by Bill Batson
One year ago, on Thursday, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. From the first moments, it was clear that we would have to fend for ourselves. Responsible Americans stepped up, entering a quarantine from which we have yet to fully emerge.
Then, on May 25, a video-taped execution of an unarmed African American required people of conscience to find a way to engage in social justice and social distance at the same time. Here is a compilation of nearly two dozen sketch logs to chronicle this period of crisis in our public health and public safety systems.
This week, two actions that I helped launch, Nyack Mask Makers and Rockland People’s Panel on Policing are reaching milestones. On Saturday, my Nyack Mask Makers co-founder Donna Davies Timm, will be honored at the 17th annual Women of Leadership and Vision awards at the Nyack Center. You can click here to register to attend. Tomorrow night, the Rockland People’s Panel on Policing will issue our first report entitled End Racially Biased Policing, Improve Public Safety. Click here to attend the hearing where the report will be presented to the public.
During this year we have lost loved ones, and incomes, and small businesses. But as communities and a country, we have also found a vast reservoir of resilience. As neighbors we have protected each other, protested injustice and continued the traditional of free and fair elections, despite extreme efforts to derail our democracy. When I think about the toughest year I have ever lived through, I am proud of the people that I had to shelter in place with and will forever remember this as a place where we look after each other’s health and safety.
We must all shelter in place. Cavalier travel is over. Each trip from your home for food, or fuel or medical care, or essential work, must be conducted as if your life, or the life of someone you might infect, depended on it.
Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Mask Makers
March 24, 2020
Organized by Donna Davies Timm and Bill Batson, Nyack Mask Makers is a community project providing masks to doctors, nurses and staff at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, as they serve Rockland County, New York, during the increased patient activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic until national resources (the cavalry) arrive.
Wednesday, March 11, I showed up at Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, with flowers for my mother, Daisy. That same day, a world away in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The notice on the door that greeted me brought home our new reality: “out of an abundance of caution, all visitations are restricted.”
Nyack Sketch Log: #Masks4All
April 7, 2020
Our region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. By yesterday, April 6th, Rockland County had recorded 119 deaths and 5,700 cases. In the face of this tidal wave of contagion, creatives in Nyack have enlisted to protect the front line.
I recently saw Nausil Kumandan, owner of the newly opened restaurant, Mumbai Dreams, in the parking lot of Montefiore Nyack Hospital. He was delivering donated food to frontline health care workers.
Nyack Sketch Log: The Other Pandemic, Domestic Violence
April 21, 2020
Advocates from the Center for Safety & Change have witnessed a tsunami of domestic violence following the public health earthquake that shook the world in March, 2020. Chief Development Officer Tracie McLee reached out to the Nyack Mask Makers, requesting 500 cloth face coverings to protect their growing number of clients from the viral contagion, the third largest request in Rockland County. Massive institutions like Montefiore Nyack Hospital and Rockland Psychiatric Center came in first and second. “Demand for our services increased by 50% in one month,” McLee alarmingly reports.
Nyack Sketch Log: United Hospice
April 28, 2020
The cruelest moment of social distancing during a pandemic comes at the end of life. Almost all of the 56,000 Americans (as of 4/28/20) who have been lost to the novel coronavirus met their demise without the company of loved ones. When I was informed by nursing home staff that my mother had COVID-19 symptoms, I implored the doctor to approve her enrollment with United Hospice. I might not be at her side, but the profession committed to bringing comfort and alleviating pain would be there for her.
Nyack Sketch Log: Michael Rogozik
May 5, 2020
Although his death was not caused by COVID-19, the complications of our nation-wide shutdown contributed to the demise of Air Force veteran and artist Micheal Rogozik.
Nyack Sketch Log: 8 North Broadway
May 12, 2020
In the culinary arts, presentation is as important as preparation. With table service precluded by the social distancing measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19, restaurants must find new ways to present their once plated masterpieces. 8 North Broadway (now Greekish) was one of the first kitchens in Nyack to successfully transition from a la carte to cardboard box.
Nyack Mask Makers, the volunteer-fueled sewing circle that has created and distributed over 12,000 cloth masks in Rockland County, has thrown their hat in the ring for a statewide video competition. Wearamask.ny.gov invited New Yorkers to submit a Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting mask wearing. Submissions were made by posting a 30 second video on social media on May 15 that tagged @GovernorAndrewCuomo.
