Issuu on Google+

Beach Erosion I Radical Maps I The Battle Over A Walkway I On Divestment I Ways to Look

THE THE NEW NEW JOURNAL JOURNAL

The Magazine of Yale & New Haven The Magazine of Yale & New Haven

THE NEW JOURNAL

R R D D E BE R OR S R S D

The Magazine of Yale & New Haven

The Magazine of Yale & New Haven

B O R D E THE B BNEW O OJOURNAL

Volume 46 Issue 4 February 2014

february 2014

1


staff publisher Tessa Berenson editors-in-chief Sophia Nguyen Cindy Ok executive editor Benjamin Mueller managing editors Eric Boodman Julia Calagiovanni design editors Lian Fumerton-Liu Emmett Kim David Shatan-Pardo photo editor Maya Binyam senior editors Tao Tao Holmes Isabel Ortiz Emma Schindler associate editors Maya Averbuch Lara Sokoloff A. Grace Steig Ike Swetlitz

members and directors Emily Bazelon, Peter B. Cooper, Jonathan Dach, Kathrin Lassila, Eric Rutkow, Elizabeth Sledge, Jim Sleeper, Fred Strebeigh advisors Richard Bradley, Jay Carney, Joshua Civin, Richard Conniff, Ruth Conniff, Elisha Cooper, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, Jennifer Pitts, Julia Preston, Lauren Rabin, David Slifka, John Swansburg, Steven Weisman, Daniel Yergin friends Michael Addison, Austin Family Fund, Steve Ballou, J. Neela Banerjee, Margaret Bauer, Anson M. Beard, Jr., Blaire Bennett, Richard Bradley, Martha Brant, Susan Braudy, Daniel Brook, Hilary Callahan, Jay Carney, Daphne Chu, Josh Civin, Jonathan M. Clark, Constance Clement, Andy Court, Masi Denison, Albert J. Fox, Mrs. Howard Fox, David Freeman, Geoffrey Fried, Sherwin Goldman, David Greenberg, Stephen Hellman, Laura Heymann, Gerald Hwang, Walter Jacob, Jane Kamensky, Tina Kelley, Roger Kirwood, Jonathan Lear, Lewis E. Lehrman, Jim Lowe, E. Nobles Lowe, Daniel Murphy, Martha E. Neil, Peter Neil, Howard H. Newman, Sean O’Brien, Laura Pappano, Julie Peters, Lewis and Joan Platt, Julia Preston, Lauren Rabin, Fairfax C. Randal, Robert Randolph, Stuart Rohrer Arleen and Arthur Sager, Richard Shields, W. Hampton Sides, Lisa Silverman, Scott Simpson, Adina Proposco and David Sulsman, Thomas Strong, Margarita Whiteleather, Blake Wilson, Daniel Yergin and Angela Stent Yergin

copy editors Nathalie Levine Justine Yan staff writers Ashley Dalton Arielle Stambler

The New Journal is published five times during the academic year by The New Journal at Yale, Inc., P.O. Box 203432 Yale Station, New Haven, CT 06520. Office address: 305 Crown Street. All contents Copyright 2013 by The New Journal at Yale, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction either in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher and editors-in-chief is prohibited. While this magazine is published by Yale College students, Yale University is not responsible for its contents. Four thousand copies of each issue are distributed free to members of the Yale and New Haven communities. Subscriptions are available to those outside the area at the rate of $50 for one year. The New Journal is printed by Turley Publications, Palmer, MA; bookkeeping and billing services are provided by Colman Bookkeeping of New Haven. The New Journal encourages letters to the editor and comments on Yale and New Haven issues. Write to Editorials, 203432 Yale Station, New Haven, CT 06520. All letters for publication must include address and signature. We reserve the right to edit all letters for publication.

2

the new journal


the new journal Volume 46, Issue 4 February 14, 2014 www.thenewjournalatyale.com

features

16 28

A Tale of Two Supermarkets A writer evaluates the promises two markets made a hungry city. by Meredith Redick

Against the Tide Is destructive beach erosion simply inevitable? by Ike Swetlitz

standards

4 11 23

points of departure by various authors

critical angle Beyond Fossil Free by Ashley Dalton

26 35

visual feature Lessons in Looking by Andrew Wagner

endnote by Madeleine Witt

critical angle Real Kid Talk by Isabelle Taft

Cover Design by Lian Fumerton-Liu Map courtesy of Bill Rankin, radicalcartography.net february 2014

3


letter from the editors Dear reader,

Men joining roller derbies, theater with audience as actor, a stolen lamp that took a church’s history with it. Urban squash leagues and Tolstoy marathons. Budget cuts on food stamps and a gang initiative that tries to define community. The stories we’ve loved publishing in our five issues have been about borders of all kinds—about setting and learning them, about crossing or bridging them. Borders give us order, marking guarantees and edges. They tell us what we are, and help us decide who we want to be. Our state borders are at their most militarized, with almost two million deported under Obama; meanwhile, the line between private and public is dissolved with “global surveillance.” Questions of borders are more pressing than ever. Are they human nature, and will they always be? When we study any moment of history, we see that progress is always about breaking down the arbitrary demarcations about familiarity, custom, and ego that separate people, and about living out the natural ones that connect: fear and pride, grief and hope, life and death. We’re told that good fences make good neighbors. We are interested in trespass. This issue brings you the stories of a disappearing coastline and a fight over a narrow walkway; city maps, new and old; a prisoner taking freedom through words; the blurring between activist causes. Rules are useful—until they control you, in the same way that walls can be great friends and great foes. We hope that in this and our other issues, we’ve given you a window through. Thank you to our talented editorial board, our wonderful and wonderfully honest advisors, and of course, to our loyal readers. With Love and Squalor, Sophia Nguyen and Cindy Ok Editors-in-Chief

Mona Cao

points of departure

The Same Old Song When I walk into the large room jutting out of Tony DeLucia’s garage, I am momentarily lost in time. A metallic 1947 Wurlitzer jukebox stares at me from across the room. My eyes pick out a British Invasion pinball machine from the

4

seventies, and a hefty silver-and-bronze Seeburg jukebox from the fifties. The jukebox plays songs like the Wurlitzer and The Crests’ doo-wop hit “Sixteen Candles,” and the pinball machine sits by the back wall beneath a wooden shelf displaying rainbow-colored records, and glass soda bottles. I’ve walked into another decade, but I’m not quite sure which one. DeLucia strides over to me, his hands casually slipped into his pockets. “Do you mind if I write this down? I forgot a tape recorder,” I explain, and he laughs. “Sure. Why not? I guess you’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way.” DeLucia opened his shop, Antique Amusement Services, in Hamden thirty-three years ago, so he knows “old-fashioned” better than anyone else. “I’ve been doing this part-time—all the time—since I was young,” he explains. In the last few decades, he has repaired everything from vintage soda machines to coin-slot arcade games for clients all around the Northeast. He

the new journal


february 2014

Long trips to Manhattan and Massachusetts. Equipment that never arrives. DeLucia isn’t one to get swept up in memories, but he’s pleased when his customers share his enthusiasm for these clunky, colorful game boxes. It’s the newest generation that gives him the greatest pleasure, the ones who come in with family heirlooms in the trunk. He remembers fixing a jukebox belonging to a customer’s late grandfather, and dropping it off at the Manhattan apartment where the client had gathered the whole family to receive it. Over the course of a day, DeLucia sometimes tries out the machines in his workshop while on break. He will play a quick game of pinball, or play one of his favorite records on one of the jukeboxes. Then he gets back to his fixing and refixing, the music playing as he works. Though he walks me through the mechanics of various machines, the moments that stick with me are not the names of the parts and their mechanisms, but his own moments of reminiscence. “It’s a very good feeling,” he tells me, “bringing something back to life.”

—Adam Echelman Mona Cao

has made a name for himself, literally—people call him “Tony the Jukebox Man.” “It just sort of stuck,” he says. Here in his workshop are the days of candy parlors, soda fountains, and drive-in movie theaters. Black-and-white photos of smiling quartets in matching blazers and dresses cover the walls; I pick out Elvis but the rest are unfamiliar. I can imagine people coming to Antique Amusement Services, mesmerized by visions of apple-pie America. But as I turn back to DeLucia, I realize he must recognize my brand of nostalgia after seeing it time and time again, the obsession with the proof of the past, indulgences he has learned to treat with care. DeLucia is the son of a mechanic, and he remembers learning to appreciate his father’s technical and artistic skill. After trade school, he repaired mainframe computers, carrying his father’s work into the modern era. Jukebox machines were his part-time focus for eight years until he left the computer industry to found an antiques company out of his home in Hamden. These days, Tony spends much of each day working alone. He consults with his wife over business matters, but the rest of the time he disassembles, rewires, and repaints old machines. Each one has a motor and an amplifier, though the mechanics and designs often vary. Some need chrome plating while others require specific paint tones and gas pipes. It’s “old equipment, but new and different all the time,” he tells me. During his busy six-day workweek, DeLucia visits customers in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. “I’ll just about go anywhere,” he says, and his repaired machines have done their own traveling, starring alongside Robert DeNiro and decorating the houses of Whitney Houston and Keith Richards. But, out of the 2,600 clients he works with, most are elderly couples and families. Some people show up every few months; others every few years, for tune-ups. DeLucia likes keeping his business personal. “Individuals are always better than companies,” he tells me. “It’s easier to work with humans.” In the workshop, as I take in the time warp around us, DeLucia keeps his eyes fixed on me. He reminds me that repairing antiques is no game: “It’s a job. It’s an interesting job, but it has its headaches too.” Impossible restorations.

