Urban Beekeeping with Tim O’Neil

Bees may be a nuisance for city dwellers but for beekeeper Tim O’Neil, what’s an annoyance to many is his livelihood and lifelong passion. O’Neil started beekeeping at the age of 13. Now 14 years late he is managing hives and heading a beekeeper apprenticeship program at Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop garden in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

O’Neil also manages bees at Borough Bees and several hives at different locations throughout Brooklyn. A pair of hives at the Added Value Community Farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn, died over the winter. O’Neil and Alex Brown, photographer and volunteer at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, are introducing new bees to the abandoned hives in Red Hook.

Beekeeping was illegal until 2010. Legal beekeepers must register their hives with the city. But the legalization, urban beekeeping is a growing hobby in the city. Beekeepers like Tim O’Neil, whose grandfather also kept bees, are also passing on the trade to others.


Toddlers Interact with Animals at Alley Pond Park in Bayside, Queens


Just before 11 AM on a Saturday morning, Christine Schnurr finds herself surrounded by marsh and mud in a rather unlikely place. The early education specialist is flanked by three students, each of whom are no more than three years old. As the tide slowly trickles in, Schnurr points out a flock of Canada geese preparing to migrate south for the winter. But Jordan, age 3, is taking more interest in a long twig he just found. He and the twig are about the same height, but Jordan quickly loses interest, tosses the twig into the bay and rejoins his classmates of about the same age, Elaina and Freddie.

This is a typical morning at the Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC), in Bayside, Queens, which hosts its Toddler Time program every Saturday morning. The center sits at the entrance to the 635 acres of forests, meadows, ponds, and fresh and salt water marshes that make up Alley Pond Park. The park is divided by a narrow inlet from Little Neck Bay, and on this brisk morning our pint-size explorers have ventured out onto the long, winding walkway that curves out into the bay. Their parents, not far behind, seem to appreciate that their kids are walking above the muddy marsh instead of walking through it.

Their expedition above the marsh was preceded by about 15 minutes of playtime and 10 minutes of story time. The group also fueled-up with brief snack consisting of classic combination of carbohydrates and protein that has kept generations of kindergarteners in peak physical shape: chocolate chip cookies and milk.

The theme of the day’s class is migration and hibernation, and as Schnurr pointed out, most of the animals that usually fill Alley Pond Park have already headed south or to sleep. However, the animal room at APEC is stocked year-round with a myriad of animals, putting it in a category somewhere between a large pet store and a small petting zoo.

Among the favorites are the 6 different rabbits, with their floppy ears and fuzzy coats. Some of the braver toddlers venture up to the snake tank with a four foot Ball Python inside, or the neighboring Corn Snake, who name is Bernie.

Today, however, the birds steal the show. Schnurr brings out Henry, a ring-necked dove, who momentarily escapes Schnurr’s gentle grip, and finds his way to Sasha, a small green parrot who has been sitting on top of its cage all morning, occasionally belting out a few lyrics to Rockin’ Robin. After Henry is recaptured, Elaina and Jordan move in to pet their winged friend. Freddie, however, has yet to forgive Henry, after the bird landed on his head during class a few weeks ago.

     Toddler Time is a weekly program run at the APEC, usually on Saturdays at 10:30. Check the calendar on APEC’s website for more details.


Cyclocross Pushes the Limits

Cyclocross 2011 from Vimeo.

Cyclocross is a fringe cycling phenomenon with deep roots in modern cycling culture. The sport began as  a favorite off-season training activity for Tour de France riders nearly 100 years ago, and has since become a national pastime in several European countries.

In the United States, the rough-and-tumble world of cyclocross racing has remained a sport on the margins, with races organized in city parks, woodlands, and homemade courses across America.

There is no question that this is a dangerous sport. Avid racers are no stranger to blood and mayhem. There are few accolades and minimal opportunity for glory.

On November 20th, racers gathered from all over the Northeast to compete in the annual Supercross Cup.

Vado Diomande: Dancer, Choreographer, and Drummer from the Ivory Coast

Vado Diomande, 50, has established a reputation as a distinguished performer and teacher of traditional dances from West Africa.  Five years ago, however, Diomande’s career was interrupted when he suddenly became ill with a life threatening disease.

In February 2006, Diomande, founder of the Kotchenga Dance Company, collapsed in a restaurant he went to after a performance in Pennsylvania.  An ambulance was called and he was rushed to a hospital.

“They check everything and they said that my heart no good, and everything no good,” Diomande said.

Diomande’s condition later became critical.  What followed was worry and confusion as doctors tried to find a diagnosis.

They knew it was something very, very serious,” said Lisa Diomande, Vado’s wife.  “But they didn’t know what to do.”

Eventually, the Center for Disease Control concluded that what Diomande had was naturally occurring anthrax.  He was the first to fall ill with the disease in 30 years.

Diomande survived the rare, but deadly disease.  He doesn’t attribute his survival to any medical cure, but to his career as a dancer. “My dancing helped me a lot, that’s why I’m living today” Diomande said.

Diomande turned his near death experience into a source of motivation for his dancing. “I was strong before,” Diomande said “This is what happens in life.  I will keep going.”

by Oulimata Ba

Chambers Street Construction Threatens Small Business

If you feel  like the construction on Chambers Street is an eyesore, you may want to get used to the sight.

The project began in September of 2010 in an effort to replace a 120-year-old water main system and is slated for completion in January 2013.

In the meantime, businesses on the major thoroughfare are fighting to stay afloat while large trenches and towering fences choke potential customers out of the area.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is offering grants to the businesses, but even that has created heartburn for the small business owners in the area.



