26 Jan

MacArthur ‘genius’ Claudia Rankine, poet Solmaz Sharif deliver Ernest Sandeen Memorial Reading

first_imgMichael Yu | The Observer Solmaz Sharif shares her poetry at the second annual Ernest Sandeen Memorial Reading. Sharif was chosen by Claudia Rankine to read from her book “Look.”Aside from the packed auditorium for the reading, Rankine and Sharif also held a Q&A session earlier in the day that was open to the public. Both poets took questions about the role of poetry as a catalyst for change and reflected on the process it took to produce their works.Rankine talked about her book “Citizen” — a book of criticism and poetry filled with images and artwork, as well as stories of microagressions and racist language. She said poetry is a successful method for talking about topics like these because of its ability to hold feeling.“I think what poetry does that other genres don’t do that easily is … no matter what your approach is, the poem is still in the realm of feeling,” Rankine said.Rankine also discussed accountability in response to a question about the best way to get through to people who believe racism no longer exists in today’s society.“I think I’ve spent a lot of my life watching things happen,” Rankine said. “I don’t think you need to get to them — I think they’re around you and they’re getting to you all the time. And the question is, are you holding those moments accountable? If you hold your own space accountable that’s the first step to bringing it to those who are bringing it to you.”Time and perseverance are necessary, Rankine said, when it came to writing.“It has to do with the patience of staying in there while you’re still finding your way,” Rankine said. “I am inside these sentences, inside these lines and I can sit there for 12 hours.”Sharif, an Iranian-American poet, said her first book, “Look,” is a book about the costs of war and the abuses of speech. In response to a question about the subtleties of poetry and how poetry can act as an impetus for social change, she said she tries to “remain faithful to the ways that poetry is not journalism, is not fast-acting.”“[Poetry] never has been that kind of rational response to external events,” Sharif said. “Yes there is something about this moment that feels an acute crisis. There’s a cabinet of self-identified white nationalists. But to me a large part of that is a rupture in a kind of decorum … rather than an actual shift in ideology.”Sharif said although the themes she writes about have an element of urgency, she does not worry about the message getting lost in the subtleties of her writing.“I have valued always that within these moments of crisis and urgency and urgent action we need those patient moments too,” Sharif said. “So maybe the poem is that space for patience, for deliberation, for a kind of concentrated slowness within an otherwise chaotic and rapid world.”Tags: Claudia Rankine, creative writing program, Ernest Sandeen Memorial Reading, Solmaz Sharif Seating was scarce in McKenna Hall Auditorium on Thursday night as students and faculty gathered to listen to poems and excerpts of stories about race, discrimination and how to find hope in it all.Poet, essayist and 2016 MacArthur “genius” Grant recipient Claudia Rankine delivered the second annual Ernest Sandeen Memorial Reading hosted by the Creative Writing Program. She chose the poet Solmaz Sharif to accompany her for the reading as well as to share some of her own poems.last_img read more

18 Jan

Watch First Trailer of Wolf Hall, Starring Mark Rylance & Damian Lewis

first_img Wolf Hall Part One It was worth the wait! Check out below the first trailer of the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s bestselling historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance plays Thomas Cromwell in the miniseries, which is set during the reign of Henry VIII, who is portrayed by Broadway alum Damian Lewis. If that wasn’t enough Great White Way representation, two-time Tony winner Jonathan Pryce appears as Cardinal Wolsey! PBS will air Wolf Hall in spring 2015, right around the time the stage adaptation begins performances at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre. Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on July 5, 2015 View Commentslast_img read more

