Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Year in Review: Third Anniversary

In the spirit of previous anniversary posts (on this blog's first anniversary [March 2011]; and, second anniversary [March 2012]), I hereby present "The Year in Review," a celebration of the third year of this blog's existence!

Last year's anniversary post was published on March 16, 2012, so that's where our story begins.

The very next day, March 17, was the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, so, of course, I headed downtown to Zuccotti Park that morning to celebrate this semi-anniversary.

Zuccotti Park (Liberty Square) on the morning of March 17, 2012

We marched around the Financial District (and got pushed away by the police when we tried to march on Wall Street). Then I went home that afternoon and made a video of what I had seen:

"Spring Awakening," March 17, 2012

That evening I returned to Zuccotti Park. It was cold, but perhaps two to three hundred demonstrators were there. At one point, suddenly a group of musicians from Brittany, France—who were in town to perform in the St. Patrick's Day parade—showed up silently around the southwest corner of Zuccotti Park and began to play! For those few minutes before the police shut them down, it was one of the most beautiful expressions of transnational solidarity imaginable.

"Bagpipe solidarity with OWS," March 17, 2012

Then, after the square filled with too many signs, and too many "floating tents" (still conforming to the rules about tents in parks, I suppose), and too many people (hundreds more came down), the NYPD moved in.

Zuccotti Park (Liberty Square), nearing midnight, March 17, 2012

Video of the eviction from Zuccotti Park, March 17, 2012

And that's that. I wasn't arrested, but about 80 friends were. Some of us marched all the way up to Union Square (quite a few miles) and a new occupation began there in the early hours of March 18. 

Occupy Union Square, in its infancy, March 18, 2012

A few days later, things kind of went back to normal...well, kind of...

A guy on Wall Street with a sign. A not-too-happy police officer. March 20, 2012

Then, on the night of March 21, there was a "Million Hoodie March" in memory of Trayvon Martin. And you have to remember, this was before his killer, George Zimmerman, had been arrested. Over one thousand New Yorkers demonstrated at Union Square against the Sanford Police Department in Florida, and Trayvon's parents were there, calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman. 

Then one of the most emotionally raw and full-of-outrage marches I've ever participated in took place. The crowd of a thousand just flooded into 14th Street and blocked traffic. Then it broke into three separate marches. I followed one that marched all the way down from Union Square to Wall Street. 

Million Hoodie March. We are Trayvon Martin. March 21, 2012

Demonstrators ripped off the barricades surrounding Wall Street's precious bull statue, and later demonstrators threw police barricades into the streets to block NYPD vehicles. This is the anger that racism engenders. 

Taking the Wall Street bull, March 21, 2012

"One Step Ahead of the Police," March 21, 2012

I guess it makes sense to point out here that, except for marching in the streets along with everyone else, I did not engage in any other actions besides taking photographs and videos. It is not my place to say what other demonstrators should or should not have done. What happened happened.

Now, in April 2012 I got away from it all. I took a train all the way from NYC to Madison, Wisconsin, to attend the annual conference of the American Society for Environmental History. In the blog, I wrote about my reflections on both ASEH the conference, and Madison, on a whole. I had never been to Madison, Wisconsin before, and I was grateful for the opportunity to explore.

State Street, Madison, Wisconsin, April 2012

I also wrote about the summer class I was designing, on "Dirty and Dangerous Work in American History." I did end up teaching the class in June and July of that year. In my post I mused about what books, films, and assignments I would put on the syllabus. 

Meanwhile, in early April an amazing thing happened, which was that Occupy Wall Street demonstrators began sleeping out on Wall Street for actually the first time ever. That had been the plan back in September 2011, but the police would not let them sleep on Wall Street. However, in April, defended by a law that allows the homeless to sleep on any sidewalks as long as there is space for people to walk by, as many as eighty protestors started sleeping out on Wall Street's sidewalks every night. Of course, the NYPD found a way (legal or not) to shut this down, too, and then protestors took refuge on the steps of Federal Hall, a national historic landmark. Because Federal Hall is federal property, and not city property, the NYPD could not evict the demonstrators, and the National Park Service decided that half of the steps of the historic building could be used as a 24-hour "free speech zone." Thus was born Wall Street's "Freedom Cage." 

Federal Hall and the "Freedom Cage," April 20, 2012

Five days later, on April 25, I attended a demonstration at Union Square with several hundred students and debtors in mock-celebration of "1T Day," the day when the amount of student loan debt in the United States reached 1T: one trillion dollars. 

After burning student loan documents at Union Square...

"Burning Student Loan Debt," April 25, 2012

...we then marched all the way down to Wall Street. 

Students vs. Police, one block south of Wall Street, April 25, 2012

Then, of course, one week later was May Day (May 1). Some have estimated as many as 100,000 people demonstrated in New York City. I would guess it was more like several tens of thousands. Either way, it was exhilarating. And, of course, I took many photographs and videos.

