We were coming down the final stretch of a grueling two-day backpacking trip, debating whether we should knock off early. It was a situation I’ve been in before—weighing the effort to summit one last peak against tired legs, blistered feet, and a shorter route back to the trailhead.
Only this time, it wasn’t a mountain my boyfriend and I wanted to bag: It was Staten Island.
There’s no quarantine baking for the residents of 303 Vernon.
That’s because the NYC Housing Authority building in Bed-Stuy has been without cooking gas since March 30th, and there’s no clear timeline for it to be restored. Denene Witherspoon, the president of the Tenant Association, said she was told it could be six more weeks. In the meantime, the 576 residents have been given one hot plate to cook on per unit, regardless of whether one person lives there or eight.
On Tuesday evening, several dozen Brooklynites gathered together in one of the only spaces available to us right now—on Zoom—to sing Happy Birthday. But the honoree wasn’t a person; it was the one-month anniversary of Bed-Stuy Strong, a mutual aid network that was started to respond to the coronavirus crisis in New York City, and to give residents in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant—where I’ve lived since 2011—a way to help and to seek help from their neighbors. Since early March, more than 250 mutual aid groups have emerged in mostly urban neighborhoods across the country, all of them undoubtedly juggling similar challenges of coordinating volunteers, needs, tasks, and money as the crisis intensifies.
In a packed room at City Hall on Monday, Council Member James Vacca heard testimony from city officials, technologists, and civil rights advocates on his proposed legislation for transparency in the use of algorithms for city services. Vacca said that the legislation is, to the best of his knowledge, the first of its kind in the United States. Although most of the testimony was in favor of the proposed legislation, the hearing revealed a schism between the tech community as represented by the trade nonprofit Tech.NYC—whose dozens of members include giants like Facebook and Google, as well as smaller companies like Meetup and Civic Hall—and the technologists who testified as individuals.