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Midnight Moviegoers Don 20s Style For Gatsby Premier

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INTRO: After years of anticipation and delays, director Baz Luhrman’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby opens today. Fans turned out in force — and style — for the first screenings last night. Emily Jones reports on why the Jazz Age story remains so popular today.

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Hey, Street Harassers: Stop! Or I’ll Hollaback

Hey, Street Harassers: Stop! Or I’ll Hollaback

Women walk past a group of construction workers gathered on the street during their lunch break Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

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Host: It’s spring, and the weather’s finally warm. Time for sunglasses, summer clothes, and long Saturdays in the park. For women, breaking out the sundresses can also mean more catcalls. Emily Jones reports on efforts to fight back against that kind of harassment.

The nights have gotten warm enough that I can walk around my neighborhood – Morningside Heights – in just a light sweater. I’ve brought my tape recorder just in case. And sure enough, a white van slows down as it drives past me on 108th street.

Driver: Hey! Ready to go get some (indistinct expletive) tonight?

A few blocks away, a group of eight or ten young guys circles around me – slowly – as I pass through them. Every. Last. One. looks me up and down.

Boy: Yeah word, that’s what I’m sayin, eh?

When I don’t respond, or even smile at them…

Boy: You had a baaaaaad day

If you’re a woman in New York this is often just how the city is. In a study of New York social service providers, 86 percent said their clients report street harassment. International studies show anywhere from 70 to 99 percent of women experience harassment at some point in their lives.

Cameron: Any time I see a group of more than one guy walking together, it’s the first thing that goes through my head.

Jae Cameron works for a group called Hollaback that tries to fight harassment on city streets.

Cameron: And I think that’s the most exhausting thing, you know? Having to keep your gaze trained on the ground all the time. Otherwise something will happen.

Hollaback encourages people to “holla back” at their harassers by sharing stories online. Women often report feeling scared or violated – so much so that they change where they go, Cameron says.

Cameron: Every day I go through stories in New York of folks saying it is a problem and it stops them from like going to where they work or where they want to be or being with the people they love.

Efforts to stop harassment span the better part of a century. In the 1920s it was called the anti-flirt movement. It sought to protect ladies from so-called mashers, the scoundrels who pursued them on the street. More recently, some victims of harassment have tried flinging angry rhetoric back at the catcallers — literally, hollaback.

But Hollaback founder Emily May says that doesn’t always work, or feel safe.

May: And the reality is that it’s not our responsibility to have that perfect response. It’s the responsibility of the people who are harassing not to harass us.

May and other advocates don’t think simply banning harassment would work, for a lot of legal reasons. Instead, they want to teach potential harassers that catcalls and whistles aren’t ok. Holly Kearl founded StopStreetHarassment.org. She says since most harassers are men, the key to reaching them is other men.

Kearl: In our society a man’s voice has a lot more sway with other men than a woman’s voice does. It’s a sad statement but it’s true in a lot of cases, and so men can actually have a really big impact on changing other men’s opinions about street harassment.

Kearl says the best way to get through is to make it personal. She made a habit of telling her male partner every time she got harassed. Suddenly, the problem became real.

Kearl: They just may have a stereotype in their mind about who gets harassed and then they don’t really worry about it. But if they know that the women they care about are routinely harassed, I think a lot of them would care and would want to do something.

English teacher Ileana Jimenez has seen that transformation firsthand. She teaches an elective on feminism at Elisabeth Irwin High School in Soho — and street harassment is a central topic. She remembers the moment when one boy in her class suddenly understood his friends and classmates got harassed.

Jimenez: And he wrote about how, if this is happening to my friends, then it’s probably happening to my mom. And that’s kind of where he went one extra step on bringing it to a kind of close and personal level.

May from Hollaback thinks those kinds of personal stories can lead to policy changes. The group won a grant from the Knight Foundation to write a smartphone app that can map street harassment. The app will log when and where each report happens in a central database. Users will also have the option to have Hollaback send those stories to the local City Council member. May hopes all those reports will prompt council members to act.

May: You’re gonna organize a big fat rally and press conference around street harassment in your district. You’re gonna make a call for a major citywide investment in preventing street harassment – comprehensive education, curriculum, guides for employers, public service announcement campaigns…a major push.

Users will be able to download the new app this summer.

