Activism

Activism and citizen journalism by our Girls Club members.

Gun Control — The LES Speaks Out

Just as we were finishing the edit on this piece, the news came in on the school shooting in Texas. This is the 22nd school shooting this year to date.

These are peoples thoughts prior to this latest tragedy.

We took to the streets of our local community in New York’s Lower Eastside and gathered our neighbors opinions on guns and the issue of gun control.

We are hoping that this podcast may inspire you to take an action. It could save someones life.

 

The Changing Face of Politics — Cyndi Nguyen Breaking Barriers in the South

WGRL has a sisterhood with the great city of New Orleans, so we were inspired to learn that Cyndi Nguyen became the first Asian American to earn a seat on the New Orleans City Council!

We caught up with Councilwoman Nguyen on our last trip to New Orleans where she graciously spent some time with our young reporters discussing her journey from Vietnamese immigrant to community leader and some of the things she plans to do to improve her community.

It’s an inspiring story that energizes us to seek even more diversity in the faces of those who represent us.

 

 

 

National School Walkout

On March 14th, WGRL attended the first of the national school walkouts protesting gun violence. Our youth demand a solution.

Check out this piece on location at Gramercy Square Park where we interviewed both High School and Middle School youth about gun control in the United States.

WGRL will stay on the front line covering this issue so stay tuned to hear the voice of young people from young people.

Getting Healthy with Alice Waters

Alice Waters is a chef, author, food activist, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She has been a champion of local sustainable agriculture for over four decades. In 1995 she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which advocates for a free school lunch for all children and a sustainable food curriculum in every public school.

In this intimate interview Alice shares her passion and life long love affair with food along with some sound advice on eating healthy. Spoiler alert – healthy doesn’t have to mean boring! Enjoy this conversation with a culinary legend.

Paola Mendoza and Sarah Sophie Flicker – Women’s March and Beyond

We were thrilled to have a few of the organizers behind the Women’s March, Paola Mendoza and Sarah Sophie Flicker in the studio a few months back for a behind the scenes glimpse into “the March Heard Around the World”. Meet The Women’s March team here and become a part of this important movement for social justice and change in these challenging times by checking out their latest actions, like Power to the Polls,  This coordinated campaign will build upon the Women’s March’s ongoing work uplifting the voices and campaigns of the nation’s most marginalized communities to create transformative social and political change.
We are so grateful that these busy ladies took time out of their schedule to speak with us about their work and inspire us to speak out about the changes we would like to see in our world.

 

Trans Model Superstar Connie Girl

We were so happy to host the lovely Connie Girl at our studios for a discussion on  the world of modeling. She even gave us a lesson on how to walk the runway – it’s not as easy as it looks!
Hopefully she will be back at Girls Club soon preparing us for our next couture show in our design department!

 

A Gun is Not Fun

For low-income communities like the Lower East Side, gun violence is more than a simple tragic event. Guns impact us all- physically, economically and mentally. Guns kill people, but they also kill spirit…and murder communities. The aftermath of gun violence leaves everyone feeling helpless and diminished. At The Lower Eastside Girls Club we are building a strong anti-violence message throughout our organization.

This podcast episode highlights some of the members of our community fighting to make a change. We hope you will be inspired to join the fight against gun violence as well!

Last Fall, a group of mothers and young women from The Lower Eastside Girls Club’s (LESGC) Moms Speak Out campaign – women who have been affected by gun violence – joined with Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams, and peace advocates from the Middle Project of Middle Collegiate Church, to launch the distribution of 3500 copies of William Electric Black’s (aka Ian James, Emmy Award winning former writer of Sesame Street) illustrated early reader: ‘A Gun Is Not Fun’.

For low-income communities like the Lower East Side, gun violence is more than a simple tragic event. Guns impact us all- physically, economically and mentally. Guns kill people, but they also kill spirit…and murder communities. The aftermath of gun violence leaves everyone feeling helpless and diminished. At The Lower Eastside Girls Club we are building a strong anti-violence message throughout our organization.

