Nyack Sketch Log: Phyllis B. Frank

by Bill Batson

When Hillary Clinton came to Nyack last February for the first public event at the Rockland Pride Center, she stood next to Phyllis B. Frank. On Thursday, April 25,  2019 at the 60th annual NAACP membership gala, Nyack Branch President Frances Pratt will call Phyllis B. Frank to stand next to her to be recognized. Why do leaders like Clinton and Pratt stand next to Frank? Because for over 40 years, Frank has stood on the side victims of domestic violence and people of color in their pursuit of racial justice and equity in America.

“As an organizer of undoing racism workshops, founding board member of Rockland Pride and Associate Director of VCS, Phyllis Frank is an institution in this county. She has added so much to our beloved community,” said Pratt.  Frank is not only an institution, she’s an institution builder. “If you think about it, Phyllis had a hand in creating the first domestic violence agency and the first pride center in the Rockland county and is instrumental in bringing an analysis of racial justice here. Remarkable isn’t even the word'” said Rockland Pride Executive Director Brooke Malloy.

Frank joined VCS in 1979. The organization  promotes social justice for individuals, families and communities through mental health counseling and community change. VCS has developed programs to confront heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia, racism and sexism with a particular focus on violence against women. Under Franks leadership, VCS has launched a wide range of LGBT family services, support programs and professional training including evolving expertise in relation to transgender children, youth and adults.

Nyack Branch NAACP 60th Anniversary Membership Recruitment and Renewal DinnerEvents


Tickets still available for the 60th Anniversary NAACP membership gala at the Pearl River Hilton on April 25th at 6p. Phyllis B. Frank, Dustin Hausner, Lonnie Leonard and Lynnette Eubanks Marshall are some of the honorees. For reservations contact Voncile Oliver at (845) 268-6626 ASAP.

Donations are welcome and are not tax deductible.

The premise behind VCS is that community lay people can provide high-level counseling for clients with a wide range of serious social problems. The model called “Volunteer Family Counseling Project” was initiated by Dr. Stephen Shapiro and Martin Eisman of the Family Service Association of Rockland County and funded by The Ford Foundation in 1970. The first group of 16 volunteers were recruited, trained and assigned to work with 34 families. The program quickly expanded to 426 families and individuals by 108 trained volunteers. Later that year, the agency moved into offices at 151 South Main Street in New City.

Over forty years later, VCS  provides an array of services including child abuse prevention programs, services to older adults and their families and low cost counseling to Rockland residents for a variety of life issues such as separation, co-parenting children, unemployment and domestic violence.  VCS conducts a widely acclaimed counselor training program, administers a nationally recognized NY Model for Batterer Programs, and various social justice programs that included launching Rockland County Pride.

In the late 1990s, if you lived in Nyack and wanted to attend one of the major Gay Pride celebrations that are held around the country each June, you had to travel to Manhattan. Frank enjoyed the annual pride pilgrimage to the city, but thought aloud to others that “even if we had just a group walking behind one sign, we needed to do something for Gay Pride here in Rockland.”

Over 1,000 people gathered for the first Gay Pride Rockland event in Nyack in 1999. As if to prove the positive force that this public affirmation of sexual identity can have, a Village of Nyack Trustee named John Shields, who would later serve four terms as Mayor, publicly came out of the closet that day.

The Pride celebrations that are held throughout the world each June commemorate protests that followed a raid by New York City Police Officers on The Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.  The uprising in Greenwich Village against a pattern and practice of harassment by public officials is widely regarded as the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. On May 9, 2016,  a meeting was held in New York State concerning the status of an important landmark in the LGBT community. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis met with New York officials to advance a proposal to make The Stonewall Inn a national monument.

On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and the Board of the Rockland County Pride Center celebrated the fact that the center had received a $250,000 grant from New York state. “Phyllis is a founding board member and she’s on the Executive Committee. She played a lead role in putting the board together. She went to various people in the community and asked it they wanted to do this. She put it together,” said Malloy.

A thread that runs through both VCS and Rockland Pride is a proactive and exhaustive effort to apply a racial justice analysis to civil rights work. “Shortly after bringing the ground breaking documentary on race, “The Color of Fear” to Rockland, I attended an “Undoing Racism Workshop, presented by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond,” said Frank  “That was in 1995.  Since then, VCS has administered Undoing Racism Workshops in Rockland County, at least once a year, and in some recent years as many as six times.”

Executive directors, police, non-profit personnel, community members, students, public and private school administration, teaching staff and other educators, and faith community leaders have attended the Undoing Racism Workshop. VCS estimates that we have presented the workshop approximately 35- 40 times.  Each workshop has between 40 and 45 participants. Some session have had 60 in attendance. VCS estimates that nearly 2000 Rockland residents have participated.

“The reason I have my  job as Rockland Pride Executive Director is because I chased down Phyllis after taking the Undoing Racism workshop over ten years ago. I was so drawn to her conviction. She’s has an unwavering approach to her work, ” said Malloy

Her exemplary efforts over the years resulted in her being inducted into the Rockland County Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2012. And on Thursday, April 25, 2019, at the 60th annual NAACP gala, another honor will be added to Frank’s distinguished resume.

Hillary Clinton photo credit: George Pejoves

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Phyllis B. Frank” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com  


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Nyack Sketch Log: Coplan’s Cool Ride (to a Lower Carbon Footprint)

by Bill Batson

Science tells us, unequivocally, that the behavior of billions of humans has created an existential threat to the earth called climate change. According to Professor Karl Coplan, if humans change their behavior and reduce their carbon footprint, we might have a chance to bequeath a living planet to future generations. Coplan also demonstrates through his life style, that the journey to a lower carbon footprint can be a cool ride.

I think that an individual direct footprint of four tons per year is defensible as sustainable for a middle class citizen of a developed nation during the phaseout of all fossil fuels over the next few decades.

In November 2019, Coplan will release Living Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life. His credentials, academic, legal and practical, are extremely impressive. A professor at Pace University School of Law, he directs their Environmental Law Center and has been outside counsel for Riverkeeper, and clerked for United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger. And to practice what he preaches, he has kayaked and biked to work, retrofitted his home, and found a way to make vacations intermittent energy fasts for over 30 year, reducing his carbon footprint to half of the average American.

