Nyack Sketch Log: Women Who Dine, For a Cause

by Bill Batson

When non-profits faced across the board reductions in funding in 2014, a group of women came together to break and raise some bread. Women Who Dine For a Cause have held almost 30 fundraising gatherings in the last five years. Their no-frills affairs are in stark contrast to traditional fundraising, where organizations must spend big bucks to raise bigger bucks. With Women Who Dine for a Cause, you go to a private home, bring a dish and a check, made out to a charity, and the community group receives the nourishment.

Nyack Sketch Log met with one of the founding members, Paula Davis, to learn more about their low-overhead, high-return community-based fundraising paradigm.

How did women who dine for a cause start dining?

We got started five years ago when the Rockland County decreased funding for all non-profits.

A few women got together to brainstorm how we could help. The founders were myself, Emily Dominguez, Liz Kallen, Donna Schmidt, Rochelle Spooner, and Enid Weishaus.

Where and when was the first gathering?

It was at my house. At first, we didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t take into account what happens if it rains, what do we do with the extra food, how many people will come. It was all a mystery, but it was spectacular because over 100 women came. Marla Pasquale sang and she was fabulous and Caroyln Fish spoke for Center for Safety and Change. And most importantly, we raised money to support the Center’s work.

How many dinners have you held?

We’ve had almost 30 dinners, that average about 80 women at each and we’ve raised over $80,000 for Rockland County non-profits

What happens at a dinner?

Each guest brings a dish to share. These are great opportunities for people to network or reconnect with people you haven’t see for awhile. We have delicious fun…for a cause!

What are some of the memorable moments over the last five years?

I think the most memorable moment was when we recognized United Hospice of Rockland. So many attendees had cause to use in their services in their personal lives. There were so many heartfelt testimonials.

It was amazing when Meals on Wheels showed up with a truckload of food. They are so super generous.

And when Tom Chapin performed with Michael Marks. It was such a crowd pleaser. They were just so friendly and stayed and had dinner and spoke to everyone.

It’s overwhelming to me the generosity in this county

So many women open their homes to us. We’ve seen the goodness of people, which is so important at a time like this, locally and nationally.

Do any men dine?

No. They park cars, and carry in food if we need help.

They get nice shirts to wear that say “schlepper.”

How did your experience in education inform your work?

I worked with special needs children, so I’ve always known that people, all people, need some extra help.

What other philanthropic efforts are you involved in?

My husband Steven Abel has been involved with Center for Safety and Change for over 35 years. I always tried to help out.

Would you like to see Women Who Dine happen in other communities?

I welcome anybody’s efforts to contribute to our county’s non-profits.

What’s next for Women Who Dine for A Cause?

This is the 40th anniversary of the Center for Safety and Change and the 5th anniversary of Women Who Dine for a Cause. They will be our cause when we dine next on September 25th. It’s going to be at a wonderful location and the Old No.7 Band will perform. It is a full circle occasion, as we celebrate our fifth anniversary with the first group that we supported.

In November, will be dining for Helping Hands, who are really in need of support. They have a tremendous breakfast program in the county.

What would a woman do if they wanted to dine with you for a cause?

They would register at www.womendine.net, bring a dish…and a check (in whatever amount they can contribute

And the future?

Going forward, we are fortunate enough to have young women joining our committees. I think they will take the mantle.

Special thanks to George Pejoves for the wonderful picture over the years.

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Women Who Dine, For a Cause“© 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

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Nyack Sketch Log: TRØN & DVD

by Bill Batson

Poets, performers, social commentators and town criers, rappers are the ultimate American media makers. The influence of the MC, with the generations hip to their frequency, crosses racial, gender and class boundaries. Rooted in African American urban culture, rap has become the sound track of almost every zip code in America. 10960 gave birth to the flow of TRØN & DVD ten years ago.

TRØN & DVD will be at Main Street Beat,  on Thursday, September 13 (7p, free) for an in-store signing and album listening party of their latest release Manhunt. On Sunday September 15, (8p, free) TRØN & DVD will perform at Defiant Brewery in Pearl River.

Meet brothers TRØN (Norvin Van Dunk) and DVD (Darian Van Dunk), two artists who are mixing the Rockland vibe into Hip Hop.

What was your first lyric?

DVD: Snitches get stitches, and liars catch fire.

TRØN: DVD is referring to a song we did when he first came back to rapping again (after the cassette tape era). So my first line on that song, I think, “if there’s one thing I despise, it’s these stool pigeons.” The song was about snitches. Ha Ha. We were in middle school.

What was your most recent?

DVD: Iced coffee on an empty stomach, nights got me feelin’ hella sluggish.
TRØN: Stomach Growling, the wolves howling up at the moon.

How’s Idea was all this?

TRØN: We always rapped together. When we were younger, with our cousin and older brother but I guess when we decided to be TRØN & DVD after a buncha name changes and technology advancements. It just happened naturally.

How many songs have you recorded?

I think 500

If some one hasn’t listened to your work, what should they listen to first?

Depends on if they are going to give us more than one listen. If someone is willing to dive in I would say start at the beginning but if they only give us one shot I’d say the newest album.

What comes first the words or the beat?

Most of the time, the beat.

Do you write in a book, or on scraps and do you save the original draft?

photo by Janette Beckman

DVD: Electronic on Evernote. Save every draft since 2010.
Tron: Same. I love Evernote. Before that it was just note pad on mac and before that paper.

Any other art forms that either of you use for expression?

DVD:I edit videos on the side, including some of our own.
TRØN: I do a lot of the graphic design for us. i would like to write more (short stories, poetry, etc)

Who directs your videos?

We go back and forth depending on concept, or if we hire someone.

What bar was “Me Time” shot it?

The local.

What are some of your creative influences that might surprise people?

DVD: My favorite genre of music is Alternative Pop. I get a lot of inspiration from some of those bands and artists. Watching B-Horror movies inspired a whole mixtape we did once and a lot of songs we do now are titled or influenced by them. Also, I watch a lot of anime.

TRØN: I listen to a lotta artists that are more popular than us in the same genre but not super popular,  so it makes me think of achievable goals. I am also super inspired by all the bands I listen to, Coheed and Cambria, Twenty One Pilots, and people we’ve met and played with. I think that connection to someone whose art I admire really helps me believe i can also do what they do.

Any other musicians in the family?

TRØN: besides our brother Lynk, cousin Travislike, our mom used to be in like a Hip Hop R&B group and my wife sings really well.

Would you care to tell me how each of you got your name?

DVD are my initials.

TRØN: I was norvatron5000 as like a joke and people started to call me that as a nickname so it stuck. I like it cause i will always be called TRØN regardless of rap.

Are any of your songs political?

DVD: I wouldn’t call it political. I would just call it songs that are about society, and doing what is right and condemning what is wrong. But technically, yes.

TRØN: Yeah a bunch but like not so topical. like it’s general political beliefs despite the climate we are in. We’ve always felt certain ways no matter who is in charge.

How does where you’re from shape your sound?

TRØN: Rockland is a diverse area so we listen to all types of music. A lot of artists here do different things. there are definitely a lotta artists competing with each other in the county (for no reason) and I think that is motivation to be better, you know it’s a hiphop thing you always want to be better.

Also, I think it hurts the scene. no one wants to work with each other. I kind of like the fact we outshine everyone though but i would like to mix it up.

How does it shape your lyrics?

TRØN: I think the journey of doing this in a certain area and your resources really shape the lyrics because you can vividly describe what’s going on and what’s around you. a lot of Indie rap and pop punk talk about leaving your hometown and doing things in a big way.