This was my favorite scene from the morning: the "dance-picket" (half dance party, half picket line) in front of Chase Bank HQ in Midtown Manhattan:

Dance-Picket of Chase Bank, "Which Side Are You On? / Anti-Capitalista," greatest mash-up ever, May 1, 2012

And another scene from the incredible dance-picket:

Dance-Picket of Chase Bank, May 1, 2012

I also went to photograph/videograph a black bloc march in the early afternoon in the Lower East Side. And got caught in the middle of this melee:

NYPD Melee, May 1, 2012

NYPD with orange netting for trapping protestors, May 1, 2012

Well, you might wonder how I got anything done in school that spring. But somehow, I actually wrote my dissertation prospectus and got it approved during these three crazy months! After the semester concluded, I decided to write a post called "Planning the Dissertation," as a sort of public statement of my intentions for how I will get this dissertation done. I gave myself two more years to finish writing the dissertation, and benchmarked semester by semester where I should be in my progress. I am happy to report that as of March 2013 I am neither behind nor ahead of where I thought I would be at this point. I am doing just fine.

On May 17, I attended the first Feminist General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street at Washington Square Park. 

Feminist General Assembly, Women Occupying Wall Street, May 17, 2012

Five days later, I went back to Washington Square Park for a teach-in and march in solidarity with the striking students of Quebec. It was an exhilarating march. We were perhaps only two hundred students or so, but we took over the streets of the East Village and made a clear statement of support for the students of Quebec. I know this because my video of the march was watched over 40,000 times by people in Canada! To this day, it has been watched nearly 75,000 times: my most successful video. Screenshots from the video are also being published in a book about the Quebec student movement later this year. 

"Solidarity with Striking Students of Quebec," May 22, 2012

The whole NYC-Montreal solidarity movement inspired me to write about the transnationalism of the global protests of 2011 and 2012. From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to the student protests in Quebec and in Chile, I discovered that all these movements were in some way connected, and that social media was allowing us to communicate across borders and inspire each other. 

A few days after that, in late May, I went clamming with my brother on Fire Island. We caught several dozen clams, and then I went home and made a lovely meal out of it! One of the few times I have ever made a successful meal from foraged foods. (Perhaps I'll write a post someday about the time I tried to make acorn bread in Maine. #fail.)

Clams harvested from the Great South Bay, Fire Island, May 27, 2012

 Linguine and clams, the next day

In late May, I started teaching my "Dirty and Dangerous Work" course at Stony Brook.

On June 17, 2012, I went up to Harlem to participate in a march against the NYPD's (unconstitutional)  Stop & Frisk policy. The march attracted about three to five thousand demonstrators. 

Silent March against Stop & Frisk, Harlem, June 17, 2012

Unfortunately, police violence doesn't seem to end. And our black community is suffering the most from it.

One week later, on June 23, I got married! (No photos, though. I mean, there are a ton of great photos. But I need to keep some part of my life private. I know you'll understand.)

Meanwhile, still teaching my summer course. And when that ended, we geared up for our delayed honeymoon: a trip to Peru!

Lima, Peru, July 2012

Paracas, Peru, July 2012

Ica, Peru, July 2012

Nazca, Peru, July 2012

Arequipa, Peru, July 2012

Puno, Peru, July 2012

Cusco, Peru, July 2012

Machu Picchu, Peru, July 2012

I also took a very cool little video on the train ride back from Machu Picchu to Cusco:

PeruRail from Aguas Calientes to Cusco, July 2012

When we returned from Peru, the very next morning I had to catch another plane to California. I spent two weeks in California conducting research for my dissertation in Berkeley and in San Marino, and then I attended a conference in San Diego. I felt like I saw the whole state, and I kept up a travelogue of my journey, my "California Research Adventure," in four parts.

UC-Berkeley, August 2012 (Part I of narrative)

Sacramento, August 2012 (part II of narrative)

The Huntington Library, August 2012 (part III of narrative)

San Diego, August 2012 (part IV of narrative)

It was then mid-August, 2012. I returned home from California and geared up for the fall semester. I also started gearing up for the November elections in the United States, including the presidential election. I decided that now was the time to leave the Democratic Party (of which I was a member for about ten years) and align myself with a more progressive voice. So I threw my support behind Jill Stein, and made this video:

"This November," August 26, 2012

And back to school. And, also, realizing that the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street was approaching (September 17), I tried to sum up what the year looked like in a blog post full of pictures.

September 6, 2012, I attended a Free Bradley Manning protest in front of President Obama's NYC campaign headquarters.

Free Bradley Manning, September 6, 2012

Then September 17 came around: the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Of course I was there and took lots of photographs and videos.

