September 15, 2016

Fall 2016 Newsletter

Pretty Vacant

This fall, the public art project Breathing Lights will illuminate vacant buildings throughout the Capital Region. The Sanctuary for Independent Media, along with the Albany Barn and Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, is a community hub.

We’re producing a number of projects in conjunction with Breathing Lights, including documentaries by Youth Media Sanctuary in the There Goes the Neighborhood Film Festival, the North Troy Peoples’ History Museum, and tours of our community guided by the team of Neighborhood Ambassadors pictured here.

The Sanctuary has been dealing with the scourge of vacant property for more than ten years and will be long after these lights are out. Over the past decade, ten abandoned buildings and empty lots on our one block of 6th Avenue in North Central Troy have been a daily fact of life for us. We are surrounded by hundreds more. 

The problem is complex but it devolves to a tragically flawed economic system that produces too few winners and far too many losers, coupled with pervasive racism. If stemming the tide of abandoned properties seems like a tall order, add to it the challenge of meaningful social change. What is to be done? 

The thousands of vacant properties in the Capital Region, the hundreds of thousands throughout New York State, the millions around the country, bear silent witness to failure—lost opportunities, broken promises, shattered dreams. 

We hope Breathing Lights will help focus attention on the root causes of urban blight and the enduring inequality that afflicts people struggling to survive in neighborhoods filled with abandoned buildings. Our future depends on it.

The Great Sixth Avenue Outdoors

Collard City Growers has grown from a single garden to a city block of urban ecological discovery. Our beehives have multiplied, our chickens are free-ranging, our cucumbers are pickled, and we have preserved much of our harvest to be shared with our community through the fall and winter. 

It’s been a busy year, especially with all the activity around Uptown Summer 2016. Local teens collaborated with NATURE Lab and RADIX to build a floating bio-remediation island which, when released into the Hudson River, will enable microbes living on its roots to purify water contaminated with sewage. Our aquaponics system has fish growing and fertilizing a new vegetable garden! Felipe, now honorary King of the Chickens, offered lessons on the healing powers of our powerful garlic in the Collard City Growers garden. Our youths worked with local artist Jillian Hirsch on “Spawn of the Hudson,” a public art ceramics installation about the life cycle of fish drawn to our historic, environmentally devastated spot along the northern tip of the Hudson River Estuary. 

Come to the Collard City Growers Think Tank & Potluck on Oct. 22 to feast on Troy-grown honey and kraut as we strategize for the future of this community project! 

Uptown Summer 2016

Every year our Uptown Summer program continues to realize new dreams. Working with the Rensselaer County Summer Youth Employment Program, we are able to pay young people to participate in a five week session devoted to the twin goals of greening once abandoned lots on our block, and developing local youth media producers. Together, we ate healthy lunches from our Collard City Growers gardens. Through the eyes of teens, our Youth Media Sanctuary producers created video projects devoted to the plague of abandoned buildings in the Capital Region. For the sixth year running we were blessed with a stellar group of youths, amazing interns from across the region, and a fantastic support staff! 

WOOC 105.3 FM

Our radio station continues to develop slowly but surely! Check our broadcast signal at 105.3 FM in Albany and Troy (and online) to hear what we’ve accomplished over the past few months. We now have a full drivetime news and public affairs schedule thanks to our affiliation with the Pacifica radio network, including Democracy Now! and a score of other great shows. And our playlist of reggae, African pop and other world musics on air at other times continues to grow. This summer we produced scores of station IDs featuring voices of our Sanctuary community, bringing together esteemed artists, journalists, educators, community organizers and neighborhood youth. Our local programming is developing as well—we expect to start a daily show focused on Capital Region culture and politics this fall. 

We’re looking for support as we continue to expand. Like most public radio stations, we’re counting on listener donations for operating revenue. We’re also starting an underwriting program so local businesses can contribute. Contact us if you or someone you know is interested in helping.

You can expect to hear many of the events at The Sanctuary for Independent Media broadcast live on our radio station, as well as online at! Keep in touch for news about upcoming trainings and special events.

The lifeblood of The Sanctuary for Independent Media is volunteer labor and individual contributions!

You can help by making a tax-deductible donation.

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About The Sanctuary

We use art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression.

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