The Peace Foundation, New York City

A Slice of New York at 110th and Amsterdam

“A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role”.  – Yehuda Berg

I got off at 110th and Amsterdam to the of sea of humanity and life that defines New York. As I walked down Amsterdam through the neighborhood of Morningside Heights in the Upper West Side, I was flooded with curiosity at what I’d find. It only took a few blocks for a potpourri of senses to settle in. Flower stalls, coffee shops, a Hungarian bakery, and any ethnic eatery under the sun caught my attention. The smell of greasy hotdogs, freshly baked bread and chicken curry infiltrated my nose while the sound of car horns, trucks braking and the distant hum of Mexican music rang in my ears. And I had only walked a block.

At 111th, I see a homeless couple sleeping on a plastic mattress on the dirty sidewalk, he shirtless with his arm stretching across his bare chest and resting upon her smooth sweaty shoulder. Shoes off, dirty sheets, and all their life’s possessions in a couple of see-through plastic bags. A few blocks later comes the grand entrance to the elite grounds of Columbia University where students of every color are abound, wearing ear buds, texting on cellphones and toting backpacks in route to class. Millennials eating lunch inside the fenced off green grass at the university or atop the grand stone stairway to their future success. Meanwhile a bum wearing rags and pushing a shopping cart collects trash from a full garbage can about a block away.

As I continue on, I hear a melodic harmony of sounds floating out an open window of a piano hall. I stop for a moment and close my eyes to listen but am interrupted by the piercing sirens screaming towards the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital up at 113th. I then realize that within these four short blocks is a slice of New York and I am dumbstruck of how every spectrum of humanity seems to live within this small radius of space.

Street Art in New York City

Finding Street Art along the Walls of New York City

I was on the plane Friday morning heading to New York City when I opened my email to see that the weekly photo challenge was walls. Instantly I knew how I was going to spend my free afternoon in the city. A photo walk.

I did a google search and discovered that New York City has a tremendous wealth of street art along its walls, buildings and store fronts. I love street art and knew that it would be a great way to spend the afternoon exploring some of the back alleys and streets in the heart of Little Italy and NoLlta in search of street art.

I took the subway to Spring Street and got off with a map in hand and a few written notes of where to explore. It was a chilly early spring day yet the sun was shining strong and the city was alive as usual with activity. I could tell it was going to be a great afternoon.

Spring Street Subway stop

Spring Street subway stop offers my first look at urban wall art.

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Freedom Tower NYC

Descending into the depths of humanity: A visit to the 9/11 Memorial

“May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance, and intolerance”.       – 9/11 Memorial

Descending down into the depths of humanity lies the unexplainable. Within the two footprints of the North and South Towers, cries almost three thousand tears of the innocent lives lost from a horrendous act against our freedom.

9/11 Memorial

The water rushing down into the foundation of the North Tower felt like the tears of those who died.

9/11 Memorial

Three thousand tears descend into the foundation of one of the Twin Towers.

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The Statue of Liberty

Why I love New York

I just returned from an exhilarating long weekend in New York City and as usual I was not disappointed. In my opinion, New York City is one of the most amazing, electrifying cities in the world and every time I leave I long to go back.

My whirlwind weekend in New York began on a Friday night with a full, nine-hour day of sightseeing on Saturday, followed by two jam-packed days as a participant in the fifth annual Social Good Summit at 92nd Street Y in the Upper East Side.  I crammed in as much as humanly possible and arrived home Monday night completely exhausted, so worn out that I left my laptop and camera in the back seat of the taxi cab and didn’t realize until the following morning (I got it back, thank goodness!).

photo-8 copy

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Doing Social Good in New York City

UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin introduces special surprise guest Peter Gabriel. Photo Credit: UN Foundation.

The last four days I’ve been in New York City attending two amazing events focusing on philanthropy and making the world a better place: The Summit for Social Good and the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting with the theme of “Designing for Impact”. It has been a whirlwind of a trip filled with several unexpected surprises. I feel unbelievably motivated to write and share the inspiring things I learned.


Midtown Mania

During my three day trip to New York City for the BlogHer ’12 conference we stayed at the Hilton New York (the largest hotel in NYC) in vibrant, fast-faced Midtown.  As a travel blogger, I found it irresistibly hard to be trapped inside the jam-packed hotel in sessions all day long with 5,000 fellow bloggers. My curiosity and desire to explore got the best of me so I snuck out during the live Katie Couric interview and hit Midtown.

Thinking the coffee line at Starbucks would definitely be better across the street of our hotel, I crossed the famous Avenue of the Americas to yet another Starbucks, equally full with a queue of at least 20 deep. Wow, Starbucks must really rake in the money and I don’t even like their coffee (it is bitter, expensive and reminds me of a coffee shop version of McDonalds).

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