Sometimes, there’s struggle to get out and sometimes you miss it when you leave. I think everyone wants to prove to people they’ve grown up with how good they’ve become at something or how well they’ve done in life.

photo by Mikaela Barish

The music business seems tough. What would you say to someone trying to get into the industry?

TRØN: depends on what they want, if they want fame, do what it takes, learn from already famous people and don’t let anyone get in your way.

If you want to be good, practice and put things out as much as you want.

If you want money, hustle and learn the product you want to sell, don’t try to sell prog rock to edm fans. Be a businesses person. Us, we like to create, the things we achieve we get by creating what we want so we are happy with our outcome of work.

photo by Janette Beckman

How did you get signed by Kiam?

When the record store opened up my dad told Jen we were rappers and gave her our cds we had out at the time. She liked them enough to work with us.

What is the one question you haven’t been asked in an interview that you wish had been? Please ask and answer it?

DVD:

“What are some struggles as an ‘upcoming’ artist?

I would say that the things you want to achieve seem to haunt you, especially when you are online looking at other people achieve those things. You can’t let that mess with your mind, because you will end up discouraged, changing your art, or becoming depressed that it’s not you. Nobody talks to non famous people about not being famous, but it’s definitely a thing in your head. My thing is, I don’t want to be famous for work I’m not proud of so I’m happy because I’m proud of my work.

TRØN:

Favorite cheese?

TRØN: It’s Muenster.

DVD: Swiss, man.

What’s next for TRØN & DVD?

We have our album release with weekend shows, on September 13th at defiant brewery with impossible colors, and the foxfires. Defiant is also coming out with a beer named after our new album “manhunt.”

That Saturday is Haverstraw Riverwide Arts festival that we are playing and then Sunday, the 15th is our album release show with some of our fellow Indie Hip Hop artists, Elucid, SB the Moor, Brain Orchestra, and Cunabear.

I (TRØN) want to take a break personally, and work on a solo project. I think DVD does too.

I want to go back to having some fun and not stress too much about success, ya know. A little practice maybe. Kind of like pick up basketball when your’e in the NBA. Stress free.

To pre-order signed cds or for dates visit kiamrecords.com

Sketch of TRØN & DVD’s first cassette based on a photo by Luis Bruno.

Read more:

Nyack Sketch Log: Main Street Beat, May 1, 2018 , by Bill Batson

Label debut for Nyack Rappers TRØN and DVD, September 3, 2107 by Chris Stanton

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “TRØN & DVD“ © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

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Nyack Sketch Log: Thurgood Marshall Comes to Hillburn

by Bill Batson

Before Thurgood Marshall helped dismantle discrimination in education by his successful argument in  Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, and literally changed the complexion of the Supreme Court by becoming the first black Justice, he came to Rockland County to argue a desegregation case.

I am excited to be teaching a course entitled “Thurgood Marshall Comes to Hillburn,” at the Learning Collaborative in New City that starts today.  In additions to covering research material collected for my column on the subject, I have speakers including Travis Jackson, who was one of the 49 children at the center of a successful desegregation case in Rockland County in 1943.

NSL_141_Hillburn_Travis Jackson

Dr. Travis Jackson

Like most public school students of color in mid-20th century America, Travis Jackson did not have a white classmate for a significant portion of his education. This demographic detail was not coincidental, but by design and accomplished with the pernicious misuse of public funds to maintain separate schools for black children.

Jackson, and his father before him, attended the Brook School for Colored Children in the Village of Hillburn. Less than a mile away from the Brook School stood the Hillburn School, where only white students were enrolled. The Brook School was an unheated wooden structure with a small rocky playground in the front. The Hillburn School was modern and well equipped.

NSL_141_Hillburn

Rockland County Courthouse, 1943. Mrs. Van Dunk in the center with a coat draped over her folded arms. Marshall is the tall gentlemen to her left.

In 1943, Brook School parents, led by Mrs. Marion Van Dunk, engaged the services from a young attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund. When Thurgood Marshall came to Hillburn to defend the constitutional rights of elementary school students, Travis Jackson was entering the fourth grade.

Parents withheld their children from attending the Brook School in September of 1943 to protest the separate and unequal elementary school system. By October, their tactic and their legal counsel prevailed. The New York State Commissioner of Education closed the Brook School and ordered that all 49 children be admitted into the Hillburn School on Mountain Avenue.

Nyack resident and First Lady of the American Stage Helen Hayes was quoted at the time as having said: “I look forward with hope and prayer to developments in Hillburn…I am sure that the white people in Hillburn will have faith in democracy and…meet the situation with tolerance  and understanding. Their audience today is as wide as the world.”

NSL_141_Hillburn_First Day

Brook students being turned away from the Hillburn School

In Hillburn, white families must have gotten a different memo. In the aftermath of the integration order, one parent told a reporter about a new committee that had been formed: “We’ll call it the Association for the Advancement of White People,” the parent said. “The Negroes have their association. We are forced to have ours.”

When a nine- year old Travis Jackson reported to school on the first day of integrated education in Hillburn, only one white student remained, briefly. Even though the desegregation of the school system was instituted during his fourth grade year, it was not until the seventh grade that the racial composition of the student body began to diversify.

Memorial Highway Highlights Civil Rights History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 17, 2019, Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee was joined by Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Senator David Carlucci and Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski to announce legislation (A-5939/S-521-A) to name a section of Rte.17 in Hillburn Justice Thurgood Marshall Memorial Highway. Enacted on June 24 with a pen stroke from Governor Andrew Cuomo, this distinction, bestowed on the first African American United States Supreme Court Justice, will represent the culmination of an enduring partnership between Jaffee and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity to acknowledge the role that an overlooked case in Hillburn played in the shaping American history.

The event coincided with the 65 anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision ending racial discrimination public schools, a case successfully argued by Marshall. “The foundations for the Brown decision are grounded in Marshall’s work as an attorney in Hillburn to end a local case of public school racial discrimination; those efforts began 11 years prior to the decision in Brown. Marshall’s efforts in Hillburn brought to a close more than a decade of school board intransigence in the assignment of elementary school age children to separate schools based only upon their race,” observed James K. Riley,  Adjunct Professor in Public Education Law in the graduate schools of Long Island University and Pace University.

“Two Schools for Hillburn,” a documentary by Joe Allen, chronicles how a plea from the father of one of the black students, a local Rockland County Attorney Jacob Wexler, brought a 35 year old NAACP Legal Defense Fund named Thurgood Marshall to Hillburn in 1943.

Along with Nyack Branch NAACP President Frances Pratt and Spring Valley NAACP President Willie Trotman, Dr. Travis Jackson, one of the 49 students who were represented by Marshall was in attendance.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha, led by the late Dr. Willie Bryant have worked for years with Assemblymember Jaffee to bring attention to the historic significance of the Hillburn Case. Marshall was also a member of the fraternity. As a result of the research they conducted Jaffee was able to pass a resolution making May 17 Thurgood Marshall Day in New York State.  A monument in honor of Marshall, funded by the fraternity, was erected outside the Hillburn School in 2002.

“Thurgood Marshall showed us the way – that leads right down this Thurgood Marshall Memorial Highway and down so many other roads that he travelled which as individuals and a society we must follow, ” said Riley.

To avoid an association with students of a different race, white families sent their children to nearby parochial schools. But that strategy had its limitations. “I guess private schools eventually became too expensive, new families moved in and others saw that the world was not coming to an end,” Jackson said. Integration eventually took hold. When Jackson graduated from Suffern High in 1952, six of the 83 students in his graduating class were black Brook School alumni. Jackson went on to obtain his Doctorate in Education and serve as an educator and administrator for over three decades in schools in Suffern and northern New Jersey.

