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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dara and the NYC DOT meeting

Tonight, I attended my first public hearing, or as I was told, a "meeting." I arrived there a little after 6pm but the meeting didn't start until 6:30pm. The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted this meeting to propose a new selected bus service along 34th street. This service will create an easier and faster way to ride the bus on one of Midtown's busiest streets. There was a PowerPoint presentation by Will Carry, a MTA project manager. He stated that the DOT  wants to address the current M34 bus service because it's slow and only goes 4.5mph. This selected bus service will increase the time it would take to get from one avenue to another, reduce crowding, add 18,000 sq. ft. of sidewalk space for pedestrians, expand loading zones, maintain 2-way traffic, and utilize the standard bus/pedestrian design for emergency vehicles. Mr. Carry said these improvements will build "future growth," bringing more residents to 34th Street.

This project has been in effect since 2008 and had over 60 community meetings. Mr. Carry said it is important to "keep the community involved," and "each improvement should be fully evaluated."

So what does the future hold for this selected bus service?
  • The M34 and M16 will run express along 34th Street.
  • Metro card vending machines will be placed outside every bus stop so commuters can pay before boarding the bus
  • create an off-set bus lane: lanes will be away from curb so it won't block parking
  • have a "bus bulb" which is an extended sidewalk for pedestrians to wait for buses only. This will leave free space for sidewalks and won't block traffic.
  • Proposed bus bulbs may be placed along East of 3rd Ave, West of 9th Ave, 3rd to 9th Ave, and 10th to 9th Ave., near the Lincoln Tunnel underpass.
The DOT predicts they will have the results of a "traffic analysis" (TA) by this Fall, following a public review of those results, and a project update by early 2012.

After the presentation, we were allowed to view maps of the project, and talk to MTA representatives. Eric Beaton, another MTA representative, lead a discussion about the 9th to 12th Avenue section of the selected bus service. Residents were concerned about the bus bulbs affecting parking, specific loading zones, bicycle lanes, and Dyer Ave. which is close to the Lincoln Tunnel. They are also concerned that having a bus bulb near the Lincoln Tunnel will affect traffic and pedestrian safety. The concerns became so intense that Mr. Carry stepped in to answer questions.

After the meeting, I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Carry (right) about this project and how it'll affect current bike lanes. He stated that the current bike lanes near 34th Street will remain, but bikers can use smaller "commercial" lanes, because "they're easier to move about." When I asked him about a similar project in Brooklyn, he said "We are working on something on Nostrand and Rogers Ave." and "we're also focusing on Utica Ave." Mr. Carry continued to say that it's possible Brooklyn will have a select bus service, but it's still "being talked about." For more information about the 34th Street project or upcoming meetings, go to

Monday, March 28, 2011

How safe are social workers?

Social workers are the "go to" people when it comes to helping their clients. They not only have to assess clients and manage their files, but also investigate their backgrounds (family, criminal, health history etc.). This is to ensure that the worker knows about the client and their needs. As part of this dynamic process, social workers make home visits where they can see first hand how their client is living. The process on paper may sound easy, but it's a difficult and unsafe process. Social workers put their lives on the line every time they enter a person's home. No one can predict the temperament of the client, the people living with him or her, or the environment of the residence. The situation of the client may involve abuse, drugs, mental illness, or something that can easily put the worker at risk. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) have been promoting worker safety, and continues to work hard to get laws passed that protects social workers.

The following article describes the recent deaths and violent acts done to social workers, and how the NASW is working towards worker safety.

From Social Work Today: Violent Crime and Social Worker Safety

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What is happening to New York?

Breaking news today. The Governor of New York has come up with a tentative budget for New York State. The goal is to "reduce spending by 2 percent," and to put a stop to years of "overspending" and "overtaxing" which have made people leave New York. However, this budget plan may cause a reduction in MTA funding that will cost transit riders more money to take buses and trains.What is happening to "The greatest city of the world?" Have things gotten so out of hand that we can no longer control our budget? And how much MORE do straphangers have to pay just to get from point A to point B?

Here's today's article from the New York Times discussing the Governor's tentative budget plan, and a blog that describes it in detail.

From the New York Times: Cuomo Strikes Deal on New York Budget With Big Cuts

From Streetsblog New York: Assembly and Senate Would Strip Another $170M From Transit Riders

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Harmful texting or lack of good judgment?

There are some stories that really touch my heart, especially when it comes to people with disabilities and budget cuts. What happens when people with disabilities, who don't always get the services they need, discuss their concerns at a public hearing and are being ignored? This is what happened today at a MTA board meeting in Long Island, NY. Disabled residents expressed their concerns over proposed cuts to their LI buses and Able-Ride services to MTA board members. As residents spoke, a MTA board member was  texting on her cell phone. Although she did some listening, most of the time she was found texting during testimony. This bothered me, because of the lack of consideration she had for residents' concerns. Besides, texting during a hearing is just plain rude. Although she has admitted to her wrongdoing, it has left a bad impression of her character and I believe, to anyone watching those proceedings. This is definitely a "shaking my head" (SMH) moment.