18 Jan

David Henry Hwang Will Chair American Theatre Wing Chair

first_img Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang has been elected the Chair of the American Theatre Wing. Hwang joined the institution’s board in 2009 and will succeed six-time Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long, who has held the position for four years; Long will maintain an active role as the Immediate Past Chair. In addition to the new Chair, the Wing welcomes new appointees to the board, including 2016 Tony nominees Sergio Trujillo and Liesl Tommy, Robyn Coles, Alia Jones-Harvey, Lucy Liu, Patti LuPone, Charles Tolbert and Lia Vollack.Hwang took home the 1988 Tony Award for M. Butterfly and received nominations for the 2002 revival of Flower Drum Song and Golden Child. He is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His work also includes the plays Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, The Dance and the Railroad and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida and Disney’s Tarzan. He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, and a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning TV series The Affair. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre and currently serves as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts.The American Theatre Wing is a not-for-profit organization originally set up as part of the World War II Allied Relief Fund. Though founders of the Tony Awards, the Wing’s reach extends beyond Broadway and New York; the Wing develops the next generation of theater professionals through the SpringboardNYC and Theatre Intern Network programs, incubates innovative theater across the country through the National Theatre Company Grants, fosters the song of American theater through the Jonathan Larson Grants, honors the best in New York theatrical design with the Henry Hewes Design Award and illuminates the creative process through the Working in the Theatre program and media archive. View Comments David Henry Hwang(Photo: Bruce Glikas)last_img read more

17 Jan

Fall Fire Ant Control

first_imgThe one thing that makes fall the single best time to treat fire ants, Sparks said, is that it’sfollowed by winter. “You can use fire ant baits any time of the year. But they’re most effective when the ants areactively foraging for food,” Sparks said. “If I could treat fire ants only once a year, I’d do it in the fall,” said Beverly Sparks, aUniversity of Georgia scientist. “Actively foraging ants will pick up a bait and carry it into the nest within minutes,” she said.If the ants are inactive and don’t find the bait quickly, it will become rancid. By the time theants find it, it no longer appeals to them. “Baits take a long time to work,” she said. “They weaken colonies and make them less able torespond to the challenges of winter weather.” When you think of fire ants in the fall, “vulnerable” isn’t the first word that pops into yourmind. But it should be. First, they’re more active. That makes it easier to treat them with fire ant baits. That’s the first step in the ongoing program Sparks recommends for fire ant control. Use afresh bait, she said, and apply it by the label directions. Then treat individual problem moundswith an approved contact product. The final step is simply to repeat the first step once or twicea year. Fire ants are easier to kill in the fall for four main reasons, said Sparks, an Extension Serviceand research entomologist in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Another advantage unique to the fall is that you are treating when many of the fire ant coloniesin your yard are very young. That makes them easier to kill with a mound-drench, granular, dust or aerosol contactinsecticide. When you use those products, Sparks said, “it’s critical to treat when the queenand brood are close to the surface.”center_img “Quite often you don’t even know they’re there,” she said. “But if you don’t treat them,they’ll become the big mounds you see next year.” How do you treat them if you don’t know where they are? Broadcast a fire ant bait. The second reason fire ants are vulnerable in the cooler weather of fall is that they’re not toodeep in the ground. “Fire ants mate all during the year, but they’re most actively mating in the spring,” Sparkssaid. Mated queens fly off and establish new colonies. By fall, these colonies arewell-established but still very small. Extreme cold is tough on fire ants, she said. That makes baits even more effective in the fall. The networked tunnels of a fire ant mound are constantly collapsing, she said. Moving deeperinto the ground requires a lot of work. Anything you can do to reduce the number of antsavailable to gather food and maintain the mound structure makes the colony less able tosurvive winter weather. Fire ants are most active in spring and fall, when daytime temperatures are between 70 and 85degrees, she said. The young colonies are especially vulnerable, she said, because they don’t have manyworkers. So they can’t respond very quickly to the need to escape freezing temperatures. “Winter is an ally in controlling fire ants,” Sparks said. “Reducing their numbers in the fallcan help push them over the edge in the winter.”last_img read more