I’m Emily Jones, Columbia Radio News.

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Students at MIT Weather The Boston Lockdown

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One of the first casualties of the manhunt last night was 26 year old Sean Collins. He was an MIT police officer. All college campuses in the area have been closed down. Will Whitney is a fourth-year undergraduate studying computer science at MIT. He’s been in his dorm room since last night when the shooting took place.

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New York’s High End Residents Hungry For Upscale Grocery Shops

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HOST INTRO:

Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Downtown Brooklyn have gotten pretty high-end. And new residents are hungry for upscale amenities — especially grocery stores. Emily Jones reports that developers are experimenting with some old …and some new ideas for markets to satisfy these new tastes.

sound: low market buzz/chatter

REPORTER:

As you enter Brooklyn Harvest Market, heaps of fresh fruits and veggies give way to an olive bar and a fridge case of cheeses from around the world. Farther in sit gourmet cakes, fresh fish on ice, and a butcher counter. Jessica Baker stands in front of a glass display case. The food looks delicious: grilled corn on the cob, butternut squash salad, Korean sesame tofu. Baker wants to order some for a party.

Baker: I’m having an event on Saturday… (fade under)

She splits her time between L-A and Williamsburg. When she’s here, she lives with her sister in Edge Condominiums, just upstairs from this grocery store.

Baker: This is the place where I want to be sure to get my fresh, healthy nutritious food from.

The few other markets in the area might be cheaper, but Baker says they don’t feel as nice.

Baker: There’s another place to get groceries, but I don’t think it offers as high a nutritional content, let’s just say, or variety anyway. And it’s a little further down as well.

This blend of convenience and fresh produce, along with plenty of local goods, is exactly what the Edge condo developers wanted in their building — because it’s what the people moving in want. Robert Greenstone is the building’s retail leasing agent.

Greenstone: You’ll see that the people who are buying apartments at a thousand dollars a square foot really can afford better merchandise, better food, better clothing, better services, and they actually demand it.

More than just good food, Greenstone thinks the residents of Edge and other luxury buildings want a great experience — otherwise they could just order online from Fresh Direct. That’s why the store opted for inviting displays and plans to offer outdoor seating come summer.

Greenstone: You actually wanted to eat, as opposed to just pick up merchandise that you needed.

Other developers are looking to a model from the past. Instead of adding grocery stores, some are trying to recreate the street markets of New York’s earliest days, when vendors set up shop daily to offer produce and homemade goods.

Feltman: I think that New York misses that experience.

Julie Feltman is the Market Director for Urban Spaces, which has tried to revive the idea with multi-vendor markets like Madison Square Eats and the holiday markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle.

Feltman: It ties the community together. You can showcase locally-made goods, you can bring unique gifts and unique products into one spot that isn’t really like over-commercialized.

The flagship project of Urban Spaces was DeKalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn. Old shipping containers housed the stores of local food and retail vendors. Now, a luxury apartment building called City Point is going up at the site. But retail developer Paul Travis wants to preserve the feel of DeKalb.

Travis: I thought really the best thing about DeKalb Market was that people in the neighborhood actually started to use it as a place to hang out. They felt it was their space.

The ground floor of City Point will feature a market hall with small food vendors, restaurants, and a grocery. It’s a model that works in major cities like Barcelona and New Delhi. Travis hopes the multivendor setting will recapture that community feel.

Travis: We’re not looking for chains. We’re not looking for stuff that you can find anywhere else. This is really to find local, unique food vendors who really want to do something downtown.

Feltman is a little skeptical that a big development can recreate the excitement of eclectic local markets.

Feltman: I think there’s something really charming in an outdoor market that doesn’t have a lot of barriers to entry that features a lot of different things. I think when you bring it onto that industrial level it might lose a little bit of its charm.

Still, she’s excited to see so many people trying. City Point and several other developments have multivendor markets in the works. Between those corporate efforts and ongoing community markets, Feltman hopes the model can really take hold.

I’m Emily Jones, Columbia Radio News.

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A Moment of Silence in the Big Apple

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HOST INTRO

Life is usually fast-paced and exciting in the city that never sleeps. But commentator Emily Jones had a recent reminder, we could all use a break sometimes.

My iPod died on the subway a couple weeks ago. I didn’t have a book or a newspaper, and my phone doesn’t work down there. Sit still for half an hour with no entertainment? This never happens. I’m an obsessive multitasker. I usually listen to music and send emails just walking place to place.

