Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Lost Playground

It seems so ordinary, in extraordinary times, to think about the apartment I grew up in.  It was in the Bronx, in a zip code that is now about 77% non-white.  This zip code has one of the highest rates of positive COVID-19 tests in New York City.

The apartment was in a public housing project.

I've been thinking about that a lot recently, wondering how many deaths the housing project I grew up in has suffered, and the other suffering its residents must face on a daily basis.  I did a quick internet search and came up with an article a few weeks old in a New York City newspaper about COVID-19 deaths suffered by employees of the New York City Housing Authority.

It was accompanied by a picture.

A picture of the housing project I lived in for 21 years.

Now, I am 150 miles away, living in upstate New York.  And no, I do not know what the residents of my former neighborhood feel or think.  Their experience is not my experience.  Even when I grew up there, it wasn't. 

Then, there are the events of last week, which have touched many, many cities and towns and villages all over the United States as frustration has boiled over into rage.  But bad actors have mixed in and are trying to take advantage of the outrage to do what they do best - destroy and attempt to terrorize.  As this is not a political blog, I will, instead, talk about an incident a few miles from where I live.

Sunday night in Binghamton, New York, where my employer is located, there was a peaceful protest in a city park called Rec (Recreation) Park.  Mere hours after the protest ended, people unknown (at the time of me writing this post) torched its playground and destroyed it.

The playground was built in 2016 by volunteer labor, and was the largest all inclusive playground in New York State.  Our community was so proud of it.  Families of all colors used it.  It was across the street from an elementary school.

This is what it looked like.

The police stress that they don't believe the fire was set by protestors.  But the biggest losers are the children.  Playgrounds have been closed here by COVID-19.  When they can finally reopen, the children here would have lost still more.

The community has vowed the playground will be rebuilt.

It will be a small part of rebuilding our country.


  1. The violence aimed at undermining peaceful protests and positive change is heartbreaking. I struggle to find my voice and action to counterbalance this. If I lived in your city, I'd be one of the volunteers rebuilding the playground.

  2. when this is over, we will all have a lot of rebuilding to do.

    I am sure your community will rebuild.

  3. sad,and yes the children are the biggest losers anf the cost to the comunity to rebuild it!

  4. What a beautiful space that was. You can see the happiness it brought by the joyful expressions on people's faces. Such a sad, needless loss. I have to wonder at people who evidently are so miserable and hate-filled that they can't bear to see anyone else enjoy life. I hope it can be built back.

  5. That is sad. The innocents always suffer.

  6. It's even more sad, at this time in our history, that a place for children, a place that represents community and inclusion could be a target. I'm glad that you're committed to rebuilding. I wish it wasn't necessary.

  7. So many out there are trying to turn the tide of public opinion. We must remain vigilant in not letting these people who want to destroy derail the conversation away from the systemic racism that has prompted the protests.

  8. I still believe most be are good honest and want the best for there community


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