March leaving Washington Square, September 15, 2012

September 15 video re-cap

Seen near Wall Street, September 15, 2012

September 16 video re-cap

Rosh Hashanah service at Zuccotti Park, September 16, 2012

You see me. I see you. September 17, 2012

Fun Police. September 17, 2012

Storm Troopers. National Museum of the American Indian. September 17, 2012

September 17 video re-cap

View of Zuccotti Park, evening of September 17, surrounded by the police

If that was not enough, the next five days were Free University Week, organized by the Free University of NYC. Over 160 classes were offered at Madison Square Park, and thousands participated.

A class at Free University Week, Madison Square Park, September 22, 2012

And then it was October.

On October 16, 2012, I went to Hofstra University to attend the many protests outside the Presidential Debate. I saw presidential candidate Jill Stein get arrested as she attempted to access the debate grounds. And, of course, I took lots of photographs.

Outside the Presidential Debate, Hofstra University, October 16, 2012

I continued to write in this blog about third party presidential politics. First, a post on "Five Things to Watch For" on election day, followed up by a post, "Mapping the Election," on the geography of third party voting. These have surprisingly been my most popular posts of the past year, and many people have written to me to discuss third party politics. Funny thing is: I'm not a political scientist and I don't even study political history. This just shows you the power of blogs to broaden everyone's horizons, both the writer's and the readers'.

In late October, my wife and I went to California. For me it was a return to San Francisco after having been there just two months earlier! 

Roaming through Chinatown, San Francisco, October 30, 2012

By happenstance, we were supposed to return to New York at the end of the month, but then Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and we were delayed in California for a few more days. When we returned to Manhattan, days after Sandy had hit, there still was no electricity or heat in our building or anywhere in our neighborhood.

Darkness. Manhattan. October 31, 2012

On November 2, I volunteered to bring food and water to people stranded in public housing units in the Lower East Side without power, heat, and in some cases, running water.

Delivering food and water inside a public housing unit in the Lower East Side, November 2, 2012

The next day I went out to Staten Island to volunteer and observe the damage, now almost one week after Sandy hit.

Devastation. Staten Island. November 3, 2012

Devastation. Staten Island. November 3, 2012

Losing everything. Staten Island. November 3, 2012

Meanwhile, Sandy victims still had to find a way to vote. Election day came just days later. I decided to liveblog the election, focusing on third party issues. It was more popular than I thought it would be!

Then, two days later, after sorting through the data, I posted Election Results and Analysis.

My favored candidate did not win. And life went on.

Then it was December 2012. I was working on finishing up a dissertation chapter about Hawaiian labor in the nineteenth-century whaling industry, so I posted an update to my own-going series, "Mapping Hawaiian Labor History."

Then, on December 8, I attended a march and rally against tuition at Cooper Union. 

Free Cooper Union march and rally. December 8, 2012

And then it was 2013. On January 1 we flew to Hawaiʻi, for one week of vacation, and then two weeks of dissertation research. Of course, I kept a travelogue on my "Hawaiʻi Research Adventure." This time it was in six parts.

Honolulu, January 2013 (part I of narrative)

Petroglyphs. Hawaiʻi Island, January 2013 (part II of narrative)

Kona coast. Hawaiʻi Island, January 2013 (part III of narrative)

University of Hawaiʻi, January 2013 (part IV of narrative)

Waipahu, January 2013 (part V of narrative)

Hula in Mānoa. Waikīkī in distance. January 2013 (part VI of narrative)

I returned from Hawaiʻi in late January.

On January 24, I turned thirty years old. And my wife made me seabird guano-themed cupcakes in celebration! (One of my dissertation chapters and a recently published journal article are both about the history of guano extraction in the Pacific.)

Guano-themed cupcakes! January 24, 2013

February was, as always, busy. I got to work on another dissertation chapter, this one about Hawaiian sugarcane workers in the nineteenth century.

I also started blogging elsewhere: for my union, the Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU); and, for the Free University of NYC. I summarized all of February's many blog posts here.


And what does the future year hold?

Some things I know:
-in May I will be attending a week-long institute at Cornell University to workshop an article-length essay I am writing on the history of Hawaiian workers' bodies as a form of "property."
-in June and July, I am scheduled to teach a summer course on "China, Central Asia, and the Silk Road." I hope this will actually happen.
-probably late summer (although I haven't finalized the details yet), I will go to California for one month as a fellow of the Huntington Library.

Some things I don't know:
-how well my dissertation will progress through it all. 
-whether the radical youth of NYC will continue to protest. Whether these protests will escalate or diminish. How much I will be involved.
-where else I might travel. (I have applied for funding to continue research in Hawaiʻi, in California, and in Boston, but who knows what funding, if any, will come through.)

Some things I do know:
-a year from now I will still be in NYC. I will still be dissertating. I will still be teaching. I will still be blogging.

Thank you for reading this crazy-long post!!! If you actually got this far, next time you are in NYC I will buy you a drink. Just let me know in the comments section if you'd like to redeem that.  :)