But, ok. I settle in with a deep breath. (deep breath) I start noticing details around me. A hand on a pole. The pattern on a kindle case. A pair of boots. (deep breath). I don’t focus on anything specific. I couldn’t do anything about it right now anyway. So I let my brain settle in to a freeform wander, thought fragments floating past, undirected. (deep breath). Huh. I know this feeling.

I spent eight years in Quaker school, from fifth grade through high school. Mostly the school valued a weird mix of treating everyone equally and fiercely competing. But Quaker school also meant attending meeting for worship: for a full 45 minutes, we sat together in complete silence.

The idea is silent worship and reflection. Pray if you like. Stand up and speak if the spirit moves you – a rare occasion. For a roomful of ten and twelve year olds? Not so much. A friend and I learned the sign language alphabet so we could gossip about boys during meeting and point out who was fighting falling asleep. Most of meeting in middle school was trying to avoid the terrifying glare of certain teachers.

In eighth or ninth grade, it became cool to lie and say you actually really valued meeting. It was a way to sound more grown-up and intellectual, like correcting people’s grammar or talking about reading books that weren’t assigned in English class. In reality at that point most of us were studying the ceiling fan.

But the false insight gradually became real. Maybe because high school got hard. Papers grew longer, college applications loomed, and sports practice ate up all our free time. It started to feel really great to tune everything out for a while.

Toward the end of school, as we neared graduation, I started to put Quaker meeting on the list of things I’d miss, like friends and home and life as I knew it. When a former classmate died in an accident that summer I felt a desperate longing for meeting – it seemed like the only way I could process the loss. And I wasn’t alone: somebody sent out a mass text message and soon we gathered in a park to share silence and remember our friend.

So my little tech break on the subway got me thinking: I needed that restful silence to get through high school? Now I live in a city literally known for never taking a break. We walk so fast it frightens tourists, and smartphones ensure we’re always on. Try sitting still for a minute: this city won’t let you.

Still, I’m determined to try. I’ve had this reminder of how, with a little silence, you’re free to explore the little channels of thought that crowd your mind static most of the time to distract you. Breathe a little air into them and they fan themselves out so you can find them. It’s a relief to let your brain just wander. If something matters, it rises to the top. Everything else just washes on by and, for a few minutes, you’re still.

HOST 

Emily would like to end this segment with a moment of silence. (paaaaause) But who are we kidding? This is New York.

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Brooklynites Question Success of Atlantic Yards

 

Jones Barclays

Workers construct the first residential building at the Atlantic Yards project, behind the Barclay’s center. Brooklyn, NY. March 14, 2013. (Emily Jones/Uptown Radio)

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HOST INTRO: Developers sold their plan to build at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards on the prospect of new jobs and affordable housing for a community desperately in need of both. And so far, they’re claiming success with the first step: the Barclays Center. But some say it’s not quite what developers promised. Emily Jones reports.

[ambi: excited crowd, under narration. At subway: “oh wow! Oh wow!” (1:45 in tape) (note: at other points they also say “Brooklyn Nets!” and “Jay-Z!”]
The Barclays Center is still new and exciting here in Brooklyn. Visitors pause to take pictures on their cell phones as they emerge from the subway. (oh wow! Oh wow!) Today, people are rushing through the cold for a string of Atlantic-10 Conference men’s basketball games. Sunday, they’ll be back for the Brooklyn Nets, the first pro team in the borough since the Dodgers left in 1957. And since it opened in September, Barclays has brought in some of the biggest acts in music: the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, part-owner Jay-Z.

“The 108th mayor of New York City – Michael Bloomberg! Empire State of Mind begins, fade under, hold until “here”
Last month, Mayor Bloomberg made a clear point of the arena’s success when he delivered his state of the city address here.

Bloomerg: (laughter) Now the Barclays Center is the latest sign of just how hot Brooklyn has become.

Bloomberg hailed the affordable housing under construction and the new jobs at Barclays: 2,000 people hired, 75 percent live in Brooklyn. Combine the jobs, housing, and big events, he says, and you get what the developers promised the neighborhood: a stable, vibrant economic and cultural center.

It’s a big change from how the area used to look. One lifetime Flatbush resident stopped to Instagram a photo of the center.

