Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 Year End Letter

Hello Friends!

What a year 2018 has been! I happily rose again after a few years of deaths and illnesses. Dick and Jane would want me to continue living and in their honor that is what I have been doing!  

Workwise, my second year as Executive Director of the NoHo Business Improvement District has gone great. I’m getting in the groove learning more about our businesses, property owners and history and thinking about how it all leads to what the neighborhood will be like in the future. It’s fun to be on the cutting edge of ideas like experiential retail and pop-ups and to be in a neighborhood where high fashion is a norm. I swear, some people are walking works of art in their own right. 

Meanwhile after almost 25 years on the Upper West Side, I moved to Jackson Heights, Queens, a very different type of neighborhood, where diversity rules. They say it’s the most ethically diverse zip code in America and I love the variety. On my way to work I see multiple different types of traditional dress and I get to gorge myself with so many different kinds of food. I also love how vibrant it’s main streets are, with lots of mom and pop merchants selling anything I need. It’s a bit of a step back in time from Manhattan and that is such a pleasant daily surprise.

I traveled back to Nicaragua for the first time since my mom and I went on a life changing trip there after it’s revolution in 1989. This time I went for Semana Santa or Holy Week, where elaborate processions roam the streets re-enacting Jesus’ last days. I also got to enjoy nature, dive into local culture, jump in the waves. In May, I joined my sister Annie and her family in Rome and Florence for my first time. I loved it and became very addicted to quick stops for espressos along the way. In October I went to San Antonio, Texas for a work conference of the International Downtown Association, and as you can imagine, a city geek like me loved exploring their city through the eyes of our hosts. After the conference was done, I stuck around to volunteer getting out the vote for Beto O'Rourke, which introduced me to different places and people. I call it political tourism and its a great way to get to know a place. 

As for activism, the year started with another awe-inspiring Women's March, and continued with meeting and supporting great women candidates running throughout the country and campaigning in New York, New Jersey and Texas. Election Night was a bit of a nailbiter, but in the end I was happy to hear about so many newly election folks from local office all the way up to Congress and the state houses. 40 House wins, hopefully shows that not all of America is ok with Trump's behavior and policies. We still have a lot of work ahead of us though.

Because I believe the secret to happiness is life long learning, I did another cohort leadership program with the Coro New York Leadership Center called Neighborhood Leaders. This time it was specifically related to my job.  Our group learned from and inspired each other to tackle new challenges and grow and thus serve our communities better.

This has been a year of saying yes and trying to stay open to new experiences, honoring the way my mom always lived. In 2019, I turn 50, which feels a bit daunting, so I have been figuring out ways to prepare. One thing I came up with is doing 50 new things before 50. It’s been a fun way to push myself. Highlights so far are bouncing around a trampoline park, volcano boarding, and glamping on Governor’s Island. Another highlight will be finally going to Times Square for New Years Eve and doing the Polar Bear Plunge New Years Day at Coney Island! 

I have an extra bedroom in Jackson Heights and would love to show anyone around.  My new address is 76-15 35th Avenue, #3M, Jackson Heights, NY 11372. Come visit!

Wishing you all wonderful things in 2019!  And like I always say, do something everyday that scares you!

Friday, September 07, 2018

Glamping on Governors Island

Last night I went glamping on Governor’s Island. I felt like I was on safari in a far off land and yet I was right under the NY skyline. Waking up watching ferries rush by was pure nirvana. Thank you NYC for always having something new and exciting up your sleeve. You continue to enchant me. #50before50 (and forgive me for having too many pictures, but there were so many nice moments to capture.)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Couchsurfing with the Taliban New York Times - June 8, 2018

I was listening to an interview with Anthony Bourdain and he was reflecting on the division in American politics today and how people have trouble finding connections to others who have different views than themselves and that what he experienced when he traveled was he could sit down and eat and share life’s basic pleasures with others around the world even when their politics were totally opposed. I had a chance to sit down with some Taliban in Afghanistan and hear their issues as humans dealing with war before I knew they were “Taliban.” It was an eye opening, life changing experience for me, in that, it was very normal and human. I travel because I continue to yearn to get deeper than the stereotypes I read about. It’s why I also do political stuff in places like rural Iowa. Underneath it all people have similar needs and wants and we have to remember that before we demonize other. If you can’t go to Afghanistan go out and buy a Trump voter a drink, you’ll feel better about the world.