Sharpened Points A lot of mapmakers end up selling posters, Yale professor Bill Rankin tells me, but he wants his projects to be something more. He wants to reimagine the conventions of cartography, going beyond images you could hang for display or decoration. A Rankin map might be aesthetically pleasing, but you can be sure it will also be intellectually challenging. Rankin grew up in the orderly grid of Chicago, where he always knew which way north was. When he moved to Philadelphia in 1999,

5


he turned to mapping as a way of situating himself in his new environment. Mapmaking provided him a point of entry into the narrative of the city, a way of understanding both the places he frequented and those he didn’t. Moving to Boston for graduate school disoriented him again, and he learned to understand its winding roads and racial divisions by drawing them. In 2003, Rankin created a depiction of the city’s subway system, highlighting the ways in which its connections and dead ends contributed to racial segregation by neighborhood. He decided to share his work. He considered hanging printouts of the map at stops, confusing travelers just enough to provoke questions about access. Ultimately, he built a website, radicalcartography.net, which hosts this and his other projects. Sometimes, he uploads them to Wikipedia, where they often become the standard maps on their subjects. “Radical Cartography wasn’t so much about making maps that were part of radical activism, but rather part of a radical new way of making maps,” Rankin said. He decides what’s visible and invisible, rather than deferring to the government, or to Google. “Often, mapping is done with a preconceived idea of what the relevant boundaries are,” he explained. “We assume that state boundaries are important, and so we map with those in mind.” Rankin does not follow the common practices of the maps found in textbooks, which often shade in borders according to language, religion, or economic conditions, with a broad brush. He peels back the traditional base layers of maps to allow the data to show more complex patterns. Above all, he values detail. His dot maps display each individual data point rather than shaded averages—the more granular the data, the more descriptive the map. As a result, he is limited by the availability of good data; for instance, he has shied away from mapping obesity because reliable statistics only exist at the state level. Still, he brings obscure information into the public light in sometimes whimsical ways. He recently mapped a web survey asking French citizens how many times they kissed in greeting, the results outlining unofficial regions that emerge through custom. Since he moved to East Rock in 2011 to teach history of science at Yale, Rankin has again familiarized himself with a new city through his craft. In August 2012, Rankin cre-

6

ated two “heat maps” that showed the epicenters of initiated and already-foreclosed homes in the city. Red blotches blossom in areas with moderate amounts of foreclosure, yellow areas have higher rates, and white designates the foreclosure hotspots of the city. Carla Weil, executive director of the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund, who herself majored in geography at UCLA, appreciates the logic behind Rankin’s maps. “I think of things in terms of maps,” she said. “I see the overlays of factors.” She points to two yellow hot spots on the map of initiated foreclosures, one in the Hill and one in Fair Haven. “These two crescents were surprising to me,” she said. By comparing the sizes of those hotspots to those on the map of completed foreclosures on Rankin’s maps, Weil found that almost none of the threatened foreclosures actually happened in the Hill, while in Fair Haven, most did. Rankin was also surprised by the outcome of his project. “The narrative we hear in the national press is really about hard-hit middle class families, because there’s a clear kind of moral agony in there,” he said. “But the actual geography of foreclosure is that the places that are already struggling are the places that are hit the most.” The maps have allowed the Weil and her colleagues to decide which areas most need their canvassers, and to correct imbalances in outreach and counseling services. They also helped the group secure funding. Hard numbers can only communicate so much, says Brianna Gavigan, programs manager of the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund. Rankin’s maps illustrate the impact of foreclosures with precision, locating them in familiar places. While not all of Rankin’s maps are motivated by issues as serious as foreclosure, they all result from his desire to better understand his world. When he wanted to know if an animal’s evolutionary development played a role in the ethics of eating the animal, he turned to mapping, creating “Eat the Animalia?” which now hangs outside his office. Using seafood ratings from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and typical farming conditions for poultry and livestock, he color-coded an evolutionary cladogram, or tree, and found new patterns. A formerly a strict vegetarian, Rankin was surprised to find that sardines were a far more sustainable source of protein than cage-farmed eggs. After

the new journal


his project, his snack of choice switched from hard-boiled eggs to sardine sandwiches. Whether he’s planning his next meal or understanding the underlying tensions on familiar streets, Rankin sees the world through data. But what makes his cartography so radical is his attention to minutiae—the little things that often go unnoticed. “There aren’t sharp boundaries,” he told me. It’s through the dots that true colors emerge.

Devon Geyelin

—Caroline Sydney

Lost and Found The trees on the New Haven Green are somehow unexpected. Many of their old trunks are too wide to measure with outstretched arms, and yet I might not have paid attention to them in all the open space. It was the maps of New Haven that have taught me to truly look at them. One map, from 1748, marks out two trees on the Green and labels each of them—“2 Trees Planted in 1686”—the way a church or town hall might be identified. I cannot find them, and I doubt that they still stand centuries later. The earliest map of New Haven, drawn in 1641 by John Brockett, depicts the city as a swath of white space bounded by today’s George, York, Grove, and State streets. The area is divided into nine squares, each square subdivided by labeled divisions of land: a thin black line divides Richard Perry’s two and a half acres from Theophilus Eaton’s; Stephen Goodyear’s plot borders that of William Hawkins. The order provided by the map indicates neither cardinal directions nor street names, only the nine large rectangles and the smaller ones within them— broad outlines of a mostly uncharted place. Over the course of three and a half centu-

february 2014

ries, those nine squares have become increasingly detailed, in construction and in representation. In a map from the eighteenth century, the allotments of land of the Brockett map become color-coded and labeled sketches of buildings. On several nineteenth-century maps, the relative sizes of blocks approach an accurate measure. A 1929 aerial photograph captures as much detail as technology could provide at the time: streets and buildings, cars and awnings, and the thin and shadowy branches of trees. Maps create distance from places—they provide perspectives that inherently zoom out from the reality of experiences like walking down the street. Yet they echo experience, and can often augment it. For me, this has been true as long as I can remember. I grew up surrounded by maps that told me where I was in the world, and where I could go. I spent afternoons poring over the already-dated eighties atlas my father passed down to me, tracing routes and town names with my fingers; I ate many bowls of macaroni-and-cheese on a placemat with a U.S. map; I helped navigate family road trips to national parks with highway maps that, unfolded, were bigger than me. My first experiences in cities far from home always begin with a lack of meaning, swaths of blank space. I only know that the streets are unfamiliar, sometimes winding, and infinitely detailed. At most, I know several broad strokes—a river, a central square, the direction the sun sets against a bell tower. But after an hour of walking, I can learn the perimeter of any neighborhood, some outlined terra incognita. Once I learn peripheral streets, I can let myself get lost on side streets and in courtyards, knowing that if I wander long enough, I will happen upon a familiar street I’ve already learned. Broad strokes, then specifics, a fractal-like system of zooming in, and zooming in. For a long time, I have imagined that I no longer need a map to experience New Haven— I have convinced myself that a map of the city exists in my mind. I can visualize buildings with their various shapes, streets with their diagonal sidewalks between them. I have long stopped looking for the ornate designs of rooftops against blue skies, and dismiss the difference between rust and russet bricks on Old Campus. The city feels dense with its own private meanings, with a history I cannot access. And yet the New Haven maps I’ve looked at

7


reveal unseen details and rich patterns layered one over the other. On the Green, I remember only the rough sketch of the 1748 map—and the space I experience is beyond what paper and ink can record. The wind is cold. There are no people on the benches. But because of that map, I know to look for old and knotted trees.

Devon Geyelin

—Mary Mussman

Free Writing Austin Reed wrote in silence and in darkness. Over the course of three decades, he crafted his memoirs in a prison cell in upstate New York, where he was prohibited from speaking and forced to work ten hours a day. The first line reads: “The bright sun was just a shining into the window of my father cottage when I was call’d by the voice of a female to come and take the last look of my dying father.” Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired Reed’s manuscript in 2009 at an estate sale in Rochester, New York; its whereabouts during the preceding 150 years remain largely unknown. Titled “The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict, or the Inmate of a Gloomy Prison,” and composed between the 1830s and the 1850s, it is the earliest known prison narrative by a black writer. He wrote under the name Robert Reed. Scholars guess that Robert was his middle name, or that it was a pen name playing on the word Rob because he was in jail for theft. Perhaps, some speculate, it served as an ode to Robinson Crusoe or Walter Scott’s Rob Roy. The authenticity of the manuscript was verified by English professor Caleb Smith in December using a letter Reed wrote in 1895, as well as court records, prison documents, and newspaper articles. “There is no voice quite like this in the literature of the period,” says Smith,

8

who has written two books on incarceration and is preparing Reed’s text for publication in early 2016. The elegant handwriting fades into the weathered paper, marking the moments when Reed ran low on ink, but the 304-page manuscript remains highly legible a century and a half after its completion. The memoir moves from childhood anecdotes to prison conditions and poetic musings, from moments of denial and indignation to remorse and acquiescence. In his concluding note, written two decades after he began the memoir, Reed reflects on his time as a prisoner and tells the Reader to heed his life as a cautionary tale. Reed resorted to theft and violence after the death of his father, and landed himself first in a Manhattan reformatory for juvenile delinquents that offered instruction in reading and writing. He was later sent to Auburn State Prison, a reform institution that aimed to create a rehabilitative prison model. In addition to enforced silence and labor, inmates had to walk in lockstep to prevent them from facing one another. They were subject to punishments such as shower-baths, a form of torture Reed describes vividly: “Stripping off my shirt the tyrantical curse bounded my hands fast in front of me and orderd me to stand around. Turning my back towards him he threw Sixty seven lashes on me according to the orders of Esq. Cook. I was then to stand over the dreain while one of the inmates wash my back in a pail of salt brine.” Reed wanted to publish the manuscript during his lifetime, but he never did. Perhaps it was censored because he was trying to expose the system, or maybe it just never got into the right hands. In any case, his attempt to illustrate the horrors of prison firsthand put him in the growing group of prison reformers, who were closely allied with the abolitionists. In 1858, the year Reed completed his memoir, the state prison faced unwanted attention from the press when a black inmate was killed in the shower bath. “This was a sensitive issue, even at the time,” Smith says, “in part because the prison reformers were so strongly identified with anti-slavery, and didn’t want people to be able to say about their prisons that they were racist institutions—that they were like slavery.” Reed was born a free man near Rochester, but he faced violence from a young age. Shortly

the new journal


after his father’s death, a white farmer came to his door to complain that Reed and his friends had cut down trees on his property. Reed’s mother, who was raising her five children alone, decided to give him a lashing: “She took a rawhide from the mantlepiece and orderd me to strip off my coat. I jump for the ax that stood behind the door and raising at my mothers head told her if she struck me one blow with that rawhide that I would sliver her brains out on the floor.” The farmer intervened and attempted to take the weapon from Reed, who cocked back and threw the ax at him with all the force his small frame could muster, leaving a deep cut below the farmer’s knee. Reed was six. He was sent to work on the farmer’s property as retribution and recompense. Reed once told the farmer that he was tired of laboring and that he would go home to see his mother and siblings, and the man responded with the whip. No ax by his side, Reed received his lashes with his hands tied behind his back. Despite the age of the manuscript, Reed’s narrative remains all too familiar. Though whippings and salt brine are no longer common practice, tens of thousands of inmates today spend twenty-two to twenty-four hours a day in sterile steel boxes of solitary confinement in most states, including Connecticut. The lights stay on, and meals are served through slots in the doors. Rather than walking in lockstep, recreation entails supervised, shackled pacing. The U.S. still claims the highest incarceration rate in the world; forty percent of the country’s 2.3 million inmates are black, disproportionately representing just thirteen percent of the country’s population. And just as two-thirds of today’s American inmates end up back in prison within three years, Reed was reincarcerated after only a few months of freedom in 1842. From his dark room at the Auburn reform institution, Reed looked back on the moment beneath the white farmer’s rawhide. He wrote, “Then was the hour that I thought of my beloved who was sleeping in the grave—yes then was the time that I needed a father’s protection.”