Tonight, April 16 at 6:30p at the Nyack Center, Karl will present some of what he’s doing to reduce his carbon footprint. If the weather’s good, Coplan may ride his Zero Series S electric motorcycle to the venue, navigating through the crowded crossroads of the environment, science and the law. For the sake of our future, stop by and learn to walk a mile in Karl’s low carbon shoes (or ride a mile on his low carbon motorcycle, or row…you get the picture!)

Where does your passion for the planet come from?

How can anyone not have a passion for the system that sustains all life? But, more personally – growing up as the skinny kid who was not very good at sports, I found in nature both an inner peace and physical challenges and confidence that sustain me to this day.

What was it like clerking for United States Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger?

It was a very heady experience to be on the inside of every Supreme Court case and discussion for a year, just one year out of law school. Not only were there the conversations with the Chief, but the give and take discussions in the clerks’ network of law clerks for all nine Justices. No other legal experience in my career has been at that level.

What are some of the most important cases that you have brought to protect the planet?

The great thing about working with Riverkeeper and other Watekeeper organizations is working from the ground up to protect the ecosystem one stream, wetland, or watershed at a time. So instead of counting national cases, I can look around the Hudson River Valley and point to individual ecosystem battles that are interconnected to the global whole, like the hillside in Fort Montgomery we protected from development, or the nitrogen discharges to Long Island Sound we restricted, the toxic lead shotgun pellets we got removed from Long Island Sound, or the permits we forced the state to issue to limit the pollution of a trout stream in the Catskills. Some of these efforts are still ongoing, like the environmental cleanups we sued to force in Newtown Creek and Hastings on Hudson.

The fossil fuel industry has a huge war chest, are there enough law students choosing environmental law?

There are plenty of law students – but they need jobs that allow them to support themselves and pay their student loans. Litigating NGOs like Riverkeeper here in the Hudson River Valley and NRDC and EarthJustice at the national level play an important role providing a career path for lawyers who don’t want to represent the ExxonMobils of the world. But they rely on contributions from supporters.

Karl Coplan Speaks at the Knowledge Market at the Nyack Center

April 16, at 6:30p at Nyack Center, Karl will give a presentation based on his book, Living Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life, offering practical advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, including everything from how you eat, commute, and run your house, to life enriching travel and recreation.

A meet-and-greet reception with light refreshment follows the program.

The Knowledge Market is sponsored by Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, NyackNewsAndViews.com, Nyack Center and La Talaye Catering and Event Design.

Tickets are $20. Students tickets are $5. Scholarships are available. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Nyack Center. For more information visit NyackKnows.com.

Students take the Stage

A younger, hipper generation are stepping up to the carbon foot print plate. Emmy Urdy, one of the organizers of Nyack’s participation in the global student climate strike on March 15 has joined the planning of the village’s Earth Day celebration. She is also one of the founders of the Rockland Climate Alliance (RCA). Already her group has helped the village move more smoothly towards full compliance with up coming bans on single use plastic bags.

If you’d like to learn more about future plans of the RCA email rocklandclimatealliance@gmail.com and ask to get on their mailing list.

Urdy, third from left, helping plan Earth Day, Nyack, April 27, 2019.

 

Sons of Science Perform at Earth Day 2019 in Nyack

Children of scientists that work at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory will perform some of their favorite songs by the RHCP and Black Keys at the April 27th Nyack Earth Day celebration. Sons of Science (SOS) have played locally at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar,The Whiskey Kitchen, and The Great Nyack Get Together. SOS has been playing together since 2015, when the youngest member of the group was 9.

Calvin D’Andrea 16, bass, vocals
Miles D’Andrea 14, drums, vocals
Augie Davi-Fiondella 13, keys, vocals
Johnan Pollisar 13, guitar, vocals.

Earth Day 2019

For the seventh year running, Nyack will honor Mother Earth on Saturday, April 27 (Rain date 4/28) from 12 to 4p in the heart of the village at the Main Street Gazebo, Cedar Street and surrounding parking area. Kids’ activities will include arts and crafts as well as a fun, interactive Summer Play Camp sponsored by Blue Rock School. There is also live music going on all day, and vendors selling everything from jewelry to plants.

Keep Rockland Beautiful will begin and end their Community Clean-up project at the Earth Day Nyack event site. Interested participants should meet at 9:00am to join a clean-up crew at the Gazebo before Earth Day Nyack kicks off later in the day. Check keeprocklandbeautiful.org for details.

Hosted by The Nyack Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Nyack. Sponsored by Blue Rock School’s Summer Play Camp, Green Mountain Energy, and Casa del Sol restaurant.

 

Tell us about Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace?

The Clinic was founded 30 years ago as a partnership between Pace Law School and the then-new Hudson Riverkeeper program. Law students need practical experience practicing law, and John Cronin, the first Riverkeeper, needed legal representation to take on the entrenched companies polluting the Hudson River. Bobby Kennedy was working on his legal masters degree at Pace at the time as well as working pro bono as a Riverkeeper attorney, so it was natural for him to take over running the Clinic.

For over thirty years now, eight to ten Pace law students each semester get real litigation experience representing Riverkeeper in its environmental cleanup battles. They are allowed to appear in court without having passed the bar yet by special permission of the New York court system. I have been co-directing the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic for twenty five years now – since 1994 – and joining the Clinic was the best break of my life, since it has allowed me to combine my passion for the environment with the practice of law and the deep satisfaction of training and mentoring students for careers in environmental law. My former students include DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi, and scores of other students who have gone into environmental law careers ranging from private firms to government enforcement agencies.

Is it true that climate deniers are filing Freedom of Information Requests to harass scientists?

Yes, this is one of many ways that industry funded groups are working to harass climate scientists and prevent public acceptance of climate science. The problem is that in some states, the courts have taken the position that scientists at state universities are public officials, so that their email communications are subject to public disclosure under Freedom of Information laws. Most recently, Michael Mann at Penn State was forced to publish all of the emails from his university account. You probably did not hear much about this, because there was absolutely nothing embarrassing about them. Columbia Law School’s Mike Gerrard has started a climate scientist defense fund project to provide legal representation to climate scientists being subjected to this sort of harassment.

