Author Archive

S.T.E.M. Studio Brings Science to South Bronx

December 13th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

The U.S. education system is like dial-up in a high-speed world: inefficient. Dial-up academia is especially a problem in the subjects of science and math.

Recently the World Economics Forum placed the quality of U.S. science and math curriculum at 48 out of 133 other nations. The National Science Foundation also reported that ethnic minorities are even less likely to pursue an undergraduate degree in science and engineering.

The U.S. is falling behind in this globally competitive economy.

But Iridescent Learning, a nonprofit science education organization, is trying to change that. The interactive STEM-based program teaches students, and their parents, about technology and engineering. Most important, however, is that students can actually apply what they learn by inventing things.

With a location already in Los Angeles, Tara Chklovski, President and CEO of Iridescent Learning Chklovski chose the South Bronx for her second science studio location. The studio, located on the first floor of the Banknote Building, will be opening its doors to students in early 2011.

Chklovski has partnered with the U.S Office of Naval Research through a Department of Defense campaign to increase diversity in STEM. The studio will receive an estimated $2 million each year through a three-year grant from the ONR to serve about 1,500 students from over 31 schools across Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Here is a look at the November 4th opening festival.

The Prince of 125th and Lexington

December 6th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Prince Arala Osula has no lavish palace but rules the downtown train platform at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. If you’ve taken a four, five or six train, headed downtown from that stop, you have probably heard him. And if you had a hankering for some reggae or rock that day, you may have even spoken with him.

Prince isn’t into performing just to get the royal treatment. He claims he was called by God to play not just at 125th and Lexington, but specifically to play on the downtown platform. Whether it was a calling from God or the desire to be discovered, Prince is serious about his work.

He’s been at the station for five years and has regulars. Fans range from school kids to the New York Police who Prince ubiquitously calls “Finest”. But Prince also welcomes tourist and often has a song from a visitor’s native country.

Here is a brief “backstage” tour with Prince. 

New Housing in the South Bronx

November 29th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Housing projects in New York City were initially built to replace slums. Some might say, however, that the “projects” eventually led to concentrated poverty, a large contributor to urban decay. Others say that projects have higher crime rates and violence. Whatever the case may be the projects certainly have a larger police presence than any other housing units in the city, creating friction between residents and law enforcement.

Residents have also often complained of deplorable living conditions that may even rival slums many projects were built to replace. The role of public housing in concentrated poverty was felt particularly hard in the South Bronx in the wake of the fires that ravaged the community during the 1970s. Now, the South Bronx is being rebuilt and the signs are everywhere. There are new businesses, new residents and new places of residence as well.

These new residences however, aren’t just for the poor. To combat concentrated poverty, new housing is aimed at residents from mixed-incomes. Take a look at a few of these developments in the South Bronx.

View New Developments in the South Bronx in a larger map

Vendors Work in the Rain

November 15th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Street Vendors in the Theater District

November 15th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Vendors, selling everything from handbags to hot dogs, are as iconic in New York as the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. No matter what the weather – in this instance rain – their hustling doesn’t cease. Here is a peak into the action of a few street vendors in the theater district.

Coffee Drinkers … Anonymous

November 7th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

One annoying side effect of being a budding journalist at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is sleep deprivation. To combat the bleary-eyed blues we are consuming copious amounts of coffee. The coffee machine has even broken down a couple of times from being overworked. But just how much coffee are we drinking?

After conducting a survey on a whopping nine anonymous classmates, I found out a few things. For one thing, it seems, that they are all drinking coffee even if in small amounts. On average, students drank 2.62 cups per person, per day but the number of ounces ingested in total ranged from 40 to six. On average, however, students consumed 17 ounces per day.

It also seemed that the men, who averaged less sleep drank more coffee than women. Men, on average, got 5.75 hours per night in comparison to six hours for women. The average cups drunk per day for males was 3.25 compared to two cups per day on average for women. Overall, however, J-Schoolers drank less than the overall U.S. average consumption of coffee, which, according to the 2010 Harvard School of Public Health, is 3.1 nine-ounce cups of coffee per day.

I also found that the average age of participants was 27.37 years and participants ranged in age from 35 to 23 years of age. The average age of male participants was 25.25 years of age and 29.5 years was the average age of the female participants.

There is some good news however. Also reported by the Harvard School of Public Health is the indication that coffee drinkers may be at less risk for type two diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. These benefits might just be incentive to keep on drinkin’ – coffee that is.

Good Pests?

October 17th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

It’s easy to bemoan all the bothers of the Big Apple. The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2011 has done it well on the Pests of New York blog. But what we may see as offending occurrences could actually be exciting encounters for others. Here are a few people sharing what they think are some pleasing pests of New York.

 Pleasing Pests by redolive

Adrien DeMartini of Jersey City, Olivia Fraser of Brooklyn and Anne-Marie Bauer of Helsinki, Finland share what they find pleasing about New York that others may find pestering.