—Ezra Ritchin

february 2014

9


It was a typical Saturday night in New Haven: a long line of people snaked back alongside Toad’s Place on York Street. Cabfulls more got out at the curb every few minutes. Hordes of college students spilled onto the adjacent walkway that divides the venue from Mory’s, the private club next door, and leads back to two of Yale’s residential colleges. Over the course of its nearly forty years in operation, Toad’s has hosted its fair share of legendary acts. In 1989, the Rolling Stones opened their longest tour ever with a surprise performance there. Its frequent concerts and dance parties have established the venue as a mainstay of New Haven nightlife. Yet many regulars I talked to that night, and since, haven’t heard about the ongoing legal battle that threatens to close it down. Several doors of the Toad’s building open onto Yale property, including the walkway that borders Mory’s. For thirty years, the two entities had a standing legal agreement that gave Toad’s access to those exits. But in 2008, the university laid out new terms: exits could only be used in emergencies, and Yale could terminate the agreement at will. Toad’s rejected that offer, largely on the grounds that the agreement’s short duration rendered it useless. “In ten years, it’s over,” explained Jim Segaloff, who has not been representing the club in this particular suit but is Toad’s longtime lawyer. “Yale revokes it or terminates it, and then where are we?” But Yale press secretary Tom Conroy dismisses this argument, comparing it to a lessee who wants an infinite lease on a property. He explains, “Think of all the businesses that have leases. Their lease is going to run out, they’re going to have to negotiate with their landlord, and their landlord might decide, ‘I have another use in mind for that property.’” The club has continued to use the disputed property on the basis of easement by implication, a legal term that indicates that a right can be established over time, even without an explicit agreement. Yale responded by filing an injunction against Toad’s in 2010. The case has been in limbo since Bill Gallagher, the attorney representing the club in the dispute, died in December. Segaloff said that the case would remain on hold for the time being while Gallagher’s colleagues grapple with their loss. In recent decades, Yale has brought in high-

10

Devon Geyelin

All Roads?

profile businesses like J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, and Apple, through its commercial properties management division, University Properties. Despite its popularity among students, the club’s grittier aura seems out of place among the sleek upscale chains that line the neighboring avenue, Broadway. Toad’s campus marketing representative, Yale senior Arvind Mohan, contends that, “The lawsuit just seems like it’s more about politics than the actual door.” Yet Conroy insists that, in the Toad’s case, Yale’s effort to rebrand New Haven is “irrelevant, completely irrelevant.” In 2008, Yale engaged in a similar battle with local restaurant Bespoke. The restaurant’s back door opened onto a lot owned by Yale, and its owners fought to establish permanent freeaccess rights to that space. While the issue was being resolved in court, Yale built a fence along the property line about one foot from Bespoke’s back wall, making it impossible to open the back door more than a sliver. The restaurant’s owners won their case, but they ultimately sold the restaurant and left New Haven, telling the Yale Daily News that the emotional and financial toll of the ordeal had been too much to bear. Meanwhile, Mory’s, which regularly hosts trivia nights and undergraduate a capella groups, also has several exits that open onto the contested walkway, yet it has negotiated with Yale without incident. Since 2010, there has been an agreement in place that permits their use of these exits. While it includes a yearly renewal process and a similar capacity to terminate at will, these provisions have proven much less problematic than for the dance club next door. One night at Toad’s, I asked a group of students what they thought of the ongoing property dispute between the club and Yale. “The ongoing what?” they shouted back at me. For now, revelers continue to dance into the early morning hours, blissfully unaware that the court must eventually come down on one side of the street or the other.

—Caitlin Cromwell

the new journal

c


critical angle

Beyond Fossil Free Ashley Dalton

O

n a Sunday afternoon last September, the three musicians started to groove. The fiddle wailed, and the bass ba-dummed. “We got this battle,” the melodica-player crooned, “We’re gonna sit in their office, get a fossil free Yale.” It was a reallife protest song, the twenty-first century Pete Seeger. I knew it was corny. But as a folk musician myself, I couldn’t help but feel excited. “Welcome!” said a tall blond woman in a white summer dress. She introduced herself as Diana Madson, a second-year student at the Yale School of Forestry. She looked like just about everyone else in the room: attractively but casually dressed, slim, white. “Together, you, me, everyone here—we are Fossil Free Yale,” Madson continued. “And we are happy you’re here, because the more people we have, the more likely we are to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry.” We were in a classroom in WLH to talk about how to convince Yale to sell its stocks in energy companies with high emissions to considerably dent the fossil fuel industry. Fossil Free Yale was preparing for a Yale College Council student referendum in November to gauge the level of support among undergraduates for divestment. They would then present the referendum’s results to Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. The referendum, the first in the school’s history, was a landmark push for a democratic voice in university governance. Fossil Free Yale’s proposal asked that the university investigate one hundred coal companies and one hundred oil and gas companies identified by a 2011 Carbon Tracker Initiative report as having the largest carbon reserves. If a company refuses to disclose its emissions data, Yale’s investment managers would then request the data. And if the company did not release the information within a business quarter, Yale would divest over two years. Com-

february 2014

panies that already make high level of emissions known have just one business quarter to implement a plan to clean up their progress. If they didn’t don’t make sufficient progress, Yale would divest over two years. At $20.8 billion, Yale has the second-largest university endowment in the country, smaller only than Harvard’s. Students at Yale who support the divestment campaign believe that this gives Yale the power to make a large impact on the environmental practices of energy companies. But critics of divestment say that impact would be temporary at best. If Yale sold its stocks in fossil fuels, some hedge fund manager would buy them up, said Jonathan Macey, the chair of Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. And what difference would that really make for the environment? The shares would be bought and used anyway, and Yale wouldn’t make any profit. Madson countered that divestment has symbolic value. “Yale is a big school,” she said. “Everyone knows it. If we divest, it goes in the New York Times and sends a big message to fossil fuel companies.” She hoped that they and the government would then be pressured into pursuing cleaner energy policies. History suggests that Madson is right. In the mid-eighties, the divestment of 155 universities from companies that were doing business in apartheid South Africa helped push the U.S. government to pass the Comprehensive AntiApartheid Act of 1986. This act imposed sanctions on South Africa that were critical to ending apartheid in the early nineties. Yale fell short of playing an important role in this campaign, however, even after years of sustained student struggle for full divestment. In April 1986, after years of quieter campaigning, students built a shantytown in Yale’s Beinecke Plaza to grab the administration’s atten-

11


Eric Semenciuc

tion and embarrass the university. Over seventy students camped out in cardboard and plastic shacks. They declared that they wouldn’t leave until the university removed its estimated $350 million worth of stock held in companies doing business in South Africa. They stuck to their word. For ten days, they slept in the shanties. On a Monday evening in April, Yale police arrested seventy-eight people living in the shantytown, seventy-three of them Yale students. Seven hundred protestors responded with demonstrations on Beinecke Plaza; national media in both the United States and South Africa then told their story. The protestors were soon released on bail, and Yale administrators reluctantly allowed the shantytown to remain. The rest of spring brought rallies and protests to Beinecke Plaza, transforming a central part of campus into a hotbed of protest and debate. The activists even constructed a large wooden monument bearing the names of black South Africans who had died in the recent unrest. They paraded the monument around Beinecke Plaza in stark contrast with Yale’s own war monument (“In Memory of the Men of Yale Who Gave Their Lives So That Freedom Might Not Perish From the Earth”). The shantytown survived until 1988, when it

12

was torched by a disgruntled alum at a reunion. The Yale Corporation ultimately removed shares from seventeen companies doing business in South Africa at a total market value of twenty-three million dollars, according to Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. But Yale never fully divested from apartheid, even though the very idea of divestment was born at the university. In 1972, a Yale professor named John Simon and two graduate students, Charles Powers and Jon Gunnemann, published a book called The Ethical Investor: Universities and Corporate Responsibility, arguing that a university should remove its investments from a company when it is causing “grave social harm,” and that harm cannot be remedied by working with the company. Fossil Free Yale hopes that this time, divestment at Yale will play a more critical role in affecting change, rather than reacting to the political tide. The idea that divestment could bring this kind of student involvement—and this kind of success—was exciting to me. I couldn’t tell from the kick-off meeting if Fossil Free Yale was ready for this kind of political campaign. But I knew I wanted to find out, so I signed up to work with the organization. My first step:

the new journal


a weekend in Pittsburgh at an environmental conference called Power Shift.