LESGC’s Moms Speak Out participants distributed the ‘A Gun Is Not Fun’ early reader books in front of every public school and day-care center with Pre-K through 2nd grade classes in the East Village / Lower East Side community. This community has been particularly plagued by youth gun violence over the past five years –  with LESGC girls’ family members killed, ‘stray’ bullets taking the life of a young child simply playing outside, and mothers wounded waiting at a bus stop to get to work.

“As mothers and community leaders, we are tired of raising our children in a climate of fear!  We believe that it is never too early to create a climate of peace! We’re starting now and we’re starting here- in our own Lower East Side community.” – Lyn Pentecost, Ph.D., Executive Director, LESGC

“It is unacceptable to us that our children are growing up in a culture where violence has become the norm on the streets and in the media.”  – Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Executive Director, The Middle Project

William Electric Black (aka Ian James) says, “I wrote this book because we are losing too many young people of color to gun violence. It is a plague facing our nation and something must be done so I decided to use the Sesame Street target audience and start educating them about this timely, and too often deadly, issue”.

We love our children and refuse to raise them in a violent world. The message of ‘A Gun Is Not Fun’ is self-explanatory. It is designed to be read aloud and shared with friends and siblings.

 

Wings Over the Americas Lands on Avenue D!

WGRL went to the birds literally when we had a visit last Spring with one of the most inspiring guests we have had the pleasure to host – Zacchaeus the Merlin Falcon! Zacchaeus arrived at the studio with his equally inspiring human, migratory bird specialist Jo Santiago. After a program educating our girls and the community about birds of prey and introducing us to a few more of her feathered friend including an American Bald Eagle, Zaccheaus and Jo came up to the WGRL HQ for an intimate heartfelt chat. Take a listen to hear how a New York City girl followed her dreams and passions and now lives a life beyond her wildest dreams. Inspiring listening for all ages and Zacchaeus even gets a word or two in! Special shout out to the U.S. Forest Service and the Wings Across the Americas program for making this phenomenal visit possible!


WGRL in Washington DC for the Women’s March

Get on the Bus! January 21st we did just that – taking a group of 50 young women, Moms and supporters to the historic Women’s March on Washington D.C.!!!

Take a listen to our WGRL girl-powered podcast coverage below and get an idea of what it was like to join close to a million people coming together in solidarity for peace, justice and human rights.

It was a truly empowering moment and inspired us to commit ourselves to the work of making this world a place where all people especially young women and girls feel valued, welcome and safe!

Justice for Flint Interview with Lanice Lawson

WGRL Interview with Flint activist Lanice Lawson from Lower Eastside Girls Club on Vimeo.

Our WGRL team, assisted by HOT 97’s Nessa, connected with Flint, Michigan activist Lanice Lawson for an insider’s perspective of the tragic water crisis in March 2016.

Lanice shared details about the tragedy and how her grassroots organization Bottles 4 Babies is helping the affected community.

Unfortunately, very little has been done by authorities since the time of the interview. Federal government support is being diverted to the State of Michigan which is slow to get crucial changes implemented. It is vital we keep the media focus on Flint and demand justice for the people there.

Please help to keep the focus on providing solutions for Flint by sharing this podcast and supporting grassroots organizations like Bottles 4 Babies.

Music for this podcast:
Fresh Water For Flint
Jon Connor Feat. Keke Palmer
Produced by The Fr3shmen

Police Are People Too!

At a time when police and community relations are at an all time low, our WGRL reporters took the opportunity to reach out and speak to two retired members of the police force, Karen Carlo and Joey Morelli, in the hopes that better communication and understanding of one another’s worlds can foster healthier communities.

Please take a listen to these fascinating glimpses into the lives of two very dedicated officers as they paint a vivid picture of the struggles and rewards that come with a life dedicated to law enforcement.