I understand you had an extremely low carbon foot print commute from your home to work, what was it?

For over twenty years now, I have commuted to work in White Plains by paddling kayak across the river from the Nyack Boat Club, then riding a bicycle the eight miles from Tarrytown. I built the kayak myself in 1997 as a project to take my mind off of the monumentally frustrating Pyramid Mall battle we were fighting at the time. It seemed then like a simple antidote to the car culture the mall exemplified. Of course, I could only make my paddle & pedal commute in the warm and light months of the year, and then only two or three days a week. Now that the bike lane on the new Tappan Zee bridge is supposed to open, I will probably hang up my kayak paddle and just bike to work. We need to make sure the Thruway Authority keeps the bike path open late at night – it will be a great non-car commuting option, but not if they close it at dusk like they have threatened to.

If part of having a low carbon foot print being multi-modal, what are some of your transportation modalities?

Cars are killing the planet, so I have tried my best to avoid using them where possible. I went for about a decade without owning my own car (I borrowed Robin’s Prius when I really needed one). When I couldn’t paddle across the Hudson to work, I was a regular rider on the Tappan Zee Express bus, then I bought an electric motorcycle when Zero came out with the first practical model in 2012. When I totaled that motorcycle, Robin prevailed on me to look at an EV- so I ended up with a very affordable Smart Fortwo in 2015. But I bought another Zero e-moto too – they are just too much fun.

Your life partner is a scientist and polar explorer. Who is she and what are some of the things you enjoy doing together?

Robin Bell has been my life partner for pretty much my entire adult life – we started dating at Middlebury College. When we graduated, we built a small sailing dory together with a rudimentary cabin and sailed it down the Champlain Canal and Hudson River, ending up in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where Robin got her first job as a geologist for the US Geological Survey. Robin came to NewYork to get her PhD in geophysics at Columbia while I studied law there, and Robin has gone on to become a leading polar regions science researcher. We both enjoy life, we’re together, so we enjoy life together – Robin shares my love of nature, adventure, and wild places.

One of our first dates was to go winter camping in the Adirondacks. Our love of sailing and the ocean eventually led us to buying an ocean-capable sailboat, the Mabel Rose. We named the boat after Robin’s great aunt Mabel who lived on Nantucket Island and whose partner Liz taught Robin to sail when she was growing up.

The Mabel Rose usually lives at the Nyack Boat Club. We have sailed the boat on two round trip transatlantic voyages – including a sabbatical trip to Barcelona in 2006-2007.

In Barcelona, I leaned what real paella is supposed to look like, and I brought several paella pans back with me. I make myself popular on camping trips and with our neighbors by cooking a wood-fired paella the traditional Spanish way from time to time.

How early were your children introduced to the low-carbon life style?

Since environmental consciousness has been part of my life since childhood, my own children were introduced to it from birth, of course. That meant they grew up in a house where we kept the heat down in the winter, but a nice crackling fire in the fireplace drew the family together in the living room, especially since there was no television anywhere in the house. Not having television, ironically, may be the biggest thing you can do to reduce your footprint – not because of the juice used by the television, but because television programming and advertising is designed to make us consume more. Every image we see n TV makes us think that we are missing out on a bigger fancier house or a faster car that will somehow raise our status. Skip the television and save the consumption dollars for something more fulfilling and smaller footprint – like used sailboat or something. Both our children were sailing with us from before they could walk. |

My daughter grew up thinking that the only way you could get to the Jersey Shore was by sailboat – when one of her elementary school friends told her their family had been to the beach, Beryl’s natural response was “I didn’t know you had a sailboat, too.”

Your book Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life is coming out in the Fall, can you share one tip with us?

It’s easy to make big dents in your footprint without a major change in your lifestyle. If you live in a household with two conventional gas powered cars, when it comes time to trade them in replace one with a hybrid and the other with an electric vehicle. If you purchase your electricity from renewable sources, you can cut you transportation footprint by three quarters this way. The EV will have plenty of range for a typical commute, and the hybrid is available for longer family trips when needed.

What is the average American’s carbon footprint?

The most recent numbers are about 16 tons per capita

What is a good laymans explanation of carbon foot?

Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases you are responsible for, converted into the equivalent amount of CO2 (the primary human greenhouse gas).

Your direct footprint is what you emit directly in your activities (burning gas to drive or jet fuel to fly, burning oil or natural gas for heat, buying fossil fuel electricity).

Your indirect footprint includes your share of government activities and the greenhouse gas impacts embedded in stuff you buy.

There is no one definition of direct vs indirect – most people include food choices as a direct impact, some calculators now include goos and service purchases as direct.

By how much have your reduced carbon footprint?

Indirect impacts are roughly equal to direct impacts. My goal is to keep my direct GHG footprint to <4 tons per year – but I include high impact foods (beef and lamb) in this tally. 4 tons per year direct is roughly 8 tons per year total – about half the US average.

Do any municipalities award people who reduce their footprint?

There are no municipal awards or tax credits specifically for lowering your footprint, but there are tax credits for solar panels, heat pumps, and electric vehicles that tend to lower your footprint.

Nyack EV Charging StationI read that oil companies are betting on carbon capture. Any future in it?

Carbon capture is much more expensive than avoiding the emissions in the first place, so it only has a future if we get desperate.

Have you used the charging ports in Nyack? Do you see the program expanding locally?

Since Nyack is pretty much home for us (we live in West Nyack), I never need to charge so nearby. But the availability of municipal charging stations really extends the range of an EV. Having that charging port in Nyack means that someone driving up from New Jersey to visit our shops and try one of the great restaurants knows they can get home without worry. Smart municipalities recognize that EV sales are increasing, and that having a charging station available is just a plus for the local economy.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Karl Coplan’s Cool Ride (to a Lower Carbon Footprint)” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com  


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Nyack Sketch Log: American History On Fire

 

An illustration of a world without archival records

by Bill Batson

There will be no sketch in this week’s Nyack Sketch Log. The void illustrates the world contemplated by one or more arsonists when they burnt down the headquarters of an important civil and labor rights center, the Highlander Folk School in New Market Tennessee on March 29, 2019. This crime against humanity was an attempt to permanently redact selective portions of our shared history.

