Writing From 2015

I moved to Jersey City in the summer and I’m now working out of New York. [Brooklyn September 2015]

With another year gone, here’s my best and favorite pieces of my own, published over the last year in 2015:

Teach Your Members And Staff Leadership By Showing Them The World, Associations Now

Published shortly after the New Year, I wrote this leadership-oriented piece on my trip to Nepal and how associations can utilize such opportunities for their members.

Here’s Hard Proof This December’s Weather Has Been Truly, Truly Bizarre, Kicker

I let my weather nerd out to cover how temps in the North Pole went above freezing all because of a strong El Niño (and maybe climate change).

It’s Official: Ben Carson Is Sarah Palin, Kicker

We took a look at how eerily similar the current GOP presidential candidate is to a past GOP vice presidential candidate.

Six Reasons Why Beautiful Puerto Rico Is A Living Hell Right Now, Kicker

Puerto Rico is one huge underreported story where the country was (and still is somewhat) struggling with debt, drought, water and doctor shortages, unemployment and poverty.

Fighting Homelessness: Libraries On The Front Lines. Associations Now

Did a little reporting to dive into how libraries are an unrecognized space and resource for combating homelessness in America.

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I traveled to Nepal for three weeks. [Boudha, Kathmandu October 2015]

North America loves its meetings; the “new” association is global and accessible; the Internet has a huge economic impact; new wireless spectrum has been slow to reach customers, study finds; global tea industry grows; international diamond producers form an association; e-books aren’t killing physical books and booksellers hold up strong.


Afghanistan’s Kunduz and Syria’s Homs show how difficult the War on Terror is; here are the brutal tactics of the Islamic State; weakening encryption isn’t the answer, a tech group says; the historic Iran Deal in plain English; ten questions about the refugee crisis you were too embarrassed to ask; who and why droves of people are leaving their homes.


Why Ferguson went through a second round of intense protest; a generation sick of college debt took to the streets one day; wage inequality highlighted in a web campaign; the gun control debate following a summer of gun violence; and of course that time when Clinton hit Chipotle.


The story behind California’s mandatory vaccination law; that weird glitch that screwed with airlines, stocks, and the web one day; and “it’s not same-sex marriage anymore, it’s marriage.”

Thank you all and here’s to another year of writing  in 2016!


Are libraries the last standing spaces of democracy?

Last week, I wrote about how American libraries are working on strengthening its work with the homeless for AssociationsNow.

The American Library Association has a history in addressing the issue of homelessness and has issued policies, standards, programs and more on the population in need. They’ve done strong work in helping libraries across the country welcome them into their spaces.

But, perhaps it means much more.

This quote, as told by the nation’s first social worker stationed at a library, struck me and my backing of public space + democratic standards:

“Libraries are the last bastion of democracy.”

Think of it that way. Think of libraries as the last few public spaces in this country. (Especially with city spaces now posting rules post-Occupy.) What else do we have? The street? Parks? I’m not saying some should put on an occupation or protest in a library but think about the diminishing spaces for the first amendment, AKA democracy. (That’s for another post.)

They’re the kind of public space that is organized, educated, helpful and resourceful. It is a respectful, accepting, equal, and hospitable community space accessible for all.

Think of it this way. Think of libraries as the standing local spot that brags of its democratic standards. (Churches of democracy?) Everyone can access it and everyone is welcome. Everyone can learn from the sources hosted in the stacks and on the screens.

It is a refuge for the homeless, as I found in my reporting, but it can be a refuge for many other Americans. A friend texted me this:


It made me think about what I learned in reporting for this piece. Libraries have gone unrecognized as an undeniably resourceful public space for many in today’s electronic and mobile age.

And imagine if these “bastions of democracy” were to disappear since we don’t recognize them for what they are? We do, after all, live in an e-book world and Google search world. (“Let me Google that for you…”)

What would be the next true public space? What would be the next standing ground of democracy? Live on, libraries. Live on.

Gearing up for May 1st

[A sign hangs from an apartment building off of Union Square, with the words “Strike” and “May 1st” on it; taken on Sunday night April 29th, 2012 by Patrick deHahn]

Wondering where Occupy Wall Street went? Just wait for Tuesday.

May 1st, along with the May Day and International Workers Day history, is a day the movement hopes will bring the United States’ revolution back into the spotlight as participants will attempt to put on a general strike and nationwide demonstrations.

According to the OccupyWallSt.org site, up to 125 cities have planned activities for “A Day without the 99%” and to fight for “economic justice.” Major cities taking action other than New York are the Bay Area cities in California, Seattle, and Chicago, the site says. There are international events planned, however, they do state that this is International Workers Day and that not every event will be “Occupy” sponsored.

New York events

Many, many events are planned for OWS in New York, both permitted and unpermitted city events. First off, people will congregate in Bryant Park to pull off a “pop-up occupation” like its encampment in Zuccotti without the tents and more about the tabling, teach-ins, etc. At this set-up, they will also split up and try to do “99 pickets” where they will do “creative disruptions” at area corporations, banks, companies, organizations, etc. They will do all this at Bryant Park from 8 AM – 2 PM.

There are numerous events occurring at the same time the congregation at Bryant Park will be happening, including a high-school walkout, an university pop-up occupation and more.

There will be a “wildcat march” at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, an unpermitted event.