falls of “green-washing.” Just looking at what we were wearing, you could tell we were a divided group. The granola-crunching hippies wore I first saw the city from the height of a stagebaggy pants; the trendy urban hipsters dripped coach bus. Along with over six thousand college with asymmetrical jewelry; the eco-conscious students, I was headed toward a giant white yuppies-to-be sported Patagonia; the moody convention center, to one of the largest envianarchists wore all black. And underneath the ronmentalist conferences in the country. surface, there lay more important, less visible I had imagined that Power Shift would look philosophical distinctions. like Woodstock in 1969. And it did, if Woodstock There were the students who had come had involved Twitter, an advertising team, and to learn about green energy and divestment, a weekend-long agenda of workshops and panincluding many members of Fossil Free Yale. els. Despite the attendees’ youth and leftist tenThese environmentalists liked that the condencies, corporate America loomed. Gaggles vention center was gold LEED-certified, but of white girls with dreadlocks in baggy pants its walls also sported ads touting Pittsburgh’s hula-hooped while on a break from sessions commitments to “progress” and “industry.” like “Environmental Justice 101.” Nearby, a They differ enormously from activists like young black man in thick-rimmed glasses rode Ariana Shapiro, the Yale student who organized a bike around the lobby holding a sign that read, the trip to Power Shift. Shapiro is not a current “PROTECT APPALACHIAN member of Fossil Free Yale, COMMUNITIES.” But conI had imagined that Power though her work was key to ference goers were never the group’s campaign in the Shift would look like very far away from the lob2012-2013 school year. She Woodstock in 1969. And by featuring Coca-Cola adquit this past fall, frustrated vertising and a Sierra Club with divestment’s accepit did, if Woodstock had table touting merchandise tance of the assumptions of involved Twitter and an for “Swag Prices!” modern industrial capitaladvertising team. Since Power Shift beism. Shapiro considers hergan in 2007, its members self a grassroots, front-line have met every two years to plan protests and environmental activist, and she sees social and form advocacy groups on issues such as frackeconomic reform as central to the movement. ing, tar sands, and environmental justice. This Many activists share her trepidation, feeling year, in Pittsburgh, they wanted to focus on that divestment lacks the social vision of more grassroots strategies. Power Shift chose the radical environmentalism. location because Pittsburgh is the first AmeriShapiro is from Ithaca, New York, where can city to ban “dirty and dangerous fracking,” reserves of natural gas lay in wait, and under according to the promotional materials at the threat of being extracted by fracking. Her fight conference. They further claim that the meafor her home community played a major role sure was all the more impressive because Pittsin her decision to take a year off between high burgh is within a few hours of the coal mines of school and Yale. During that year, she dedicated West Virginia and the shale gas fields of Pennherself to fighting fossil fuel production, even sylvania. getting arrested in Washington, D.C. alongside Looking outside the convention center Bill McKibben, an environmental activist and window to Pittsburgh’s old factories and blackthe mastermind behind the current movement and-yellow bridges, I saw a city built on fossil to divest from fossil fuels. Shapiro takes care fuels. Pittsburgh largely owes its existence to to point out, however, that she comes from the energy-intensive steel industry. But inside a white, middle-class background, while the the lobby of the David L. Lawrence Convention consequences of environmental destruction Center, I couldn’t feel further from the heart of have hit lower income, non-white communities coal country. hardest. It was hard to tell if other Power Shift atActivists from these affected communities tendees were worried about the contradictions were less prevalent among Power Shift attendof this “green” convention and the potential pitees, but discussions of race, class, and privilege

february 2014

13


were not absent. Kimberly Wasserman, one ment we are creating—or, more trickily, which of the weekend’s best-received speakers, had members of the species will not just survive, organized a campaign to shut down two of the but also live well. The climate change crisis is, dirtiest coal plants in the country to protect at its root, about more than the trees or the poherself, her son, and her Chicago neighborhood lar bears. It is about the health and survival of from asthma and economic decline. She came human societies. to Power Shift to ask people to stop focusing After Power Shift, I knew that several other on big “green” campaigns like divestment and members of Fossil Free Yale wanted to change to start a conversation about the underlying the course of Yale’s history and make a sucissues, like an economic system that creates cessful, socially-based movement on campus ever-expanding production and consumption in addition to advocating for divestment. They at the cost of marginalizing certain populawanted a campaign aligned with cultural and tions. A large percentage of her community is social justice groups. At the first meeting after unemployed, she said, leaving them vulnerable the conference, on November 3, I pitched the to joining companies that engage in practices idea. that are not only environmentally dangerous “This school claims to stand for liberal, but also dangerous for the humanitarian values. Let’s health of her son and her tear that down,” I said, with An institution like Yale neighbors. “We don’t need the shantytowns on Beithat junk,” Wasserman said. necke Plaza in mind. may not want to address “What we need is an investBut I was shot down the social issues that ment in our communities.” quickly. “I think incorporatare underwritten in the ing social justice detracts Divestment can potentially from what we’re trying to environmental crisis. That serve as a key to this kind do,” said Sam Miller, a stuthey resisted divesting of real environmental and dent at the Yale School of from apartheid, despite social change. On the last Forestry who also attended day of the conference, I met Power Shift this year, and its clear social harm, does Prexy Nesbitt, who fought who had attended before. not bode well. apartheid with the African Miller says he isn’t against National Congress, the pofurthering human rights, litical party that eventually but that he thinks environcame to govern post-apartheid South Africa. He mental campaigns get too bogged down by atdrew comparisons between what divestment tempting to incorporate every affiliated social meant in the nineties and what it could mean campaign. Others redirected our focus. Fossil now. Free Yale needed to concentrate on the upcom“Divestment is a good answer,” he said. “But ing student referendum, they said. For weeks, it becomes a good answer to the extent that the group’s leaders had been preparing for the we link it to other issues. It cannot be done in student vote on whether or not Yale should dia vacuum.” vest. Nesbitt told me what I hadn’t wanted to Over half of the undergraduates voted beadmit: an institution like Yale may not want tween November 17 and 20, and the referento widen its campaign to address the social isdum passed with eighty-three percent of votes. sues that are underwritten in the environmenFossil Free Yale has gained momentum to push tal crisis. Yale’s resistance to divesting from the student body to get more serious about apartheid, despite its clear social harm, does pressuring the administration to divest. not bode well. But the question remains: what will that Yet it is universities’ very resistance to push look like? I worry that it won’t transform campus divestment movements that can help into a social justice campaign—and that it won’t move environmentalism beyond the rhetoric of work. saving the Earth. The environment has always been in flux. The crisis is whether the human Despite the referendum’s success, even the species will be able to survive in the environless-ambitious process of divestment will not

14

the new journal


come easily at Yale. Since the referendum, Fossil Free Yale has been negotiating with Yale’s trustees on assessing environmental metrics. But the decision to divest will ultimately fall to the Corporation, and if they say no to divestment, the situation could escalate. Bill McKibben said it himself: when university investors refuse to divest, the campaign starts to move in a more radical direction. “What it means,” he explained, “is we can start fighting with a little less restraint.” McKibben believes that my generation is more inclined to respect authority than our predecessors at Woodstock, and rightfully so— but we will have to resist authority more openly to produce the change we desire. Yale activists may already be headed in this direction. Fossil Free Yale’s new logo features an image of windmills planted firmly in the ground, a widely-recognized symbol for

Volcán Barú

divestment—but its orange square comes from the red square that epitomized the 2012 Quebec student protests against rising tuition. The time will come when Fossil Free Yale will have to act on the radical message symbolized in this logo, and when it does, maybe it will push all social groups on campus to make a serious social statement about their cause. If we really want to stop climate change, the divestment movement needs to be about more than just divestment. We also need to challenge ourselves to confront uncomfortable issues of race and inequality that underpin our environmental crisis. Fossil Free Yale needs to look beyond the current, short-term conversation about our school’s divestment. It’s time to remember that human communities are the most important part of the ecosystem we are fighting for.

Ashley Dalton is a junior in Ezra Stiles College and a Staff Writer for the New Journal.

Cocksure we ploughed ahead after midnight, regretting it when the sweat chilled. Then hours of lockstep with you, just you. Thighs vibrated beyond the tree line. Summitting, we met nine Telcom towers— bastions of this state-in-the-making. Light clusters below meant the cities of Panamá and David; in expansive cloud forest, quetzals slept. We rubbed limbs by an illicit fire. This sufficed until dawn’s summoning: a sea on each horizon. Caribbean stratus rippled over lesser hills. You enveloped me and exhaled Pacific. Clarifying the apex, a wooden cross, monkeyed on by some man in a North Face. A gringa scratched in her baja sweater. If climb-wisdom were a particular truth scrawled at the peak of a nation, I—having become “José Luis”—and you—“Anel Zuaso”— were here. by A. Grace Steig

february 2014

15


feature

A Tale of Two Supermarkets 16

the new journal


by Meredith Redick

O

n your way up Whalley Avenue to the Stop & Shop in New Haven, you pass a Papa John’s, a Burger King, and a rundown Jamaican food cart. Further down, you can stop at Subway, or McDonald’s. Every block or two, a convenience store appears. Mostly, though, this avenue—and the surrounding residential neighborhood—is all about fast food. But quick calories aren’t everything when it comes to feeding a community. Fourteen percent of New Haven residents are what sociologists call “food-insecure,” meaning they don’t have a regular or reliable supply of nutritious food. The problem is largely caused by food deserts: areas without easy access to a supermarket, in which lower-income communities lack the cars to shop at faraway supermarkets and

february 2014

the financial resources to shop at small, highend food stores. New Haven’s only major supermarket, Shaw’s, closed in 2010. For almost a year, the city’s low-income residents had few food options. They could go up the street to Popeye’s— where food stamps are not accepted—or they could go down the street to Edge of the Woods, a small natural foods store where food stamps can be used to buy pricey organic fruits and vegetables. They could also take a series of buses to the closest supermarket, which, for most New Havenites, is prohibitively troublesome and time-consuming. Then, within six months of each other, two new shopping centers popped up, a corporate giant and a custom-designed cooperative. The

17


opening of Stop & Shop and Elm City Market in 2011 was trumpeted as the solution to New Haven’s food issues. But the way that they opened, and the way that these markets are now operating, sheds light on the strange, arid landscape that is New Haven’s food deserts. When I first meet Kate Walton in the upstairs conference room of the Stop & Shop on Whalley, she is wearing a neat green Christmas sweater and clogs. Somehow, even her innocuous pastels and curled blonde hair contributes to her intimidating aura. Almost as soon as I arrive, she thrusts a report on Community Food Security in Connecticut at me with a French-manicured hand. Walton then hands me a folder of meticulous notes from her ten-year tenure at the Connecticut Food Bank. The notes detail inefficiencies in the food bank’s administration and the problems she encountered on an everyday basis. In Walton’s world, New Haven’s various social problems all connect to food. She connects malnutrition to low birth-weights, children doing poorly in school, and gang violence. Walton understands food as central to a community’s success. Walton is currently the community relations coordinator at Stop & Shop, but my first conversations with her are all about soup kitchens. Though she was a central player in bringing the supermarket to the city, her path took her first through the food assistance system. Her career includes almost two decades heading the Fellowship Place, an organization that provides services for people with mental illness, and a decade at the Connecticut Food Bank, where she distributed five million pounds of government food throughout the state each year—of which New Haven received about two million pounds. During her tenure, she founded a number of programs aimed at relieving the city’s food deserts. One was a mobile pantry truck that carried as much as ten tons of food in refrigerated compartments, making the rounds in New Haven three times a month to distribute food to the elderly, the disabled, and people without access to a car. Another was the Kids’ Backpack program, aimed at children who got most of their nutrition from school lunches; teachers slipped boxed food into their backpacks in order to keep them fed through the weekends. Walton is still waiting on a grant for a program