17 Jan

Stakes, fences, cages

first_imgVeteran gardeners know there are constantly chores to be done in the vegetable garden. An important one to remember once your garden is growing later this spring is trellising.Trellising is one chore you need to do fairly soon after the plants are established. It gets the plant and fruit up off the ground. This makes for better-quality fruit and less disease. It also helps to maintain order in the garden and makes harvesting easier.For tomatoes, some people simply use cages to put over the plant, which allows it to grow and be supported. Another method is to drive a 1-inch square, 4-foot stake into the ground by each plant and tie the plant to the stake.If you have a long row of tomatoes, you can set a large post at each end of the row and again about every 20 feet within it. Attach a wire across the top of the posts and about four inches above the ground. Use twine to tie each plant to the wires for support.Peppers can be staked, too. Using similar 1-inch-square stakes, place them about every fourth plant with twine running from stake to stake. You’ll want to start the first twine 4 inches above the ground.As the peppers grow, put another string about every 4 inches above the first. Start with the first stake and go on one side of the plants. Then go around the next stake and so on. When you get to the last stake, come back down the other side of the plants to box the plants in and keep them from falling over.Another crop that works well with a trellis is cucumbers. You can use 4-foot fencing wire and some posts to build a temporary fence beside the cucumber row. Then just train the vines up on the fence as they grow. You’ll find and pick your cukes easier.Eggplant can also be staked. Either tomato stakes or rebar can be used to place next to each eggplant. Then secure it to the stake.Be careful not to cut into plants as you tie them with twine. But keep the twine tight enough to support the plants.Don’t forget to scout for insects and disease problems, too. Keep your weeds in check, and water as needed. The work of the gardener is never quite done. But doing chores when needed will help you relax and enjoy those lazy, hazy days of summer a little more.(Terry Kelley is a former University of Georgia Cooperative Extension vegetable horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) William Terry KelleyUniversity of Georgialast_img read more

18 Dec

Keys to success: A conservatorship success story

first_img 16SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Debbie Matz Debbie Matz was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the eighth board chair of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). After confirmation by the U.S. Senate on … Web: www.ncua.gov Details This is the success story of Keys Federal Credit Union in Key West, Fla., which recently, against all odds, was returned to its members after the longest conservatorship in NCUA history.When placed into conservatorship, Keys was all but dead in the water. The story of how this unstable credit union reversed course and is now thriving is one of collaboration and determination.Setting SailKeys Federal Credit Union is the oldest financial institution in the island chain known as the Florida Keys. It was chartered in 1940 to serve Key West Naval Air Station employees.The field of membership expanded in 1994 to a community charter serving all islands in the chain. It ultimately reached more than 10,000 members and $120 million in assets.The Perfect StormHowever, the credit union was knocked far off course by the financial crisis that began in 2008. The crisis depressed tourism throughout the Florida Keys, causing massive job losses and a 50 percent drop in real estate values.Complicating these unfortunate circumstances, Keys was weighed down by heavy concentration risk. Real estate loans accounted for more than 67 percent of the portfolio and almost 900 percent of net worth.By September 2009, the delinquency ratio loomed above 5 percent; the net charge-off ratio was closing in on 1 percent; and operating losses swelled to $5 million.Keys had already undergone a change in management, and the Chairman was attempting to merge with another Florida credit union. When that merger fell through, directors of Keys consented to a voluntary conservatorship.On Sept. 24, 2009—one month after I was sworn in as NCUA Board Chairman—the NCUA Board voted unanimously to conserve Keys in order to protect the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.Navigating Stormy SeasDuring the first year of conservatorship, loan losses continued to rise and the net worth ratio plunged to 2.4 percent by September 2010.Given its declining trajectory, Keys was on course to cost the Share Insurance Fund as much as $20 million. But NCUA’s Conservatorship Board had a different vision: to turn Keys around and prevent those losses.In early 2011, the Conservatorship Board made tough decisions to close two branches, reduce staff, renegotiate contracts, and temporarily suspend the real estate and member business lending programs that had caused deep losses. To boost consumer lending, the main office was relocated to a more visible retail location.In May 2011, the Conservatorship Board hired Scott Duszynski as President/CEO. Scott had worked at Keys for 15 years in operations, accounting, strategic planning, and information technology. In addition to his strong credentials, he maintained a strong presence in the local community and positive working relationships with staff and members.At the direction of the Conservatorship Board, Scott immediately implemented significant operational changes. He also began working to strengthen Keys’ relationship with the Navy community and reestablish the credit union’s presence in the field of membership. Righting the ShipImprovement was slow. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 that the local economy showed signs of recovery. Delinquency and loan losses were finally receding, and the credit union started to turn around.At the beginning of 2014, when Myra Toeppe became the new NCUA Region III Director and the Agent for the Conservator of Keys, the Conservatorship Board realized additional, fundamental changes were needed if the credit union was ever to be returned to the membership.This required a revised Net Worth Restoration Plan and development of a realistic, viable business model. Operations were further streamlined; fees were raised to reasonable levels, and loans were shifted from real estate to autos and credit cards.With these changes, earnings improved substantially. Incredibly, return on assets in 2014 topped 1 percent, and in the first half of 2015 approached 1.4 percent. Even more remarkably, Keys outperformed its Net Worth Restoration Plan for four consecutive quarters, and by September 2015 had a net worth ratio approaching 6 percent.Charting the Future CourseBefore returning the credit union to its members, the Conservatorship Board established an Advisory Board of seven qualified and motivated volunteers who would form the credit union’s board of directors and supervisory committee. The seven volunteers were long-time credit union members with varied backgrounds and strong ties to the community.These enthusiastic volunteers participated in numerous educational courses and attended monthly meetings with the Conservatorship Board and NCUA staff to gain an understanding of the duties and responsibilities required of credit union board members. After two years working with the Advisory Board, the Conservatorship Board determined that these seven dedicated individuals were ready and able to guide Keys into the future.Celebrating SuccessAlthough a long time in coming, Keys Federal Credit Union is a conservatorship success story. As counterintuitive as it may seem, this conservatorship ultimately saved the credit union from failure and saved the Share Insurance Fund from millions of dollars in losses. In doing so, it provided members with continued access to the affordable financial services they have come to expect for 75 years.This remarkable recovery was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Keys’ management and staff, the Advisory Board, NCUA staff, and the loyal members who stuck with their credit union through turbulent times.Through sheer determination and commitment by the management and Conservatorship Board, willingness to reshape the business model and make very tough decisions required to stabilize and revitalize the credit union, Keys will remain open to many generations of local residents—hopefully for at least another 75 years.last_img read more

