Sunday, January 28, 2018

Circumnavigating Long Island Part 11. Greenpoint to Vinegar Hill Brooklyn

To many, Long Island has a very strong sense of place. In this series, I seek to highlight the distinct regional character of the place by posting photos taken while walking its circumference starting from my home in Port Washington, heading west toward Brooklyn along the shore, around the west end of the island, east to the southern shores to Montauk and Orient, and then back across the north shore to Port Washington. Since I have a day job and do not relish suburban and urban camping, I break these walks into pieces. 

For each segment, I stay on public roads, trails, and/or beaches that get as close to the shore as possible. I don't go on dead ends and I avoid dangerous stretches where walking is problematic due to traffic. Hopefully, the series of photo essays provides insight into the geography of this region at this particular point in time. Previous segments are linked at the bottom of this post.

Today's post focuses on northeastern Brooklyn. It starts at Newtown Creek, which separates Brooklyn from Queens and the neighborhoods of Long Island City and Greenpoint. It then extends through Willisamburg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and finally Vinegar Hill. Much of the area is under redevelopment.

A view toward Manhattan from the Pulaski Bridge.

A hotel sign under the bridge.

Yup, it's Brooklyn.

A Greenpoint streetscape.

There is redevelopment everywhere in this part of Brooklyn

More redevelopment.

Older apartments are right next to...

...newer ones.

This neighborhood is very hot for young people.

Although there is a saying in Brooklyn that once the baby carriages show up the hipsters move out. I saw plenty of both in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

There are a number of art film studios in the area. I love this rendering of the iconic New York water tank.

This fence had lots of fiber graffiti. It is a fenced in section of Bushwick Inlet Park which has been the target of a great deal of neighborhood activism.

An old industrial site that looks like it is about to become part of the park.

There is a confusing bit of dueling parklands adjacent to Bushwick Inlet Park, a City Park, in that it is adjacent to East River State Park.

Nice views of the city can be seen from the state park or was it the city park?

This is an odd little park, Grand Ferry Park, which is the landing site of an old 19th century ferry that took passengers from Williamsburg to Manhattan.

Some nice murals note the Puerto Rican heritage in the area.

There was a ton of street filming when I was out and about. This part of Brooklyn has a particular "look" that goes well with TV crime shows.

A nice view of the hardworking Williamsburg Bridge approach.

The Williamsburg Bridge.

Another view.

There is redevelopment everywhere in Williamsburg along the waterfront.

An apartment building in Williamsburg.

Meow! A fence up near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There was meow graffiti for several blocks.

There was an interesting little park near the Navy Yard that is the former potters field for the Navy Yard hospital.

A boardwalk around the site.

The Navy Yard is really old and some of the fences and gates show its age.


The Navy Yard has had a major resurgence. It is now home to lots of new businesses including the Steiner Studio operations. Many films and television shows are created here.

Another gate into the Navy Yard.

There is ample room for new industrial development here.

Another gate. There was a whiskey tasting going on at a distillery.

This mural recognizing the African American role in the history of the Navy Yard is located on the border of Vinegar Hill and the Navy Yard.

Vinegar Hill, which is a neighborhood between the DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood and the Navy Yard, is a mix of residential and industrial land uses. This is the residential...

...and this is the industrial.

Another residential/commercial view.

Looking toward DUMBO and the Manhattan Bridge.
Part 1. Port Washington to Manhasset
Part 2. Manhasset, Kings Point, Great Neck, Little Neck

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Florida Get Exception to Drilling Ban; Policy in Chaos

In an interesting turn of events since my last post on the opening of coastal waters to drilling, Florida has been given an exception. This is very good news for Florida and everyone who loves the beautiful coastline of the Sunshine State.

Many have speculated on the political motivations as to why this change occurred. I don't want to dive into those murky waters. However, I do want to point out that this change throws the overall national coastal drilling policy into chaos.

If you are, say, in South Carolina, you now have the right to question why you cannot have the same deal as Florida. In a court of law, you could challenge the overall policy and try to make a case that your beaches are just as significant as Florida's. Individual states will likely sue and groups of states will likely come together to sue.

As a result of the certain court challenges that will go forward, I doubt that much will happen in coastal energy development in the short term. Given all the scandals and chaos in the executive branch at the moment, it seems rather likely that the policy may be rolled back in the near future by whoever takes over from the current occupant of the White House.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Government Approves Coastal Drilling Few Want

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There is a line in the sand for politicians in Florida. It doesn't matter how conservative you are about the environment, you'll never get elected to dog catcher if you support drilling for oil off the Florida coastline. The same is true in other states that depend on tourism as a big part of their economy.

Which is why it is a bit of a surprise that the U.S. government declared that they are moving forward with plans to greatly expand coastal drilling in places where drilling has been banned. This includes the Arctic, Florida, and the Atlantic coastline.

The plan is deeply unpopular among leaders in the coastal states.

Florida's very conservative Republican governor, Rick Scott, came out against it as did many in the military. If the people via their elected officials are not behind the plan, who is?

There has been a widespread reversal of many environmental initiatives over the last year. As this article points out, the president recently stopped a study that was trying to assess how to make offshore drilling safer.

More drilling, less safety. On public land.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Litterati App Gets NSF Funding for Litter

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I ran across a fun new app called Litterati that some of you may find of interest. It is one of those social connection apps that allows you to upload geocoded photos of litter to the application. The app allows you to classify the litter with the goal of working with producers of the products that lead to the litter to find ways to limit the impact of their products on the environment.

You can read about the application here in an article by Rob Price in Business Insider and here is a link to the app's Website.