In 1954, Marshall and his colleagues at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund successfully argued Brown, ending segregated public schools in America. The reaction in some communities was similar to the initial response in Hillburn. One of the most dramatic examples of resistance was in Arkansas, where President Dwight Eisenhower had to send in the National Guard to ensure the safety of black students during the process of integrating Little Rock High School.

Supreme Court decisions, like Brown, had a profound impact on America by ending state-sanctioned discrimination. Decisions by the current high court, in areas from voting rights to affirmative action, signal the removal of the legal remedies that were enacted to address a legacy of racial discrimination in our country. Recent comments by onetime Tea Party darling Cliven Bundy and Los Angeles Clipper’s  former owner Donald Sterling suggest that many of the same racial antagonisms that were prevalent before Brown endure.

But for those who may feel dispirited by recent racial discord, near and far, Jackson’s description of Hillburn after public school integration is reassuring.  According to Jackson, the resentments of the adults of that period did not trickle down to their children. “Many of my friends, who are white and grew up in Hillburn, never got why they were dragged out of their school in 1943. Today Hillburn is one of the most integrated areas of Rockland – integrated economically, politically, and socially. It is also a nice place to live,” Jackson added.

Statement from Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee on the passing of Dr. Bryant.

“Dr. Willie Bryant’s life was defined by public service and community activism. Over the years I had the distinct pleasure of partnering with Dr. Bryant, his brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, members of the NAACP and other community leaders, in his outspoken efforts to commemorate with a monument the distinguished career of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the significance of the Hillburn School and the civil rights movement, a watershed period in American history. I am honored and humbled to have worked so closely with Dr. Bryant and proud of our successes in having the Hillburn School listed on both the State and the National Register of Historic Places and to have sponsored legislation designating May 17th as Thurgood Marshall Day in New York State. Our community has lost a pioneer and a driving force in the fight to provide an equal, quality education for all children. Dr. Bryant’s extraordinary vision, dedication and leadership will be sorely missed.”

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Hillburn Case Precursor of Brown V. Board of Education“ © 2016 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

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Nyack Sketch Log: Eight Years Of Ink

by Bill Batson

Today is the eighth anniversary Nyack Sketch Log. Since 2011, I have published nearly 400 columns. The flow of ink forming essays and illustrations almost entirely about a person, place of interest or policy matter related to Nyack, New York.

There have been occasional repeats, and I admit the edge of my creative quiver has not always been as sharp as I would wish. However, I have sought to faithfully fulfill a self-imposed mandate, that eventually, became a covenant with my readers. Every Tuesday, for the last eight years, I have tried to bring forth something compelling.

Spinoff events and experience have emerged from the Nyack Sketch Log. Several flash sketch mobs have gathered, a public art event where dozens of residents create a collective perspective landscape portrait.  Sam Harps staged a play based on one entry and a sketch log about the underground railroad led to the dedication in Nyack of a Toni Morrison’s Bench by the Road.

Two compilations of 55 short essays and sketches each have been published and are for sale, and thankfully, still sell. You can purchase volume I and II here.

I am a different person from when I began this odyssey on August 23, 2011 and the world is a different place. Here are the titles that appeared every time I hit publish these last 8 years. They say something about me, and the community that make this village unique.

Passing milestones helps us take measure of where we’ve been and how far we are from where we want to go. But there are invisible forces — a psychic physics– that creates momentum and direction in our lives. This project now has a life of its own. Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.

