Dear Neighbor,

First things first: Are you registered to vote? The deadline to register in New York is October 9.

What a week. What a year. We intended to write up some Halloween activities this week, but planning costumes and celebrations right now feels somehow dissonant. The US Covid-19 death toll is at least 210,000 and counting. As the days turn cooler, we dread the long winter ahead and the sad likelihood of more losses to come. Not just the potential loss of loved ones and neighbors, but the impact on employment, financial stability, routine, coffee with coworkers, the school bus, belief in elected officials.

Sometimes, you just have to stop. To take it in. To breathe. To mourn.

There are efforts to remember. Columbia University School of Journalism, the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and the City have been working on a project to document the lives lost. To date, they have documented 1,854 New Yorkers who died from Covid. The project is still accepting submissions.

Tell us, how are you mourning? What gets you through these trying times? Let us know, and we will share the responses we receive, anonymously if you prefer.

Please help us grow this community by hitting forward on this newsletter, spreading word about its existence in your networks and asking folks to subscribe. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We also seek donations to pay our vendors and freelancers. 

photo: Ian Douglas


“100 New Yorkers”: Every year since 9/11, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council has hosted the River to River Festival, celebrating the city’s resiliency through the power of art. This year the festival looks different, but the theme of resiliency resonates strongly. Four artists were chosen to create new work to be displayed around the city. The final display of the year was created by journalist Mona Chalabi, who used census data to distill the population of NYC down to 100 people. The exhibit is on display at the Westfield World Trade Center complex through November 30. Learn more.

It’s time for a staycation: For many, a true vacation isn’t in the cards at the moment. People are apprehensive about flying, and traveling is made all the more challenging with the fact that people coming from 32 states (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) are subject to a mandatory two-week quarantine upon their return to New York. Why not play tourist here at home? For last-minute bookings, we like the Hotel Tonight app. When we searched yesterday, most rooms were below $100 per night. Check out what’s available here.

One Book One Bronx: The Literary Freedom Project is launching a free book club, which will be hosting weekly discussions with the goal of building community around its diverse book choices. The book club will kick off with Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” which chronicles the evolution of a caste-like system in the United States that has resulted in millions of African Americans living as second-class citizens, by way of the prison system. The book club will meet virtually every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for five weeks starting on October 13. Register here.

photo: @buildingblackbedstuy

Buy Black in Bed-Stuy: Every Sunday for the month of October, Building Black Bed-Stuy will be hosting an outdoor market with black vendors, music, food and drink at 343 Tompkins Ave. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Follow its Instagram account for updates.

We were happy to see the return of in-person learning go smoothly last week. And by smoothly we mean it wasn’t delayed a third time. That being said, the future of in-person learning is tenuous.

Positivity rates in 20 Brooklyn and Queens communities have surged, leading to the closure of more than 150 NYC public schools and roughly 200 private schools. For many who disagreed with de Blasio’s plan to resume in-person learning, this will be viewed as further proof that the mayor acted too soon.

In other schools news:

  • After several days of negotiations meant to avert a strike by teachers seeking to unionize at Brooklyn Friends School, the administration is withdrawing its petition to decertify a staff union.
  • Critics say NYC’s plan to test only 10%-20% of public school students for Covid-19 each month is insufficient. Experts say to keep the virus at bay, 50% of students should be tested twice a month.

In case you missed it last week, we’re launching another newsletter, The Unmuted, which will focus on everything schools. It will be written by two education journalists who are going to accompany and guide you on this journey. It’s launching October 15. Make sure you get on the subscriber list. And please, let us know what you need.


Do you speak Korean or Mandarin? The Board of Elections is still looking for translators to assist voters at poll sites. Sign up here.

Fast and free Covid-19 testing — a review: Thanks to a certain superspreader in chief, rapid Covid tests are facing scrutiny. We wrote last week that the city launched free rapid coronavirus testing — and we decided to get one ourselves. Note: We did not have symptoms — you do not need to have symptoms to receive a test (this is not the case in many other states; TYSM, New York!).