Highlander, founded in 1932, was an important national organizing resource during the heights of the American civil rights and labor movements. Decades of historical documents, speeches, artifacts and other memorabilia from its history were consumed by flames. Although their official archivist, the University of Wisconsin reports that “a majority” of Highlander’s archives are safe,” the suspicious fire intended to burn not a just a building to the ground, but to incinerate the history of those who gathered here including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Peter Seeger.  Subsequent press reports mention that authorities found a “white-power’ symbol at scene of the fire.

permanently redacted portions of history

Many major civil rights victories have been won in this country, some of them organized by participants who first attended workshops at Highlander. There have also been profound losses, like the assassination of Dr. King on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. This assault signals a new, chilling field of battle, where a combatant seeks to erase evidence of past events. The act is reminiscent of the dystopian future described in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, where “fireman” ignite books in order to censor and destroy knowledge.

There are 10 buildings on a 200-acre Highlander campus, yet only the building that housed the records was destroyed. The sobriety of the act suggests that the match was not struck by a garden-variety bigot on a drunken lark, but someone with a much more deliberate intent.

Imagine historic essays without archival photos

As outraged as I was when Hollywood created a film, Mississippi Burning, that portrayed the FBI, and not civil rights leaders, as the heroic figures in the aftermath of the murders of voter registration volunteers Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman during Freedom Summer 1964, our only hope here, is for a successful federal investigation that leads to the apprehension and subsequent conviction by a jury of the person or people responsible for this fire. (I find myself rooting for the FBI a lot lately.)

Further, we must discover the full malevolent objective of this act and the entire scope of the conspiracy. Was this plan hatched domestically or abroad? What is their next strategic goal? How impactful and purposeful is the silence of our government after such a national tragedy?

Since recent events have seemed to lack any rhyme or reason, I have begun taking intermittent news fasts. I had only a faint awareness that an important civil rights organization had been the victim of an intentional fire. I did not know it was Highlander until Saturday night. When the target of the attack became known to me, I literally doubled over in pain as if a had been kicked by a mule. Tears weld up in my eyes. I watched several people react the same way when I told them what had happened.

Image destroyed at Highlander and not preserved at the University of Wisconsin

In 1990, I applied to become the Executive Director of  Highlander. I was considered perhaps too precocious, or too northern, or too unprepared by virtue of my age to lead the facility where Rosa Parks studied passive resistance and creative non-violence before boarding a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955.  (Yes people, Ms. Parks was not simply a frustrated seamstress, who spontaneously initiated a successful year- long bus boycott, but a trained activist. After attending a workshop with Dr. King and others at Highlander, she perfectly played out her role in well-orchestrated courageous plan, organized under risk of death by brave men and women for the explicit purpose of ending discrimination in public accommodation in America. Documentation of this story is what the arsonist sought to destroy!)

Our future if crimes against humanity like the arson at Highlander go unsolved and unpunished

The philosophy most associated with Highlander, and its most prestigious alumni, Dr. King is non-violence. In Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King described the strategy behind his practice this way: ‘Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” So when someone burns down a temple of non-violence, are they seeking to end non-violence: to make the non-violent violent. My first response (and an earlier draft of this essay) was in fact, very bellicose.

Then, I considered how Highlander founder Myles Horton, and Dr. King and others  associated with the folk school and study center would respond. I believe they would:

  • Urge labor unions to hold a one-day national strike to demonstrate that our economic system can not function without men and women who require the protection of civil and labor rights;
  • Support students in occupying every academic office until administrations invested in reclaiming this history and adding it to official curriculum;
  • Appeal to leaders of houses of worship to give sermons on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, that would lead to moral marches the following days and,
  • Organize voters to remove office holders too incompetent, complicit, or corrupt to properly investigate this kind of thought crime and elect representatives who would protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people, and our preserve historic places that form the civic sinews and neurons of our nation.

Let’s transform the flames that pierced the night sky over New Market, Tennessee on March 29th into a beacon so bright, it allows all of us to see the urgency of the hour. It is time to confront the fact that, as a nation, we are descending into a cold civil war. Our history and our future is at stake.

We learned on March 29, 2019 that we have not overcome. We have much work to do. But as the song that was championed and popularly distributed from Highlander suggests “deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.”

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” American History On Fire” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com  


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Nyack Sketch Log: I Am Shazam

by Billy Batson

I have to chose my words very carefully, because of the extremely litigious history of this topic. Simply put, because I am Billy Batson, I am Shazam.

On April 4, the newest blockbuster superhero movie will be released about a teenager named Billy Batson who becomes a full-grown crime fighter when is says Shazam. Here’s the history, legal and cartoonish, of Billy Batson, Captain Marvel and Shazam.

When I was a child, only adults would do a double-take when hearing my name. The Shazam comic strip was more popular than Superman soon after it was  launched by Fawcett Comics in the 1940s. That popularity contest became a legal matter, with decades of copyright infringement litigation brought by the creators of the man of steel.  The owners of the  Superman, DC comics, thought the costuming and powers of the character who said Shazam were too close for commercial comfort to their immortal.

It wasn’t until a live-action version of the Shazam saga was broadcasted during the Saturday morning cartoon marathons of the 1970s that I got the thrill of hearing my name emanate from a TV set. (I was the lead-in to Isis)

Years later, I started to admire the artwork that is the building block of the comic book empire and began attending comic conventions. I got a deeper appreciation for the significance of sharing the name of a cultural icon.

Comic book artists would eagerly give samples of their work to a kid named Billy Batson. Kurt Schaffenberger, who also penned Lois Lane for the other side, was particularly generous with this 1977 effort that he gave me at the old Commodore Hotel. He signed his piece, to Billy Batson, from Billy Batson.

And to this day, when extremely perturbed, I am known to say, “Holey Moley.”

