Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

I don’t care about clearing my sidewalks of snow

In Community, Direct Action, Social Media on February 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

Editor’s Note: This site is about creating a community wide photojournalism experiment to share pictures of mostly businesses who never clear their sidewalks of snow.  It’s also about using free social media platforms as a means for public activism and communications.


“Generally, I don’t care if your kids walk in the street to school in heavy traffic, that someone in a wheel chair can’t get around, or that you as an able bodied adult has a hard time getting from point A to point B. Oh, and if you just happen to like being able to walk on cleared sidewalks in the winter for exercise, the esthetically beautiful nature of it, or being able to commute walking to work and back……… ha, too bad!! lol

Oh what, it’s the law?? What are you going to do, tell me to clear my sidewalks……… or what? You’re going to tell me again!?!?!” lol”

From the Organizer Rick Destito: This site is about the people in this city having a place to come together and share pictures of businesses or other people or groups in the city who almost never clear their sidewalks of snow.  The goal: Is to get everyone and every business in the city to clear snow from their sidewalks helping to create a more walkable city for everyone, 365 days per year!

Think of this group site as community wide photojournalism experiment for all of us who care about each other in the City of Syracuse, our kids, our elderly, and those of us who really do just love being able to live in walkable communities!!  Anyone can join.

Post pics with locations of businesses, people, or groups who never seem to clears their sidewalks, snowbanks plowed directly into sidewalks, pics of just after you clearing snow from your sidewalk only to have a city plow go by and fill your sidewalk right back up with snow like you never did it! Pics of kids having to walk in the road to school or up to their knees on a snowy sidewalk and or other dangerous situations.

This is from City of Syracuse website on Sidewalk Maintenance:

“During winter months, please remember that your sidewalks must be kept clear of snow and ice. By ordinance, anyone with a sidewalk parallel to any public street, shall clear and keep cleared any snow or ice which has accumulated on the surface. This clearing of the snow and ice shall be completed by 6 p.m. of the day following the accumulation. No person shall shovel, sweep, throw, plow, or otherwise deposit snow or ice into the street, sidewalk, or park located within the city.”

In the end, the main point of this community photo journal is that we could talk all day, but a picture is worth a thousand words and can’t be argued with.  So, I’m not sure where this site will go, but I’m sure things may change, and always, always, keep it to the goal at hand, not just mindless ranting, we don’t have time for that!”


“In These Times: Creating a Beloved Community as a Radical Act” — Teach In to Act Out — 29 January 2015 — Margo Okazawa-Rey, Elihu Root Peace Fund Chair in Women’s Studies, Hamilton College

In Community, Corporations, Education on February 1, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Editor’s Note:  Indy Media CNY attended the Teach In to Act Out (a 2-day conference on the history of student movements, intersectional organizing, university corporatization, resistance skill-building, and art & activism) organized by The General Body, an activist group coalition of students, faculty, and staff at Syracuse University.  We have obtained the full text of the Keynote presentation from Margo Okazawa-Rey and present it here for our readers.

“Greetings! Much appreciation goes to everyone who made “Teach In to Act Out” possible, especially Mary Rose who held my hand to get me here.

And thanks to all the comrades in the struggle who are here; I am honored to be among you!

I want to remember and honor two who left us recently. One most of you know or have heard of Leslie Feinberg, the transgender warrior who made us understand, among other things, the inextricable links between gender classifications and identities and global capitalist processes and the deeply loved spouse of our sister friend Minnie Bruce Pratt.

The other feminist most of you will not know or even have heard of Maha Abu-Dayyeh, the Palestinian activist and director of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, one of the most influential leaders of the modern Palestinian women’s movement, and one of my dearest friends and teachers. It was through her and our work together at WCLAC that I developed many of the ideas I will be sharing with you today.

As I was thinking about what to say today, Dickens’s lines from The Tale of Two Cities came to

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times;

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness;

it was the epoch of belief, it was the winter of despair;

We have ample evidence of all these polarities:

The 1% of the world owns nearly half the world’s wealth AND the 80% of the world’s peoples are living on less than $10 a day

There are advances in medicine and technology; there’s creativity and beauty in the arts and music and performance AND wars, massacres, and horrific violence of all forms as we have been witnessing.

We also see possibilities, as many people, from various walks of life, organize for justice, equity, and a truly secure and sustainable world. This weekend’s gathering is a very good example of that. As are the nationwide organizing around policy brutality; worldwide organizing against violence again women; BDS movement to help end Israeli occupation of Palestine; the years long fight against installation of new US military bases in Okinawa and Korea; the struggle for rights of domestic workers in New York and LA, to name a few.

At the same time, the future looks unrelentingly bleak.

This country, the US, one of the richest and the most militarily powerful, is in deep trouble and is the source of deeper troubles worldwide. All of us in this room know the signs.  One of the most destructive, I believe, is fear combined with hyper individualism, so embedded in this society. Many, even some of the most conscious and privileged folks among us, are afraid and motivated by fear. This has led to accepting the prevailing message, for example, that aggression leads to peace and that closing borders provides security. A kind of collective and individual self-absorption has gripped this nation.