Scheduling an appointment is easy and straightforward through the NYC Health website. There are nine testing sites around the city:




Crown Heights

Washington Heights

Fort Greene



Central Harlem

Appointments are offered in 10-minute intervals. We went to the Chelsea location on a Tuesday afternoon, and were seriously impressed by how organized, efficient, professional and friendly the entire process was. You don’t need insurance (they didn’t even ask about it), nor do you need to present any type of identification. We were in and out in less than 20 minutes and received our (negative) results through the MyChart portal just four hours later. Yes, it’s the deep-nose test, but it’s really not that bad. Schedule an appointment here.

There’s an app for that: The New York State Department of Health last week debuted a new app, Covid Alert NY, that will tell you if you have come in contact with somebody who is Covid positive. The app, which is free and available for iPhone and Android users, will notify you if you were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive (granted, that person must also have the app). The app relies on Bluetooth technology, and doesn’t collect or store users’ location or personal information. Covid Alert NY is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Korean, Russian and Haitian Creole. Download the app here.

Reusable bags, canned corn, instant coffee and feminine products: These are a few items that Astoria Food Pantry is in dire need of. It holds donation drives at its office at 28-14 Steinway St. every Monday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


This week’s day-tripping suggestions come from a reader, Laura Siciliano-Rosen, who originally wrote about them in her blog, Eat Your World. Thanks for sharing, Laura!

Welwyn Preserve County ParkAnother sprawling, lush former estate (this one of an oil fortune heir), the wooded Welwyn Preserve is a less crowded alternative to Sands Point Preserve. It likewise has a lavish mansion (built in 1906), shoreline access, freshwater ponds and nature trails, though they are wilder than at Sands. There is also a coastal salt marsh where our kids delighted in spotting about a hundred crabs scattering about. More than 100 species of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians may be spotted, too.

Mercadente Beach at Garvies Point: En route to Welwyn Preserve, this is a random pit stop we’ve grown fond of, included here just in case you happen to have kids who are as obsessed with finding critters as ours are. The small Mercadente Beach, which backs up on a construction site, is mostly used for fishing and dog walking, and we’ve since learned it’s supposedly for Glen Cove residents only. Oops. Well, no one’s checking, and no one will bother you if you swing by for a critter hunt. At low tide, there are lots of crabs, sea snails, steamer clams, razor clams and a host of things we haven’t yet identified in the muck, plus horseshoe crab shells, sea glass and other treasures to inspect on the rocky beach. (If this sounds like it would appeal to a kid you know, this catch-and-release collection bucket makes the perfect gift. And maybe a net like this. You’re welcome!)

Bonus: Garvies Point Brewery is right on the access road to this beach, and currently has picnic tables outside for beer sampling.


We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.

This week, we welcome Leah Umansky. Umansky is a teacher, a poet and the author of two full-length collections, “The Barbarous Century” and “Domestic Uncertainties,” among others. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is the curator and host of “The Couplet Reading Series” in NYC. She is resisting the tyrant with her every move. For more of Umansky’s work, visit her website and Instagram page.

It is Uncertain


in these

certain times

and the unknowing

the unknowing is

a breaking

and the breaking is

a breaking back

of days

and each moment

is a splintering

of time

and a splintering

of the self and our selves

each moment is

a splintering or

a sliver in

the layers of

our skin

a slice in

our multitude

a split of

our cells

our truths

our lies

our stories

time is

at an arm’s length

an arm is

a distance almost


What I would give

to wrap these arms

around another.

I saw the sun


through the clouds


it was like a beacon

of hope

it was like

a cherishing

of our days

a turning outward to inward to upward with body and soul and whatever this life of is made up of


This newsletter was written by Danielle Hyams, with contributions from Laura Siciliano-Rosen. Photographs and design by Nitin Mukul and editing by Robin Cabana and Faye Chiu. Did you like it or find it useful? Tell a friend to sign up. Support our vendors, freelancers and efforts by making a donation to our tip jar.

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