The legal squabbles that commenced in the 1940s  continue to play themselves out in the box office battles of today. In March 2019, a few weeks before the Shazam re-boot, a film about a female fighter pilot who doesn’t really need a plane to fly called Captain Marvel captivated audiences.

Captain Marvel was actually the name of the character that Billy Batson became in the original Fawcett comic. Eventually, worn down by the weight of legal filings, Fawcett licensed the Captain Marvel name to their nemesis, DC comics. That transfer of copyright set into motion the next rivalry. A comic company named Marvel and run by the legendary Stan Lee, sought a hostile takeover of the character of the same name as their corporation. It was finally resolved, by court order, that the story of Billy Batson had to be told without the mention of Captain Marvel. Marvel was now free to create an entirely new storyline.

Rich content remains in the Shazam story and name. Shazam is an acronym for the mythical figures whose powers were conferred on the young protagonist: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury.

In a series of collages that I created in the 1990’s, I blended elements of Shazam with my life, incorporating photos and drawings of my father and images from Edward Hopper paintings that invoked Nyack of the 193os.

Like the original Billy Batson, I was orphaned and adopted as a child. I learned these family secrets later in life. My connection with the Shazam story line deepened. In a more recent drawing, created on a blank cover supplied to me by Funny Business Comics on Main Street, I am the young initiate, and I used a likeness of Frederick Douglass to portray the wizard. (If I was casting the part of an ancient Egyptian wizard, I would look for someone who resembled Douglass.)

In 2018, a super hero movie dominated the box office 33% of the time, from Ant-Man and the Wasp ($595M), to Deadpool 2 ($734M), Incredibles 2 ($1.16B), to Black Panther ($1.34B), and Avengers: Infinity War ($2.04B). In 2019, ten comic blockbusters promise to corner the cinema market.  What do we owe this global obsession with fictional, crime-fighters with mystical powers?

In Shazam, the wizard who confers awesome power into the hands of an innocent child lists seven familiar moral hazards as the enemy of man: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. (I can think of one person in power, who is unfortunately not a fictional character, and unapologetically embraces all seven sins).

In a time when religion and politics can’t be mentioned at divided dinner tables across this country, everyone can talk about the last super hero movie they saw and the next one they eagerly await. In a world where racial and gender discrimination persist, comic book cinema inject Wonder Woman and Black Panther into the conversation.  And for that, I say, Shazam!

This Mental Floss summary leaps over the entire Shazam story in a single read!

Thanks to Funny Business Comics on Main Street in Nyack for the blank cover, Larry Gun Jamieson for sharing his commanding comic book knowledge and William and Daisy Batson for giving me a life, and the name, Billy Batson. 

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” I Am Shazam” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com  


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Nyack Sketch Log: Dr. Lauren Dulberg of Two Rivers Acupuncture & Wellness

by Bill Batson

The metrics of Chinese medicine can be measured in the thousands: the number of specific meridians in the body is over 2,000 and the number of years Chinese medicine has been practiced is over 5,000.

But the number “one” matters most to Dr. Lauren Dulberg of Two Rivers Acupuncture and Wellness. “Many patients do not find out about Chinese medicine until after they have exhausted other options. We tend to go for treatment after things have reached a chronic state. If I could get one message across, it would be, ‘don’t wait.’ Start acupuncture as your first resort,” says Dr. Dulberg.

When did you become a Doctor of Chinese Medicine?

I finished my Master of Oriental Medicine (MSTOM) at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, after 6 years of study in 2012. In California, a MSTOM is required to practice, which is great since everyone has to receive in-depth training in Chinese medicine and herbal medicine, instead of the minimal licensing requirements in New York State. I started practicing soon after in Argentina in early 2012 and then finished my Doctorate of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine in 2016. I also have a Bachelors of Art from University of Arizona in Anthropology / Medical Anthropology.

How does your practice differ from other traditions?

Western medicine mostly treats the symptom at hand and separates all aspects of the body into categories and completely separate parts. Often, western pharmaceuticals act more like a band aid that may create other side effects and issues in the body. Of course, we are incredibly lucky to have things like surgery and antibiotics, but many patients who come through my door feel failed by the western medical system or not listened to, especially when they may present with a complex array of symptoms that may appear “unrelated”.

Chinese medicine is a true form of holistic medicine since it treats the whole body from root to branch. We diagnose via an array of questioning which can sometimes take up to an hour, as well as through observing the tongue and measuring to the pulse.

Chinese medicine is ultimately a preventative medicine that can prevent a sequence of issues before they even begin. The moment a person may feel a twinge of back pain or a woman decides that she may want to have a baby in the near future, or just starts presenting with any symptoms that may be something out of balance emotionally or physically, is always the best time to start.

What led you to practice Chinese Medicine? I understand that your journey to motherhood played a central role.

I started my journey with Chinese medicine in college. I went to The University of Arizona and did my BA in Cultural and Medical Anthropology. I focused mostly in Ethnobotony and medical practices in traditional and tribal cultures.

The idea of ancient plant medicines fascinated me. Like Chinese medicine, it has been around for thousands of years and integrated into cultural and religious traditions. I felt a strong connection with this wisdom at a very young age. It wasn’t until many years later after studying yoga and energy work in India and Thailand, that I decided to take the plunge into my MSTOM program and become an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist.

It was actually the study of herbs and anthropology that really led me into studying Chinese medicine. The idea that I could focus on one culture’s incredible tradition of Materia Medica, as well as the system of acupuncture which has been around for 5,000 years. Not only could I get a Masters and Doctorate,  but it was based on detailed studies recorded in books spanning thousands of years of trial and error. And even more compelling to me was the fact that this medicine was still not only alive, but had not yet been integrated into places like Sloan Kettering and the National Institutes of Health.

Personally, while in Chinese medicine school,  I confronted my own medical issues surrounding infertility. I was diagnosed with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Luckily, I had an amazing support network of mentors and Chinese medicine doctors who specialized in fertility. I committed myself to a year of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas to balance out my hormones. I made dietary changes. Within six months my PCOS symptoms were cured, hormones were balanced and, six months later, I was pregnant with my older son Noah.