Couchsurfing with the Taliban New York Times, June 8, 2018

Friday, May 25, 2018

World Cup Fever Hits New York

2018 World Cup Fever is beginning. Last weekend I stumbled upon a corner in Jackson Heights, Queens where there was fierce trading of team stickers going on. I decided to dive in and bought a book and many packets of stickers. Now I’m addicted! The goal is to get all the player’s stickers. It’s so fun to see all the different countries player’s faces and names. I can’t wait for the games to begin.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rome and Florence, Italy - May 2018

I decided to join my sister in Italy for a quick jetsetter jaunt, since I have never been to Rome or Florence before. Architecture, history and food! Fantastic! I enjoyed seeing the sites and making new memories together! 

Click HERE to see pictures from my trip to Rome and Florence

Monday, April 30, 2018

Nicaragua Photos

Beautiful Diverse Nicaragua
Nicaragua has been on everyone’s must visit list for the last few years and I finally made the trek. Combining beach time, history and Semana Santa (Easter) festivities makes for a lot of things to do. It feels vastly different than when I was last here in 1989, during the post Revolution/Contra war times.

Click HERE to see photos from my recent trip to Nicaragua

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

David Bowie at Broadway Lafayette Subway Station

The Broadway Lafayette Subway Station has been transformed into a mini museum and been wrapped with images of David Bowie, inspired by the show at Brooklyn Museum. It’s dramatic! Come see it and then stop by my office and say hi! #explorenoho

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Making friends in Nicaragua

When I travel I always keep a few toys in my purse for times that I’m sitting near kids and want to make friends. On this night in Leon, Nicaragua, we were sitting along the route of the procession, waiting and waiting for it to come, feeling board and restless, so I took out a little racing car and played for a while with these two boys. At first they looked so afraid of me, but I won them over. 

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Easter Morning in Leon, Nicaragua

All of Leon, celebrates Semana Santa (Holy Week) in a huge way. Processions weave around the city throughout the week. On Easter Sunday at 6am there is a procession at the main cathedral in Plaza Central where Mary and Jesus meet again and proceed back into the church together.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Semana Santa in Leon, Nicaragua

On Good Friday in Barrio Sutiaba in Leon, Nicaragua, resident artists spend all afternoon creating sawdust carpets in preparation for the evening procession that marks the final carrying of the crosses during the Semana Santa, the Catholic Holy Week. The procession walks over the carpets and then later they are all swept up and disposed of, but for hours people can enjoy the art and the messages, as well as, lots of street food. Along the sides of the roads residents also create altars, including some live ones celebrating Jesus.

Back in Nicaragua after 29 years

I’m back in Nicaragua after 29 years. My first visit was during the Sandinista revolutionary times. It changed my worldview and showed me how to travel in a deep exploratory way. I am so happy to finally be here again and trying to dig deeper. Funnily once again the same guy is in charge, but this time apparently as a capitalist when back then he was a socialist leader of the Revolution. 🤭So much for the ideals of the Revolution that felt so profound to me back then.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Farewell to 2017

Hello friends one and all!

It’s time to say goodbye to 2017 and hope 2018 brings much brighter things.

The biggest thing that happened this year was I had to say goodbye to my mother. In May, with no warning, she was diagnosed with cancer and given 2-4 weeks to live. Together we decided to follow the principle “if you only have two weeks to live...," which led to a profound 4 weeks of love and celebration of life that let my mom live out her last days surrounded by friends and family and delicious food, music and dance. The most meaningful moment was when her dance group came to dance for her can get a glimpse of here and here.

I had major gastrointestinal surgery in March, which honestly wasn't that bad, since it meant laying low at home recovering for a month and finally ending the terrible pain I had been in since my emergency surgery the year before.  

Beyond health and family, the year also will also be remembered for how my country and I responded to the Trump Presidency. After the 2016 election, I pledged to work on immigration issues and I have found a great group doing important work where I am volunteering now. It is called CUNY Citizenship Now! and it helps people with Green Cards apply for citizenship, a difficult process. I have spent some very meaningful Saturdays helping immigrants from all over the world fill out their paperwork and enjoyed seeing the changing face of America. It bolsters me against the racist anti-immigrant rhetoric being shouted from the White House. 

