I Have a Column Again!

Hi everyone! I started blogging sporadically here when Albany’s alt-weekly Metroland closed down at the end of 2015. I also started uploading my archive of almost 12 years of biweekly columns for them (tagged Looking Up), though I haven’t finished.

However, last November, much to my delight, a new weekly paper, The Alt, started up, and I am privileged enough to be writing for them again, in much the same way as I did for Metroland—every two weeks, on roughly whatever I want.

I’ll still post here sometimes with things that are too niche for the paper (like the contra dance post), and sometimes to give some commentary/extra thoughts/etc. on my columns. (I hope to keep loading my older columns so they exist somewhere, especially the ones that were not time-sensitive.)

But if you don’t want to miss a current column, I suggest you follow The Alt (@thealtweekly), or my Twitter (@miriam_mjoy). I also blog periodically on things to do with the community development world at Shelterforce’s blog (my awesome day job!).

Here’s the round up of my Alt columns since November:

Speak up, nonprofits!

8 Reasons to Stop Moralizing About Peaceful Protest

Let Go of Contempt

Jobs May Be Going Away, but Work Isn’t

These Things Can All Be True

I’m Not Waiting to Register

It Doesn’t Matter if Your Neighborhood Is Going to Gentrify

10 Tips for Contra Dancing With Kids

(I wrote this last year with the help and input of my two kids, but managed to not follow up with the places I submitted it for publication. I just thought of it again as my older daughter was describing to me all the defensive dancing tactics she has developed and decided I should put it out into the world myself.) 

We just got back from another lovely weekend at the Dance Flurry Festival in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Nadia, 9, has been dancing for several years and is an accomplished contra dancer who can dance both roles and hold her own through most complex figures. Her younger sister Molly, 5, has just started dancing full contras this year and is still a beginner.

For the most part, the contra dance community is wonderfully warm and welcoming to its youngest members, appreciating their delight and cheerfully helping them out when needed. However, we have noticed a few counter-productive tendencies that many dancers have when they encounter kid dancers, and so we wanted to offer you this set of tips to help us all bring up the next generation: Continue reading

“Non-Racist Trump Voters” Have a Moral Obligation to Stand Up to Hate

Dear Trump Voters,

I’ve seen a lot of you being very angry at being assumed a racist. I’ve seen you claiming you love everybody and believe your “rough around the edges” candidate really does too, and you were voting based on economics or sticking it to the establishment.

Let’s say for a minute that the rest of us take you at your word that you do not believe you are racist or hateful. Continue reading

Albany Cops Sound Like Abusive Spouses in Teen Workshop

There’s this pattern that happens with abusive spouses. They often explain to their victims how to behave so they won’t get beaten up again. All the victim needs to do is give them proper respect, not burn their dinner, remember to leave out their slippers at the right place, never buy the wrong brand of toothpaste, never make them feel like they are being laughed at, never give them attitude or make them mad. And then, supposedly, they’ll be safe.

Of course, the abuser is not actually owed any of those things in the first place. And in any case, it’s always a lie. It’s a losing game. The abuse will continue, because periodic reminders of control are necessary and because the abuser will keep finding new things to add to the reasons they were “forced” to administer a beating.

This was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the details of the police portion of a recent “workshop” on police encounters that Albany youth were forced to attend as part of the city’s summer employment program. Continue reading

Homeless Program Opponents Refreshingly (If Terrifyingly) Honest About Their Motivations

They are at it again. The same folks in the wealthier part of Western Albany who don’t want to provide a decent building to educate our children in also don’t like that a church in their neighborhood was participating in a regional effort to help families without homes via a day time outreach program hosted in a church parsonage. Neighborhood ne’er do well and perennial candidate Joe Sullivan, pursuing his vision of segregation and protection from scary people down on their luck, managed to luck into a judge who decided to overturn the zoning decision based on a technicality about whether a parsonage is actually a house of worship. Chris Churchill at the Times Union is right that this was a bad decision; I hope Family Promise and Bethany Reformed Church do appeal.

Wow, You Said That Out Loud

But the controversy also provided a disturbing look at how many residents of wealthier, whiter, single-family-home neighborhoods seem to feel that they deserve the right to decide who can enter those neighborhoods just by virtue of owning homes there. (Yes, I read the comments, so help me God.) They are startlingly direct about it: They feel that anything serving people poorer than they are should be considered a noxious use for the purposes of zoning and banned from their “nice” neighborhood.  Continue reading

Ridiculous Opinion Column Proves Need for Movement

Charlie Kraebel, managing editor of the Troy Record and the Saratogian had a little “showing his true colors” accident in an opinion column this weekend, in which he was mighty distressed at the launching of the Upstate NY Black Lives Matter chapter. Before you read it, I recommend having a cushion nearby for when you feel the desire to bang your head on something hard.

He has basically three main arguments: First, that black people can’t demand that cops stop killing them for no reason until crime committed by black people against other black people is eradicated. Second, that Black Lives Matter activists don’t really care about Dontay Ivy’s family, just their dastardly agenda. And third, that the Black Lives Matter movement nationally has been all about causing riots and defending “thugs.”

Let’s take these one at a time. Continue reading

Not Yet Even Talking the Talk

On Monday, Jan 25., I joined the group of protestors who disrupted the beginning of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s state of the city speech. It was a very powerful, really well organized action, a demonstration of a community coming together and insisting on being heard. That latter bit is more important than how the mayor reacted. (Hear more from the organizers here.)

However, she did engage the crowd for a while, and a bunch of things have been rattling around in my head about what she said. I wanted to spell them out, especially for people who don’t really understand why what she said met with negative reactions. Continue reading