The Rev. Dr. Karyn Carlo, is a retired New York City Police Captain turned preacher, teacher, and theologian. She earned her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she focused on Systematic Theology, with particular emphasis on the various ways Christians think about the cross and resurrection in the context of social justice work. An ordained American Baptist pastor, she currently, she serves as the Interim Pastor of The Church-in-the-Garden in Garden City, Long Island and as adjunct faculty at New York Theological Seminary.

Joey Morelli is a law enforcement officer with over 25 years of experience serving as a State Police investigator. Joey comes from a police family including Joey’s uncle, his son, and 2 granddaughters. Joey’s first job was to investigate complaints of police brutality made by defendants and the community. Joey worked at the World Trade Center for a Federal Task Force investigating money laundering. Joey later was a 9/11 first responder. After that, Joey became a threat assessment expert for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Joey also coordinated efforts to assist former gang members to establish new lives through witness protection. Joey then was promoted to run District Attorney Hynes’ Command Center. Among Joey’s duties, Joey was liaison to the community, the NYPD, and the press, and was the incident commander for Homeland Security. Currently, Joey consults with Middle Collegiate Church on church safety and security.  She is a law enforcement officer who is honored to serve her city, state and country.

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Every Day is Mother’s Day at the Lower Eastside Girl’s Club!

In celebration of Mother’s Day and Lower East Side History Month, WGRL is proud to present: Mothers of Loisaida, a podcast series featuring women who nurtured our community here in the LES with their contributions to art, performance and community activism. Please enjoy the following visual podcast, produced by our WGRL Girls Club members, featuring performance artist Carmelita Tropicana, visual artist Maria Dominguez, theater performers Hortense and Elvira Colorado and actress, poet and community activist Carmen Pabon.

Carmelita Tropicana (a.k.a. Alina Troyano) is a performance artist, playwright, and actor. Troyano burst on New York’s downtown performing arts scene in the eighties with her alter ego, the spitfire Carmelita Tropicana and her counterpart, the irresistible archetypal Latin macho Pingalito Betancourt, followed by performances as Hernando Cortez’s horse and la Cucaracha Martina from her childhood fairy tales in Cuba. In Tropicana’s work humor and fantasy become subversive tools to rewrite history. She has received numerous awards including the prestigious Anonymous Was a Woman and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Performance.

Visual artist and educator Maria Dominguez is a life long resident of New York City and is of Puerto Rican decent. Her diverse and varied creations are influenced by personal, environment and community experiences. Dominguez graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1985 with a Bachelors in Art degree and went on to establish her career as a muralist by achieving an internship with CITYarts Org., a public art organization. This 30 year trajectory in public art making lead to her commission by The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in NYC with a permanent glass installation “El –Views”in 2002. The work is displayed at the Chauncey Street station along the M line in Brooklyn, NY.
Dominguez has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group shows, and has received awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts. Currently, scholars are surveying her early murals and personal professional documents are being archived by The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in NYC.

Elvira and Hortencia Colorado, Chichimec Otomi storytellers, playwrights, performers and community activists, are founding members of Coatlicue Theatre Company. Recipients of the Ingrid Washinawatok Community Activism Award, they are also members of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Danza Celtiliztli Nauhcampa, the New York Zapatistas and the American Indian Community House. The company’s plays and workshops address social, political, cultural and identity issues that impact their lives and their community. Coatlicue’s work is based on stories they weave together, educating as well as entertaining while reaffirming their survival as urban Native American women.

Carmen Pabon is known as the mother of the Losiada – (Lower East Side) – an activist,poet, actress and a great humanitarian who has been active in the community for the past 50 years. She paved the way for the likes of poets Tato Lavera, Miquel Algaerin and others at the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe and was central to the explosion of art and culture in the area beginning in the sixties. As a gardener at El Bello Amanecer Boriqueno on Ave C between 7th& 8th she feed multitudes of homeless people and created a safe haven at the garden for the elderly and children to spend their time. At 94 years of age Carmen is still young at heart and spirit!