How was your summer ~ Annual Potluck at Lora’s in Milford, PA by Zein Dudha; Photo credits: Alexandre Tolipan

Every Year Lora and her husband Bernhard host a picnic / potluck event at their home in Milford Pennsylvania. This special event is one that we always look forward to as it gives us an excuse to get out of the city and the Milford area is always so peaceful and tranquil.

We have been there on 2 occasions, and each time thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The first time we took a bus, and the second time we rented a car, and made a weekend out of it, by staying with some other friends who also had a weekend retreat in nearby. Either way it usually takes around a couple of hours to get there.

Potluck events with a culturally diverse group are always exciting and I always love trying out new dishes. Bernhard is a very experienced grill-master who makes sure no one leaves hungry.

After the lunch one can always go on a hike or there are operators that do kayaking trips down the Delaware River. We are usually too full to do either.

 

  

 

 

 

Touring Brooklyn’s Waste Recycling Facility

By NYLESA member Stef Stevens

Late January, we joined a tour organized by NYLESA’s own tour-leader to the SIMS waste recycling facility in Brooklyn.

We were all amazed to find out how everything worked. The facility, opened in 2013, is a state of the art recycling plant that receives the contents of all the residential recycling bins of the entire city of New York. Through an ingenious separation process which uses sifters, filters, magnets, cameras and airflow, recyclables are sorted into separated flows of different types of plastic, metals and glass. At the end of the separation process each material is pressed into large blocks. These blocks are then transported to specialized factories as a source material for production processes or for further recycling.

Considering that every bottle, can, plastic tray or milk carton and such thrown somewhere in the city into a recycling bin ends up at this facility, the initially huge looking plant seems however rather disappointing in size for such a metropolis as New York.

This visit motivated me to go online and look up some data on waste generation and recycling percentages in New York City. Regarding the generation of waste, this city amazes me in a negative sense. The convenience searching behavior has gone so far in this city that very few people think twice when ordering another single use cup, food-container or utensil even when they drink or eat at the establishment.

It is estimated that New York City generates a mind boggling 11,000 metric tons of domestic and institutional waste and 13,000 tons of commercial waste per day. In New York City only 17% of household waste is recycled and most of the remaining waste is trucked out to landfills far outside the city (including other states like PA, OH & VA) at considerable cost (approximately 300 million USD annually) and environmental impact. The potential for recycling is of course much, much higher than the 17% and much can be gained by raising this percentage.

There are a number of promising initiatives in the city to raise awareness and encourage people to recycle, but New Yorkers are creatures of habit and behavioral changes tend to take a long time. Doing a tour of the waste recycling facility in Brooklyn is an excellent way to make people aware of the scale of the waste problem in the city and to initiate behavioral change; I can totally recommend a visit. On the ‘Education’ part of the SIMS website you can find information opening hours and tours.

City Explorations: Bracing the cold to tour Greenwood Cemetery

By Pierre Vallet. 

Pierre Vallet, a NYLESA member since 2016 is the association's off-the-beaten-track explorer and tour leader. Late January, he led a group of 22 members on a walk through Greenwood Cemetery, once the second most visited landmark in the city.

 

What can you do when it was your idea to suggest a weird tour on a freezing January day? I could not cancel with the message: “Too cold today, cats lying on the sofa, the Italian coffee maker sounds like Verdi, I will stay home”. I had no choice but to go.

The day started slowly – extremely slowly – as I rode the local R train, slower than an arthritic turtle, to the meeting point. WhatsApp let me know that friends were either shivering outside the Greenwood subway station or lost in other areas of Brooklyn. Great!

Inside Greenwood Cemetery after an hour of 'exploring', we stood on top of a small hill covered with patches of snow and some tombs. The sun was out, and Lady Liberty peeked out from behind the naked trees as the wind and cold fought with my history lesson about the Battle of Long Island.

 

My phone, map and notes took us on to other points of interest. Members wandered between the graves and Roberto helped keep everyone moving – team work at its best! Even when the wind froze my uncovered fingers, my heart stayed warm.

On top of another hill, alongside trees blowing in the wind, graves sunken deep into the ground were a reminder of Hurricane Sandy that swept across the city almost six years ago.

 

I took a few seconds for myself and let my mind wander to a small and neglected cemetery I had visited in Connecticut … A moment later I was back to reality and realised I had a choice to make. Could I push the group to the next hill, or was it time to leave?