8 years of ink

  1. Liberty Street (8/23/11)
  2. Wet and Wild Rogue Elephants (8/30/11)
  3. The Lights Are Back On.  (9/6/11)
  4. I Remember John Perry (9/11/11)
  5. Jen White For Mayor (9/12/11)
  6. Alien Archeologists (9/20/11)
  7. Straight Lines Ruin Everything (9/27/11)
  8. The Bull of Wall Street (10/4/11)
  9. NSL Vs. Google Maps (10/11/11)
  10. Brinks Robbery (10/18/11)
  11. The Tappan Zee Bridge (10/25/11)
  12. #RipVanWinkle (11/1/11)
  13. A “Dirty Rat” of Route 59 (11/8/11)
  14. To 10960 With Love (11/15/11)
  15. Post Occupied Wall Street (11/22/11)
  16. Soup Lines to Soup Angels (11/ 29/11)
  17. Nyack Center (12/6/11)
  18. Amazing Grace Church (12/13/11)
  19. Pickwick (12/20/11)
  20. Village Hall (12/28/11)
  21. Warts and All: 1884 Map (1/3/12)
  22. Vincent’s Ear (1/10/12)
  23. Fellowship of Reconciliation (1/17/12)
  24. Couch Court (1/23/12)
  25. Save our Green House (1/31/12)
  26. Hoppermania (2/7/12)
  27. Pilgrim Baptist Church (2/14/12)
  28. St. Philip’s A.M.E. Zion (2/21/12)
  29. Nyack Water (2/28/12)
  30. Nyack Library Part I (3/6/12)
  31. Nyack Library Part II (3/13/12)
  32. Maura’s Kitchen (3/20/12)
  33. Nyack’s Little Schoolhouse (3/27/12)
  34. The Rotary Clock (4/3/12)
  35. Flash Sketch Mob (4/10/12)
  36. Nyack Village Theatre (4/17/12)
  37. Versus Walgreens (4/24/12)
  38. Wright Bros. Real Estate (5/1/12)
  39. Hacienda (5/8/12)
  40. Underground Railroad (5/15/12)
  41. Pie Lady… & Son (5/22/12)
  42. Streamstudios (5/29/12)
  43. The Office (6/5/12)
  44. Hook Mountain Yacht Club (6/12/12)
  45. Came, Saw, Sketched (6/19/12)
  46. Flash Sketch Mob Finale (6/26/12)
  47. Fire Department (7/3/12)
  48. The Corner Frame Shop (7/10/12)
  49. The Orchards of Concklin (7/17/12)
  50. The YMCA (7/24/12)
  51. Hollingsworth Memorial (7/31/12)
  52. Hopper House (8/ 7/12)
  53. Hopper Happens (8/14/12)
  54. One-Year Anniversary (8/21/12)
  55. Hudson House (8/28/12)
  56. Elmwood Playhouse (9/4/12)
  57. Koblin’s Pharmacy (9/11/12)
  58. Rockland Center for the Arts (9/18/12)
  59. Carson McCuller’s (9/25/12)
  60. Amazing Grace Circus (10/2/12)
  61. Historical Society of the Nyacks (10/9/12)
  62. Art Café (10/16/12)
  63. William Prime Batson (10/23/12)
  64. 1 Poltergeist Place, Nyack NY (10/30/12)
  65. Brave New Normal (11/6/12)
  66. Vets Rock (11/13/12)
  67. Year Round Farmers’ Market (11/20/12)
  68. Main Street Revival (11/27/12)
  69. Helen Hayes MacCarthur (12/4/12)
  70. The Folk Art of John Rossi (12/11/12)
  71. Hickory Dickory Dock (12/ 18/12)
  72. 25 Days Since Newtown (1/8/13)
  73. Dr. King and Guns (1/15/13)
  74. Health Care Reform (1/22/13)
  75. Last Armoire Standing (1/913)
  76. Int’l Order of Odd Fellows (2/5/13)
  77. Sam Waymon Lived Here (2/12/13)
  78. Kenya on the Hudson (2/19/13)
  79. Anderson and the SS Columbia (2/26/13)
  80. Local History on Map (3/5/13)
  81. Fracking Finds Fresh Foe (3/12/13)
  82. Mayor Jen White (3/19/2013)
  83. Couch Court (3/26/13)
  84. Planning for New Playgrounds (4/2/13)
  85. Towering Treasures (4/9/13)
  86. Postcard From Antarctica (4/16/13)
  87. Frances Pratt and the NAACP (4/22/13)
  88. Oak Hill Cemetery (4/29/13)
  89. Stop on The Trip To Bountiful (5/7/13)
  90. S. Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow (5/14/13)
  91. Art Puts Nyack on the Map (5/21/13)
  92. Community Agriculture (5/28/13)
  93. It’s Bike Season, Be Safe (6/4/13)
  94. Strawtown Studio (6/11/13)
  95. Mandela Meditation (6/ 18/13)
  96. Amazing Grace Circus (6/25/13)
  97. Vincent’s Ear (7/2/13)
  98. Piermont a la Paris (7/9/13)
  99. Requiem for a Barn & Barge (7/16/13)
  100. NSL Turns 100 (7/23/13)
  101. Two Row Flotilla (7/30/13)
  102. Solomon Northup (8/6/13)
  103. Let Freedom Ring (8/13/13)
  104. Small Business Cultivation (8/20/13)
  105. Volunteer Fire Department (8/2713)
  106. Yoga Reborn Here (9/3/13)
  107. John Perry (9/10/13)
  108. West Gate (9/17/13)
  109. Tappan Zee Playhouse (9/24/13)
  110. Hannemann’s (10/1/13)
  111. New York’s Next Mayor? (10/8/13)
  112. Nyack Boat Club (10/15/13)
  113. Grace Church (10/22/13)
  114. Hand House (10/29/13)
  115. Sandy Still Stings (11/5/13)
  116. Active Shooter (11/12/13)
  117. First Reformed Church (11/19/13)
  118. Pie Lady and Son (11/23/13)
  119. Support our Nyack Center (12/3/13)
  120. Mandela 1918-2013 (12/7/13)
  121. Indoor Farmer’s Market (12/10/13)
  122. Avispa (12/17/13)
  123. Living Christ Church (12/24/13)
  124. Didier Dumas (1/7/14)
  125. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dreamcatcher (1/14/14)
  126. Vytlacil (1/21/14)
  127. William Prime Batson 1922-2019 (1/28/14)
  128. Teagevity (2/4/14)
  129. GW Bridgegate (2/11/14)
  130. Carson McCullers (2/18/14)
  131. St. Charles AME (2/25/14)
  132. 12 Years a Slave (3/3/14)
  133. African American Entrepreneurs (3/4/14)
  134. Green Mountain Energy (3/11/14)
  135. OK Records (3/18/14)
  136. Houses with a Secret (3/25/14)
  137. The Hopper Years (4/2/14)
  138. Mount Moor Cemetery (4/9/14)
  139. Piermont Station (4/14/14)
  140. Palisades Imperiled (4/22/14)
  141. Jazz Age Speakeasy (4/29/14)
  142. Neighborhood Knife Sharpener (5/6/14)
  143. Hillburn Case (5/16/14)
  144. Revolusun (5/20/14)
  145. Gardens of Civic Virtue (5/27/14)
  146. Gay Pride (6/3/14)
  147. Women in the Military (6/10/14)
  148. Liberty School (6/17/14)
  149. O’Donohue’s (6/24/14)
  150. Southtown Farms (7/1/14)
  151. Hip Hop Horray (7/10/14)
  152. Farmer’s Market Doubles Down (7/15/14)
  153. Nyack Hospital’s New Chapter (7/22/14)
  154. Hummingbird Ranch (7/29/14)
  155. Maria Luisa (8/5/14)
  156. DSZ Barbers (8/12/14)
  157. Towt House (8/19/14)
  158. House Haunted by Art (8/26/14)
  159. West Gate (9/2/14)
  160. America’s First Yogi (9/9/14)
  161. Amazing Grace Circus (9/11/14)
  162. Gluten Free Goodies (9/16/14)
  163. Congregation Sons of Israel (9/23/14)
  164. Fairy Tale Home (9/30/14)
  165. United Hospice of Rockland (10/7/14)
  166. Nyack on the Map (10/14/14)
  167. Legally Haunted House (10/21/14)
  168. Hitchcock Meets Hopper (10/28/14)
  169. Tools of Many Trades (11/4/14)
  170. Jerry Donnellan (11/11/14)
  171. Toni Morrison Bench by the Road (11/18/14)
  172. Rockland Non-Profits (11/25/14)
  173. Nyack Sketch Log: The Book (12/2/14)
  174. Hickory Dickory Dock (12/9/14)
  175. Squash Blossom (12/16/14)
  176. Guide to Giving (12/23/14)
  177. Sam Waymon Soars (12/30/14)
  178. Warts And All (1/6/15)
  179. Goat Herding Tale (1/13/15)
  180. Sweetpea Market (1/20/15)
  181. Helen Hayes MacArthur (1/27/15)
  182. NAACP President Frances Pratt (2/3/15)
  183. Local History on the Map (2/10/15)
  184. Art Cafe (2/17/15)
  185. Flash Sketch Mob 2015 (2/24/15)
  186. Women of Leadership (3/3/15)
  187. Didier Dumas Redux (3/10/15)
  188. Richard Anderson (3/17/15)
  189. Strawberry Place (3/24/15)
  190. Earth Day Edition (3/31/15)
  191. Lent House Demolished (4/7/15)
  192. Hand House (4/14/15)
  193. School Street Syllabus (4/21/15)
  194. Welcome Toni Morrison (4/28/15)
  195. O’D’s Last Call (5/5/15)
  196. Kendell Brenner (5/12/15)
  197. A Bench By the Underground Railroad (5/19/15)
  198. Flash Sketch Mob is Back (5/26/15)
  199. John Green Preservation Coalition (6/2/15)
  200. Art Walk Founder (6/9/15)
  201. Amazing Grace Still Soaring (6/16/15)
  202. Summer Jazz (6/23/15)
  203. Vytlacil Artist Residency (7/7/15)
  204. Boat Builder (7/14/15)
  205. International Order of Odd Fellows (7/21/15)
  206. Neighborhood Knife Sharpener (7/28/15)
  207. Hummingbird Ranch (8/4/15)
  208. Nyack Needs A Skate Park (8/11/15)
  209. Jazz Age Speakeasy (8/18/15)
  210. Nyack Center Turns 25 (8/25/15)
  211. Historical Society of the Nyack (9/8/15)
  212. Piermont Happenings (9/15/15)
  213. Avispa (9/22/15)
  214. Elmwood Playhouse (9/29/15)
  215. Pickwick Book Shop (10/6/15)
  216. Pie Lady and Son (10/13/15)
  217. Waymon Salutes Nina Simone (10/20/15)
  218. Legally Haunted House (10/27/15)
  219. FOR 100 Years Old (11/3/15)
  220. Gallery of Metal and Stone(11/10/15)
  221. House Haunted by Art (11/17/15)
  222. Teagevity (11/24/15)
  223. Orchards of Concklin (12/1/15)
  224. Guide to Giving (12/8/15)
  225. Tappan Zee Bridge (12/15/15)
  226. Nyack Library Part I (12/22/15)
  227. Nyack Library Part II (12/29/15)
  228. Hillburn School (1/5/16)
  229. ROCA (1/12/16)
  230. YMCA (1/19/16)
  231. Strawberry Place (1/26/16)
  232. Hopper House (2/2/16)
  233. Local History Scholar (2/9/16)
  234. Couch Court (2/16/16)
  235. Maura’s on the Move (2/23/16)
  236. The Office (3/1/16)
  237. Towt House (3/8/16)
  238. Skate Board Wizards (3/15/16)
  239. Year-Round Farmer’s Market (3/29/16)
  240. Green Mountain Energy (4/5/16)
  241. Oak Hill Cemetery (4/12/16)
  242. O’Donoughue’s Rides Again (4/19/16)
  243. Congregation Sons of Israel (4/26/16)
  244. Fairy Tale House (5/3/16)
  245. Nyack Village Theatre (5/10/16)
  246. Amazing Grace Circus 5/17/16)
  247. Gay Pride Rockland (5/24/16)
  248. Oratamin Pool Club 5/31/16)
  249. Art Walk (6/7/16)
  250. DSZ Barber (6/14/16)
  251. Piermont Happenings (6/21/16)
  252. Squash Blossom (6/28/16)
  253. Historical Society (7/12/16)
  254. Waymon Makes History (7/19/16)
  255. Jazz Week (7/26/16)
  256. Bell ans (8/2/16)
  257. My Own Little Gallery (8/9/16)
  258. Maria Luisa (8/16/16)
  259. Hollingsworth Memorial (8/23/16)
  260. Siren Song (8/30/16)
  261. John Perry (9/6/16)
  262. Carson McCullers  (9/20/16)
  263. Segregated Cemetery (9/27/16)
  264. Support John Green House (10/4/16)
  265. Yoga Reborn (10/11/16)
  266. Brinks Robbery (10/18/16)
  267. Legally Haunted House (10/25/16)
  268. Organization of Global Impact (11/1/16)
  269. Metal & Stone (11/15/16)
  270. Last Armoires (11/22/16)
  271. Indoor Farmer’s Market (11/29/16)
  272. Hip Hopper Hooray (12/13/16)
  273. Hickory Dickory Dock (12/20/16)
  274. Warts & All (1/10/17)
  275. Nyack Library Part I (1/17/17)
  276. Nyack Library Part II (1/24/17)
  277. St. Philip’s AME (1/31/17)
  278. Mandela Bio Pic (2/7/17)
  279. St. Charles AME (2/14/17)
  280. Hillburn Case (2/21/17)
  281. Art Walk (2/28/17)
  282. Pickwick (3/7/17)
  283. Celebrate McCullers (3/21/17)
  284. Elmwood Playhouse (3/28/17)
  285. Chamber of Commerce (4/4/17)
  286. Congregation Sons of Israel (4/11/17)
  287. Earth Day (4/18/17)
  288. Pie Lady & Son (4/25/17)
  289. YMCA (5/2/17)
  290. House Tours (5/9/17)
  291. Didier Dumas (5/16/17)
  292. Amazing Grace (5/30/17)
  293. Mostly Myrtles (6/6/17)
  294. Art Council of Rockland (6/20/17)
  295. RoCA (6/27/17)
  296. Avispa (7/11/17)
  297. Kendell Brenner (7/18/17)
  298. School Street Syllabus (7/25/17)
  299. Bell ans Turns 120 (8/1/17)
  300. Karenderya (8/22/17)
  301. Straight Lines Ruin Everything (8/29/17)

