Welcome to the first post in a new series of weekly blog posts called “New York Niceties. Each week I will write a brief post highlighting at least one heartwarming thing or two that I experienced in my day-to-day, read about in the news, or saw in the streets of the city. The focus of this series will be things I observed that made feel grateful and inspired – kindness from a stranger, the words of children, gestures or acts of service between loved ones – nothing is off limits so long as it inspires one to see the goodness in New York and beyond. Because let’s face it – New Yorkers (and people in general) LOVE to complain. Our brains are literally wired to focus on the negative. So with a little extra effort, let’s see if we can find reasons to be grateful and see if practiced gratitude really can change our perspective.
I was inspired to create this series by a multitude of things, including my blogger friend New York Cliche’s “New York Weekly Minutes” in which every Friday she rounds up “some fleeting moments from [her] week that made [her] stop and think, “I’m so lucky to live in NYC!” And maybe some that made [her] think, “Bahaha this city is ridiculous and I love it.” I was also inspired by my two favorite podcasts (which you can find here and here), as well as the book The Gratitude Diaries, which I mentioned in my post last week.
So without further ado, my New York Niceties for the week~
#1: A Beloved Upper West Side Book Store Saved
Westsider Books – a gem of a bookstore on Broadway and W. 80th that’s been around for over 30 years – was facing eminent closure due to its inability to pay rent (read: gentrification). I stumbled upon this bookstore when I first moved here, and was instantly drawn in by the old and rare books on display, the large staircase leading to an alcove of even more treasures up above, and the feeling that I had stumbled upon a piece of the “real New York” that is, sadly, disappearing by the second to make way for cookie cutter chain stores. The bookstore was a neighborhood favorite – my boyfriend’s mom used to buy his used schoolbooks there when he was growing up – and I just learned a few days ago that the community rallied around the bookstore and raised over $50,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to help Westsider Books pay its back rent. In a city where many a beloved New York institution is subject to demise at the hands of gentrification, greed, and large corporations – Carnegie Deli, The Coffee Shop, Webster Hall come to mind – it was heartwarming to see the city come together to save one of its own.
#2: Strangers Donate to Bahamian Woman Cheated Out of Life Savings by Fyre Festival
Do you guys remember the Fyre Festival scandal back in summer of 2017? Rapper Ja Rule and business partner Billy McFarland, scammer extraordinaire, essentially promised a luxury music festival on a private island in the Bahamas to an exclusive group of absurdly wealthy people who spent up to $250,000 to be surrounded by models, booze, and Blink-182. The only problem? None of the stuff that McFarland and Ja Rule sold actually existed, and festival-goers arrived on the Island to find themselves sleeping in FEMA tents (NOT luxury cabanas/private cottages) and eating cheese on bread – not the luxury experience they had expected or paid for.
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule not only scammed the rich and famous, but he also cheated several Bahamian contract workers – many of whom worked 24/7 in the weeks leading up to the festival – out of payment, as seen in the competing Fyre Festival documentaries on Netflix and Hulu. In the Netflix version, one particularly devastating case was a Bahamian restaurateur who lost her life savings because the Fyre Festival didn’t pay up. Her story was really moving, and apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so, because another GoFundMe campaign raised over $160,000, exceeding their goal to recoup her losses.
And there you have it – the first installment of New York Niceties! Let me know what you think of this new series in the comments – I would love your feedback (what you want to see more of, less of) in the comments as I try to integrate new topics and refocus my blog.
Happy Sunday! xx