My political action switched from proactive Get Out The Vote work to resistance.  Reading the news these days feels unreal, as the values of our country get assaulted on a daily basis, but there is something amazing building below the surface which hopefully will lead to positive change in the long run. Attending the Women's March in DC with one million others was one of the great experiences of my life. It really solidified my thoughts about the power of women to make change and I believe we will reap the rewards of the energy it gathered for years as more women stand up. I have been marching throughout the year in NYC for science, immigrant rights, criminal justice and more and have watched many new coalitions form.  Although my surgery and mother's death have slowed me down a lot, I am keeping a close eye on the resistance and appreciate the people who have been newly engaged. Us oldtimers need the backup. In 2018, I ask each of you to find a new local candidate and help support their rise. We all have to engage in the rebuilding of our democracy from the ground up. 

Everyone expects me to travel and unfortunately my illness grounded me for 18 months, but I am finally flying away again, this time I spent a week with two high school friends in Germany to take in the excitement of the Christmas markets, along with the great street art in Berlin.  After I spent the holidays with my sister Catsou and her family in London.  

As much as, its been a really rough year, I'm doing ok. I'm finding my stride at the NoHo Business Improvement District, enjoying learning its history and watching its hip, trendy, fashionable future unfold. I continue to embrace fun things around me as Dick and Jane would expect. I’m very appreciative of all the support I received throughout these difficult times. 

May you all find love and community when you need it. 

And onward to a bright new year...


Thursday, December 28, 2017

London Street Art

I spent Christmas week with my sister and her family in London.  That gave me a chance to take another swing around and see the new street art.  Once again London's art wowed me!

You can see my online album HERE.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Berlin Street Art

Berlin is one of THE street art cities and that meant lots of exploring and plenty to see.

You can see my full album HERE.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Michael Jackson in Munich

Stumbled upon this random monument to Michael Jackson in Munich, set up across from the hotel he stayed at. It’s still lovingly cared for and even had fresh candles burning. We played a few of his songs in his honor, before moving on.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Markets in Germany

After 18 months of being grounded by life circumstances, I finally was able to take another adventure and joined two high school friends for a week of Christmas Markets in Germany. We stopped in four places: Munich, Nuremberg, Bamberg and Berlin. Each city was a little different and each Christmas market was different.  Nuremberg has the most famous Christmas market in Germany. Market stalls fill every open square. Gluhwein, special German mulled wine, is available morning to night. Nuremberg is known for its lebkuchen, special German gingerbread and it was delicious! About 2 million people visit Nuremberg over the month of December filling the square and enjoying the holiday fare and music.

You can learn and see more by clicking HERE 
to see my photos.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

2017 UN General Assembly Week

My job now forces me to focus on NY and medical and family circumstances have kept me stateside lately, but that doesn't mean that I still don't think about the wider world a lot. Each year I take advantage of UN General Assembly Week to get a small window into various international development issues. Today I'm attending an event about developing sustainable tourism in Africa. My travel in Africa has been eye opening, stereotype smashing, nurturing and helped me change my perspective on what is important in life. Travel builds understanding and I hope that more and more people will get a chance to visit Africa and to counter the misinformation about the continent and promote economic growth there. #2017unyearofsustainabletourismfordevelopment #unwto

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Who needs to travel when the French President comes to me?

I just got to say hi to French President Macron! Happy United Nations General Assembly Week! It's my favorite time of the year in NYC! The streets are literally filled with world leaders! Now if only I could find Justin Trudeau! #worldleaderheartthrobs 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Peaks Island, Maine - Summer 2016

This year has been crazy with my surgery and Dick's death and then my mom's death so I didn't get to travel much. My one big trip was a wonderful long summer weekend in Peak's Island, Maine.

I hadn't been to Maine in a while and it was fun to enjoy its simple pleasures. Yummy fresh wild blueberries the are all the rage heathwise lately so I ate extra.  And of course, I had to have a lobster roll, since those were my mom's favorite Maine food.  Plus, plenty of summer ice cream to satisfy my nephew.

