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Swimming Pools in the East River? Maybe. But First, Marshes

UntitledKathryn Doyle A beach under the Brooklyn Bridge is
inundated with sewage waste and runoff
from South Street in rainy weather

Swimming pools in the East River? Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer floated the idea in a video introduction to the Blueway, a project that would revitalize a stretch of the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to Midtown East. And it’s not as farfetched as you’d think: the historically polluted waterway is perfectly swimmable by Environmental Protection Agency standards. There’s just one problem: sewage overflows.

Dan Tainow, education director at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, explained the issue to local residents yesterday during a tour of the East River that doubled as a discussion of the Blueway project. Due to the age of New York City’s sewer system, he said, wastewater from household sinks, showers and toilets shares the same set of pipes as runoff from city streets.

Most of Lower Manhattan’s wastewater travels through this pipe system to the Newtown Creek plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where it is cleaned, filtered and released into the East River. But during the fifty to sixty rainy days per year when gushes of street water could overwhelm the pipe system and force sewage back up into homes, the sewage is diverted directly into the East River by Combined Sewage Outflows, or CSOs. Read more…

East Village Gets Free Therapy

Free advice 2Gabbi Lewin

The sign read, “Free advice from Francisco: Relationships, Sex & Dating.”

Spotted at the foot of the East Village near Astor Place, Francisco Ramirez sits face-to-face with anyone who wants to take a seat. For three years, Ramirez has been offering advice on relationships, sex and dating for no charge (no donations are accepted either). He views this opportunity as an innovative method to provide a public service to a diverse audience—including sexual partners, individuals and the homeless. He told me that this is his opportunity in life to connect with people. He offers everyone the same educated responses on how to stay healthy as those who would often pay high prices might receive.

With a Master in Public Health, concentrating in sexuality & health from Columbia University, he provides well-researched information. This community-based educator doesn’t stay in one place either, offering his free services every weekend, whether it is in Washington Square Park or Union Square. Ramirez is also a global consultant for HIV and sexual health at the United Nations and a contributor to MTV’s “Staying Alive” campaign, continuing his 15-year dedication to the education of public and sexual health issues.

It is becoming more and more rare these days to find anyone with as many credentials as he has offering his time and expertise free. Find out where Francisco will be next, or write to him at his website. Better still, just stumble across him on the streets when you have something on your mind.

Getting Older, But It’s Yoga, Not Bingo

DSC_0169Meredith HoffmanA new series of programs offered by the Educational Alliance for those 55 and older include lessons in ballroom dancing, tai chi and yoga. Here, Marcy Simon, who directs the program, leads a class.

There were lessons in zumba, ballroom dancing, karaoke, ceramics, and tap dance. Some people were learning tai chi and yoga. Others were taking part in poetry readings or Chinese dance sessions.

Many might assume that a place offering those programs was some ultramodern studio targeting this year’s crop of college students. In fact, these are just some of the new programs being offered by the Educational Alliance’s specifically for older adults. And no, they do not offer bingo.

The East Village Center for Balanced Living is located in the Sirovich Center on 12th Street between First and Second Avenues (similar programs are also available at the Whittaker Center on East Broadway). The center believes that just because people qualify for the breakfast special, this doesn’t mean that their health and wellness shouldn’t remain a vital aspect of their day. “It is about finding ways to challenge people as they get older, not feeding into it,” said Marcy Simon, the director and founder of the center.
Read more…