 

Thanks to Dave Zornow for investing over a decade of his life to build NyackNewsAndViews.com.  Few communities have a daily digital platform for thoughtful, curated local content.

I thank the Nyack Chamber of Commerce for helping me find work that accommodates all of my art forms.

And most importantly I thank the love on my life Marisol Diaz, for sharing and shaping a household that accommodates tons of content and constant deadlines.

Special thanks to my sponsors during these eight years: Hal Parker, owner of The Corner Frame Shop, Lisa Hayes, founder of Creative Financial Planning and Sabrina Weld, of Weld Realty. Weld has been with me for the last six years. Without their support, I would not have been able to stay the course.

And to everyone who has read a word, seen a sketch, or bought a card, book, t-shirt, mug, or hat, thank you for your time, attention, consideration and patronage.

As a guide to how I view this collection of sketches and short essays, I have selected one favorite per year. I’d be curious to know which are your favorites.

My Eight Favorites from Eight Years of Ink

2011: Liberty Street is Aptly Named

 

 

 

 

 

This house and this street are the remnants of Nyack’s oldest middle class black neighborhood.  In the early twentieth century, when Edward Hopper was a teenager, a group of African American families bought homes in Nyack. Homeownership by blacks in Nyack was a stunning achievement when you consider the fact that merely fifty years earlier blacks owned nothing: blacks were owned.

2012: warts and all

 

 

 

 

 

In 1884, Nyack, NY was a bustling river community and the commercial heart of Rockland County. This sketch is from a widely circulated map made by L. R. Burleigh. The bird’s-eye view rendering depicts a jumble of homes, businesses and churches. When you take a closer look at this historical document you’ll discover that our 19th century republic on the Hudson was not as indivisible as the promise made in our pledge of allegiance.

2013: Yoga Reborn Here

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre Bernard, America’s first yogi, lived on an ashram he called the Clarkstown Country Club in Nyack from 1920 until his death in 1955. The complex of buildings is now the campus of Nyack College. Equal parts Harry Houdini and Howard Hughes, Bernard achieved degrees of success as a yogi, animal trainer, baseball manager, and aviation expert. But millions knew him by his dubious tabloid title, Oom the Omnipotent.

2014: House Haunted by Art

 

 

 

 

 

When printmaker Sylvia Roth moved into her home in South Nyack in 1977, she had no idea it was the birthplace of a major figure in American art, Joseph Cornell. This house on Piermont Avenue seems to have its own designs, selecting artistic occupants for over a century.

2015: Last Call at OD’s

 

 

 

 

After operating under the ownership of an O’Donoghue for 63 of the last 65 years, the pub near the corner of Main Street and Broadway in Nyack served their last call on April 23. There has been an O’Donoghue behind the bar since 1949, when Paul O’Donoghue Sr. started working as a night barman for what was then called Charlie’s Bar & Grill.

O’D’s reopened under new management and is thriving and continuing the legacy of music, food and libation.

2016: Skate Board Wizards

 

 

 

 

 

Before we had a skatepark, Nyack was home to one of the first skateboard teams in New York, The Wizards. Acclaimed photographer Charlie Samuels is launching an Indiegogo campaign to complete his documentary that will feature the Wizards and the Village of Nyack called Virgin Blacktop. There will be a fundraising party tonight, Tuesday, March 15 at Nyack’s Pour House, 102 Main Street from 6-9p to launch the online fundraising effort.\

2017: Karenderya

 

 

 

 

 

The intersection of Midland Avenue and Main Street has become a reliable incubator for new family-run restaurants in Nyack. Once the home of Maura’s Kitchen, that recently moved to South Broadway, the crossroads now boasts Cuñao, a taqueria and across the street Karenderya, which was launched this month by Paolo Mendoza and Cheryl Baun.

2018: Main Street Beat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the name of Nyack’s only record shop has changed, the staff, stylings and singer/songwriter owners remain the same. Amy Bezunartea and Jennifer O’Connor announced this weekend that their store will no longer share the name of their record label, Kiam. Main Street Beat is now emblazoned on the door where music fans can find new releases from the indy label, previously owned classic vinyl records and an eclectic offering of books and clothing, curated by Amy.

2019: I Am Shazam

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.

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Eight Years of Ink” © 2019 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: The Full Measure of Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison by Bill Batson

by Bill Batson

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” These words, uttered by Toni Morrison when she received the Nobel Prize for Literature have gone viral since her death on August 5, 2019. Not only do they capture the blunt style of her prose, they boldly invite us to judge her by her own high standard. In a verdict delivered by countless voices, as an editor, educator, novelist, scholar and public historian, Toni Morrison gave her full measure.