MTA Board Member Can't Stop Texting During Public Testimony [VIDEO],0,3736191.story


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Moment in the Night

The weather is odd tonight
Hail falls onto the ground
An eerie sound fills the air
No one in sight

The streets slick and wet
I watch from my window
Wishing I could be outside
To experience
Mother Nature’s dance
In the dark

TV glares blue light
Filling the room
Soft music, incense
The sweet smell of African musk
Touches my soul

Laying on the bed
I quietly travel
Into my world
Of hopes, dreams
And many uncertainties

Reminiscing childhood memories
Times of laughter and simplicity
Re-gain my inspiration
Falling in love again

June accomplishment is near
A lifelong career in humanity
I smile wondering
Hidden treasures
That awaits me

A sudden flash of light
Crashes against the window
Loud roaring, heavy rain
Mother Nature cries hard

I lay still
Listening to the raindrops

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Conversation


Shh…listen carefully
“You’re an animal”
 “That’s not right!”
 “Tacky Black chicks”
“Ha Ha Ha”
“Ghetto teenagers”
“Why are you saying that?”
“Freedom of speech”
“You’re a racist”
“It’s not about race”
“Everyone has an opinion”
“Get over it!”
Heard enough?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are teachers fairly ranked in the U.S.?

From the New York Times: U.S. Urged to Raise Teachers' Status
This article discusses teachers in the U.S., how they are viewed, and the lack of respect they get, all based on their status. I believe, as an educator, that teachers are not considered as high ranking as compared to other careers. It's unfortunate because we are the people who educate the world. This is something that needs to be changed, but it has to start with a certain mindset. I believe that the way our society view teachers will determine the level of respect they will receive. Let's hope it will become a more positive view than it is now.

A new addition to Dara's Creative Corner

Although this blog is about sharing my creative muses with the world, I feel obliged to share some newsworthy material regarding things that mean a lot to me, education and human services. I feel these fields don't get the level of respect they deserve, and are constantly faced with heavy budget cuts, downsizing, and inadequate resources. I want to share these stories with you, as well as, express my opinion about them. Stay tuned, Dara's Creative Corner will have more to a creative way!


She wants to hide. A small hut catches her eye. She runs inside. She hears some giggling. She kneels down into a shallow corner. The giggling becomes louder. She closes her eyes hoping not to be seen. Eventually, the laughter fades. Silence. She feels a sigh of relief. She stands up against the intertwined wall, and breathes quietly. The hollow hut suddenly becomes warm. A ray of light peeks into the small spaces, surrounding the hut completely. She looks up and sees the sun. "I thought I was alone. I was trying to hide," she says aloud. A cool breeze passes across her face. She hears a quiet whisper. "You are never alone. You cannot hide from me, because I am always with you. You don't need to hide anymore." She stands still. Tears fill her eyes. She walks out of the hut, looks up at the sun and says, "Thank you."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This is all I want to do

“I am wondering if you are even listening and why I bother to tell you these things that will never make a difference…but this is all I want to do”—Billy Collins from the poem “Night Letter to the Reader”

I relate to Mr. Collins on this quote. Sometimes, I wonder why I have the desire to share my thoughts with the world. Is anyone actually listening? Does anyone really care? As a writer, I’m learning that you write to express, you express to share with others, and you share, well, just because. Every writer has their own idea as to why they write in the first place. I write for the satisfaction of sharing and knowing in some way it has helped or inspired someone. I don’t claim to be motivational or an inspiration, although I’ve been told I am. I like expressing myself for people to get to know me and my experiences. It’s those experiences that, I believe, can be related by others which create a circle of “relatable bonding” (as I like to call it). I like bonding with others.

For the past week, I’ve been home suffering from a reoccurring hip injury that likes to visit me every so often. It’s the most agonizing and annoying experience I have to deal with. What’s worse, it’s not going to get any better. There’s no cure for what I have…except surgery which isn’t a cure. It’s more like a “somewhat” way of fixing the problem that will have long-term effects. Looks like I’m not getting out of this one! While I was home trying to reclaim my sanity (just kidding), I did a lot of reading and thinking. This quote from Mr. Collins stood out for me, since I tend to care about what others think of me and my work. I know I should only be concerned with me, myself, and I, but I’m not a selfish person. I don’t focus on myself, instead wonder how I can be there for others. I think this health setback is a true test from God to see how I handle it, and if I will let it affect my goals.

Sometimes I feel this problem may interfere in what I want to do. I worry that I may end up crippled or in a wheelchair. I know this sound drastic but it can easily happen. I pray that won’t happen to me. It’s not to say I can’t have a fulfilling life if I was crippled or in a wheelchair, but I know it would affect me emotionally. Although it’s a struggle being in pain most of the time, or any little twist or turn can cause serious consequences, it makes me more determined to work harder to live a fulfilling life. In a month, I’ll be 30 years old. The last ten years were challenging filled with heavy academia, work, and bad relationships. I haven’t had a chance to really enjoy myself. My goal for the next 10 years is to continue learning and working, but have more fun socially. It’s time now. “…this is all I want to do” is how I feel when I write, teach English as a Second Language, and help people. However, I have many interests, some that I haven’t tapped into yet. I want to explore my talents and utilize my potential to welcome in new possibilities. This is my passion; it’s what gives me purpose in life, and in turn, keeps me motivated. As a friend on my Twitter page said, “Courage often isn’t enough—sometimes you need to have faith.” I couldn’t agree more.

The Sun Plays Hide and Seek

 March 2, 2011: A Day at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Watch how the sun peeks out of the clouds...I think she wanted to say "hello!" Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Along my travels: Thursday, February 24, 2011

One of the things I love to do is travel to new places, or familiar ones. Here's a photo journey to a place I enjoy going to, the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, NY. This is where I go when I need to reflect, clear my head, or enjoy the scenery. I love being by the water, even though I can't swim! I welcome you along my travels...enjoy!

Welcome to the South Street Seaport...

 My Market? (hence the name)

 NY Water Taxi
 Sitting at a distance...

 Sun always follows me
 Bye bye birdie...guess he's camera shy!
No no, face the camera the opposite way...still new to photography!
 I always follow the sun
 Brooklyn Bridge
 Here we go!
 3 Bridges: Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg
 There goes my taxi
My favorite place to being by the water