At 2 PM, they will march from Bryant Park to Union Square. This is both a unpermitted and permitted march – two sites are conflicting the confirmation of whether or not it’s permitted. This march will include Occupy Guitarmy adding music to the march saying “You can’t arrest a song. You can’t beat a song with battons.”

The march from Bryant Park as well as other “convergences” and “contingents” will all gather at Union Square for a permitted rally. There will be performers Tom Morello, Dan Deacon, Immortal Technique, Das Racist, Bobby Sanabria and special guests at the rally. This is expected to go from 4 PM – 5:30 PM. They want to essentially pull off a mass gathering at Union Square with all the unions and organizations participating.

And then at 5:30 PM, all rally members will hold a “solidarity march” from Union Square to the Wall Street area. This is also permitted and will end at 2 Broadway, which seems to be off Bowling Green and Battery Park, quite close to the Wall Street bull. There are more performers expected to perform at the culmination of the march.

At around 8 PM, there is an “Occupy Wall Street after party” planned and under the event description, it only says that “details are forthcoming…”

Occupy tactics

From observing and following Occupy Wall Street tactics, there are quite a few that protesters may use at the “99 picket” events, during the marches if things get chaotic and definitely for whatever the after party plans are. All these tactics have been tested and tried out during the Friday “spring training” marches on Wall Street the past few months.

One is the “going civilian” tactic where marchers are stuck with a large and persistent police presence, they all split up and go into all different directions to meet again as a mass in a different target location. They’ve done this while marching to Wall Street and separating to meet in time to do the “human gong” in lieu of the NYSE closing bell.

Another is having multiple groups. This is OWS only trying to make NYPD’s job harder and they do multiple things with separate groups in different locations doing all kinds of events. They will utilize this at the “99 picket” Tuesday morning.

There are many tactics that OWS has implemented and tried out all last year and during this year’s “spring training.” However, one I found the most interesting was what I saw on this past Friday, April 27th, was utilizing a smart communication system. What they did was have separate Twitter accounts for each “picket” and they would tweet out vital and important alerts on NYPD updates and on what they’re doing, as well as if there were any arrests.

What was also interesting was that the Twitter account @OWSTactical had tweeted before the “spring training” event Friday. (The tweets are now deleted. I couldn’t screen-capture them as I read them on my phone.) They said the “picket” Twitter accounts were run by communications looking “from above.” What this means, I don’t really know. Were people in the buildings above, were they watching live streams (most likely, as there were live streams assigned to each “picket”), or were they actually on the ground with the groups themselves?

Either way, this is a tactic that they may use on May 1st. When asked, the official @OccupyWallStNYC account said to follow @OWSTactical and @OWSMayDay for good tweets on Tuesday. Here’s another photo of the tactic here:

NYPD and City preparations

A lot is up in the air about Tuesday and these uncertainties are not all participant-oriented, some of these concerns include the NYPD and New York City actions. From what Occupy has experienced with the NYPD in the past, the movement is cautious of what kind of force the city government may send out on the streets.

Village Voice’s Nick Pinto (@macfathom) obtained some exclusive photos of the city police department “training” for what seems to be the May Day events. He shared that they were training cops on Randall’s Island with what looked like “mock protesters.”


The first photo (L) shows mounted cops with riot gear on.And the second photo (R) shows more police drills involving riot gear and masses of police officers. 


Pinto then later confirmed that this did indeed happen and that NYPD has been training for mass protests such as the May 1st events.



What this means for Occupy Wall Street is that the NYPD is preparing for mass congregations and for whatever may happen Tuesday. What the movement doesn’t know is how civil and how big the police force may be, what they only know is that they are training and preparing Ray Kelly’s police force and Mayor Bloomberg’s “seventh largest army in the world.”

Village Voice’s Sam Levin (@samtlevin) talked to New York City’s mayor Mike Bloomberg about May Day among other things related to OWS. This is what he said, in short:


More from Bloomberg on OWS and May Day NYPD tactics:

“We are prepared for everything we can think of all the time. Our tactics are something that we don’t talk about in advance for obvious reasons.”

Bloomberg continued, “People have a right to protest. We will protect that right. They don’t have a right to disrupt other people and keep other people from protesting or just going about their business.”

Bloomberg also shared his opinion on protesting:


There’s even more here at Levin’s article.


Well, that’s all there is to preparing for May 1st, Tuesday, Occupy Wall Street’s nationwide general strike and demonstration events. In relation to New York City and Wall Street’s city location, this will be the central part of the OWS’s events on May 1st, both nationally and internationally. This day could prove the movement’s staying power and large support if all goes well.

It wouldn’t be a huge event if there weren’t any uncertainties. A few include whether or not people will actually come, and how big those numbers will be. Another is if the day will be labeled a success or a failure – and what will happen on May 2nd and beyond.

The movement and onlookers will only have to wait and see on Tuesday. I’ll be covering it.


Here is a reportedly official NYPD document on tomorrow’s OWS May Day events tomorrow – Google Doc: http://bit.ly/ID41C7 NOW CONFIRMED.

There are calls to action to shut down city bridges and tunnels, will they actually happen? Here are the sites and locations they want participants to take on: http://bit.ly/ID51Gv

And last but not least, there are unconfirmed reports that NYPD officers have been visiting activists’ homes in New York City ahead of tomorrow’s actions. Take note that this is unconfirmed and should be taken with a grain of salt.