Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fundamental freedoms

Celebrating a special birthday at a private party last night in New York. Photo: DPC.
June 20, 2018.  With Summer only one day away, it already feels like it. Yesterday was in the high 80s with a Real Feel in the 90s, bright and sunny but with not so much humidity as the day before.

Last week on this day, on a very warm evening in New York, The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy held their Sunset Garden Party at the park, honoring Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel who was the force behind the creation and completion of this beautiful new state park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island.
On the short walk to he Park, one passes the ruins of the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital. From 1856 until 1875, the hospital treated about 7,000 patients a year, before becoming a nurses’ dormitory. In 1975, the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared it, in its ruin, a city landmark. 
It can be reached by Subway (the F), Ferry or Tram. I took the Tramway over from 59th Street and Second Avenue which in itself is a sensational ride providing a glance of little old Mannahatta with a true birds-eye view. It’s a four- or five-minute ride, providing just enough time to see the astounding splendor of the center of the metropolis.

I got aboard about six o’clock as the Sun was beginning to set, and the roadways of the city were wall to wall vehicles creating ribbon-like streaks of automobile brake lights moving both south and north.

I’ve attended events at the Four Freedoms Park almost since they began a-building several years ago. I was first invited by Tobie (Mrs. Franklin D. Jr.) Roosevelt who has been involved since construction started. I hadn’t been there in more than a year, and was amazed to see the changes. Roosevelt Island, already populated by large apartment buildings, now possesses a beautiful, completed Cornell Tech campus environment, followed by a riverside path or winding roadway to the Park.
George J. Mitchell, Barbara Shattuck Kohn, and William vanden Heuvel
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and William vanden Heuvel.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, George J. Mitchell, and William vanden Heuvel.
In the time since I was last there the Four Freedoms Park has been completed and its greens and trees have matured into a retreat that really is a lovely escape from the heat of the city, cooled as it is by the (often strong) breezes off the East River.  The canyons of Manhattan across the water, or the blooming new towers in Queens, remind you of the privileges of this park.

The evening began at 5:30 with cocktails with music provided by Peter Duchin and his orchestra including his fabulous (my favorite) guitarist-vocalist Roberta Fabiano. There were introductory remarks by former Senator George J. Mitchell who reminded us that two of the most important things in one’s life are Self-Respect and Respect for others.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend introduced Ambassador vanden Heuvel whom she has known since she was a young girl and he worked for her father Senator Robert Kennedy.
Inspired by the “Four Freedoms” speech, which was technically President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union address, delivered on January 6, 1941, proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” should be able to enjoy.  They are:

1. Freedom of speech
2. Freedom of worship
3. Freedom from want
4. Freedom from fear
George J. Mitchell.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, George J. Mitchell, William vanden Heuvel, and Barbara Shattuck Kohn.
Patrick McMullan, who photographed the event, gets a shot of the entire group as well as the honorees at the end of the speeches.
Mr. Senator Mitchell’s  “Respect for others” is not in any way bipartisan although we are now living in an environment where that specific truth is often (loudly) ignored by many of us. Because so many – although not all – at the Sunset Garden party that night were of the Democratic (Party) persuasion (including this writer), an outsider could have had the impression that those who voted for the opposition were not welcome.

That of course is not true. This is a great public park and all of us are equally welcome to enjoy its natural peace, just as Mr. Roosevelt intended the “Four Freedoms” for All, even his opposition. You’ll find when you visit, a glorious respite, like a voyage on a great ship (of Freedom) in the middle of this glorious estuary called the East River.
Tobie Roosevelt, Bill Bernhard, and Edwina Sandys.
Olivia Hoge, Warren Hoge, and Penny Abeywardena.
Tobie Roosevelt, Bill Griffith, and Alison von Klemperer. Rita Fredricks Salzman and Janet Ross.
Mary Maudsley, William vanden Heuvel, Robin Vrba, and Randolph Braham.
Bryan Hoechner, William vanden Heuvel, Judy Hoechner, and Bruce Hoechner.
Dr. Jack Goodman, Matilda Cuomo, William vanden Heuvel, and Frederica Goodman.
Barbara Shattuck Kohn and Gene Kohn. Anastasia Vournas.
Scott and Melissa Hirsch
Bryan Hoechner and Melinda vanden Heuvel.
Charles Dubow, Isabella Dubow, Sydney Shuman, and Stan Shuman.
Pat Schoenfeld.
Peter Georgescu, Barbara Georgescu, Robert Bates, and Wendy Luers.
Alexander von Perfall, William vanden Heuvel, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Stephen Cohen, Melinda vanden Heuvel, Isabelle von Perfall, John vanden Heuvel, Felix von Perfall, Nicholas von Perfall, and Ashley von Perfall.
Last Thursday night, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) held its annual gala at Central Park Zoo. Themed We Stand for Wildlife, 500 guests celebrated the leadership of women in conservation and WCS’s impact on saving wildlife and wild places across the globe. During one of New York City’s premiere social events of the season, gala guests enjoyed a cocktail reception around the sea lion pool

Cristian Samper, President and CEO said: “As women across the professional world have pushed open doors to seize opportunities for leadership, women at WCS have led the world in wildlife conservation—whether in muddy boots, sandy flippers, or veterinary scrubs.
The trio welcoming the guests before entering the party.
Jessica Moody, Assistant Curator of Mammals at the Bronx Zoo, and Natalia Rossi, Manager of the WCS Cuba Program, spoke of the importance of mentoring and nurturing a new generation of women in conservation and the critical impact women have made in saving wildlife.

One of the powerful stories highlighted in the program focused on how WCS internships and volunteer opportunities can change lives by connecting children to science and conservation. One extraordinary young woman became homeless as she was entering high school. Despite living with her family in a shelter for the last four years, she participated in the Bronx Zoo STEM Career Program as she was fascinated by science and passionate about animals. In April, she learned that she has been admitted to Cornell University where she will be going to study veterinary science in the fall.
The cocktail reception is always held around the sea lions' pool. Many of us keep an eye out for the marine critters who can be quite active in the presence of guests.
The pool seemed quiet.
Then, aha, spotted emerging onto a rock under the yellow umbrella (you have to look closely for its color blends with the rock).
Guests moving to the tents for dinner.
Passing the drinks.
Our table with the first course.

Photographs by Patrick McMullan (Four Freedoms)

Contact DPC here.