Because of my own miracle story and profound experience with this medicine, I have dedicated much of my practice to treating fertility, women’s health issues and complex internal medicine cases. I never allow patients to believe the permanent story of a bad bill of health that they may of been sold by their doctors.

My well-known Manhattan based Endocrinologist told me ” You will never have kids and if you get pregnant, you will only have miscarriages and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) probably won’t even work.” Well, she was 100% dead wrong. I didn’t listen to that story. I chose a different path. Now, I have two beautiful healthy boys and had them naturally through the power of Chinese medicine and making myself healthy!

My well-known Manhattan based Endocrinologist told me ” You will never have kids and if you get pregnant, you will only have miscarriages and IVF probably won’t even work”. Well, she was 100% dead wrong. I didn’t listen to that story. I chose a different path. Now I have two beautiful healthy boys and I had them naturally through the power of Chinese medicine and making myself healthy!

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Chinese medicine?

That acupuncture hurts.

The needles do not hurt. I have done acupuncture on sleeping babies who have not awakened!  There is a video on my Two Rivers Acupuncture page to prove it. I actually posted it there because most people are so nervous about the needles.

That it only works if you believe in it.

If the placebo effect was 100% valid, then how do babies get remarkably better through acupuncture? And then there are all those patients I have had who didn’t believe in it and got better.

That it’s some hippie stuff.

Go to China and find me a hippie and then we can talk.

“I thought you had to be Asian to practice it.”

Nothing like some good old fashioned stereotyping

I’ll feel better in one or two sessions

That is how we have been taught to think: take a pill to cover and veil a problem. To truly treat most things so they go away for good, it takes 8-12 sessions and sometimes more. Treating my PCOS took one year.

Could you describe your needles? What are they made of, how do they work?

They are as thin as a hair and made out of the highest quality stainless steel. They are single use, so that means they get thrown away immediately after their one time being used and are contained in sterile single-use container packages.

Each needle is placed into a specific point. There are over 2000 points on the body, which are on meridians and activate an action for a specific symptoms. There is usually a formula of points used. Certain points couple together to create a reaction, but might be on completely different areas of the body.

The acupuncture needle acts as an antennae-like conduit and stimulates your body’s Qi or energy field, which then activates the needles. It takes 28 minutes for the Qi to circulate around the body from one organ channel or meridian to the next (there are 12).

Acupuncture can rewire the brain which leaves lasting effects on the peripheral and central nervous system and changes how the brain responds to pain and even anxiety, depression and stress. It creates microcirculation in the body, regenerates the body’s cells, and does everything from increase your immune system cells to fighting against cancer cells and activating beta and theta waves, which put your body into a deepened state of relaxation.

What would you like the public to know about your practice?

I would love the public to know that  Chinese medicine and acupuncture should be a first resort, instead of a last resort.

My practice is unique to Rockland since I am a Board Certified Herbalist and the first Doctor of Chinese medicine in Rockland, so I focus a lot on Internal Medicine. My expertise and specialties are the following :

  • All things relating to Women’s Health – (from period imbalances to fertility to prenatal care to menopause),
  • Emotional Health,
  • Pediatrics and
  • Complex Internal Medicine Cases.

My mission is to support my community through this medicine and be here as a source for wellness and utmost health. I have a deep passion for what I do and fully support my patients through their health and healing journeys.

What we may be missing in Western medicine, I believe, is to be truly heard and listened to. Patients in general feel that with their Western doctors, they are not getting treatment geared towards the goal of health, but instead toward masking the symptom, which then leads to more issues down the road.

I think most of us are very used to the idea of not really healing a disease or imbalance that may contribute to negative effects on our health and instead just living with something and hoping to manage it.  In my practice, I see that what may be understood as something that is a permanent issue can become cured and healed. This is something I hope to change through practicing this medicine, that the story a patient may believe or have been told to believe is actually something that is possible to change.

My hope is over time, with the incredible amount of research that has been done lately, Chinese medicine will become more and more normalized and maybe even become a standard of care, and prescribed by doctors here in Rockland. My dream is that we can create true integrative medicine relationships that serve the patient and their health to the fullest. In my practice, patients are listened to, heard and cared for, which is something many feel is unique to their health and wellness experience.

You have a statue of Quan Yin in your office. Could you tell us more about the patron saint of Chinese medicine?

I bought Quan Yin at Liberty Crafts in Nyack about 18 years ago. He/ She has traveled with me all over the country and the world and has stood watching over my patients in Buenos Aires and now here in Nyack.

I started studying the I CHING about 20 or so years ago. The I CHING comes from Taoism and the Ba Gua. Taoism is the foundation of Chinese medicine, since it is understood that all things are within a state of yin or yang, yin within yang or yang within yin. Everything in nature is trying to find it’s way back to the ultimate harmony and balance of the yin/yang. 

We are all a reflection of nature and the subtle nuances and imbalances of nature. Just as  water finds it way around the rocks in a stream, we too can find this balance within our bodies. Chinese medicine is all about supplementing what may be deficient, nourishing these substances of yin, yang, Qi and blood.

Sometimes, there is excess, so we must transform and harmonize. Sometimes, these substances are stuck like the water trying to get around the rocks, so we must move these substances so disease does not occur. Quan Yin encompasses all of this.

Since Quan Yin represents the true state of balance of the Yin and the Yang, he/she is both male and female. Quan Yin is a gender fluid bodhisattva. I always had a connection with Quan Yin and it’s an interesting thought to think about the journey she has been on with me and all the places I have lived, from Nyack to Arizona to San Francisco to Brooklyn to San Diego to Buenos Aires and now completing the full circle where it all began. You’ll meet a statue of Quan Yin when you enter my waiting room.

There are some incredible geometric artworks in your office, who is the artist and what part do they play in your practice?

The art in my office is by my husband Marcelo Sturgeon. He is a visionary artist who creates all of his images through the healing work and visions he has been involved in for the past 20 years. He is a traditional tobaquero and curandero from Argentina, which is like a shaman. In South America, shamans instead use the term curandero (one who cures).