Audre Lorde said, “we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.”

Cornel West says, “We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than we found it.”

But it’s not easy. Leaving the world a better place demands courage. West says, “In many instances, we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.”

I am firmly convinced that we—those who care, those who struggle for a just peace—should give the last word to LOVE, understanding that its most generative expression is the struggle for justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has told us, justice is what love looks like in practice. As activists struggling for social and ecological justice, we must love as we DO: love the work, love the ideas and values that frame the work, and above all love the people we work with and humanity itself.

To do so, we must ourselves develop our own humanity because, in one way or another, we are indigenes of the neo-liberal, neo-colonial project that reproduces and adapts itself to try to ensure we will always be looking in the wrong direction—anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti this and that—rather than imagining truly radical alternative—and acting against our own interests—blame the next “Other,” among other things. But how do we grow?

In mainstream US culture, we are expected to grow by separating and individuating ourselves from others; that is how we are supposed to become mature. Along the way, we proclaim our uniqueness, difference, and exceptionality. And we are rewarded. By standing out, people may see us as leaders, as more intelligent and competent that others and so on. It’s an extension of the pervasive American exceptionalism. Many of us believe, deep inside, that we can do things better singularly than collectively, even as we gather in groups like this. When push comes to shove, we still place a lot of faith in individual charismatic leaders. In a sense, identity politics may be a collective example of this growth through separation and individuation as well.

As a kind of corrective, feminist psychologist Jean Baker Miller and her colleagues, developed a theory of human development suggesting that, in fact, growth and development happen through relational connection with and to others. They call this growth-in-connection.

Growing in this way as adults though requires different kinds of engagements in groups—whether we are talking about activist spaces, organizations, or universities. It means, using Joyce Fletcher’s term, a relational practice that centers caring, being involved in the nitty-gritties of organizing, seeking consensus, paying attention to others’ emotional needs and states, and addressing the contradiction that results from the structural inequalities (and hierarchies whether we acknowledge it or not) embedded in most kinds of group engagements. This kind of relational growth helps us to love deeper, more fully, and in Thich Nhat Han’s words, with great equanimity.

These ideas about growth answer a question that often emerges in conversations about how change happens: what has to happen first, individual change or change outside of individuals. “We have to change first before we can do the work.” This is what I have most often heard. But they are inextricably linked.

We must go even further because love and loving are not simply an individual act or stance. I want us to create Beloved Communities as we engage in the struggles. Because, as Dr. King said, “end [of struggle] is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding-goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in [our] hearts.”

We can do this. As the late poet June Jordan wrote in her poem for South African women struggling against the apartheid regime,

“We are the ones we have been waiting for!”

The following were added after the conference. One was inspired by Minnie Bruce Pratt, my teacher and friend, and other was posted on my FB homepage.

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. Perhaps it is one of the great dramas of the leader that he or she must combine a passionate spirit with a cold intelligence and make painful decisions without flinching. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealize this love of the people, of the most sacred causes, and make it one and indivisible. They cannot descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the level where ordinary people put their love into practice….(O)ne must have a great deal of humanity and a strong sense of justice and truth in order not to fall into extreme dogmatism and cold scholasticism, into isolation from the masses. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.

From adbusters: Today (31 January) we remember Howard Zinn, who left us 5 years ago.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Reforming the Energy Vision Teach-in and Community Forum

In Community, Energy, Video Documentation on January 24, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Syracuse, NY.  Teach-in and community forum that explains what REV is (Reforming the Energy Vision), how the reform affects rate-payers, especially low-income residents, and how to engage community in the process to transition Central New York to a clean energy economy and renewable, stable, utility system.  For more information about Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) please visit:  Click the picture below to link to the video documentation of the event.

Capture REV Teach In

What Next?  Attend a REV Public Hearing!  Thanks to the advocacy of the Energy Democracy Working Group, the PSC (Public Service Commission) has announced it will hold a series of public hearings on REV.

6pm, The Oncenter

3:00pm and 6:00pm, Buffalo Central Library

3:00pm and 6:00pm, Borough of Manhattan Community College

6:00pm, Council Chambers

6:00pm, State University of New York at Albany

View all the details about the hearings here.

Click the link below to download a worksheet to help you develop your testimony for any of the hearings listed above.

Testimony worksheet

West Side Walks Begins a New Season of Grassroots Sidewalk Snow Removal

In Community, Direct Action on December 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

As Winter returns to Syracuse, conversation once again turns to the long negligent planning for snow removal from sidewalks (and what will likely be an ever increasing issue with bike paths as well).  A recent Common Council proposal was voted down by 7 of 9 councilors that would have fined property owners $50 for not clearing the sidewalk of snow along “primary removal routes”.

Some folks have taken the role of sidewalk shoveling maven into their own hands, as the Westside Walks program of sidewalk snow removal began again this past Saturday. Volunteers with the Westside Residents Coalition (WRC) set out to clear Grace Street, from Delaware Street to Congress Avenue (the chosen route was due to the three bus stop locations along this two-block length of city street).