18

to help distribute food to seniors. She sums up her work matter-of-factly: “There is an incredible network of relief programs, but the fact is, most people want to get their food from a supermarket.” For many, shopping for food means both independence and choice. In 1979, Walton was a young mother living near Elm Street with her two children when the small grocery store that served the entire Dwight neighborhood shut down. When no plans for a new supermarket materialized, she re-located Fellowship Place to the old lot. Over a decade after the supermarket closed, when auto shops were so ubiquitous that Whalley Avenue was called “Automobile Avenue,” Walton also joined a new community organization, the Greater Dwight Development Corporation (GDDC), in its efforts to recruit a large chain supermarket into the area. New Haven’s reputation, however, made it difficult. “The other towns with Shaw’s were much more desirable,” Walton said. “Desirable,” for supermarkets, is often synonymous with “suburban.” In affluent suburbs, residents spend more money on foods with high profit margins, like fancy cheeses and chocolate truffles. New Haven’s population, though, encompasses a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Yale students on the dining plan pay $12.46 for a single buffet-style dinner; some of those students live next door to families who stretch less than two hundred dollars a month in food stamps into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In 2000, GDDC finally persuaded Shaw’s to open a site on Whalley Avenue. It was the first time in twenty years that the neighborhood had a convenient supermarket. But in 2010, after a decade of serving the Dwight Street community, the corporation that owned Shaw’s made the choice to close all eighteen Shaw’s branches in Connecticut. Sixteen other locations were promptly purchased by other supermarket chains, but New Haven, by far the poorest of those cities according to census data, remained empty. After months working to find a store to fill the space, the GDDC had received scattered offers from discount stores, but none from fullservice supermarket chains. New Haven finally got its Stop & Shop through a combination of serendipity and relentless work, with Walton at the center of it all. In the winter of 2010, the Wexler-Grant

the new journal


School asked Walton to create an after-school program at every library branch in and around nutrition education program for its students. New Haven, supplying Stop & Shop clemenShe agreed instantly but quickly ran into a tines, granola bars, and two percent milk. Since problem. The food supplied by Connecticut Stop & Shop opened, it has been donating to loFood Bank, where she worked, was healthy but cal distribution sites, including soup kitchens, unappealing. and has given priority in hiring to Shaw’s forWalton met with Anne Demchak, a board mer employees. member of the Connecticut Food Bank who was But given the history of the lot where then the manager of a Stop & Shop just outside Shaw’s once stood, Stop & Shop’s presence can of New Haven: “I said, ‘I don’t have the fresh sometimes feel tenuous, and temporary. What’s fruits and vegetables I need, and she said, ‘Just stopping the supermarket from selling out come over to my store on Amity and take whatwhen business goes sour? ever you want.” One spring morning, Demchak and Walton Across town, a different kind of community were walking through the Dwight neighborgrocery store had already been taking root. It hood when Demchak noticed the old Shaw’s started in 2010, when Bruce Becker was busy lot. She stopped in front of the parking lot and working on his latest development, a mixedasked the question Walton had asked herself, use thirty-two-story tower at 360 State Street. every time she drove to Dixwell or Amity to get When Becker got from permission New Haven her groceries: “Why did to build, however, the city Stop & Shop not take this added another condition: Stop & Shop’s presence can Becker had to find a grocery spot?” sometimes feel tenuous, Less than two weeks store to lease out the ground later, when the regional floor. and temporary. What’s manager of Stop & Shop In theory, the location by stopping the supermarket happened to be doing a the train station was ideal. from selling out when sweep of all the stores But taxes were projected to in the area, Demchak be unusually high—about business goes sour? and Walton invited him $1.4 million for the buildto lunch. Soon after, the ing—and there wasn’t much three of them stood in the parking lot of the old room for a parking lot. Whole Foods and Trader Shaw’s, looking out across the warm tarmac. Joe’s both turned down Becker’s offer, so he Just a few miles from Yale, this neighborhood contacted Mark Regni, an organic foods rewas in desperate need of a grocery store. At the tailer who was working for Whole Foods at the time, Whalley was dotted with dollar stores and time. chicken shacks. Cooperatives are usually designed by a “These guys at the corporate level hadn’t group of members who invest together to mainseen the site,” Walton said. “None of them retain bargaining power against vendors. They alized the unbelievable location. It’s not like”— tend to be small, intimate, and community-govshe scrounges to find an absurd example to tell erned. Elm City Market, on the other hand, was me—“putting a Stop & Shop in Bridgeport. They built from the top down; before it had members, hadn’t realized how close Yale was, how close it was completely designed by outside developthe hospital was, how many thousands of workers. Together, Beckers and Regni designed a ers might shop there.” Walton’s Bridgeport explan for a hybrid co-op—a store that would sell ample shows how corporate supermarkets find both basic non-organic foods and higher-end the right location—by assessing the potential natural foods. Regni then signed on as general for profit, not the need for food. Once the remanager. gional manager approved the new store, negoOnce Becker identified the creation of a tiations started within the week. co-op as the solution to the lease requirements, Stop & Shop came with a gas station and he made plans for making the store attractive landscaping, but that wasn’t enough. It needed to downtown New Haven residents right away. to be integrated into the neighborhood. During In a glossy newsletter published each month, the summer of 2011, Walton hosted a nutrition the developers detailed the construction pro-

february 2014

19


Meredith Redick Popeye’s: three chicken tenders a biscuit, a Coke, and a tub of coleslaw: $6.49 cess. By February 2011, they were finalizing a logo for the market. By March, Becker and his team were focusing on how to optimize the architecture to bring “visual rhythm and images of nature into the pageantry of buildings.” In April, they asked future members to handwrite notes about their wishes for the store, which would be placed in the floorboards on the ground floor. By November, the market had finally opened its doors in the 360 State Street building. Yet it still faced a problem most co-ops never encounter: how to find a critical mass of members. Two years later, near the entrance to Elm City Market, cases of Guinness stand next to a pile of plantains. Beside the checkout counters, Snickers and Hershey bars sit next to a sign for “Organic Decorative Gourds.” On the busy Saturday when I visit, the market is bustling when a supervisor named Derek Faulkner finally wanders into the market, eating salad out of a cardboard to-go box. He has a rhinestone stud in each ear, and wears a blue polo shirt. The tattoo on his arm reads, “Vive et vivas”—live that you may live.

20

Faulkner, a native of Branford, Connecticut, has been here since the market opened. “I didn’t even really know what a co-op was,” he says, spearing a cherry tomato. “My sister came and bugged everyone in my family, so we all became members.” Faulkner has since moved up from member to supervisor. First he was in charge of ordering most of the groceries, and now he directs the purchase of beer and bulk products— things like oats, nuts, and dried fruits, which customers can buy in any quantity out of tubs that line the west wall of the market. “Almonds are one of my top products since we opened,” Faulkner says, pointing towards the tubs. “That and oats and rice—white and brown rice.” The market also sells quite a few non-staple items in bulk, including dried mango strips, date rolls, and organic gummy bears. “It’s easy for us to get a request and fulfill it,” Faulkner says. “Whenever I’m in the beer aisle and I chat with a customer and they want to switch out a brewery, it’s easy for me to do that without having to get approval.” He contrasts this policy with the larger chains like Stop & Shop, noting that he has the freedom

the new journal


to rotate products and to see which ones sell: eat at places like this all the time,” she says. “There’s no middleman. Just the man.” “Just if I’m in the neighborhood.” Assistant marketing manager Stephanie At the Community Soup Kitchen, a few late Berberich designs cooking classes and other visitors sit at the red-checked tables, hunched educational events to get people interested in over their food. One is a young woman wearthe market and thinking about how they eat. ing tight sweatpants and a hoodie; another is a “Even if we were to hand out vegetables, they gaunt man wearing shorts and battered suede might not necessarily know what to do with chaps. As these visitors disperse, they toss stythem,” Berberich says. rofoam plates flecked with coleslaw and pork Meanwhile, the market tries to reach lowinto a trashcan. er-income shoppers. “We want everyone to feel New Haven has more soup kitchens and welcome to shop here,” Faulkner told me. Elm food pantries than most surrounding cities. The City Market offers “fresh cards,” which entitles Community Soup Kitchen is situated roughly a SNAP-eligible card-holder to ten dollars of halfway between the two supermarkets and fresh produce. The market has also started a across the street from Gourmet Heaven on “basics” program, setting competitive prices on Broadway, a small market where the imported staple household items that are still organic and candies displayed next to the entrance might local. The top of the list looks like this: Puffins cost you over five bucks. Cereal, 3.49. Baby carrots (16 oz), 2.79. TropiRick Durance, one of the assistant mancana Orange Juice, 4.49. For reference, a 16-oz agers, surveys the room. “We try to make the bag of baby carrots at Stop meals nutritious,” he says, & Shop is 1.69. For Elm opening a styrofoam conTanya can list, with City Market’s non-“basics” tainer to show me a typical encyclopedic precision, offerings, the price difserving. “Usually the salad the opening hours of every ference is even bigger; a is a little bit bigger.” loaf of whole-wheat bread “We actually see a fair food pantry and soup might run you five dollars, number of people comkitchen within a half-mile compared to Stop & Shop’s ing from out of town to use radius of downtown. 1.99. Despite Elm City these resources,” the manMarket’s efforts, it’s hard ager, Dave O’Sullivan, tells to imagine how someone me later. “New Haven is an living on SNAP would choose to frequent a attractive place to food-insecure people. Peostore where the “competitively priced” items fit ple will come from as far as Wallingford,” a city on a single sheet of paper. twenty minutes away. Not surprisingly, the community market Tanya, who is almost a year sober from crack is struggling to integrate into the New Haven cocaine and alcohol addiction, found solace in landscape. Elm City Market is still in business; Community Soup Kitchen when she was first organic, local food clearly appeals to enough recovering. “If you give respect here, you get it,” customers. But to a large subset of Elm City’s she says, licking her fingers. She gestures at her proclaimed target population, the pineapples outfit: striped green sweater, matching corduand arugula facing the entrance of Elm City roy pants, shiny green eye shadow. “A year ago, I Market are simply inaccessible. It may be a was not like this.” community market, but the community it Tanya buys most of her food from grocery serves is not the one that needs it most. stores, usually with the help of food stamps. She used to receive $189 every month in benI first met Tanya, who declined to give her last efits, an amount that gets loaded onto an elecname, at the Community Soup Kitchen on a tronic benefits transfer (EBT) card and can be rainy November afternoon. Tanya has lived in used like a debit card. After government cutNew Haven for over a decade. She can list, with backs in October 2013, she receives a little bit encyclopedic precision, the opening hours of less. She can’t spend that money on pre-made every food pantry and soup kitchen within a food from, say, the burrito joint just down the half-mile radius of downtown New Haven. She street. It has to be groceries. Tanya fiercely eats her pulled-pork sandwich quickly. “I don’t guards her EBT card—not even relatives are

february 2014

21


allowed to borrow it. Tanya is also strategic about where she shops, though the Whalley Avenue Stop & Shop should be the most convenient choice. “The Walmart in Wallingford is really nice,” she says. “It goes all the way down the block.” But Wallingford is accessible from New Haven only for those with a bus ticket (or a car) and a block of uninterrupted time. Her second choice is ShopRite, a store about four miles from the home of the family friend she’s been staying with in Hamden since she started recovering from her addiction. If Tanya eats at a soup kitchen a few times a week and rides to Wallingford to buy cheap groceries, she can make her money stretch to the end of the month. Some months, she can afford to stock up on her favorite vegetables: string beans, collard greens, and corn. Near the end of the month, as her EBT card balance dwindles, she often starts substituting cheaper foods like potato chips for vegetables. Sometimes she buys potato chips anyway so she can send the extra food to her son, who currently lives with her mother. Tanya tells me that she shops at Stop & Shop only as a last resort—even though it’s more convenient than other stores. “The prices are too high,” she said me. “I went there a few times when it first opened, but I can’t go anymore.” She and several others at Community Soup Kitchen who are local to New Haven even think that Stop & Shop has fewer promotional sales around the first of the month, when EBT cards get renewed. Whether it’s rumor or truth, Tanya feels little loyalty to the new supermarket.

