Wyckoff Wednesdays at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center

Seniors come to the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center to take advantage of health services and festivities every other Wednesday. Dubbed Wyckoff Wednesdays, the biweekly event is organized by the student council at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.

Seniors from anywhere in New York City are welcome. The center offers blood sugar and blood pressure screenings. Afternoons culminate with bingo, pool and dancing.

On these Wednesday mornings, the senior center acts as a free clinic and a community center. The checkups are a helpful reminder, says medical student Raymond Ng, in a neighborhood where diabetes and hypertension are prevalent.

Homeless Journey of a Former Fashion Stylist

Homeless Journey of a Former Fashion Stylist from Kamana Shrestha on Vimeo.

Forty-Three year old Claudia came to the United States to pursue the American dream.

But her life took a turn for the worst when she lost her job as a fashion stylist for a hip hop entertainment magazine in 2007. She got evicted from her apartment in Harlem in late 2009 and found herself on the streets and homeless beginning 2010. Her journey is one of heartache. Every night she would look for a place to sleep and winded up having to sleep in every place imaginable  — from storage rooms, subway cars, city parks, to the bathrooms in Penn station and even a crack house. Her daily meals consisted of whatever was on the $1 menu in Burger King and McDonald’s.  Through it all she never gave up hope that one day her prayers would be answered and help would come.

And it did on Nov. 13 2010.  As she stood outside a parking lot asking God to help her, a woman named Liz offered her a place to sleep for the night. From that night on she ended up staying at that place for three and a half months. She moved out in March 2011 and found a room in the brownstone she currently lives in and pays rent for the first time since being evicted in early 2010. Her dad has been helping her with the rent.

Luck has not been on her side this year. She was attacked in the subway near her home in late summer. The perpetrator was never caught. In October, she slipped on the floor and fractured her wrist.  She had to wear a cast for six weeks.

Although the glamorous life she once used to know is a thing of the past, she hopes she can one day return to the glitz and glam. In the meantime she is looking for a full-time job and is still unsure how she will pay next month’s rent.


MicroOffice helps businesses start small

MicroOffice helps businesses start small from Jesse D. Leon on Vimeo.

Some small businesses are content to stay based in home-offices or garages, but many are ready to take the next step into professionalism.

“There’s a certain level of financial dedication that it takes, and a certain level of mental dedication, of ‘I’m doing this,’ and when you’re at that point, you’re ready for office space,” said David Rotbard, founder of MicroOffice.

MicroOffice gives its clients a range of options from virtual offices to corner suites with windows, helping many small business grow and put on a more professional appearance. MicroOffice has nine floors in four buildings around Manhattan, including a building blocks away from Pennsylvania Station in Midtown and one overlooking Union Square Park.

With a fancy Manhattan address, a receptionist, kitchen, lobby and conference rooms included in their rent, MicroOffice’s tenants find that their vendors, customers and contractors all take them more seriously.

“It gives us the impression of being a much larger company than we are, which is very, very helpful in today’s market, while allowing a reasonable rent for a small business to survive and compete,” said Jeremy Green, of Futura Power Inc., an energy consulting company, who has a cubicle by the window.

Rotbard said that when he started MicroOffices, he expected it to be a launchpad for small businesses to get their start. He said he was pleasantly surprised to find that some customers stuck with him, like Sokol Brahn, an immigration lawyer who has been renting a cubicle with MicroOffice for six years.

“It’s a good place, it’s in the middle of Manhattan,” Brahn said. “It’s good for me, I’m a solo practitioner, I don’t need a big space, a big office.”

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.

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Do college graduates feel equipped to enter the job market?

With the recent economic recession, it has become increasingly difficult for college graduates to find employment. However, these are overwhelmingly people who have been told that they should attend college for the purpose of being able to get a better job upon completing their educations. They come from a mindset that indicates that one should expect success from higher education–but in this economic environment, conventional success has been put on hold.

In this survey, 39 recent college graduates were asked about their current employment status, how prepared they felt to find full-time work, and how they were prepared to enter the job market by their respective schools. This included questions about whether or not they felt like their professors had negative attitudes about their future employment, as well as on how many internships were completed and how those internships were acquired.

“Extra-curriculars like working on the school paper helped more than regular classes,” wrote a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. “My second internship (and primary source of freelance work) came purely from the connections I had made and the work I had to show for it.”

People who took the survey tended to say that their schools had not been particularly thorough in preparing them with practical job skills. Two-thirds of respondents said that their colleges did not help them get internships, and more than half gave their programs a dissatisfactory rating for how career development was handled.

“I think professors actually overestimated the job market for students,” wrote a graduate from the University of Maryland at College Park. “They liked to give out examples of graduates earning at least $50K out of school. The economy started tanking the year I graduated and all I was able to find were part time minimum wage jobs. I think colleges should be more realistic in telling students the job prospects in their field and/or steer bright students into STEM fields that do well in recessions.”

Of course, there is more to finding regular employment than simply income. Though it was not specifically asked about, two of the participants made additional comments about healthcare concerns.

“Myself and quite a few friends are employed full time but without benefits,” one person noted. It may be inferred that companies are forgoing benefit packages in order to still be able to hire personnel.

“I’d be so screwed if I had to find a job by myself without the security of the military health care system,” wrote another participant, who is currently a nurse working with the navy.

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.

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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