Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island’

Why Maintaining Your Own Site Works

September 3, 2012

A few years ago, St. John’s Episcopal Church on Staten Island hired us to revamp their website. The original site was serviceable but, well, blue-ish and gray-ish, and not very welcoming. Here’s a screenshot, captured from the Wayback Machine:

St. John's website in 2008
St. John’s Episcopal Church website in 2008.

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How Unitarians Do a Website

December 26, 2011
Unitarian Church of Staten Island

Unitarian Church of Staten Island

Churches and other faith-based organizations often have wonderful websites, right up until the people who created them leave. Sometimes they move away; sometimes they burn out. In either case, the organization is left with a site that becomes more outdated every week, once a week.

The Unitarian Church of Staten Island was almost in this position. Their longtime webmaster was stepping down, but luckily, two members of the Communications Committee were willing to take on the job.

But let me digress for a moment: The Unitarian Church of  Staten Island, which was founded by abolitionists, has a long history of social activism. Their most famous member was Robert Gould Shaw, who led the 54th Massachusetts Regiment composed of freed slaves, in the fateful Civil War attack on Battery Wagner, Morris Island, SC. He was immortalized, along with his regiment, in the film Glory.

The 21st century members are no slouches either. Their Social Justice Committee is involved with the Staten Island Building Bridges Coalition and helped celebrate Food Day 2011. One of their Small Group Ministries has a fair trade coffee program, and the church itself shelters homeless men from Project Hospitality every night.

So it was obvious to us at Fast Smart Web Design that this group of people would have the intellectual, physical, and spiritual energy to maintain their own site. We showed one member how to use Adobe Contribute, and the other already knew how to use Adobe Dreamweaver. Between them, they’ve kept the site up to date and have solved most of the inevitable glitches on their own. Check out their Sunday Services and Upcoming Events pages to see how well they (as well as the church) are doing.

The web administrators said they’re willing to talk to other faith-based organizations about the process of redesigning  and then maintaining an organizational website. Not all the issues are technical, they point out — the team needs to be able to manage privacy, workload, and interpersonal issues as well. Contact us if you’d like to get in touch with them.

The 1776 Celebration at the Conference House

September 7, 2011

The following describes the 2010 1776 Peace Conference Celebration at the Conference House on Staten Island. It is by Nicholas Zvegintzov, whose many interests and projects are visible here: http://www.maint.com/

I successfully but sleepily caught the 11:01 train in St. George, about 45 minutes to Tottenville, the end of the line, where the front of the train almost ends in the water at a long-abandoned ferry landing.

I first took this trip in 1979, when there were still some old wooden rail coaches on a siding and on the street approaching the ferry a boarded-up porticoed building, perhaps part of an old hotel. Both are gone, but otherwise it is very much the same – well, more clustered town houses on the far side of the Kill van Kull.

Reenactors with soup tureen

I walked through prosperous tree-lined streets past some pleasant houses built on the shore, and got directions from a man who was exercising two dogs and two teenage daughters. He comes here every Sunday, but had little idea what the Conference House was or the Conference. ‘In 1976? Ah, 1776. Tell my daughter, she should learn.’ His daughter of course not very interested. (more…)

Mind the Gap!

June 7, 2011

First, let’s start with the poverty line.  As of 2011, for the 48 contiguous states, the Dept. of Health and Human Services poverty lines are:

For a single-person household: $10,890
For a two-person household:  $14,710
Three persons: $18,530
Four persons: $22,350

The list goes up to eight, but let’s stop here. On Staten Island, 11.2% of people are at or below the poverty line. (Try to imagine living on $10,890 a year.)

Poverty line or up to 130% of the poverty line

If you make less than 130% of the poverty line, you’re eligible for food stamps (called SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program everywhere except New York State) and other programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).

130% of the poverty line

If your annual income is higher than 130%–in other words, $10,890 x 1.3 or $14,147 for an individual or $29,055 for a family of four–you’re no longer eligible for food stamps but your children are still eligible for free school lunch. (more…)

The Unhealthy Neighborhood

April 25, 2011

A few years ago, it became obvious to food pantries and organizations like City Harvest that it wasn’t enough to just give food away.  They needed to give people healthy food. People in low-income neighborhoods have high levels of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, at least partly because they can’t afford fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Mobile Market at the Stapleton Houses in January 2011. Russian-speaking volunteer (and founder of Software Management News) Nicholas Zvegintzov faces the camera.

City Harvest now delivers hundreds of pound of free fruits and vegetables twice a month to Melrose in the Bronx; Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn; and Stapleton on Staten Island. They also promote good nutrition in local schools, do healthy cooking classes and demos, sponsor health screenings and outreach, and work with “Healthy Corner Stores” that agree to sell at least a dozen types of produce.

However, researchers seem to have found another wrinkle in what makes a neighborhood unhealthy. In the “The Poverty Clinic” (New Yorker, March 21, 2011), Paul Tough writes about the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study that assessed the health of patients enrolled in California’s Kaiser HMO between 1994 and 1998. At the same time as the researchers tracked health outcomes, they also surveyed their clients about ten adverse childhood experiences such as parental divorce, physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and violence in their homes and schools.

The results were scary. The higher the ACE score, the worse the outcome. Compared to people with no history of ACEs, people with ACE scores of four or higher were twice as likely to smoke, to have been diagnosed with cancer, and to have heart disease. Even more scary: Patients with ACE scores of seven or higher who didn’t smoke, didn’t drink to excess, and weren’t overweight still had a risk for ischemic heart disease that was 360 percent higher than for patients with zero scores.

Not all researchers agree that traumatic childhood experiences and later poor health correlate as strongly as the studies seem to show, says Tough. However, it’s something to keep in mind when healthy-food advocates try to measure how their interventions affect the health of a child, a family, or a neighborhood.

Being Good Non-profit Employees

November 24, 2009

One of the things you’re always told about working in non-profits (and small businesses) is that you need to be willing to do anything that needs to be done, even if it’s not in your job description.

So last Friday, Kirsten Teasdale and I proved that we’re willing. Meg Ventrudo, executive director of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, offered us old pedestals, built by Jim Clements (who I know from South Street Seaport Museum, coincidentally), with plexiglass tops.

We’ll use them to display items for or from the Rutan-Beckett House (which is supposed to open FY2010 but no date has been set yet) in the Visitors’ Center.

Here are photos of us in front of the Visitors’ Center. The temperature hovered around 55 degrees F; the paint can said the paint shouldn’t be applied if the temperature was lower than 50 degrees.

Note: The original connection to the Tibetan Museum was through Materials for the Arts. If you’re in the five boroughs and you’re a non-profit, you need to sign up and visit their warehouse. It’s wonderful: Tons of fabric, furniture, office equipment, paint, paper, etc., etc., and the only cost is a thank-you letter.

If you’re not a non-profit but have good things you need to get rid of, donate them to MFTA. Win-win.