stores—one a nationally-known giant, the other a peculiar brand of co-op—are an oasis for some and an illusion for others. Walton remains undiscouraged. In fact, our conversation has reminded her that she needs to resubmit a grant for a new food access program. “We have to figure out how to use the existing infrastructure to get food to everyone,” Walton says, handing me another sheaf of notes. “Access to food is kind of the center of the universe for everybody.” As I descend the stairs back into the fluorescent lights of the Stop & Shop, holding a detailed diagram of her mobile groceries plan for seniors, I am reminded that the other challenges for feeding New Haven—integrating new shops into the community, reaching out to those who are housebound or don’t have cars—cannot be relieved by planting a supermarket in the middle of the city. The food deserts are created by more than simple geography.

Meredith Redick is a senior in Ezra Stiles College.

On the first of the month, yellow taxis flood the parking lot of the Whalley Avenue Stop & Shop with people ready to pack the trunk with a month’s worth of groceries. Even as new stores open doors, some of the city’s residents must go to great lengths to get their groceries. The statistics show that, between 2010 and 2011, food insecurity in New Haven went up, not down. New Haven’s food deserts are an unusual ecosystem: the city’s emergency food supplies are robust enough to attract people from out of town, but its two grocery stores struggle to take root. What’s more, they seem to have emerged as a result of a combination of serendipity and determination from a few dedicated individuals, not of concerted city-wide efforts. These

22

the new journal

s


snapshot

Real Kid Talk

For a young group, activism is more than child’s play.

by Isabelle Taft

D

ozens of children gathered at the Peabody Museum on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to think about the future of their city. Through pictures and words, they responded to the prompt, “Dear Mayor Toni Harp, This is what I want for New Haven…” The posters they created varied widely in message and accuracy of spelling: “I want a happy home and a great place to grow up in.” “Don’t waste water, dudes and dudets.” “No more school!” “No guns.” “I want people being nice to each other.” But the last one stood out most, the blunt intensity of the message mismatching its messy execution: “Stop kling everoen.” This letter also stood out to the fifteenyear-old standing by me, Alex Marks: “There are little babies that know what’s going on.” The museum organizers of the event invited New Elm City Dream, a youth group that addresses issues often considered too difficult for children to confront: unemployment, gun violence, incarceration, poverty. Founded in September 2011 by members of the Young Communists League (YCL), it asks children to be their own advocates. Though most of the group’s twenty or so members are in their midto-late teens, elementary school students also join the discussions. Many need parents or volunteers to drive them to the weekly meetings at the New Haven People’s Center, but as they waited for the chair of the group to present this week’s topics, they formed a convincing picture of serious grown-ups at work. At a meeting in early January, pizza and ginger ale sat on the tables and a whiteboard displayed the agenda. In the community building on Howe Street, in the room where New Haven’s first interracial basketball team was formed, the members of the New Elm City Dream were ready to begin. All eyes were on a skinny middle-schooler with bright brown eyes, a bouncy ponytail, and an air of coltish exuberance: Alex Marks’s sister Jackie, age thirteen and current chair of the group. Then Jackie began to giggle. The New Elm City Dream’s meeting rules state that no one is supposed to talk without

february 2014

first being acknowledged by the chair, but with the chair suddenly incapacitated by fits of laughter, anarchy prevailed. Soon lots of people were giggling. Jackie began pacing around the room, arms over her mouth, staring up at the ceiling in an attempt to defeat the giggles. “You didn’t say anything about this before we left the house,” a newcomer, high school senior Tyrone Wiggins, whispered to his friend, who rolled her eyes, crossed her arms, and waited for the other younger members to settle down. Jackie’s giggles were not nervous as much as they were self-conscious. She seemed suddenly aware that the idea of a young teenager leading a other teenagers in a structured discussion could be seen as ridiculous. The awareness, however, didn’t diminish her desire to lead; the group’s members are constantly preparing to take the stage before audiences that don’t expect children to speak out. Once Jackie settled down, it was clear she could command a crowd. She announced that it was time for a game of “Dance Telephone,” in which people around a circle imitate each other’s moves. Despite some reluctance, everyone—from nine-year-old Zioney McCoy to twenty-eight-year-old David White—got up from their chairs, stood in the middle of the room, and began to dance. When the New Elm City Dream was founded in 2011, the FBI considered New Haven the fourth most dangerous city in America. By the end of the year, the homicide count was thirtyfour, making it one of the most violent years in over a decade. According to Lisa Bergmann, an organizer for the YCL and adult coordinator of the New Elm City Dream, she and the program’s other founders, David White and Nollysha Canteen, started to bring people together in a youth group in part because of such devastating violence. Fifteen of 2011’s victims were under twenty-five. The youngest was eight. “People, especially younger people, were really scared,” Bergmann said. “They’re sixteen, seventeen, and their lives are being destroyed

23


24

Karen Tian

before they even get to start them.” Canteen was a senior at James Hillhouse High School, and her friends were disappearing. “They were getting locked up or having kids at a young age or their parents were moving them to another state because of the violence,” she explained. “And I wanted to change that.” The two recruited other young adults from their neighborhoods, schools, and extended families. Jackie, Alex, and their sisters Areliz, fourteen, and Capria, eighteen, have attended meetings ever since, as have Montell Wright, eighteen, and his cousin, Kelsha Sailor, fifteen. These New Havenites spoke of violence, but also of the issues that spiral around it: there is a lack of after-school opportunities for young people. Latery, they struggle to find jobs, leaving them hard-pressed for cash and without ways to fill their time. The New Elm City Dream’s first big event drew attention to these intertwined issues. On November 2, 2011, the group held a candlelight vigil at the Center Church on the Green in remembrance of the city’s young people lost to violence that year, and then joined a march for jobs alongside members of Occupy New Haven who were camped out on the Green. For the first time, Bergmann said, group members felt that they were making a difference—and that people in the community were noticing. “Everybody remembers that march,” Bergmann said. “After that, we sort of set the goals of bringing the neighborhoods together, ending the violence, and creating more job opportunities for youth.” Explicitly linking violence to lack of economic opportunity gives the New Elm City Dream both a cohesive agenda and freedom to undertake varied projects. Members spent much of 2012 surveying 570 New Haven residents ages ten to twenty-five about their neighborhoods, and used the results to show demand for facilities such as the Q House, a beloved community center on Dixwell Avenue that closed in 2003 after almost eighty years. in operation Canteen served on the Jobs Pipeline Committee that created New Haven Works, a program that connects New Haven residents with jobs at partner employers such as Yale and IKEA. The New Elm City Dream was also active in the 2011 and 2013 aldermanic campaigns. Jeannette Morrison, the alder for Ward 22, which includes four Yale residential colleges

and the Dixwell neighborhood, said the New Elm City Dream members are some of her favorite people to work with. She admires their energy, their consistency, their boldness in speaking to powerful adults. “They’re young, but they tackle big issues,” she says. “Not just issues that mean something for young people, but issues for all people.” Perhaps the greatest strength of these fledgling activists is that work and play are all part of the same big picture. Back at the Peabody Museum booth, I spoke with McCoy and Shanya Houston during their lunch break. The girls were holding hands, each eating a Subway sandwich with her free hand. I asked them whether they felt affected by violence in New Haven. Still munching, they said they did because their parents are afraid they might get hurt—or worse. “I sometimes wish I could go outside,” McCoy said. But Houston doesn’t like the cold anyway, and is happy to obey the instructions of their parents. Inside they can play makeup, tag, dress-up, and school. They told me about the difficulty of standing up for the causes of the New Elm City Dream. Last summer, the group members took a trip to Washington, D.C. for the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famed “I Have a Dream” speech. They left New Haven at midnight, arrived in D.C. to

the new journal


march in the morning, and came home that evening. McCoy said her feet were hurting, the weather was hot, and she’s not sure the experience was worth all the suffering. Bergmann, however, thinks it was worthwhile. Along with thousands of other Americans, members of the New Elm City Dream and the YCL marched in Washington to carry the torch lit by an earlier generation of civil rights leaders. Jim Crow is gone, but full equality of opportunity remains a dream—and that can make recruitment challenging for groups like Bergmann’s. “The conditions that people have to live in because of extreme racism and extreme inequality slow down organizing sometimes,” Bergmann said, “because people are trying to get through the day.” More light-hearted stories wove their way into this talk of street shootings and freedom marches. Houston told me about a time when they went outside McCoy’s house to play for a few minutes. When it started to thunder, McCoy got scared and ran back inside. They laughed at the memory, and then got up to go watch the breakdancing troupe performing on the other side of the massive dinosaur skeleton. If the younger members seem to not always know what’s going on, perhaps it’s because to them, the threat of violence seems as ubiquitous and commonplace as a cloud cover. It’s part of the problem they have to grow up with, along with bad sandwiches and tired feet. At the People’s Center, Jackie eventually got almost everyone into a circle. I was the second person to dance in Dance Telephone—a blessing because I only had to do two dance moves instead of more than ten. Everyone laughed at me, at each other, and at themselves. When we sat down again, Jackie announced the day’s main goal: to invite adults to a special meeting intended to showcase the group’s work and recruit new supporters. Though the members are proud of their own resourcefulness, adults can bring new faces to meetings, help with fundraising, and offer guidance. Soon, giggles broke out again. Kelsha Sailor made fun of Jennifer Graham, sixteen, for covering her mouth all the time. McCoy hid her face in the crook of her elbow on the table’s surface. Areliz Marks slouched in her chair and folded her arms over her chest. “We would have better discipline if we had