On May 18, 2015, Morrison traveled only minutes from her home to Memorial Park in Nyack to dedicate a monument  in the form of a bench to abolitionist heroine Cynthia Hesdra.

Nyack is one of 25 locations around the globe that host a Bench by Road, a project that the Nobel Laureate inspired that commemorates significant sites of the African diaspora. With our Bench by the Road, and our proximity to where she lived and worked for almost five decades, Nyack is a place where people might one day visit to honor Morrison.

Special Guest Essay

Lori Latrice Martin, PhD

We have a Toni Morrison Bench by the Road monument in Nyack because of the scholarship of Dr. Martin. In addition to salvaging the story of Cynthia Hesdra from obscurity, she was responsible for a second Bench by the Road in Baton Rogue Louisiana, where she is Professor, Department of Sociology and African & African American Studies Program
Louisiana State University.

 

TONI MORRISON, BATON ROUGE’S BENCH AND ‘SEEING MYSELF’

Posted by Jozef Syndicate on August 12, 2019

Toni Morrison’s work impacted the lives of many people, including my own. As a Black student at predominately White university, it was hard for me to see myself on the required texts by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. It wasn’t until I took a course called, “Toni Morrison and Others,” that I saw myself.

The Black women, Black men, and Black children were complex. The ways in which Black people, both as individuals and as a community, responded to the restrictions placed upon them by the dominant white society were dynamic.

For Morrison, whiteness was neither normalized nor virtuous. White theories, White concepts, and White methodologies were not the only, nor the preferred way, for understanding the social world. The White imagination was not the only lens through which Blackness was seen.

One of the many important gifts Toni Morrison leaves us with is an appreciation for memory: who and what is remembered, and in what ways. Morrison often addresses the issue of memory in her works, particularly in the book, Beloved. Memory can take us places intentionally and unwillingly when summoned and when avoided.

Morrison’s remarks about Beloved led a group of dedicated scholars to create an outdoor memorial to the Black experience–A Bench By The Road. While the stories of Black people are often told from the perspective of White historians drawing largely from the artifacts of wealthy White elites, the Bench project provides Black communities with opportunities to tell and share their stories from their own experiences and their own perspectives. The celebrations surrounding the bench dedications are designed as celebrations of community, which is another theme commonly found in Morrison’s works.

Through the living memorials, Morrison gives new life to forgotten moments in Black history and to Black scholars whose work is often discredited and discounted by predominately White reviewers, White presses, and a White public who think race no longer matters and that there is nothing to be gained from reliving a painful Black past.

Morrison consistently showed how a painful past informs the painful present. She also showed how Black people have resisted in passive and aggressive ways. She revealed ways Black people tried to create spaces where they could imagine a time and place where they controlled their own images and determined their own destinies and destinations, destinations which could be found within and/or beyond the material world.

We owe, I owe, Toni Morrison a debt of gratitude.

I thank Morrison for helping me find myself and for helping me to help others find themselves in the stories of people like Cynthia Hesdra and the people of South Baton Rouge. Hesdra, an ex-slave, became a wealthy woman and owner of property used on the Underground Railroad in Nyack, New York. In the early 1950s, the South Baton Rouge community set the stage for the modern-day civil rights movement with the city’s 1953 bus boycott, which provided guidance for the organizers of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.

Nyack and Baton Rouge are home to two of the 25 benches placed by The Toni Morrison Society worldwide.

Lest we forget.

At an event at the Nyack Center on August 7, 2019, where residents read passages of Morrison’s work in the author’s honor, Village of Nyack Trustee Donna Lightfoot-Cooper recalled the affection the author had for the Nyack Library. Trustee Cooper, who is the Head of Circulation at the Nyack Library, described ways that Morrison found to support the institution during the completion of their annex in 2011.

Maybe the place were we do language in Nyack, our public library, could one day take Ms. Morrison’s name. Maybe a second Morrison-inspired monument could be erected, this one in front of the Toni Morrison Library with a sculptural representation of the late author, eternally seated in repose on a bench.

Here are some of the passages selected by those who gathered  to honor Toni Morrison’s memory by reading her words to each other. Hopefully, there will be a permanent place in Nyack one day, full of books, dedicated to language, where people can contemplate her legacy, taking guidance from her words on race and gender in the tough times ahead for our country.

photo credit: Dustin Hausner

From her 10th novel, Home, published in 2012

Whose home is this?
Whose night keeps out the light
In here?
Say, who owns this house?
It’s not mine.
I dreamed another, sweeter, brighter
With a view of lakes crossed in painted boats;
Of fields wide as arms open for me.
This house is strange.
Its shadows lie.
Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key?

Excerpt from her 1992 Nobel Lecture:

“The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation.

Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed.

It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.”

From Making America White Again, New Yorker, November 14, 2016

All immigrants to the United States know (and knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary, subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness. Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color.

Under slave laws, the necessity for color rankings was obvious, but in America today, post-civil-rights legislation, white people’s conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are “people of color” everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The threat is frightening.

In order to limit the possibility of this untenable change, and restore whiteness to its former status as a marker of national identity, a number of white Americans are sacrificing themselves. They have begun to do things they clearly don’t really want to be doing, and, to do so, they are (1) abandoning their sense of human dignity and (2) risking the appearance of cowardice. Much as they may hate their behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who invite a white boy to pray. Embarrassing as the obvious display of cowardice must be, they are willing to set fire to churches, and to start firing in them while the members are at prayer. And, shameful as such demonstrations of weakness are, they are willing to shoot black children in the street.

Photo by Judy Whidbee

To keep alive the perception of white superiority, these white Americans tuck their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontation, training their guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets. Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right?

These sacrifices, made by supposedly tough white men, who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status.

Photo by Jeff Rubin

It may be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause.

From conversations with Oprah Winfrey

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’

“This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn’t matter to me what your position is. You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you’ve got.”

Special thanks to Dr. Lori Martin for her scholarship, Dustin Hausner, Judy Whidbee and Jeff Rubin for their photography and Josh Wolfe for his great renaming idea.

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Toni Morrison’s Full Measure” © 2019 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: “This American Carnage”

by Bill Batson

After Adam Lanza used a rifle and handgun to kill 26 people, including 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut, I was certain that we had come to a crossroad in our nation’s history. The owners of the Soft Cloth Car Wash on Route 59 seemed to agree. They flew their giant American flag at half-mast for over two week, an honor typically reserved for the passing of a president.

The reason we fly a banner at half-mast is to allow the invisible flag of death to ceremonially occupy the top spot.

I was convinced that we would get up from the violently horrific event forever changed. Sensible gun legislation to prevent the wholesale slaughter of children in their classrooms would be enacted.

Special Guest Short Essay

Clyde Lederman

I asked my new research assistant, Clyde Lederman, to help me draft a sketch log about recent mass shootings by “looking for more than just raw numbers, but statistics that tell a story.”

Clyde is a student at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry

Please read the “research memo” he submitted 27 hours later:

In the aftermath of mass-shootings, some prominent, a renewed groundswell of support for gun-control has percolated to the fore of American discourse. Yet, with 7,089 people injured since 2015 in mass-shootings little has changed.

This increased stagnancy has affected not only legislative process (although it remains startlingly inactive with only one law passed during the 116th Congress, which provides for increased public dollars for shooting ranges), but also the fear and horror that grip the American imagination. Sandy Hook, the supposed wake-up call and the many shootings that have followed it have inoculated to the fear of being gunned down.

