2018: The year in musical mayors, botanical fever, & boxes of bees

One for the road!

Road in Joshua Tree National Park

I can recommend this road—it’s in Joshua Tree National Park

I just finished my annual “greatest hits” newsletter, and boy have visions of that MailChimp monkey been dancing in my head all week!

When the time is right—say, if your New Year’s Eve flight is delayed, or when you wake up at the regular time but realize you don’t need to get out of bed yet—I invite you to peruse some of my favorite doin’s of 2018, which included:

  • Interviews with activists, authors, and farmers
  • Joining the board of a boss local nonprofit
  • Being featured in The New York Times in tie-dyed pink pants!

If you’re not on the list to receive this yearly bulletin but would like to be, I’d love to sign you up.

As we put a bow on this year and prepare to unwrap 2019, I remain grateful for your readership, creativity, and camaraderie. Keep up the good work!

Community gardens by foot & bike

Did I tell you that I joined the board of a wonderful organization called the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT) this past spring? I didn’t? Well, that’s probably because I spent approximately half my waking hours between then and last weekend helping to plan our 7th Annual Bike & Walking Tour!!

Happy people in bike helmets looking at plants

Happy bike tour participants inspect foliage at a BQLT garden

But I get ahead of myself. Let me first explain that BQLT owns and stewards over 30 community gardens in NYC’s two most populous boroughs. This means these public green spaces are permanently saved from development and cannot be sold. It means we apply for grants and hold fundraisers to keep them in raised beds and water systems. It means the resident gardeners who put their blood, sweat, and tears into transforming many of these plots from abandoned wastelands into lush oases for the whole neighborhood to enjoy 20, 30, and 40 years ago can confidently pass them on to the next generation. I’m so proud to be part of all this work, and so excited to learning about everything from tree identification to city council budgets with the committed and good-humored BQLT crew.

Group photo in community garden

Select BQLT board and staff members giddy with relief at the end of the tour

That’s why, after many months of planning, it was so thrilling when our big day finally came. Last Saturday, September 15th, 60 awesome people showed up to tour a handful of our beautiful community gardens in Bushwick (apparently the 7th Coolest Neighborhood in the World, according to Vogue), and eastern Bedford-Stuyvesant. We started the afternoon at Concerned Citizens of Grove Street Garden with remarks by a community affairs rep from the office of our Borough President, Eric Adams (who is himself a vegan bicyclist, didn’t ya know?), and by the garden’s founder Jaime Alvarez, who started it 37 years ago.

From there, tour t-shirts donned and branded water bottles filled, we bikers embarked on our ride to check out six more gardens, while the walking group ambled off to four. We saw bitter melon growing and chickens scratching. We heard stories of gardens’ origins as ashen lots in the bad old days of 1970s NYC. We whizzed by stoop sales and farmers markets and a motorcycle washing station with hand-lettered signage set up in someone’s garage. I learned that my husband has the same birthday as one of city council member Antonio Reynoso‘s staffers, and that La Finca Garden was established way back in 1986.

Guy in bike helmet and glasses next to guy in blazer

Birthday twinsies!

Woman in bike helmet next to man in baseball cap

They even have embroidered hats!

After a few sunny hours of pedaling, peeping, and chatting, we arrived at the truly fabulous People’s Garden for plant-based Dominican snacks by woman- and worker-owned catering cooperative Woke Foods and music by a band from Haiti Cultural Exchange. Kids pushed each other around in a wagon. People waiting for the bus outside peered in and bopped to the tunes. And apparently a reporter was there from Our Time Press, because I just saw this article! Nice. As dusk approached, I finally took off my fluoro yellow tour leader vest and headed out the gate, mad tired but wicked satisfied.

While I can’t say I’ll exactly miss the scores of hours the little BQLT events committee spent in after-work meetings at the library, the email chains about flyer printing that grew to 50 messages deep, or the mosquito-filled crepuscular trial rides I took part in over the past handful of months, they were all totally worth it. See you for the 8th!

People on bikes in urban America

A Most Brooklyn Saturday (with some Manhattan thrown in)

Here at Unsolicited Vibe Assessment, we strive to give the people what they want. (That is what we strive to do, isn’t it? And by “we,” I mean “the royal we,” aka me.)

The Dude Lebowski

The Dude knows all about “the royal we”

When I emailed a former New Yorker friend the other day about Arthur’s and my Very Brooklyn Saturday, she replied:

“Enjoyed reading about your epic day in Brooklyn! Are you going to blog about that?? What an unforgettable mix of all things BK and happy life there. So very excited to visit you across the bridge and hang with all of you there soon. I can feel that Brooklyn happiness in me already. If I ever return to NYC, it will definitely be either BK or Upper-Upper West Side. After your e-mail, BK is winning by a few points : )”

I’m nothing if not a Brooklyn booster, so yes, friend, I shall blog about it! Perhaps we’ll be able to make a few more fans for our beloved borough.

Arthur and I bought our wedding rings today!! They’re recycled gold, because we’re giant hippies.

Wedding bands

Rangs

Actually, today was such a nice day that I want to tell you more about it.

Arturo went to hot yoga at 10:00 am and I repotted some plants that were overgrowing their bounds. I also listened to a radio program about the genocide in Syria, which is so horrific, of course. That kind of stayed with me all day—perhaps not the best audio choice for this moment… But gotta stay informed.

00 Pizza

00+Co (photo from Yelp; those are not my beautiful hands)

Then we met up and biked into Manhattan to try a new vegan pizza place in the East Village, went to SoHo to get our rings, bought a few books at the Strand, and met up with our friend Andy at The Lot Radio, possibly the most Brooklyn thing ever: a streaming radio station located in a shipping container in a vacant lot that also sells cold brew coffee and vegan cookies.

The Lot Radio via Hyperallergic

Courtesy DJ Haram

Top: The Lot Radio (photo from Hyperallergic) Bottom: A DJ sesh live from their webcam! (photo from, and quite possibly of, DJ Haram: djharam.tumblr.com)

Then Arthur went to meet some friends for dinner, and I came back here to write to you :)

I’m always glad to be in NYC, but particularly on the first hella-sunny Saturday of the springtime, with the best of friends and most delicious of itineraries, I’m even more keenly aware that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Readers! Where’s your happy place?