february 2014

more adults here,” Jackie said. “I’m thinking about it less as them disciplining you and more as your sharing your awesome work with them,” Bergmann responded. She wants this organization to be a forum for young people to practice leadership and find their own venues for community involvement, not another space for adults to call the shots. The organizers of the meeting talked about their marches, their survey findings, the committees that members have sat on, and their goals for the future, including a march for Nelson Mandela’s birthday in June. Canteen and White demonstrated how to encourage an adult to attend the event over the phone. Then the New Elm City Dream members pulled out their phones to start calling. Sailor complained that she invited her sister to the meeting and her sister didn’t come. “That means you keep inviting her,” Alex said. Jackie wanted to get the mayor’s number. At last week’s meeting, when they first began discussing the February event, Jackie almost seemed to be joking when she suggested inviting the mayor. But Bergmann said she didn’t see any reason not to, and this week Jackie was adamant. “I need to call Toni Harp.” A year ago, she spoke at the New Elm City Dream’s Peace, Love & Jobs march, at which she and about seventy-five others chanted: “Jobs for youth, jobs for all.” They called on the city to offer better careers and more youth community centers. After the march, they headed up Whalley Avenue to the home of Tramire Miller, who had been a year old when he was struck by a bullet in the stomach in October 2012. He survived, but in Jackie’s speech, she offered her condolences for everything he had suffered. “And I told him when our meetings are,” she told me, so when he gets older he’ll know to come to the People’s Center at 5:30 every Thursday evening. “But I sounded like a baby, which was embarrassing.” “You did not sound like a baby,” Bergmann protested. Jackie shrugged and said she doesn’t get nervous in front of crowds, whether or not she sounds like a baby. “I don’t want to be in the background not talking. This is what it’s here for, to have your voice heard.”

Isabelle Taft is a freshman in Silliman College. 25


visual feature

Lessons in Looking Andrew Wagner

Like a faint gray smudge sullying a building’s side—the only trace of the burned-down house that once stood next door—my photographs seek out the unexpected ways in which the natural and the manmade are intertwined. Rather than finding an easy division between the two, the images create an artificial naturalness and a natural artificiality. Along the way, I use both so-called “pure” observation and digital alteration; at times, I physically construct my own scenes. Seeing is as active as making: there is no such thing as a photograph that has not been manipulated. My photographs are not absolute statements; they only offer a possible way of seeing.

Andrew Wagner is a junior in Timothy Dwight College.

26

the new journal


february 2014

27


Feature

Against the Tide As the water’s edge draws closer, a cozy beach community stands against nature.

“I

should have seen the peak of my house,” recalled Andy Weinstein. “It wasn’t there.” On August 28, 2011, Weinstein stood next to his car on Philip Street in East Haven. The roads sloped down toward the coast. The formerly well-defined border of sand and sea walls had been erased. Hurricane Irene had made her way up the Atlantic shoreline, pummeling the coast and everything on it. Somewhere among the soup of seawater and debris sat the remains of Weinstein’s house. He set out on foot to find it. Weinstein’s house was built nearly a century ago, when the beach stretched for fifty or a hundred feet behind the homes, a comfortable buffer. By the time Weinstein started renting the property in 2001, the beach had shrunk drastically. At low tide, there might be twenty feet between water and land. At the highest of high tides—twice a month, under the new or full moon—the water rolled up the beach and ran underneath his house which was elevated off the beach a few feet. When he stepped out of his house on the road-facing side, the water might cover his toes. Weinstein’s beach house was its own island in the Long Island Sound. Even so, the house remained dry. Weinstein never had water inside the house, and he saw little reason to worry about the hurricane. But just in case, the Friday before the storm, he took the day off from his job at the auto shop he owns to prepare his house. He packed up two days’ worth of clothes, boarded up windows and doors, and moved porch furniture inside. He drove about thirty minutes with his wife and

by Ike Swetlitz daughter to their primary residence in Woodbridge, expecting to return to East Haven on Sunday afternoon. Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time she barreled through Cosey Beach on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, Weinstein got a call from his sister-in-law. She had heard that some houses on the beach were badly damaged, but she didn’t have any details. Weinstein drove down to investigate, expecting to find flooded roads, maybe some water damage. A mile from his house, he saw water on the road. He parked the car and continued on foot. By the time he made it to Cosey Beach Avenue, which runs parallel to the shoreline, he was waist-deep. Weinstein found his house—half of it, at least. Wet wooden beams lay crisscrossed in a pile of rubble ten feet high, with electrical wires looped over a dirty volleyball and hubcap. The other half was never found, swept into the Sound by the hurricane. Before returning home to break the news to his family, Weinstein walked to the house two doors down. His cousin, Sara-Ann Auerbach, who owns a home on Cosey Beach Avenue with her husband Hillel, had asked him to retrieve her jewelry and other valuables. She was afraid the water would wash them away. Faced with another pile of rubble, Weinstein took out his cell phone and called her. “There is no house,” he said. “What do you mean, there is no house?” “There is no house.”

Top: Andy Weinstein’s house in 2010. Bottom: Clear skies follow Hurricane Irene’s destructive path. Weinstein crouches by the ruins of his Cosey Beach home, which had stood strong for nearly a century.

28

the new journal


Ike Swetlitz

february 2014

29

Photo Courtesy of Andy Weinstein


In 2011, Hurricane Irene swept away much of the least sand between them and the water Cosey Beach. It might have seemed fast to the were the most likely to be destroyed, according inhabitants, but the damage had been centuto James Tait, an associate professor of science ries in the making. Waterfront development education and environmental studies at Southdestroyed natural dune systems that held the ern Connecticut State University. “Each wave is sand in place, hastening erosion of the beach. like a packet of energy,” he said. “That energy Beachfront homes are visibly losing their can do work. And that work can either be movbeachfront, their last line of defense against ing sand around or moving houses around.” severe storms. Yet few residents are leaving During the peak of the storm, Tait drove Cosey Beach. Sara-Ann and Hillel Auerbach out to East Haven to see the waves in action. rebuilt their home atop thirteen-foot concrete He parked near a retirement community about pillars, but Weinstein and his family moved to seven hundred feet from the beach, and at an Woodbridge for good. Some residents of Cosey elevation of about twenty feet higher than Beach Avenue have worked to bring the sand Cosey Beach Avenue. The storm arrived during back, but scientists caution that this only rehigh tide, which meant that the storm surge— sponds to a symptom, not the cause. The only the rush of ocean water brought on by a hurripermanent solution, they say, is to relocate. cane—flowed on top of an already-higher sea. Curt Johnson has seen erosion sweep away In one of the photographs Tait took the morndozens of feet of beach sand during his lifetime. ing of Irene, surf sprays around one residence, The Executive Director of Save the Sound, a its neighbor house collapsed into the sea. program run by the Connecticut Fund for the “When you go down there, [you think], ‘how Environment, he grew up less than half a mile could people possibly be so stupid to build their from Cosey Beach Avenue. Houses that once sat houses right now at the high tide mark?’” Johnat a comfortable distance from the shoreline son said. The answer: when many of the homes now butt up against the water. were built, over a hundred years ago, there was “At some point in the not-so-distant future, at least fifty feet of beach separating them [the beach] is going to move out from under from the water. The years of beach erosion them entirely,” Johnson said. Tanned and rehave caused the distance between shoreline laxed, he looks like he might have spent idyllic and houses to shrink, in some cases, to zero. childhood summers on the The amount of sand beach, but now his hair has on a beach is determined The years of beach erosion turned gray and his mouth by the type of waves that have caused the distance curves down at the corners; break there. When waves it looks like he’s frowning crash down, they loosen between shoreline and even when he smiles. “And sand on the beach and sushouses to shrink, in some they’re going to have waves pend it in the water. If the cases, to zero. crashing around them evwaves strike rapidly, none ery day. It’s horrible.” of the suspended sand has Irene and Sandy killed time to settle down; innearly two hundred people and caused about stead it washes out into the Long Island Sound. $66 billion in damage, according to the NationWinter storms frequently bring these rapid al Hurricane Center. Tens of millions of dollars waves to Cosey Beach. in federal funding is flowing into coastal areas If the waves strike less rapidly, sand carlike New Jersey to restore their beaches to preried from the ocean bed by the wave can settle Sandy conditions. And all around the world, on the beach before the next wave arrives. In scientists and laypeople are on the lookout for this case, the beach grows. But less rapid waves more powerful storms, which many believe to powerful enough to deposit sand don’t reach be linked to climate change. Whatever is causCosey Beach. Such waves originate from faring these storms, one thing is clear: the storms away storms and are blocked by the Long Island are putting lives and livelihoods in danger. Sound. And there isn’t enough water between Connecticut and Long Island for the wind to Beaches can protect residents from this danform restorative waves. So the sand never ger. During Irene and Sandy, the houses with comes back.