Untitled from Joe Jenkins on Vimeo.

Simulated Newsroom Instructions

READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW AND PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS. I will put this material on the class site as a post along with the full project description.

THE ASSIGNMENT: You will gather multimedia material  for the live coverage project: Each student gathers minimum of four raw multimedia clips (video or audio/stills) from his/her CD using smartphone, and asking a main question as well as related questions, two survey  questions and bio data.  ALL QUESTION MUST BE ANSWERED. The best two clips will be previewed during the week 13 class session, and top clip then produced into 60 second multimedia package for the ToilTown.com site. If the end product is going to be 60 seconds long, be realistic — and at the same time economical about the length of your raw interview.

THE MAIN QUESTION: HOW WILL THE ECONOMY AFFECT YOUR HOLIDAY PLANS? Be prepared to ask follow-up questions to elicit compelling and specific responses.

SURVEY & WORD CLOUD: Students should conclude each interview with two additional questions:

  • SURVEY QUESTION: When it comes to spending on gifts for the holidays this year compared to last, are you planning on spending a) more b) the same c) less
  • WORDCLOUD QUESTION (a question designed to solicit a word or short phrase for a “wordcloud” graphic): What would you most like for the holidays, in a word?

BIO DATA QUESTIONS These questions will appear in a rollover data box:

  1. Full name
  2. Age
    1. NB: Ages to later be grouped for filtering into following:
      1. 18-34
      2. 35-54
      3. 55-64
      4. 65 or older
  3. Gender
  4. Borough, and zip code (to be used later to determine what CD the person lives).
    1. NOTE: Subject must live within one of the five borough’s 59 Community Districts.
  5. Employment status (retired, PT, FT & unemployed)
  6. Occupation
  7. Health insurance – yes or no?

DEADLINE FOR COLLECTING RAW MATERIAL: 1) Thursday 12/1,  11:59 p.m. – Bulletted list of four or more clips (including subject name, age, borough and sentence on editorial and technical strength of interview material). List should highlight the top two clips. 2) Start of class Week 13 – All raw multimedia material and data from interviews for final in-class production. BRING RAW MATERIAL TO CLASS .

IMPORTANT — Please note:

  • For your multimedia clips you have a choice of gathering video or audio and stills. Tight frontal headshots are required on all visuals. Good audio quality is a must.
  • You are required to use a smartphone to gather this material (do not “upgrade” to higher end video cameras and audio recorders. We don’t have enough to serve  both Interactive and broadcast courses). A key point of the assignment is to see that you can create usable quality newsgathering with your smartphone. NOTE: Those students who do not have smartphones can check out Flipcams to gather video. I’ll post separately on the transcoder necessary to convert the footage for FinalCut editing.
  • Use a tripod or equivalent – the equipment room has many “pistol grip” smartphone holders that can be used to stabilize your shots, especially if you use them in conjunction with a tripod.
  • Be prepared to ask multiple questions – the main interview question, the two survey questions, the biodata questions. Be sure to print out a list of those questions and carry it with you on your interviews. Entries missing material may not be usable in any form on the site.
  • Interviewees must be New York City residents 18 or over and from your CD.
  • All production takes place in the classroom on Thursday. Do not produce material ahead of time.

How valuable are internships?

College internship programs began to emerge in the '70s and '80s.

“Internships are, in some ways, the new “entry-level” positions, especially when jobs are tough to come by.” – Tristan Hallman, 22

College students have relied on unpaid internships as sources of college credit, job experience and networking opportunities for at least a couple of decades. Increasingly, undergrads are facing rivalry from a new wave of applicants, dubbed “adult interns,” whose B.A.s and M.A.s have already gathered a significant amount of dust. In spite of the added competition, students and graduates alike still view interning as a valid way to broaden skill sets and make valuable contacts.

The question “How valuable are internships?” was posed to 23 participants. All are college graduates with the exception of two who are in their final semesters.

Continue reading

Social Networking and Skills Development

The majority of people still rely on their social networks to keep up to date with technology, developments and news in their careers, despite websites specifically designed for career developments.

In an unscientific survey of 30 respondents, many relied on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn about tips, tricks and developments in their field. More than two thirds of the respondents used Facebook to follow their colleagues or influential experts. With the new subscription option on the networking site and the ease that links and new knowledge can be shared, it’s easy to see why. Twitter closely followed Facebook with 18 responses.

Continue reading

Shorter commutes mean happier people

Shorter commutes mean — surprise — happier workers.

The average of respondents in an unscientific survey of 26 respondents said the shorter their daily commute to work, the more satisfied they were.

For the most part, a shorter work preparation time — the time from the bed to the door — also correlates with more satisfaction with the commute. The exception is that the people with a work preparation time of more than an hour-and-a-half said they were pretty satisfied with their commute.

People who said they rode the bus or walked or biked enjoyed their commute the most. Taking a train or driving a car was the least satisfactory commute. However, driving — like riding a train — is traditionally designed for commutes of 20 minutes or longer. Walking, biking and riding the bus are usually for shorter trips.

Disclaimer for the visualizations below: the raw numbers of people who take each type of transportation was not included. Because this survey is unscientific, that data is irrelevant because those factors depend on where a person lives, the availability of public transportation and a whole host of other factors for another time and possibly for the Department of Transportation to figure out. What matters is how it correlates with satisfaction.

Type of transportation, commute times and satisfaction

Satisfaction of commute with preparation time for work