One fun silly activity on Peak's Island is to rent a golf cart to tour the island with. For two hours we drove the perimeter of the island and up and down the interior streets. Mostly that meant beautiful coastline views, rock pile sculptures, pine forests and creative mailboxes. My brother has been going to Peak's Island for a long time, so he also knows all the special cool places like an old World War II military installation built to protect Casco Bay which was a major location for military shipping. Battery Steele is an example of the largest battery ever built anywhere in the United States. Now its a relic and covered with graffiti... but its interesting to think about its history and to think about World War II on this side of the ocean. Another special place my brother took me to is the Umbrella Cover Museum.  Yes, you heard that right, a place with 700 umbrella covers from around the world. The kind of place that could only exist in a sweet little place like Peak's Island.

Mostly being in Maine meant quality time with my brother and his son, which made the trip even more fun. I think this is a trip I might have to start doing more often.

Here are some photos from my trip.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 End of the Year Update

Good Riddance 2016! Yay 2017!

This year has been filled with a lot of ups and downs, which I suppose is the normal routine in life, but it feels like its been extra bad for me and I'm ready to see what the New Year will bring and hope it comes with lots of fresh new energy to propel us all forward!

On the bright side, I end the year with a new job. I'm now the Executive Director of the NoHo Business Improvement District. I've been trying to get a job like this for a long time and am especially happy to land in an area that I spent my elementary school years in. NoHo is emerging as a hip area filled with fashion, tech and design. I even get to see new street art that pops up along the streets nearby. Getting up to speed is slow going, but I feel like bright things lie ahead.

Not to dwell on the bad stuff but... This year I experienced my first emergency surgery (and in Beirut no less!) I'm not going to lie. I kind of have been enjoying the whole experience except for the pain. I guess all those years of watching medical dramas have made me curious what the inside of hospitals really look like. This year I also lost my stepfather, Dick Roberts. Dick lived to a rich old 86 and certainly experienced a full life. He was always a lucky man and even his death showed that. He was healthy and then declined over a period of 6 weeks. He was lucky because, in the last weeks, he was constantly surrounded by family and friends and we were able to spend lots of quality time talking about life and listening to his favorite American Song Book, singing along all the way.

And of course, Hillary Clinton... Last year I told you all that all I wanted for Christmas was a woman President. I ended up spending a large part of 2016 trying to achieve that goal. I spent two weeks in Iowa before the Caucuses. I had a grand old time in Philadelphia during the Democratic Convention. Then I spent many of my fall weekends in Pennsylvania. I loved going door to door talking to voters. I particularly loved meeting so many new citizens, who were so excited to vote for the first time. I also really enjoyed being part of Executive Women for Hillary and helping women around the country activate and organize their friends. I thought I felt the glass ceiling cracking, but apparently it was shatterproof glass! Moving forward, I am horrified by the rhetoric and unpredictability of Trump and saddened by the divisive vitriol, but also have been going to lots of different organizing meetings and am seeing so many people wake up and find their voices. My hope is that out of the ashes will rise a stronger Democratic Party that is more sure of its ideals and more clear about its agenda. In the meantime, we all have to be sure to fight. I continue to be committed to working on immigration and racial justice issues, two things I care deeply about that I fear Trump is going to do real damage to.

Travel... yes, you are all wondering where I went this year.  My international trips included a great trip to Puerto Rico to explore their dynamic street art scene and I know, they are part of the USA, but it still felt a little foreign and I got to work on my Spanish! In the summer I took a  trip to Cairo, Egypt and Beirut, Lebanon, wo very very different Islamic countries. I really enjoyed the contrast of how religion is practiced and loved digging deep into the political situation in both places. Learning about the Arab Spring Uprising first hand in Egypt was fascinating and eye opening. And seeing the Syrian refugee situation up close and personal in Lebanon, the UN guarded border wall between Israel and Lebanon, plus the bullet ridden remnants of the Lebanese Civil War in between this soaring highrises of the international elite, showed me what a complicated hotbed that area of the world is once again. Domestically I enjoyed family trips to Water Island, USVI  where my grandmother used to live, a family reunion in Chicago, a weekend of friendship and street art in Detroit and a week in Cape May, which when added to my time politicking gave me a lot of interesting American experiences too.

In the New Year, I send wishes that we all are open to new experiences and find new passions to fill our heads and hearts. 

Wishing you well!


You can click any links above or check out my blog to see pictures and hear even more about my travel this year.
Or follow my street art Instagram feed at @streetartisallaround
And my economic development and urban planning rumblings on Twitter @cordeliaNYC