17 Dec

5 ways to compete with fintechs

first_img 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr With their flexibility and focus on innovation, fintech firms continue to pose a competitive threat to credit unions, says John Waupsh, author of “Bankruption” and chief innovation officer at Kasasa, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.He spoke at Disruption 17 by CU Water Cooler Wednesday in Madison, Wis., about how to outmaneuver upstarts in the financial services world.To do so, Waupsh suggests five areas to focus on:1. TargetingSuccessful institutions today have a target audience and are constantly updating their data around that target audience, Waupsh says.Likewise, credit unions must decide who their target audience is and where their growth will come from. continue reading »last_img read more

16 Dec

Downtowns Are All the Rage These Days But Some Places Can’t Handle the Development

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York On Long Island these days, downtowns are happening places—at least in policy circles. From the governor’s office to the local village, it’s the buzz word that everybody’s talking about.In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s current budget proposal, 10 regions across New York State can each get up to $10 million to help spur downtown redevelopment efforts. But interested municipalities first will have to apply for the grants before they can start putting the money to work. Shepherding the application process here is the ever-active Long Island Regional Economic Development Council (LIREDC), charged with jumpstarting our region’s anemic growth. Details remain to be ironed out as the state’s budget takes final shape.The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, a public benefit corporation of New York State, has supposedly been hot to trot on spurring downtown redevelopment. For some reason the IDA recently hired what Newsday simply reported was “a planning group” to assist Amityville, Kings Park and Smithtown with their efforts. The unnamed group turned out to be the New York City-based Regional Plan Association (RPA), which has been increasing its workload across Suffolk County as of late. In the past, the RPA and Suffolk had a relatively arms-length relationship. Under the current Bellone administration, however, the RPA has been making inroads.This begs the question: why is the Suffolk County IDA hiring an outside, New York City-centric organization to conduct planning work that could easily be done through the county’s myriad in-house professional departments including Planning and Economic Development, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of Health Services?These departments have a strong history of tackling much more complex issues than the redevelopment of these relatively simple downtown areas—and they’ve conducted robust studies and analyses on that subject, too. Empowered by Suffolk County Legislature resolution No. 212-2000, “Establishing a ‘Smart Growth’ Policy for Suffolk County Implementation,” the Department of Planning went full-steam ahead, examining the relevant issues associated with the notion of integrating density within downtown areas over the last 16 years.Examples of their efforts include a publication entitled Smart Communities Through Smart Growth: Applying Smart Growth principles to Suffolk County Towns and Villages from March of 2000, or November of 2003’s Analysis and Prioritization of the Recommendations of the Smart Growth Policy Plan for Suffolk County, which said in its executive summary: “Encourage the development of area-wide or regional Smart Growth plans that address the protection of drinking water resources as well as provide a plan for a reallocation of density to permit compact centers of development and open space.”Suffolk County published one especially helpful document on downtown redevelopment in May 2006 entitled Shopping Centers and Downtowns, which took detailed inventory of downtown conditions. Smithtown, Amityville and Kings Park were highlighted alongside other areas in this report, which presented an interesting finding: “While some downtown areas are in need of improvement and have had chronic vacancy problems, it is a mistake to state that downtown areas are in decline. On the contrary, many downtown areas are thriving.”Granted, these findings were reached before the housing crisis and subsequent nosedive of the economy, but Long Island’s land use patterns changed very little in the years during and after the Great Recession.So, the question remains: Why is the IDA outsourcing their efforts?The simple truth is that Suffolk County didn’t like the answers its in-house departments provided, and the administration went searching for another organization to provide solutions that aligned with its pro-development agenda.It fits the pattern of behavior coming from the Dennison Building as of late, which seems to favor building over more balanced approaches to foster growth. You would expect the LIREDC to promote economic development through new construction, but Suffolk County and its agencies should strive to balance the environmental, social and economic needs of the region, not be outsourcing work to fit the administration’s narrative.The downtown areas being targeted for growth simply lack the infrastructure to handle explosive development. In addition, these locales are too far from New York City for its residents to take advantage of their proximity to the LIRR. If the RPA can suggest modest improvements that take into account the limitations of these areas, this planning exercise would be fruitful, but it seems these days everyone wants their downtown to become the next Mineola or Patchogue.But we cannot trust local officials to always make the right decision for their municipalities, which is unfortunate, because these decisions often resonate across the region. The LIREDC should work with local, county and state officials to find which area would best utilize the $10 million now on the table, not only for the downtown to be impacted by the scope of funding, but find out which one would generate the widest benefits to all Long Islanders—not just those residents.For too long, our municipalities have fought each other for scraps while other states eat our lunch. Why is Suffolk’s IDA working on downtown redevelopments instead of working with the Nassau IDA to save jobs on Long Island? Why isn’t the RPA joining with officials from across the spectrum to explore where the governor’s money would have the most impact?We must look beyond the walls of our political fiefdoms and consider the big picture before we make the lights brighter in just our downtowns.Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.last_img read more