He comes from the tradition of Amazonian traditional medicine and all of his work is based off of his medicinal healing. Each piece is actually a vision and many of them are medicine songs and patterns. You can check out his work at marcelosturgeon.com

What did I miss?

When I started practicing I lived in Buenos Aires, I was the only real acupuncturist and Chinese medicine doctor in the city and maybe the country since there are no schools for Chinese medicine in Latin America. Most doctors who practice it there take a short 50 hour course.

This led me to having a big practice that was mostly expats from all over the world and then 30-40% Argentine. I worked hand-in-hand with local doctors and midwives and was able to create a very special practice there.

It was definitely challenging since there was no importation in Argentina while I lived there and I had to bring in my needles and herbs in my suitcases which was not always an easy feat. I also had to learn how to speak Spanish quickly since the word caught on about my practice and I had many patients who did not speak English.

We were based there for about 4 years before coming back to the United States. I was hired on at the esteemed Yin Ova center in NYC by Dr. Jill Blakeway, which is one of the largest Chinese medicine centers in the country and specifically focused around Women’s health and Internal medicine.

After a year or so, I decided to leave the Yin Ova center and focus on my practice in Nyack to put my heart and soul towards my dream of becoming the “village doctor.” This community has been nothing but a blessing and I feel honored to have my practice based in Nyack and to serve such an incredible community!

Two Rivers Acupuncture and Wellness takes most out of network insurance plans and offers packages to try and make treatment more accessible. Visit them on line at tworiversacupuncture.com. They are located at 310 N. Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960 (845) 418-0809 info@tworiversacupuncture.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” Dr. Lauren Dulberg of Two Rivers Acupuncture & Wellness” © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com  


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Nyack Sketch Log: Climate Conversations with Dr. Robin Bell

by Bill Batson

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On two nights in April, scientists and a legal scholar, who call Nyack home, will give presentations that demonstrate how urgent the hour is for our planet, and what we can do as individuals and a community to respond.

Robin Bell

Robin Bell is the connective tissue between the two programs. On Tuesday April 2 at 6:30p at the Nyack Center, Bell, a Professor and Polar Researcher at the world-renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the President of the American Geophysical Union will moderate a panel on the precise threat to our planet caused by climate change that features her colleagues at Lamont, Nicole Davi, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Paleoclimatology, and tree-ring expert and William D’Andrea, Lamont Associate Research Professor of biology and paleo environment, expert on natural and human-induced climate change.

On Tuesday, April 16th, she will introduce her husband, Pace Law School Professor and director of Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic Karl S. Coplan. Coplan, who is also a principal outside counsel for Riverkeeper, Inc. Coplan will offer readings from his book Live Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life, offering practical advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, including everything from how you eat, commute, and run your house, to life enriching travel and recreation.

William D’Andrea at Friday’s Student Climate Strike

The programs are sponsored by the host, the Nyack Center, along with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, NyackNewsAndViews and La Taylaye Catering and Event Design.

I am honored to be one of the organizers. Tickets for each program at $20 ($35 for both) and include a catered receptions after each event.

Nicole Davi

Like millions of Americans, West Nyack’s Robin Bell dreads her commute. It’s not the time it takes to cover the 26,000 mile round trip. And while she certainly misses her family during the weeks she spends at her remote workspace; that is not the worst part. It’s the carbon footprint from the passenger and ski-equipped cargo planes that troubles her the most. Robin Bell is a climate scientist and air travel is the only practical way for her to get to her “office” at Field Camp Twin Otter in Antarctica.

Bell is currently one of the world’s leading experts in polar science. She directs research programs in Antarctica and Greenland; leads research on ice sheets, plate tectonics, and rivers; and leads the development of technology to monitor our changing planet. As chair of the National Academy of Sciences Polar Research Board, she was instrumental in launching International Polar Year 2007-2008, a major multinational push to study the polar regions.

Karl Copland

Her interests range from ice sheet dynamics to sub-glacial ecosystems. Bell studies the mechanisms of ice sheet collapse and the environments beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, including the Gamburtsev Mountains. The Gamburtsev range, also known as the ghost mountains, are as large as the Alps with a summit that never sees the sun, buried beneath 2,000 feet of snow and ice.

“I use physics to paint pictures of the world,“ Bell said in a 2011 interview.  “I’ve been incredibly lucky in terms of being able to leverage physics to see through to these places that are pretty much hidden to the human eye.”

Bell uses geophysics to observe “how the ice sheets work, how they grow, how they change and how they are changing now.” The model for how ice sheets behave was, until recently, as simple as “putting an ice cube on a table and letting it melt.'”  Bell and her multinational scientific partners in Antarctica are observing a much more dramatic process. “Parts of the ice sheet…are like giant conveyor belts that move a lot of ice into the ocean fast. Conveyor belts that are as wide as the state of Rhode Island. “

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Bell’s office space

As remote as her polar offices might be from our northern hemisphere Atlantic coastal setting, we are connected by the world’s oceans to the changes in the ecology of Antarctica and Greenland. In Antarctica, Bell is recording “how ice gets taken from the middle of ice sheets down along these fast flowing ice streams down into the ocean where they turn into icebergs and are the mechanism that raises global sea levels.”

“Since my grandmother was born, sea levels have risen one foot.” Bell said. “In the worst case scenario, the oceans could rise another foot in the next three decades, which means adapting to what we had seen since my grandmother was born a little quicker.”

Earth Day in Nyack

Earth Day will be celebrated in Nyack on Saturday, April 27 from noon to 4p in Veterans Memorial Park, Cedar and Main Street. Enjoy live music, food vendors, local artisans, craft projects, unique hands-on activities, learn about recycling and gardening how-to’s. Kids’ activities include art projects and face painting. drop off used battery. Keep Rockland Beautiful, Inc. Great American Cleanup crew prior to to the event. Brought to you by the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Nyack and sponsored by Casa del Sol, Green Mountain Energy and Summer Play Camp at Blue Rock School.

Bell takes to the seas as a sailor as well as a scientist. “We sail as a family to soak in the open sea and sky and see new places together. I take a microscope and a small plankton net to look at the creatures in the sea, but that is just for fun.”