Our global economic shutdown has become the mother of all reinventions. Luddites are scheduling back-to-back webinars as manic extroverts seek tranquility and communion with flowering garden plants. When Tina Traster watched her lawyer husband turn off his laptop and turn on a KitchenAid Classic Plus, she encouraged what she called his “pandemic pivot.”
Nyack Sketch Log: 400 Years of George Floyds
June 2, 2020
During a rally of more than 1,000 residents of all races and ages held on June 1 outside the Nyack Center, the crowd took a silent knee for 9 minutes. They were rounding up by 14 seconds, the time that Minneapolis, Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the neck of an unarmed, handcuffed George Floyd, ultimately killing him.
Nyack Sketch Log: Class of 2020 Reflects
June 9, 2020
If our health care system was the sector most upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, our educational systems have been a close second. For students in the Nyack School District, classrooms moved from the schoolhouse to the cloud; rites of passage, like proms and graduations, were ruined; and homes became classrooms.
Nyack Sketch Log: Harrington Press
June 16, 2020
The signs of our times are printed at Harrington Press. The stocks of their trade are posters detailing rules of social distancing (6 feet apart; Wear a mask), banners honoring the names of heroes on the frontline of fighting COVID-19, and placards held at demonstrations proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. Even in this digital age, people who need to reach the local masses with a message continue to flock to this neighborhood print shop.
Nyack Sketch Log: Black Lives Matter Culture
June 23, 2020
An instantly iconic public art work emerged on the morning of Juneteenth, the anniversary of the abolition of American slavery in 1863, which is now a legally observed holiday in Nyack, and a growing number of cities and companies across the country. A cadre of activists, artists and impassioned citizens, of all ages and races, pushed rollers dipped in protest colors, spelling out the assertion of humanity: Black Lives Matter.
Throughout a pandemic that shuttered the American economy and transformed the world, our first responders have continued to answer our calls. Empire Hook & Ladder Company Number 1 of Upper Nyack embodies that volunteer tradition of sacrifice and selflessness.
Nyack Sketch Log: Halloween At Home
October 20, 2020
In the same way a crafty mom carves out a pumpkin, COVID-19 has hollowed-out our national observance of Halloween. Parades? Postponed. Haunted houses? Shuttered. Door-to-door candy collection? Fuhgettaboutit. Celebrations of our spookiest holiday have been scared away by the most fearsome public health threat since 1918.
Nyack Sketch Log: Rockland People’s Panel on Policing
December 8, 2020
On November 18th, I helped launch the Rockland People’s Panel on Policing as a steering committee member along with Nelcy Garcia MSW, Nikki Hines, Hon. Michael Lockett, Rev. Everett Newton, Sherry McGill, and Fr. Owen C. Thompson. Our first public hearing will be tomorrow, Wednesday, December 9 at 7p via zoom.
Nyack Sketch Log: Thank You, Nyack Mask Makers
December 29, 2020
If the group photo was not on the list of casualties of COVID-19, you would be looking at a wide-angle image of 400 volunteer mask makers who kept our community safe in 2020. In my last column of this insufferable year, I thank, by name, the Nyack Mask Makers for embedding mask hygiene into the local culture. From my post as manager of the Nyack Farmers Market, I see 100% mask compliance every week, without the need for signage or enforcement. Without the selfless efforts of 400 neighbors, and an additional 200 donors, to make mask wearing a wide-spread custom, we would have experienced much more hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nyack Sketch Log: Rockland Needs a People’s Panel on Policing
February 2, 2021
In the last month, 2 reports from New York State Attorney General Leticia James have called for substantive changes in 2 Rockland law enforcement organizations, the Spring Valley Police and the Sheriff’s Department. To our north, just yesterday, Rochester, NY joined the rogues gallery of municipalities that must explain how brutalizing a handcuffed individual–in this case, a 9-year old girl–is acceptable police procedure. To protect the public and repair the garment of civility that binds us as a society, Rockland needs a People’s Panel on Policing.
We are thrilled to announce this year’s Women of Leadership & Vision Honorees: Shirley Crabbe, Donna Davies Timm, Dr. Suzie Kaufman and our Pearl Honoree, Dr. Frances Pratt. In it’s 17th year
crissuring this period no less than a dozen sketch logs