The phrase “Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting” remained in the winter of 2013, at one-hundred of one-hundred possible ‘interest points’ on Google Trends, a website that tracks internet search trends on the Google browser or elevated search activity above the average for nearly three and a half weeks. Four years later and after Orlando and Las Vegas and San Bernardino, when a gunman fired into a crowd of parishioners in a church in Sutherland Springs, TX killing 24, the term “Sutherland Springs shooting” remained above its average of zero interest points for only seven days.

This shift indicates a new trend in the American psyche, from being consumed with mass-shootings to our being increasingly uninterested in their effects. This is not to say the media does not spend a significant amount of time covering the aftermath of a mass-shooting, with nearly twelve days needed before coverage returns to normal, (a far cry from the seven days of search abnormality after Sutherland Springs).

This could demonstrate an increasing disconnectedness and disinterest in mass-shootings as Americans acclimate to shootings as part of the fabric of this country.

Even with the casualties and injuries of gun violence all told in statistics, those that cannot be told are the many uncounted traumatized by mass-shootings.

Nearly 3 million children each year are estimated to have seen an act of violence carried out with a gun.

This is an underreported story that affects millions of young people, yet few solutions have been offered.

I was very wrong. “This American carnage” seems unstoppable.

Two thousand one hundred and eighty people have died since Sandy Hook.

2,180

Eight months into 2019, 63 have been killed in a public place by gun fire.

Nyack, New York almost joined this sorority of sorrow. In May, 2018, an arsenal was found in the home of a man who threatened the Summit School on North Broadway.

A friend reviewed Twitter in the aftermath of El Paso and Dayton. She compiled this inventory of unease:

  • Shoppers are not safe at malls
  • Children are not safe at schools.
  • Students are not safe at colleges.
  • Churchgoers are not safe at churches (or Synagogues or Mosques)
  • Moviegoers are not safe at movies.
  • Music fans are not safe at concerts.
  • Diners and socializers are not safe at restaurants, bars and clubs.

My fiancé and I were standing in line at Ikea on Saturday, the night of the shooting (before learning of Dayton). I read an article on my phone that suggested it’s safer to turn-off your ringer when targeted by an active shooter, least a spam call reveals your hiding place. With sober urgency, I relayed the information.

For a fleeting second, our mouths went dry as we scanned the floor of the Swedish furniture store in search of threats. We swallowed the bitter pill of our new reality and managed to eat our meat balls, trying as best we could to prevent fear from transforming the most mundane errand into feeling like a death-defying risk.

President Obama’s regulatory response to Newtown, that restricted access to guns for people with mental illness, was reversed by President Trump on February 28, 2017.

A month earlier, President Trump used the phrase “American carnage” in his inaugural address. He spoke of “crime and gangs and drugs” stealing “too many lives.”

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” said President Trump.

According to the Washington Post, there have been 20 mass shooting since Trump took office.

Yesterday, the President finally denounced White supremacy. That was the headline. As for the guns and ammunition that White supremacists used to  steal too many lives, the President was silent.

Whether we fly a banner at half-mast after each mass shooting or not, the invisible flag of death will ceremonially occupy the top of every flag pole in our nation until we have an occupant in the oval office committed to stopping “this American carnage.”

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “This American Carnage” © 2019 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Center For Safety & Change

by Bill Batson

Do you know the origin of the phrase “rule of thumb?” It was the maximum thickness of an object that a man in 18th century England could use to legally assault his wife. Yes. That is how pervasive violence against women is on our planet. It is a part of our language.

In 1979, a group of volunteers launched the Center for Safety & Change (formerly the Rockland Family Shelter) to protect women and children from the devastation of domestic violence.

Special Guest Sketch Log Artist

Julie Craig

Julie Craig, a student at Tappan Zee High School, was the 2014 winner of the Center for Safety and Change Student Art Competition. I saw her drawing displayed, along with other winners, in a hallway at the Center’s offices. Julie perfectly captured the despondency one would imagine a victim of domestic violence must feel. If my column about the Center was to have an illustration, this was it.

I was honored to meet an incredible group of advocates, tour their facilities and interview their Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Santiago on the occasion of their 40th anniversary.

What was it like before 1979 for victims of domestic violence?

Victims of domestic violence before 1979 did not have anywhere to go. Police would be called to homes by neighbors to intervene in a domestic violence occurrence. It was routine for police to tell the abuser to take a cold shower or take a walk around the block to calm down.

Center for Safety & Change Chief Program Officer, Amy Siniscalchi, Chief Executive Office, Elizabeth Santiago, Board member Diane Sussman and Chief Development Officer, Tracie McLee. Photo credit: Ray Wright.

Today, Center for Safety & Change trains many businesses, non profits, schools including Police Academy on how to recognize domestic violence and on to manage this safely for all parties involved.

How much demand was there for your services when you started?

We started out with a 15 bed house, 24 hour rotary and a few concerned citizens ready to answer the phone. They brought board games to pass the time because they truly didn’t believe the demand was that great. On October 5, 1979, we officially opened the doors to our shelter and filled 11 out of the 15 beds. The second day the remaining beds were filled. And the phones have not stopped ringing since then.

Center For Safety & Change:

A story in shocking statistics

15 bed facility opened Oct. 5, 1979 and has been filled to capacity since the day after opening

24 hour a day hot-line starts at same time and has run continually for 350,400 hours

19,000 calls per year

Every 15 seconds: how often a woman is battered

1 in 4 women reports experiencing violence from a former or current intimate partner;

1 in 5 women report being raped in their life time

1 in 71 men report being raped in their life time

50% increase in likelihood of child abuse in home with battery

71% of pets in these homes are harmed or killed

Women who earn 65% or more of their
households’ income are more likely to be
psychologically abused than women who earn
less than 65% of their households’ income.

18% of female victims of spousal rape say
their children witnessed the crime.

Between 10 and 14% of married women will
be raped at some point during their marriages.

Only 36% of all rape victims ever report the
crime to the police. The percentage of married
women who report a spousal rape to the police is
even lower. Marital rape is the most underreported form of sexual assault.

In 2012, 924 women were killed by intimate partners.

40% of female murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

Almost half of intimate 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.

19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked.

66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.

Between 2005 and 2006, 130,000 stalking
victims were asked to leave their jobs as a
result of their victimization

500%: the increased likelihood of homicide for a women if a gun is present in a home where there is domestic violence.

Source: centerforsafetyandchange.org

The most important number: the 24hour hotline for victims of domestic violence:

(845) 634-3344

You can also call (845) 634-3344 to volunteer in 2018, volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000

You can also click here to donate or call 845.634.3391 to donate by credit card.

Last year, our volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000

What services do you currently provide to the victims of domestic violence and their families?

We have an emergency residential shelter that has 15 beds. On average, this shelter provides safe nights to about 100 victims of domestic violence on a yearly basis. In addition, we had to turn away close to 400 victims because there was no vacancy.

When this happens, we work with other sister agencies in other areas to provide housing options, as well as safety planning tactics to keep families safe. We help them think of options on staying with a family member, or friend, etc. Although the shelter is the heart of our agency, it only accounts for about 20% of the work that we do.

The bulk of the work is through our non-residential services. Center for Safety & Change’s Domestic Violence Non-Residential Services was developed and implemented specifically for domestic violence victims who do not require or desire residential placement.

Non-Residential services, include, but are not limited a 24/7 crisis hotline; individual and group counseling; support and empowerment groups; advocacy and accompaniment; safety planning; legal services and court assistance; information and referral services; community outreach and education; children’s services and school advocacy; education programs for professionals, for teens, and for others; transportation and translation services, as needed; and comprehensive crime victim services including assisting with applications to the New York State Office of Victim Services.

