The Genius of New York City

Or how to change your bad mood by celebrating the creativity of your fellow NYC travelers.

Moussa, Columbus Circle, New York City

It was that type of morning.

The meditation, coffee and two-three mile run wasn’t working.

The existential dread of work, life, city, was still there.

Until.

Crossing the street in a sea of black town cars ferrying the fancy from the east side to the west side, and vice versa, there in his #pedicab splendor, is Moussa, from #Senegal.

The morning dread evaporates as we laugh with each other.

#newyorkcity#newyork

Afghan Chronicles: Day Five, A School Gets A Library

Today was one of the days of shooting that will go down as one of one of the most fulfilling days of not only shooting, but most fulfilling days, period. When working on a project, there is a process.

First, it’s the idea, something is here, a story, I am not sure what it is, but I can’t stop thinking about it, and I begin to shoot. Then the doubt sets in, what am I doing? Am I wasting my time and everyone else’s? And then there is the inevitable magic moment, and it always happens, where it all clicks. The hard work pays off and the moment arrives where you think, there is no other place or task that I would rather be doing than what I am doing at this moment. It is a moment of grace and flow, and when it happens, I feel extremely grateful. It motivates me when I am not feeling the “flow.” The memory and pursuit of these moments get me out of bed in the morning.

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A Tech Education Solution Combats Mass Incarceration

Aedan Macdonald, a “special needs” student for 11 of his 12 years of primary school hated his early, middle and high school education. It was not until he was incarcerated that he discovered his love for learning. While still incarcerated, he did so well in his studies that he was accepted to the School of General Studies at Columbia University .

While a Columbia student, Macdonald founded and became program manager for Justice Through Code, a program supported by Columbia’s Center for Justice and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School.

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Tiffany: A Day in the Life of a NYC Black Transgender Woman

Tiffany and Nate.  Black, homeless, queer and trans they have survived on the streets of New York City for years. 

As race continues to engulf our nation it is important to look at basic human needs of shelter, education, healthcare, and so much more, that often elude this population. Until we address the systemic racism baked into every institution in our country, we will never move forward.

We first meet them in a Harlem shelter for queer youth.  Six years later we meet Tiffany after she has broken up with Nate.  We spend a day with her as she navigates her life on the lower east side of Manhattan.

We post two seasons that consist of twenty six, 60-second video segments on certain aspects of their life. 

Warning, this is an unvarnished look into their lives with language and topics that might not be for everyone.

Season Two: Tiffany, A Day in the Life.
Transgender Woman Surviving on the Streets of New York City
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New York State Female Entrepreneur of 2020

Alexis McSween, Founder and CEO, Bottom Line Construction and Development LLC, received terrific news in early March for her decades-long crusade in building affordable housing in her Harlem community.

Through a two-year entrepreneurship and leadership program offered by the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, she was nominated and awarded New York State’s 2020 Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

McSween is a role model and mentor to everyone she meets.

She experienced bouts of homelessness as a teenager. Making ends meet as a livery driver, she drove a friend to an EMT exam. At the suggestion of her friend, she took the exam. She was accepted. That experience, and years of hard work, put her on the path to become a registered nurse and a homeowner.

After years of nursing and renovating homes on the side, she dove into construction full time with a focus on providing affordable housing in her community.

The video below highlights McSween’s exceptional leadership skills and the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center. It was completed March 13, the day New York City ordered many non-essential workers to “shelter-in-place”.

Alexis McSween, CEO & Founder, Bottom Line Construction & Development

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Is Community Essential For Veterans To Feel Connected?

We spoke with best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker, Sebastian Junger on helping veterans transition and integrate into the US after being overseas.   His interview will be used in FourBlock, a career readiness resource to help veterans find their calling.

In addition to Junger, the edX online course,  Find Your Calling: Career Transition Principles For Returning Veterans includes Columbia Business School Business Professor, Sheena Iyengar, author, “The Art of Choosing,” and one of the world’s experts on choice, and best-selling author, “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek.

Junger’s interview is so powerful and timely we want to share a few of the video highlights.  The other videos, equally powerful and informative, are embedded in the course and available for free for veterans and their families.  Learn more here.

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Former Eritrean Taxi Driver Turns Her Successful Restaurant Over To Her Sons

Almaz Ghebrezgabher, Co-Owner, Massawa Restaurant, is feeling a great sense of relief.  After 30 years of cooking and managing the East African, Massawa Restaurant, with her husband, Amanuel Tekeste, she is expanding the restaurant, and turning the business over to her four children.

She has trouble articulating her happiness and feelings of accomplishment but when we watch her on the video, we share in her joy.

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