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What To Do When There’s Light

November 20, 2012 by Carley

So we live in a residence hall at NYU, and I suppose there is a lot to say about THAT (but I’ll save that for a whole other blog post).  For now (as a placeholder I guess) I will say that yes, every night I am the oldest person falling asleep in the building.  The oldest, yep, that’s me, and with the exception of Matt we’re talking about a lot of years.  I am a lady, so I won’t say how many.  Also, I don’t like to embarrass our residents.  Anyway, one of the best things about living in a residence hall and being a Faculty Fellow is that you have a whole bunch of able-bodied, excited, and fun young people around who are eager to work on projects that you dream up.

Since our residence hall, Goddard, was one of the few buildings in all of lower Manhattan to have power during Hurricane Sandy (thanks NYU generator!), we had a lot of time and light in which to brood on the effects of climate silence and our own very lucky position.  Lower Manhattan was a strange place that week.  Many of us wandered around the empty streets and tried to scheme our way into Brooklyn or midtown for food and wine.  My friend Zach Michaels’ wrote a nice little essay about it, if you’re curious. Anyway, by the end of the week we were all stir-crazy, and ready to do something.  Our friend and chef, Scott Bridi, the man behind Brooklyn Cured started to cook for folks out in Red Hook.  I heard from poet friends on Facebook who were driving supplies to the Rockaways and Staten Island with their last bit of gas.  And then it seemed like it was our turn.  Our residents went down with us to the Lower East Side to work with the Center Against Anti-Asian Violence to distribute water, food, and batteries to the elderly who couldn’t get down the stairs in their building.  In the week after, our residents and our neighbors in other residence halls donated seven giant boxes of supplies to take to one of the Occupy Sandy drop-off sites.  And this last weekend, a big group of Goddardites went with Matt to the Rockaways to help clean up.  Anyway, I share this because we’ve done a little and there is still so much work to be do and a lot more need for volunteers and donations (see links throughout).  Also, I’m proud of our residents and I promised I would blog about them.

Here’s what Matt had to say about the day in the Rockaways, “We didn’t know what to expect, but Bridget O’Connor, our Residence Hall Resource Manager, who lives in Rockaway and whose home had been hit hard by the storm, led us to where she knew we’d be useful.  She dropped us off at the makeshift headquarters of Team Rubicon, which is dispatching crews of volunteers to individual homeowners who have requested help.  Our group–16 Goddard residents and myself, plus a couple that joined us–spent the day at the home of a man who had already moved out his family and precious possessions.  He asked us to remove everything in the house, including all his family’s furniture and things, but also floors, tile, baseboards, sheetrock–everything that had been destroyed by the flooding.  We took everything to the street, where construction equipment scooped it up and brought it in endless loads to the enormous dumpster at the end of the block (which would itself later be carted to the enormous pile of debris near Jacob Riis Park).  In 4 or 5 hours, we were able to empty the house and do some demolition, though we could only make a dent in the waterlogged basement and the piles of ruined items that filled it.  Our team was amazing–they worked like crazy and barely took a break for granola bars and water.  They kept their spirits up despite the heaviness of the situation.  How many other houses in the area need a whole crew to do a whole day’s work?  It’s a big mess, and a big job that may take a long time to get done.”

And for those of you looking to donate or volunteer, here are the links again to places we’ve worked with who are doing amazing things:

Occupy Sandy

Team Rubicon

YA for New Jersey (this is new and a cool way for book lovers to help out in New Jersey)


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