Forward Thinking

Featured image
Conversing in Central Park. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020. A bright, fair, sunny day, yesterday in New York with temps in the high 60s and very chilly, often strong breezes off the river.

A lone sailboat moving upriver toward the Sound.

The City. There were more restaurants with their doors open for take-out, or with their doors closed but the lights on looking like they were getting read to open very soon.  Although it’s still very quiet “in this neck of the woods,” as I used to hear them say back when I was a kid. Now I get it. We’re all living in the woods these days. The garage in my building holds 180 cars, all residents in the area. Since this past March there have been no more than 45 cars in residence. Everybody else has left town. You can see it after dark as so many windows in the towers around us are dark.

Architectural Manhattan looking south from East End Avenue and 81st to 72nd Street along the river.

Dark Towers. My friend Tobie Roosevelt sent me this photo yesterday afternoon of the fire on the top of her building — the Manhattan House on East 66th between Second and Third. This happened in the mid-afternoon. I know nothing more about it.

Flames atop the Manhattan House.

Coincidentally, yesterday morning the web site Ephemeral New York sent out an interesting piece on the history of the building, the first white brick building in New York, built in 1951. There were more than 30 built afterwards. This one is considered the crème de la crème of its kind. It takes up the entire south side of the block between Second and Third. It’s been home to many well known New Yorkers down through the years, and continues to be a very desirable residence as well as a very convenient location.

Around the town, or specifically the Upper East Side, coincidentally JH and I both, at different times and different corners, got a shot of these enterprising women who are feeding their families with their labors. This is a hard job, kids. And inconvenient. And not exactly well-paying. But it can be done and these (mainly) women here in New York are doing it and have been doing it for several years. And it’s become a small labor industry. They are the Working Poor. I use that term with great respect, for therein lay our saving grace. I took this photo because the young woman who was (literally) moving it by herself, had stopped for a moment. JH noticed her from the opposite direction.

What amazes me is how in these past few years, maybe ten, these “collectors” have gone from filling shopping bags or carts to filling shopping carts six times over (on one cart) and then delivering it! I know — although they may not know at this point in their young lives — that they will only prosper in life because they know how to work for themselves. And also they’re recycling “for a better world.”

In Another Part Of the Forest, speaking of women who are moving things along, I got this message yesterday morning from Allison Rockefeller about the annual Audubon Women in Conservation Luncheon where a woman is awarded the annual Rachel Carson Award. As it is with many organizations in New York right now, this year’s luncheon was canceled. Allison chairs this luncheon and I think she chairs the New York chapter because I know she is fully into working on projects of conservation. This is all forward thinking that requires action.

This was Allison’s message to me:

Allison Rockefeller and Erin Crotty (Executive Director, Audubon New York) when Allison was the honoree, 2013.

“Dorceta E. Taylor and Sigourney Weaver are only two of the 65 women who have received Audubon’s Rachel Carson Award at our annual Women in Conservation (WIC) Luncheon in New York City since 2003. Like them, many who have accepted this award have spoken of Rachel Carson’s heroic activism as a catalyst for their own conservation journeys—Rachel paved the way for each of them, and each of us.

Although each has trod the epic trail Rachel Carson first forged in 1960, the journey of every WIC honoree is unique. These women have warned us of the dangers of climate change, advocated for equity and justice in the environmental movement, created beautiful and accessible parks across the globe, led environmental institutions in the pursuit of sound policy guided by science, taken full responsibility for global corporate sustainability, and sent essential messages of the environmental movement to the many.

They are our leaders, our teachers, our mentors, and our advocates, and we are indebted to them for their decades of service to us and to the Earth.

Never in our lifetime have we had to reexamine and reconsider ourselves as we have in these past weeks of pandemic and social distancing: discovering that the people of the Earth depend on a “single ecosystem”—where interdependence and vast connection has never been so clear, when a single pathogen that we cannot even see has brought great nations to a breathtaking full stop.

Current realities have kept us from gathering in person today as we had planned to celebrate yet another outstanding group of conservationists. This is the first time since the creation of the Rachel Carson Award in 2003 that we will not have gathered. Nonetheless, we thought you might appreciate a few of the most inspiring moments from past years of Women in Conservation Luncheons—and hearing from our fierce and fearless honorees.”

Allison included two quotes of recipients of the Rachel Carson Award:

Dorceta Taylor, 2018 recipient: “With Rachel, what I saw was here was somebody with a voice. …She wasn’t afraid to be different, to think differently. And so I thought, I can do that, too, and it has served me so tremendously in my career.”

Sigourney Weaver, 2011 honoree: “Ever since I learned about this award, I’ve been asking myself, what would “Rachel do? And the answer is always the same. More.”

This link Allison sent has a wonderful review of some bits of the recipients’ acceptance speeches. Watch below for more highlights from past Audubon Women in Conservation Luncheons.

Recent Posts