Jones: What’s your name?
Samson: Sammy Samson.
Jones: Do you remember what it was like before the Center was built?
Samson 2: I know this was all like, vacated. I don’t know if that’s the right word I’m using.
Jones: Do you think it’s better now?
Samson: I mean it looks nicer, yeah, definitely. I wouldn’t use the word better but it’s, you know, it looks nice.

Others in the area are unsure about the project as well. Gib Veconi is with Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of community groups working to make the Atlantic Yards project serve the neighborhood. He doesn’t think the jobs at the Barclays Center live up to the developer’s promise.

Veconi 2: Unless you have a living wage job that you can use to support a family, and get benefits, it’s not really that type of stabilizing force.

Only 100 of the 2,000 new employees at Barclays work full-time. The rest are part-time, meaning they don’t get benefits – at least not yet. The union SEIU 32BJ represents the cleaning and security staff, and the crew that converts the Barclays Center between basketball games and concerts. Vice President Shirley Aldoval says because the arena has been open less than a year, employees are still figuring how often they’ll work and whether they’ll stay.

Aldoval 1: So they can work 40 hours or more when there are events going on, when there aren’t events going on they’ll work less. But there’s a threshold, there’s a path for each of these employees to get health insurance and benefits based on the number of events they work.

Workers who pass a certain number of events per year will get health benefits. The specifics of the union’s agreement with Forest City Ratner aren’t public yet. But Aldoval says even employees who don’t work the traditional 9 to 5, 5 days a week will be eligible.

For Veconi of Brooklyn Speaks, the number of jobs created is still an issue. He says the city invested more than 700 million dollars in public subsidies in the arena.

Veconi 1: So is 2000 jobs a fair trade for that? You know it comes out to somewhere around 350 thousand dollars a job. That’s a lot of money.

But the Barclay’s Center and the new hiring there are only the first step in the development.
[Backup beeper, construction sound, fade under]
Behind the arena, excavation is already underway on B2, the first residential building at Atlantic Yards. It’s set to be finished by fall of 2014. The tower will house more than 350 apartments, half of them affordable for low- and middle-income residents. Eventually, the plan calls for more than 6,000 units. (bring up construction, fade) As it stands now, those apartments will be built over the next 25 years. But community advocates are pushing the developers to move up that timeline so Brooklynites can start moving into their affordable housing sooner.

I’m Emily Jones, Columbia Radio News.

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Livery Cabs Cry Foul Over New E-Hailing Phone App

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Host: New Yorkers will have to wait to start hailing cabs with their smartphones. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge yesterday halted a pilot program for so-called “e-hail” apps that would have started as early as today. The problem? Livery cab companies say the apps will step on their business. Emily Jones reports. 

You lean off the curb, dangerously far into the street. At the first hint of yellow, you throw up your arm. There’s a good chance you’ve said to yourself: there has to be a better way to hail a cab.Chhabra: You fire up the app on your phone, they generally have a map view of where you are and little icons around you of available cabs.

Ashwani Chhabra is in charge of the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s pilot program for smartphone apps that hail yellow cabs. Once you’ve got that map up on your phone, you pick the closest cab and send your “e-hail.”

Chhabra: The cab driver has an app on their phone, they accept the trip, and then they make their way to the pickup spot.

And you’re on your way. Chhabra says apps like this might be overkill in Manhattan in the daylight, when it seems like half the street is full of yellow cabs, but…

Chhabra: That’s not the case necessarily at three in the morning. It’s not necessarily the case if I live on the far west side or the far east side, or if I live outside of Manhattan.

The outer boroughs are typically where livery car services make their money. Gary D’Amico owns Promenade Cars, a livery company in Brooklyn. To him, an app that orders you a yellow cab comes too close to scheduling a car.

D’Amico: It seems that they’re infringing on our right to go ahead and conduct our business while we cannot go ahead and pick up people hailing cabs in the street.

A group of livery companies have sued to stop the taxi commission’s app program, arguing it will cut into their business. What’s more, D’Amico worries yellow cabs won’t always honor the e-hails.

D’Amico: Who’s to be held responsible if the driver picks somebody else up en route to the customer?

With a car service, customers can call back if the car never shows. But Chhabra from the taxi commission says with e-hail apps, those cases are easier to handle.