One of Bell’s recent projects included testing a new imaging system “icepod” that is designed to  measure ice thickness and how much snow has fallen in the last 100 years and the temperature. Her commute north is shorter than her southern sojourn, just 2,000 miles to the town of Kangerlussag and another 3,000 to the spot where they measure the ice.

Here are a few things that Bell thinks people who live on the banks of the Hudson should keep in mind when contemplating the impact of global weather systems:

Integrate your concern for the environment into your life whatever it is… art, journalism, business… we have to embrace change and move away from a lifestyle based on carbon fuels.

Encourage kids to study science and engineering…. we need more really smart people working on the planet as a system if we want to keep it as a habitable place.

When you are standing in Memorial Park, Bell has a simple way to fathom the elevated height of the river. “Put your hand just below your knee…. the water has gone up that far since 1900.”  Bell hopes that local governments will be mindful of this accelerating trend and place critical infrastructure above storm surge levels.

Even though she already gives to the fight against global climate change at the office, Bell’s activities extend beyond the traditional scope of scientific research. Bell was the director of the ADVANCE program at Columbia’s Earth Institute from 2004-2011 that increased the participation and advancement of women scientists and engineers at the University. She was also instrumental in the development of the International Polar Year 2007-8.

Most of us are as likely to walk on the moon, as we are to step onto the ice at the South Pole. But what happens underneath Antarctica’s frozen surface shapes our future. Which is why we are fortunate that one of our neighbors is willing to make the trip for us. Let’s just hope that policy makers have the wisdom to comprehend the implications of her findings and the integrity to take corrective action.

The Ice Beneath Their Feet from Lamont Doherty on Vimeo.

World-Renowned Climate Scientists Come To The Nyack Center

Learn about climate change from leading experts. World renowned scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, NY will visit Nyack.

Dr. Robin Bell

April 2, How Urgent is the Moment: Facts on Climate from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Moderated by Robin Bell, Professor and Polar Researcher and President of the American Geophysical Union. Panelists include Nicole Davi, professor of environmental science, paleoclimatologist, and tree-ring expert; and William D’Andrea, professor of biology and paleo environment, expert on natural and human-induced climate change.

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Karl Coplan, kayaking to work.

April 16, Live Sustainably Now. Moderated by Pace Law School Professor Karl S. Coplan, director of Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and principal outside counsel for Riverkeeper, Inc.

Coplan will give practical advice on how everyone can reduce their carbon footprint–from how you travel to how you manage your home. Coplan leads by example, having commuted to work across the Hudson River via kayak until new bridge construction restricted his access.

Each discussion begins at 6:30p, and is followed by a meet-and-greet reception with the presenters, sponsored by La Talaye.

Reservations are highly recommended. Tickets for each event are $20, or the public can purchase both for $35. Visit NyackKnows.com for information and reservations.

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Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log:“Local Scientists and Legal Scholar Lead Climate Conversation”“ © 2019 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


Nyack Sketch Log: First Woman to Vote in Rockland County Practiced Law Here

by Bill Batson

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Natalie Couch, the first woman to vote and practice law in Rockland County, lived and held “court” in this distinctive five-peaked tower on South Broadway and Depew Avenue.

Even though a marker erected by the Historical Society of Rockland County records the achievements of Natalie Couch, I walked past the plaque a thousand times before I stopped long enough to comprehend the compelling story of Nyack’s pioneering feminist.

The edifce that would one day house the Couch family was built in 1854 for A.J. Storms of  the Storm’s Tub and Pail Factory. Mr. Storms had his house built at this location so that he could keep a watchful eye over his factory that stood on the ground that is today Memorial Park.

In the mid-19th century South Broadway was a mixed-use neighborhood, where manufacturing and agricultural properties stood side-by-side with houses. As property values rose, factories moved further inland to make room for residential development.

From 1875 until 1882 this building was the home of Edwin Stillwell, Captain of the Nyack-Tarrytown Ferry. The views from the third story most have provided a panoramic vista of the Hudson, well suited for a ship captain’s residence.

NSL_83_Couch Court Historic MarkerThe building was purchased in 1885 by the Couch Family. Dr. Louis Couch used the tower for his Homeopathic practice. Homeopathy, which is a form of alternative medicine that treats patients with highly diluted preparations, found its greatest popular acceptance in the 19th century.

As fascinating as the image of men and women in period dress in a homeopath’s waiting room under a pyramid shaped roof may be, the medical practice is not the Couch family’s greatest legacy.

That distinction goes to the doctor’s daughter, Natalie. Natalie Couch graduated from Wellesley College in 1907 and was first in her class at Fordham Law School. When the issue of extending the right to vote to women first appeared on the ballot in Rockland County in 1915, the measure lost by 400 votes. The initiative passed two years later and in 1918 Miss Natalie Couch became the first woman to cast a legal vote in our county.

It was just the beginning of an impressive resume of firsts. Natalie Couch was the first woman to:

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  • Practice law in Rockland County
  • Vote in an election in Rockland County
  • Serve as Journal Clerk to the New York State Assembly
  • Win election as President of the Rockland County Bar Association
  • Win election as Vice-Chair of the Rockland County Republican Committee
  • Stand for election in a contest between two women (a national first)

From 1942 to 1951, her law offices became temporary meeting place for the New York State Supreme Court and Town Hall for Orangetown, which is why this building is known by many as Couch Court.

Natalie Couch came into a world where she was legally precluded from participating in government and departed life with an obituary in the New York Times in 1956 that described her as New York State’s Republican leader.

When you are confronted with a full accounting of her life story, some legitimate questions come to mind: where is her statue, the street named in her honor or the annual event in her name that would inspire young women to study law and enter public life? Shouldn’t every young girl who walks past this building be given the boost in confidence that the telling of Natalie Couch’s story would instill?

Photo Credit: Bill Coughlin, Historical Society of Rockland

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: First Woman to Vote in Rockland County Practiced Law Here” © 2019 Bill Batson. Copies of the book can be purchased at billbatsonarts.com.


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