers and young people and block residents expressed their interest and appreciation. Special thanks go to Renee Mason and Jonathan Lewis for their support and spirit.

Meanwhile, Georga Accola, co-sponsor of the project, was off on a long planned vacation in Europe, and I had a tooth extracted and proceeded to hit the road, for a long awaited Road Trip with a friend in California.

It was the power of artists Kathy Creutzburg, Janice Long and Lourdes Zephier that made this work a reality! Thank you!!!

Today, 8/21, Hannah Long-Higgins interviewed me about the mural project.

It was exciting to see the project take on yet another dimension.  In addition to being appreciated and discussed by church members and the community, especially the block residents, other people who may not even live in Brooklyn will learn about the mural and its message.

This was an opportunity for me see the mural’s power and the power of art in a new way.  Hannah Long-Higgins has been inspired to document this project.  She is attracted to its beauty, its positive message, and its spiritual connection.  She meets Lourdes Zephier and is inspired to share her story as an audio project for her class.

How many more spiritual connections will the project make?  Already I see new friends in our congregation who have come to worship with us. What else is a possible result of this project?

 

 

 

 

Road Trip

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Road Trip

SF Ojaiballet school buddiesDiane and Sarah

“Dewdrop, having reconnected with you means more than you know. Somehow, I am more Whole”.
These words echo in my soul as I read them again. These feelings of friendship, returning after so many years, are like rediscovering my self.
This is the story of two high school friends who lost each other for 35 years through time and 3,000 miles of space. Ballet school buddies who called each other Dewdrop and Buttercup. Two friends who found each other through a newspaper ad for a garage sale. Two friends who agreed to meet in a beloved place, for an adventure. A road trip.

On the plane I was nervous.  Planning for the trip had been both an escape and a reality check from the anxiety of job hunting.
Job hunting in Brooklyn. The heat makes the city more intense and the city is already intense. Thank god for Coney Island. After a couple of hours at the beach, I get my mojo back. Preparing for the trip (and my job search) with a new look: new hair, new glasses, new make up, manicure and new clothes, has given me more confidence.
Everywhere this summer I’ve told friends about this trip, and they got excited about the idea.
One friend said “Wow, that’s really risky.” I’m not sure what she was referring to exactly. But I think it was the possibility that we might disagree on the temperature of the A/C in the hotel room or politically. Now I venture to say most of us , even knowing the difference between friendship and politics, have gotten into some disagreement over hot button issues such as gun violence and reproductive rights on social media. Still, I remain confident that two people can stay friends and agree to disagree. I determined that my goal was to listen, try to understand other viewpoints and state mine.

So I guess I wasn’t surprised to hear my friend say “I hope this doesn’t ruin our friendship, but…”
If 35 years and 3,000 miles hadn’t ruined our friendship, I did have some confidence that we could get along.

I had picked up a gift for the two of us. Feeling discouraged about my job search, I had stumbled on the words “Lean not on thine own understanding” . These turn out to be from Proverbs 3, a biblical chapter that contains a central image of the feminine divine, the tree of wisdom. I shared this over the phone with B. Then at the farmer’s market in Bellingham Washington I found a necklace with the tree on a pendant . I got two of these, so we could each have one. A gift of wisdom.

Turns out B. was thinking about a gift, too.  In addition to planning our Road Trip itinerary, she had gotten us passes to the Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park.  OMG OMG . A music Festival Golden Gate Park! Thank you, B!!!!!!


 

 

Subway Poem Five F train

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Labradoodle with a prancing step

kids , mixed up blond and nappy and brown

reciting Japanese cat names

Yoshi, Miko, Satsuma

Black haired cutie gives up a seat

Bus crowd rolling park side

 

Open bag

warm humidity rising

yes, the travel mug has opened

notebook cover splashed with coffee

 

 

Love enfolds us

 

city vista plain grey

down to the buttermilk channel

over the BQE

Gowanus reflecting graffitti

Gowanus

Subway Poem Four R Train

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Subway Poem Four R Train
  1. trot down stairs. train standing still doors open

huh?

  1. doors close train rolls away

oh crap

  1. Loud speaker: “Brooklyn and Manhattan trains delayed because of an investigation at Court St. Brooklyn bound R trains are running to Dekalb Ave’
  2. Double crap
  3. stairs up into the spring evening

light on the buildings

no traffic crossing Flatbush Ave.

  1. Metro card says ‘go’. Skip down aluminum stairs. ‘B’ train in the station! All aboard.
  2. Doors close. A seat. loud Arabic music until a violin drowns it out

Hand in Hand Mural Project Phase Two

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Hand in Hand Mural Project Phase Two

Kathy collage

Hand in Hand Mural Project

 

Design by Kathy Creutzburg

Your suggestions and feedback are welcomed and invited as we proceed with the mural project.

The Hand in Hand mural project will hold a meeting Weds July 6th at 6:00 PM in the sanctuary. PSUMC 6th Ave and 8th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215

 

We will be discussing the next phases of the project including developing and finalizing the design for the mural,  a timeline for installation and outreach to engage folks interested in drawing, painting and doing the hands-on work of the project over the summer.

What are your responses to the questions:

  1. What do you love about our church?
  2. What do you want to say to our friends and neighbors who are interested in our church?

 

Love, Sarah

 

 

 

Subway Three F train

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A certain whiteness of summer in the florescent light

a silent buzzing in between the ears

A tall , dark gentlemen offers me a seat

silent praises, thanks

 

Time is tangible

brightness of 15 minutes early

sadness, fatigue behind heavy eyes

 

smells of morning showers, soapy product sprays

probing, surveying for insight

touching sadness in the sunlight

swampy, soggy

 

last night at the kitchen table

we spoke into each others eyes

the tides of our losses

pushing us together

dolphin pod

Subway two Q train

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WIN_20140926_222827Cold legs   cold spring

This May begs a warm lilac scarf

a bowtie and suspenders

 

Sit! sit! no, you sit

friends in camel coats and false eyelashes

flashing golden light over my shoulder

Morning in Brooklyn, moving by

pretty legs, sleepy eyes phones

no newspapers

 

roller curls very much the girl

roll along the car shakes and shudders

rolling the town underground

 

Read the rest of this entry

Subway One F train

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WIN_20160430_122314Oh sunlight on my hand and cheek as I write.

Oh sweet air that immerses the Brooklyn lane

in Dogwood blooms and iris emerging

 

Oh woody winged seeds covering flagstones, beds, pots and weedy grass

eagerly driving into earth act of love

 

Oh plodding thoughts   herds of clouds

transmuting into royal pleasures blue awakenings

Silent music, peaceful riot tender sensation

whispered kiss