How has your organization grown over the years?

The Center has grown in so many ways. Our children and youth department has literally more than tripled in size starting out with a Director, Jean Roemer, who implemented Creative Arts Therapy. Before the program, we were seeing at maximum 100 children and youth on an annual basis. We see close to 500 children and youth, with staff of 6 employees – and there is a current waitlist of about 40 children.

We added our Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program in 1984 but added on our partnerships with Nyack Hospital (Montefiore Nyack) in 2003 and Good Samaritan Hospital in 2005. We have specific rooms in each Emergency Department dedicated in supporting victims of rape and sexual assault by our specially trained medical examiners.

The annual Fashion Sale Preview is held at the Hudson House of Nyack, who donate the food, service and restaurant every year ensuring that the Center for Safety & Change can maximize every fundraising opportunity

Our legal department consisted of two lawyers about three years ago and has literally quadrupled in size since 2016. The legal department has six attorneys including matrimonial, family, immigration and anti human trafficking lawyers, as well as four legal advocates and two paralegals. The legal department provides legal advice, assistance and court accompaniment for victims of violence and abuse. They help them fill out orders of protection, explain what their rights are and provide them with options.

May 2019 Night for Change Gala honorees Anita Kopacz, Mark Jacobs, and Yvonna Kopacz-Wright

What are some of the ways that women and children find out about your services?

We host trainings to youth in all of the high schools including all private schools. We host trainings to corporations and local businesses on a variety of issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence in the workplace, etc. We host many outreach events and attend many events in the community. In addition, we have 11 locations in the County. We recognize that there is a stigma that comes along with our home office on 9 Johnsons Lane in New City. A victim may feel intimidated or may not want someone to see them in that area. We strategically placed satellite offices throughout the County including Haverstraw, Nyack, Spring Valley to help preserve anonymity, confidentially and geographically availability.

Inside the Center for Safety & Change’s Emergency Shelter, which, for the protection of its residents, is located at an undisclosed location

Would you say that incidents of domestic violence are increasing or decreasing?

This is a tough question to answer. Although the number of victims we help annually has remained steady, the number of times we help victims achieve safety and seek services has increased. Last year alone, we helped close to 2,000 victims of gender-based violence, close to 30,000 times

I understand the 71% of pets in homes where domestic violence occurs are harmed or killed by their intimate partner. What does a victim do with their pet(s) when escaping violence and abuse?

We know our pets are family. In fact, the bond is so strong that 48% of domestic violence victims delayed leaving their intimate partner out of concern for their pets’ safety.

In partnership with the Hudson Valley Humane Society, Center for Safety & Change established the Paws for Safety program in 2011. This unique program temporarily places animal victims of domestic violence in a loving and confidential location while their owners make safe living arrangements and escape the abuse. Paws for Safety provides victims with the security of knowing their pets are safe and handled with care until they can be reunited. If you are in a relationship, where you and/or your pets are being abused, harmed and/or threatened, please call the Center’s 24-Hour Hotline 845-634-3344. No one deserves to live in fear of violence, abuse and trauma.

Center for Safety & Change 40th Anniversary Weekend celebration in Rockland

Center for Safety & Change is celebrating 40 years of supporting victim and survivors in Rockland.

In recognition of this momentous occasion, the Center for Safety and Change will be inducting 40 honorees into the first ever Rockland Women Leaders Hall of Fame, curated and hosted at their home office in New City.

The doors to their Emergency Shelter opened officially on October 5, 1979 and a rotary phone was turned on. The first day 11 beds were filled out of 15. The second day the house was filled to capacity and the phones have not stopped ringing.

Today, their shelter remains a safe haven for thousands of children and families.

This ruby celebration of service is guaranteed to be one to remember as they reflect on the rich history of their beloved Center, their founders, and those that have made contributions in ending gender-based violence.

Beginning on Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6, you are invited to attend the largest weekend celebration in Rockland and here are three ways to support:

Founder – Becoming a Founder will carry high level legacy benefits for donors making a financial commitment over a five year period while sustaining the Center’s life-changing programs and services for generations to come. Founder sponsorships can be paid off over a period in a manner that works best for you.

Patron – Celebrate and support 40 phenomenal women leaders by becoming a Patron Sponsor. From $25 – $10,000, your donation can support one or multiple honorees, securing long-lasting recognition on our Hall of Fame Wall.

Supporter – For as little as $1 dollar a day, donors can support the 40th Anniversary by making a monthly donation.

Your monthly donation ensures that the Center remains strong serving thousands of children and families escaping violence and abuse. As well, monthly donors will receive special benefits if the commitment is for five years of more.

You are helping to give the gift of safety and comfort to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and all crimes like Maritza and her three children.

Maritza and her family received support from the Center through counseling, support group, and safety planning to cope with trauma from years of experiencing emotional, verbal, physical and financial abuse.

Make your donation online at http://www.centerforsafetyandchange.org/40th

For more information, please call Tracie McLee at 845-634-3391 or email tmclee@centersc.org

What impact has the #metoo movement had on your work?

We believe the #metoo movement has created a safe space to allow victims to come forward and tell their story and seek services.

How does the current climate towards immigrants impact your work?

A) Immigrant survivors are afraid to report crimes and seek the protection of the courts, and are more vulnerable to domestic violence and other crimes as a result. The reason for this fear is that immigration enforcement priorities no longer exist – during the Obama administration, people with more serious criminal histories were prioritized for removal and people who were simply out of status were not. ICE presence in courthouses has increased by 1700% and victims have been swept up in court raids.

Also, many victims want to bring their abusers to court to get an order of protection but do not want them deported. Many are afraid for fear of impact on the father of their children. For example, one of our domestic violence clients was recently arrested at the Ramapo Justice Court and detained – ICE knew she was the victim and still arrested her.

B) Immigrant survivors are afraid to serve as witnesses for the same reasons above. We like to use voluntary witnesses in our trials and are being hampered in calling undocumented witnesses – we cannot give them the assurance we once did.

C. Immigrant survivors are more afraid to file for immigration status. Under former policies, if humanitarian applications were denied, the applicant simply reverted to being undocumented. Now, if a survivor’s application gets denied, they will be put into removal proceedings. Also, scrutiny of applications has become heightened and negative discretion is exercised far more harshly. For clients with children especially, they put a lot on the line. USCIS statistics reflect significant declines in filings.

I understand that you do outreach in Middle Schools. What is your message to young people?

Our message to young people is teaching them what healthy relationships look like, and defining what consent is. It is no longer no means no but yes means yes.

Playroom inside the Center for Safety & Change’s Emergency Shelter

What should a person do if they know of a friend or family member who is being abused?

They should call our 24-Hour Hotline at 845-634-3344. We can answer any questions or address any concerns.

What are your goals for the organization’s 41st year

We need to change the way society normalizes victim blaming and social norms. We want to engage men on the issue because it starts with them as well. We want to reimagine Rockland and making this a safer place for women, children and men. If we can make this changes, it will be a safer place for all. Ultimately, we want to put ourselves out of business eradicating gender based violence.

What are some of the ways that they public can help. The public can help in many ways.

First, they can sign up to volunteer. There are many jobs, tasks that need to be done. Last year, our volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000. We encourage everyone to start changing social norms, let’s begin to create a safer space for victims to continue to come forward by believing them. The Center starts by believing victims. Finally, donate. From making a one time donation to becoming a monthly donor, your donation will continue to sustain our programs and services for generations to come. We also encourage friends of our agency to attend community and fundraising events.

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Center For Safety & Change” © 2019 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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