I think this application is a great teaching resource. I know that I have often had beach or trail cleanups as a teaching exercise in my classes. We would collect the litter, classify it, and conduct some type of analysis on the waste we collected. With this app, you could connect your class to the larger community, the region, and the world.

The app just earned NSF funding to improve the application. I look forward to seeing the changes. It's worth downloading it to use in your neighborhood or in the classroom.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Five Punctuation Tips for Writers

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Every year I edit many manuscripts and through this work I have found that many writers make some pretty simple punctuation errors. Plus, many are inconsistent in how they use punctuation. Here are five punctuation tips that will improve your writing.

1. Be consistent with commas. Whether you use the Oxford comma or the AP comma, be consistent. While most style guides now recommend the Oxford comma, many writers use Oxford and AP inconsistently. For example, it is not uncommon to see the two comma structures below in the same manuscript:

  • The three types of rocks are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
  • The three pillars of sustainability are environment, society and economics.

While either one could be correct, both together are not.

2. Avoid single quotation marks to set aside text. Typically the single quotation mark is not used in formal writing. Many writers like to emphasize text using single quotation marks in a sentence such as in the examples below.

  • While many find sustainability to be difficult to define, 'planners' embrace the concept.
  • The authors of the book use the concept of 'sustainability' to discuss 'climate change' as a concept.

In the first sentence, the term planners does not need emphasis since planners is a widely defined term and there is no need for emphasis. In the second sentence, one could make a case for emphasizing sustainability. Editors will often put such emphasized words in italics or double quotation marks. As in the first sentence, climate change is widely recognized and doesn't need emphasis. Plus, many writers overuse emphasis in their writing. Such overuse doesn't read well. The writing comes off as bumpy and snarky. A good rule of thumb is just to avoid single quotation marks overall. For whatever reason, the use of the single quotation marks has blossomed in some quarters of academia in recent years. I find that development unfortunate.

3. Accurate punctuation of the em dash. The em dash--the dash that is separating this phrase from the rest of the sentence--is often inappropriately punctuated. The em dash is a great tool in writing--it can separate a strong phrase from another in a sentence. It is often used appropriate in place of commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons. However, many writers do not know how to punctuate the em dash. To use it, just type two dashes where you want to use it without any spacing. Writers sometimes use lots of spaces when none are needed or use many dashes where just two are needed.


  • The United Nations--with the publication of The Brundtland Report--is responsible for kicking off the modern sustainability movement.


  • The United Nations -- with the publication of The Brundtland Report -- is responsible for kicking off the modern sustainability movement. (Spaces before and after em dash.)
  • The United Nations---with the publication of The Brundtland Report---is responsible for kicking off the modern sustainability movement. (More than two dashes.)
  • The United Nations--- with the publication of The Brundtland Report-- is responsible for kicking off the modern sustainability movement. (Inconsistent number of dashes and spacing.)

4. Spacing after periods. It's an age thing. People my age and older put two spaces after periods. Younger people put in one period. Most style guides now call for one space after periods. If you still use two spaces, train yourself to put in one space and save yourself and your editor a nightmare of spacing edits.

5.  Misuse of ellipses. The ellipse is a series of three dots used to indicate that something is missing. In formal writing, it is most often used in quotations to denote that some text in a quotation is missing, but is not needed in the text. Here is an example of how an ellipse is typically used:

  • Robert Brinkmann, in Introduction to Sustainability, said, "Sustainability . . . is a field that is growing in importance in the United States."

Note that there are only three dots and that each dot in the above is separated from the text and from each other by a space. Style guides vary from each other in the spacing requirements. Some call for a space between the dots and words but no spaces between the dots. Regardless, consistency is key. Below are incorrect examples of the ellipse:

  • Robert Brinkmann, in Introduction to Sustainability, said, "Sustainability . . . . is a field that is growing in importance in the United States." (Too many dots.)
  • Robert Brinkmann, in Introduction to Sustainability, said, "Sustainability a field that is growing in importance in the United States." (Inconsistent spacing.)

Overall, I find that these are the most vexing punctuation problems that I run into when I edit. I hope that this review will be of use to some of you. I am a very fast writer and mistakes always creep into my work. I have found that the best key to avoiding error is consistency.

Monday, January 1, 2018

5 Ways to Green Your 2018

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This is a post from 2015 that I thought was worth resurrecting for our annual reflection on the New Year. What other suggestions do you have?

Today, I am providing 5 suggestions for green resolutions for the New Year. I am not going to give you the simple ones, like turning out the lights when you leave the room. This year, I am going to challenge you to think deeply about sustainability in your life.

1. Green your transportation. In the coming year, think about what you can do to green your transportation. Can you transition to mass transit, an electric car, or biking? If you fly frequently, can you purchase carbon offsets for your flights? Whatever you choose to do, make transportation part of your green resolution.

2. Get in tune with your global impact. Take a deep look at your purchasing patterns and where things are made. Many countries of the world have poor environmental labor and environmental standards. Indeed, neoslavery is occurring in many parts of the world and I am certain that most of my readers have purchased something made by individuals in horrific conditions. Resolve to think before you buy.

3. Read. So many of us are grazers of information and we do not take the time to tune out and tune in to the many great books that are out there. New environmental books come out each year. Pick one up and dive deeply into a topic that interests you. Resolve to stop grazing and join the deep dive green team.

4. Discover you local parks. I find new amazing parks on Long Island and the New York region all the time. Resolve to take advantage of what previous generations have done to preserve and protect the environment.

5. Get engaged. Resolve to find a topic that matters to you and get engaged. You can start simple by reading on local matters such as land use policy or you could get involved on state or local issues. All it takes is a desire to make the world a better place. Use the On the Brink Environmental Hero of the Year as an example of how one person can make a tremendous difference in the world.