Chhabra: The beauty here now is we actually have a paper trail. There’s a record of the driver accepting the trip, the passenger waiting, and then the driver not showing up for that trip.

And that same paper trail will make it easier to track down lost wallets, or a glove left behind. Apps in the pilot program will also keep track of how much people are using them.

Chhabra: We’ll find out. If there’s passenger demand, then we’ll hear about that. And if passengers kinda say, eh, this makes sense in San Francisco or it makes sense in Chicago but New York not so much, then we’ll know that too.

If the e-hail pilot program goes forward, the commission will have a year to figure out how the apps work. The court will pick up the lawsuit again on March 19.

Emily Jones, Columbia Radio News.

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Bloomberg Follows Tech Sector Lead With Sandy Relief

Bloomberg Follows Tech Sector Lead With Sandy Relief

In this photo provided by New York City Mayor’s Office, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg updates the media on the City’s Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 in New York. (NYC Mayor’s Office, Kristin Artz/AP Photo)

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Host: In his twelve years as mayor, Michael Bloomberg has used business ideas to solve city problems. In the last few years, he’s taken a page out of the tech industry’s playbook, using public competition to encourage new ideas. Now he’s applying that approach to rebuilding the city after Hurricane Sandy. Emily Jones reports:
NARR: New York City will get almost 1.8 billion dollars from the federal Hurricane Sandy relief package Congress passed last month. Most of that money will go to traditional grants designed to help homeowners and businesses still struggling to recover. But Mayor Bloomberg is setting aside a small portion of the money – less than 10 percent – for a competition to encourage creative thinking on how to prepare for the next storm.
Bloomberg: We propose to spend 140 million dollars for two other competitive grant programs (that we’ve been discussing with HUD,) one for neighborhood recovery and resiliency and one for infrastructure resiliency.
NARR: The city hasn’t released details yet on how exactly the contest will work. But if it’s anything like last year’s competition to develop the best micro-unit apartment, things could happen quickly. That whole process took just six months.Using competition to crowdsource new ideas has become standard practice in the technology sector. Dawn Barber co-founded a monthly tech startup event called New York Tech Meetup. At a recent breakfast for city development leaders, she said competitions are just efficient.

Barber: There’s a lot of people who could probably address the issue, so having a competition just makes it so you can kinda aggregate it quickly, see the information quickly, and may the best person win, so to speak.

NARR: The best person with the best idea is often outside government. NYU’s Wagner Innovation Labs aim to improve how policy is made. Director Neil Kleinman says the city can run better with public input.

Kleinman: There’s so much that city agencies and bureaucrats and mayors know, but there’s a lot that they don’t know, and so I think in order to advance government and services you’ve got to open it up, you’ve got to see what are those ideas on the street.

NARR: Looking to the street is a big change from the typical Request for Proposal process, or RFP. Julia Vitullo-Martin is the director of the Center for Urban Innovation, which looks for new ways to solve urban problems. She says RFPs become an insider game.

Vitullo-Martin: The usual suspects almost always show up and bid. So the kind of contest Mayor Bloomberg runs is intended to find new ideas and new people and new organizations promoting and implementing those ideas.

NARR: But she’s not so sure about Hurricane Sandy relief. She’s worried the city is still struggling with basic needs — and innovation lies further down the road.

Vitullo-Martin: You have to have enough rebuilt to have an underlying base for creative business to return. So, I wouldn’t want to disparage the idea but…it seems a little impractical.

Of course, just a fraction of the federal relief money will fund these competitions. Most of the billions will go to helping New Yorkers rebuild.

I’m Emily Jones, Columbia Radio News.

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Who’s Going Home With Oscar On Sunday?

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HOST INTRO:
EMILY: The Oscars are Sunday night. And while everyone’s wondering whether Argo will take Best Picture, we wanted to learn a little about the other categories. Rafer Guzman is the film critic for Newsday  he also hosts WNYC’s Movie Date podcast with Kristen Meinzer. I wanted to know what they’ll be watching for on Sunday.

You can listen to Rafer and Kristen’s Academy Award special, Oscar…Totally Naked, on WNYC here.

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Help Out the Homeless Today?

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New Yorkers are no strangers to solicitations on the sidewalk, but our Emily Jones found one man whose mission for donations is deeply personal.

Posted in Voices of New York0 Comments