Airport Anxiety: One Nuisance, Six Solutions

October 4th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Crying kids, lost luggage, delayed departures and cumbersome crowds. Even when things go according to plan, navigating New York airports can try even the tempers of seasoned sojourners. Throw in airport improvements and inclement weather and a jovial weekend jaunt can quickly turn into destination disaster.

But traveler tantrums are an international occurrence. In 2008, a woman flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco threw a fit – and herself apparently – at security when she wasn’t allowed to board her flight because she was late. Canadian politician Helena Guergis flipped out on flight attendants in 2010 when she showed up only 15 minutes before her scheduled departure. But passengers aren’t the only ones who experience travel trauma; some staff are saying “shove it” to unruly riders.

Just this year JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater became a runway renegade after letting a passenger have it and then having off with company bought beer through an emergency exit.

So what should one do to stay sane in harrowing airport situations? Consider one of these six solutions.

1. Have a Cosmo, Not a Cow

Some airports have no last call even though getting on the plane isn’t always a party.

But round-the-clock bars boost city budgets as well as the morale of weary road warriors. The city of Chicago recently approved a plan to serve alcohol at their airport 24 hours a day to help make up for a $655 million city budget deficit.

2. Don’t Yell, Do Yoga

Why is doing a downward-facing dog at an airport concourse any more strange than doing an extended triangle in Times Square? Hey, downward-facing dog could keep a passenger from having a downward-spiraling airport experience.

3. Get Your Shoes Shined

Getting your shoes shined is a way to kill time in airports that many – especially women – don’t consider. Try it. Getting your battered boots buffed may be so pleasant that you end staring at your reflection in your shoes, too preoccupied to complain about getting bumped from your flight. But beware, the thrifty indulgence can apparently become addicting and create more airport anxiety than it relieves.

4. Go to the Spa

There are few situations a good message can’t mitigate. Can’t afford an airport masseuse – try a massage chair. The massage chair may not be the stuff of five star hotels but it sure beats sitting in cramped seats near your gate, scowling at the useless flight staff.

5. Play the Slots

This is a nice option for people traveling out of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Depending on how your weekend in Sin City went though, you may not want to take the additional gamble. But, apparently the odds of winning big on the slots at McCarran might be better than the odds of finding love there.

6. Don’t Shout About It, Shop About It

Sure, you’ve already spent a ton on your ticket but spending your energy on a situation you can’t change is just as wasteful. If you must wait, you may as well look fabulous doing it. But of course if you go shopping and the crew then loses the new purchases, an assault of Naomi Campbell proportions may be justifiable.

A South Bronx By Any Other Name

September 26th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Triangle Below Canal Street just doesn’t roll off the tongue like TriBeCa. But keeping up with New York neighborhood nomenclature, like SoHo, NoLita, and NoHo, despite their fluidity, can be bothersome. So what do South Bronx natives think about SoBro?

Sometimes, the abbreviation is practical; North of Little Italy (NoLita) is a mouthful. But more recently abridged names symbolize swank, exclusive, enclaves moving into historically cast out communities. So when artists’ lofts began cropping up in the South Bronx, a marker of newly acquired hipness wasn’t far behind. Many migrants of means might think SoBro is posh. Some natives just say it’s pestering, paltry and political.

What South Bronx Natives Think About SoBro from Kahliah Laney on Vimeo.

This sometimes annoying, phonetic phenomenon isn’t unique to New York. In Atlanta, calling the Buford Highway BuHi has some so annoyed they’re yelping about it. In San Francisco a blogger highlighted the “hysteria” associated with a number of play-on-names including FerBu (Ferry Building) and DUCFOP (Down Under the Central Freeway Overpass).

While some folks find this kind of name-tailoring taxing, others welcome the moniker makeovers. In Fresno, CA, residents in the neighborhood south of Tower District were eager to represent SoTow. Still, as emphatically as some embrace neighborhood name changes, others oppose. The Medici Foundation said no way to the adoption of NoLita though the name seems to have stuck.

So what’s really in a name? Shakespeare, in “Romeo and Juliet,” wrote, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Does that mean that South Bronx would, were it SoBro called, retain it’s gritty nature? Most likely, as some early settlers of the recently revitalized Park Slope found out.

But it seems these nifty little names are here to stay. Calling the South Bronx SoBro is apparently accepted enough that it’s included in Urban Dictionary. A 2008 academic study about the South Bronx directly linked the advent of SoBro to gentrification.  Call it the South Bronx or SoBro one thing is for sure, the neighborhood is changing whether people like it or not.

Business Out the Box

September 20th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

On September 10, 2010, Hercules Kontogiannis opened his first restaurant in a location that has zero cold storage and could easily be mistaken for a walk in closet. The eatery is one of few in the area. It is nestled on a block where restaurants are closed before the business name can be changed on Google Maps: I know, I’ve looked. The less-than-ideal location didn’t turn Kontogiannis away. There was a demand for a restaurant in the neighborhood so Kontogiannis took a chance. He says his restaurant will be the one that stays because his business strategy – and food – is a little unique; it’s out of the box.

Business Out the Box from Kahliah Laney on Vimeo.