30

the new journal


The beach shrinkage is compounded by the presence of humans—specifically, by the homes, hotels, and restaurants they build. According to Johnson, there used to be a line of dunes on the beach—piles of sand three to five feet high. Beach grass grew on top of the dunes and sent roots down deep, holding the sand in place. But when people started building on the beach in the late 1800s, they knocked down the dunes, and the beach grass had nowhere to grow. Now, the beach is not only flat, but also rapidly shrinking. In 1891, seven cottages dotted the shoreline. Seven years later, the New Haven Street Railway Company ran a trolley line from downtown to the beach. The ride cost a nickel and took about forty-five minutes. Hundreds flocked to the beach, building summer cottages and patronizing restaurants and hotels. A boardwalk stretched across Cosey Beach Avenue; there were pool halls and old-fashioned ice cream stands. Women relaxed on the beach in long white dresses, their husbands standing nearby in black suits and flat straw hats. Anne Hines’s grandfather purchased a squat cottage about a quarter-mile from the beach in 1910. Five years later, he outfitted it with a cellar, a second story, heating, and electricity. Hines was born in 1938, and she has lived in the same house ever since. As a child, she spent most of her summers there. She was on the beach by 8:30 every morning, half an hour before swimming lessons began. Anyone who forgot a swimming suit could rent one for a quarter, and boat rentals cost a dollar a day. Hines and her friends passed the day playing card games, volleyball, or tennis, and working on their tans. “It was the greatest place in the world to be,” Hines told me. In the evening, they gathered at the firehouse, a few blocks landward of the beach, to watch the Branford Manor Drum Corps. Decked out in beige slacks, white shirts, and red jackets with gold buttons, the Corps marched up and down the street, playing their instruments. Hines and her friends marched right behind them. “We just passed the time away together,” Hines said. “And that’s what it was all about.” The golden age of Cosey Beach came to a close after the Second World War. Development in the second half of the twentieth cen-

february 2014

tury brought a new, retirement-age crowd to the area. Joseph Vegliante, who built about three-dozen houses in East Haven at the time, credits the boom to the low interest rates of the seventies. Some long-time residents remain, but they agree with Johnson and Tait that the beach has been shrinking over the past century. The sand that used to be on the beach is not, however, gone—it’s just sitting out there in the Long Island Sound. And that means that people can bring it back. With the right technology and enough money, they can pull sand up from the bottom of the Sound and move it back onto the beach. Beach erosion plagues coastal towns around the United States, and people have been replenishing beaches up and down the Atlantic coastline. The Army Corps of Engineers carries out the work, and any nonfederal government body—a city, a state, or a special tax district, for example—can apply to receive this service. Over fifty years ago, the Army Corps replenished the beach of West Silver Sands, which lies directly to the west of Cosey Beach Avenue. West Silver Sands resident Donald DiPalma said that his house sustained little damage in Irene and Sandy, for which he credits the Army Corps. But DiPalma has noticed that the beach is smaller than it used to be, even after replenishment. More than half the sand added in 1956 has already eroded. DiPalma is meeting with officials from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to secure permits for another replenishment project. They need the permits before they can apply to the Army Corps. DiPalma doesn’t expect anything to happen for a few months. Irene inspired Cosey Beach residents to take action. State Senator Len Fasano held a meeting in September 2012, about a year and a month after the storm, to inform residents about their options for keeping their shoreline homes safe. One option was to apply to the Army Corps for beach replenishment. At that meeting, Virginia Cellura, a fulltime resident of Cosey Beach Avenue, volunteered to coordinate community efforts to replenish the beach. She assembled a team to gather information about what would be required to complete the replenishment and to distribute that information to residents. Hillel

31


Caroline Lester Next to the homes on Cosey Beach Avenue, East Haven’s public beach stands stronger now than it did after the hurricanes. The town financed a project to bring thousands of tons of sand back to the beach, but nearby homeowners haven’t been able to get any sand for themselves, leaving their property vulnerable to a future storm. Auerbach is a New Haven lawyer, and he volunteered for the project. In order to petition the Army Corps, the residents needed to apply as a tax district, rather than a group of individuals. Residents planned to fund the project with a tax to be levied upon the district, but they didn’t know exactly how much it would cost. Rough estimates from the Army Corps ranged from five to ten thousand dollars per house, said Steven Ruotolo, who rents property on Cosey Beach Avenue. But, mired by miscommunication and misinformation, the project fell apart after a few meetings. The group has not yet been able to form a district, much less petition the Army Corps. Cellura has since handed off the reins to another Cosey Beach resident, who will soon be re-launching the effort to petition the town for the creation of the district. But even if the residents can get the Army Corps to restore some of the sand, it won’t remain on the beach for long. Dumping sand on top of a beach might make the beach larger, but it’s a temporary solution—it’s only a matter of

32

time before the water sweeps it back out to sea. It’s like building a sand castle. You pack sand into buckets and then overturn them, forming turrets. You form a wall around your structure, patting it all down to make it last. But all you did was put something in the way of the water. Eventually, the water will wash the sand away. “It’s sort of a Sisyphean task,” Tait laughed. This has happened to beach replenishment projects in other parts of the country. The Army Corps has replenished Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, twelve times from 1939 to 1986. The sand never stuck around for more than four years. Even so, Tait thinks that beach replenishment is the best solution for the residents of Cosey Beach Avenue. Moving the sand from the Sound to the shore could protect more homes, even if it’s just for now. Beyond that, Tait thinks that the only long-term fix is moving away. Many residents are trying; at the end of November, at least eight houses along Cosey Beach Avenue sported “For Sale” signs. Weinstein has been trying to sell his property for the

the new journal


going to have to move their houses back from past two years, but hasn’t received a single ofthe shoreline, lift them up on support strucfer. Residents say that they haven’t seen anytures, or otherwise change the placement of one new in the neighborhood in years. their homes.” Instead of returning people to Some, like Weinstein, could retreat to other normal—what their lives were like before Irene homes away from the beach. But others have and Sandy—Esty urges them to look toward a nowhere else to go, and policymakers are at a new normal. loss for how to help them. In late January, a ConSome have come to that decision themnecticut state agency determined that homeselves. At first, Weinstein thought he was going owners who want the government to buy their to rebuild his house. He applied for permishomes would get no money from a recent grant sion to rebuild along with the Auerbachs, and from Federal Emergency Management Agency both families got zoning approval and commis(FEMA). The committee decided that all FEMA sioned construction plans. A few months after funds would go to infrastructure projects inthe storm, Weinstein testified at an insurance stead. In a January 31 letter, however, Governor hearing. His homeowners insurance was denyMalloy directed the committee to reconvene ing him money to pay for damages they claimed and reconsider their allocation of funds. were caused by water, which was not covered, Local legislators presume that state money as opposed to wind, which would be. will likewise be unavailable. James Albis, East At the hearing, WeinHaven’s state representastein met Albis. Impressed tive, said he isn’t aware of “It’s sort of a by Weinstein’s insight and any conversations about Sisyphean task,” state-funded buyback propassion, Albis invited Weingrams for coastal properstein to join the Shoreline Tait laughed. ties in dangerous areas, but Preservation Task Force, a he is concerned with the committee chaired by Alstate’s ability to fund such a program. And in bis about how to protect coastal communities. Connecticut, municipalities have jurisdiction Composed of legislators and other citizens, the over zoning—cities can decide who can build committee produced a report last year with recwhat where. Towns like East Haven have an ommendations to local, state, and federal agenincentive to promote development, even in pocies on how to reduce damage in future storms. tentially dangerous areas, Albis said, because The more Weinstein learned about erosion more development means more property taxes. and rising sea levels, the more he realized that He knows that people shouldn’t build homes in rebuilding his house on the beach was a bad hazardous places, and he has had conversations idea. He didn’t want to be saddled with beachprivately at the state level to try to change zonfront property that would keep disappearing laws. “It’s an uphill battle,” Albis told me. ing before his eyes. “I’ve probably got another Meanwhile, at the town level, East Haven twenty years,” Weinstein said. “That’s twenty has its own battles. It wants to help people who more years of beach erosion.” That means twenlost property during the storm, but also recogty more years of worrying about the security of nizes the need to adapt to a changing environhis house and twenty more years of paying to ment. For now, the scales are tipping toward raise it, move it back, or replenish the beach. short-term assistance. “We’ve done our best to The tipping point was when he looked at maps created by the Nature Conservancy, get people back to normalcy as quickly as poswhich show what the coastline looks like after sible,” said Frank Biancur Jr., East Haven’s dihurricanes of varying magnitudes. A category 2 rector of planning and zoning. His board has hurricane that would arrive in 2020 will likely approved all permits to rebuild and elevate put Cosey Beach Avenue, and some roads behomes on Cosey Beach Avenue, but he can do hind it, underwater. little more. “We can’t force people to come in Others hope it is possible for humans to and rebuild,” he said. overcome these threats. Sara-Ann, with her Higher-level government agencies have thirteen-foot-high concrete pillars, says she different priorities. Dan Esty, who was the hopes her grandchildren will have a beach to commissioner of DEEP during both hurricanes, play on. Hines is even less worried, and finds put it bluntly: “A number of people are either

february 2014

33


the power of the beach compelling still: “Whatever is bothering you has gone out on the waves and you are at peace.” Tait identified something encouraging about the attention to the situation: residents are being forced to realize that they’re in a fight with nature. What Tait doesn’t say is what comes next: many residents remain in denial about the cold truth that they’re on the losing side. Some can’t leave Cosey Beach Avenue because they can’t sell their property, others are financially secure enough to weather any storm, and some stay adrift with nostalgia, with a sense of home even as the sand under them is swept away.

Ike Swetlitz is a junior in Silliman College and an Associate Editor of the New Journal.

Lake you could not say it was the lake the ducks often come here a nice glide after dark I must say the cold freshens their feathers and any way they could hardly do better now could they as the sky blackens they do so slowly —Ava Kofman

34

the new journal


endnote

—Madeleine Witt february 2014

35


The Judaic Studies Program at Yale, Yale Divinity School, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Classics, the Department of Philosophy, and the Yale Initiative for the Study of Antiquity and the Premodern World present:

Philo’s Readers: Affinities, Reception, Transmission and Influence PARTICIPANTS

The conference will bring together a number of scholars from different disciplines, centering around the Jewish philosophical exegete, Philo. PARTICIPANTS This conference will situate Philo in his geographical, philosophical, and ideological context, looking for affinities and precursors in other ancient texts. The conference will also examine Philo’s reception and influence, particularly among Jewish and Christian readers.

HAROLD ATTRIDGE

DALE MARTIN

KATELL BERTHELOT

HINDY NAJMAN

FRANCESCA CALABI

MAREN NIEHOFF

ADELA YARBRO COLLINS

PAUL NORTH

JOHN COLLINS

BENJAMIN POLLOCK

STEPHEN DAVIS

GRETCHEN REYDAMS-SCHILS

STEVEN FRAADE

DAVID RUNIA

PAUL FRANKS

GREGORY E. STERLING

CHRISTINE HAYES

MICHAEL D. SWARTZ

BENTLEY LAYTON

MOULIE VIDAS

CARLOS LÉVY

BENJAMIN WRIGHT

J. G. MANNING

STUDENT PARTICIPANTS SONJA ANDERSON MATTHEW LARSEN

March 30—April 1, 2014 Maurice R. Greenberg Conference Center 391 Prospect Street New Haven, Connecticut

STEWART MOORE TYLER SMITH SHLOMO ZUCKIER

CONFERENCE ORGANIZERS HAROLD ATTRIDGE JOHN COLLINS

To register for the conference, visit

STEVEN FRAADE

www.philosreception.com

HINDY NAJMAN GREGORY E. STERLING

36 conf e r e n c e made p os s i b l e b y t h e w i l l i a m a n d m i r i a m h o rthe ow inew t z fjournal u nd


Volume 46, Issue 4