16 Dec

Wantagh Man, 60, Killed in Crash

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 60-year-old Wantagh man was killed Sunday morning when his car veered into another lane and struck another vehicle in his hometown, Nassau County police said.The victim, Preston Stockman, was driving a white 1996 Toyota Camry east on Jerusalem Avenue at 8:50 a.m. when his vehicle entered the westbound lane and hit a white Buick. Police have yet to determine what caused the vehicle to enter the opposite lane.Stockman was transported to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The 57-year-old driver of the Buick was hospitalized for minor injuries, police said.Police removed both vehicles from the scene for brake and safety inspections. Investigators say they believe at this time there is no criminality.last_img read more

8 Dec

A Culture of Compliance: One of many ways Binghamton University is handling the pandemic

first_imgVESTAL (WBNG) — Binghamton University held their council meeting via Zoom on Friday. A multitude of topics were discussed. In addition, they distributed PPE to the entire student population, including off campus students. Through Sept. 14, a total of 1,339 tests were completed with 9 positives coming back. If an off campus student was found not in compliance they will be barred from in person instruction. Binghamton University also tackled the quarantine issue, they set aside three buildings to be used as isolation and quarantine areas with a fourth building becoming available in october. Housing agreements were tightened up. The university also made accomodations with a local hotel to handle students coming in from hot spot states. The university also tightened up their expectations of students through a rights and responsibilities document that had to be acknowledged by students. Additionally, waste water is tested at 13 sites once a week.center_img Positive reinforcement was added by tokens of appreciation to students following the guidelines. Through surveillence testing the school carries out 1,000 tests per week. The university launched a campaign that showed students the right thing to do, it was carried out via social media, signage around campus, video ads and more. “We actually made arrangments with the quality inn property across the street and ultimatley 38 students chose to use that option and we provided support to them. We delivered meals to them, when the internet quality wasnt good enough we delivered hotspots to folks.” said Rose. One of those topics was how the university created a culture of compliance to make sure students do their part and follow the guidelines around COVID-19. “We tightened up our housing contract, if you dont do what your suppose to do we will remove you from housing and we’ve had to do that for 14 students so far.” said Brian Rose, the Vice President of Student Affairs. The university also trained 14 contact tracers through the department of health.last_img read more