Six volunteers (including disabled, with baby in tow, and nearing senior age) took 90 minutes to accomplish the task.  It was a great show of community support, but it won’t accomplish a permanent and wide scale solution to the sidewalk safety problem we experience during Winter months in CNY.

Options seem fairly numerous, from sidewalk heating and sidewalk plowing with mini-plows, to youth job programs.  There could even be a hierarchical approach with levels of engagement – imagine bike lane and sidewalk mechanized plows for major arteries, contracted small business brigades with push snow blowers for secondary arteries, and youth brigades going out with shovels to individual need spots on lesser trafficked streets, with service for the elderly and disabled.

The budget will likely be the last hurdle for any of these ideas, too bad sidewalk snow removal wasn’t included in the recent Syracuse Billion proposal.  So we must continue to hope that the safety of our pedestrians, the quality of our streetscapes and neighborhoods, and the ability to leverage our city’s wonderful reputation as a northern winter wonderland (or at least the potential for that in light of our record as a northern winter snowfall capital) will receive the attention it deserves very very soon.

Until then, go slow, and consider coming out for some urban cross-training with the West Side Walks crew every Saturday.


Cruz pausing for my camera phone, recognizes the importance of safe and walk-able streets as he looks forward to being a local business owner some day.


Robert came in from outside the city to work off some Thanksgiving calories via community service.


Cameraman selfie, in between shoveling, chatting, and breaking up ice.


Unfortunately, plastic shovels, even with metal tipped edges, are not always a match for driveway portions of the sidewalk that are crushed down by vehicles and can become a sheet of ice that would easily force someone into the street. Timely snow removal could help prevent this from happening.


A not-so-friendly stretch of sidewalk in the target area that has basically become an icy sheet due to pedestrian traffic over the snow.


The CENTRO bus stop at the corner of Grace and Delaware overlooks footprints in the snow of people who come in and off the roadway instead of walking on the icy sidewalk.


More good work of the Westside Residents Coalition in the neighborhood. Syringe litter is a problem of concern here as it is in many parts of the city, but concerned and caring citizens are confronting it directly.


Karaline, Susan, and Gary work on the final stretch together before the whole crew heads inside for a community lunch of turkey casserole and vegetarian sweet potato and black bean chili at Brown Memorial on South Geddes St.

Find out more at

Report Back: Alternatives to Exploitation and War

In Community, Corporations, International on October 2, 2014 at 10:27 am

Join the Central New York Cajibio Sister Community, a project of the CNY Chapter of the Colombian Support Network, as they report back on their 2014 trip to Colombia (celebrating 10 years of the sister-city relationship and the 6th delegation to visit Cajibio from CNY).

Speakers include: Jessica Maxwell, 3 time Delegate, who will introduce the community relationship history; Frank Cetera, 2014 delegate and Permaculture Activist, who will speak about the solidarity economy; Emily Bishop, 2014 delegate and Youth Climate Activist, who will speak about resource extraction and environmental impacts.

The Sister Community will also premiere a short documentary about struggles of families who have lost loved ones due to paramilitary violence in the Cauca region of Colombia, produced by 2014 Delegate and Film Maker Caroline Podraza.

Free to the Public

– See more at: or social RSVP at

12th Annual Westcott Bulb Give Away, Saturday October 4th, 10 AM – 2 PM Westcott Community Center

In Community on September 18, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Working with 45 individuals and community organizations 14,400 bulbs will be planted in the city of Syracuse in 2014 bringing our total to142,000 since we started in 2003. The goals of the project are neighborhood beautification and community building. Initially focused only in the Westcott neighborhood the project went city wide in 2010.

Westcott Neighborhood Bulb Give Away Day – Help Beautify the Westcott neighborhood.

3,600 spring blooming, perennial daffodil bulbs will be set aside for the first 300 people who show up from the Westcott neighborhood. Other activities open to all from the city.

Any resident of the Westcott neighborhood can pick up a free packet of 12 daffodil bulbs with planting instructions and compost as long as you are willing to plant the bulbs where they can be seen from the street for all to enjoy. Compost donated by Toad Hollow Farms. Please bring your own container.


10:00 am – Bulb Give Away starts – vendors, food, neighborhood organizations, raffle prizes, pumpkins donated by Syracuse Real food Co-op, worm composting exhibit and Master Gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension will be available to answer gardening and compost questions.

11:00 am – Film Showing hosted by Alchemical Nursery – The Permaculture Orchard: Beyond Organic An educational film that will teach you how to set up your own permaculture orchard at any scale. We present a holistic, regenerative approach to fruit growing based on permaculture principles and 20 years of applied theory and trial and error. The concepts, techniques and tips presented in this film will help you with your own project, whether it is just a few fruit trees in your urban backyard, or a full-scale multi-acre commercial orchard. 115 minutes – Q & A will follow

2:00 pm – Bulb Give Away ends

If for some reason you can’t make the Bulb Give Away that day feel free to send a friend to pick up your bulbs.

For more information visit our Facebook page:, visit our web site or contact