Tag: nyc

New York City Arts in Education Roundtable Receives Grant to Provide Critical Assistance to Arts Education Community Amid COVID-19

New York Community Trust logo in red and black.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 29, 2020
CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen, kolsen@nycaieroundtable.org

Published on July 29, 2020

 

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable (NYCAIER) is pleased to announce that it has received $465,000 in grant awards from the New York Community Trust (NYCT), including funding from the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in the New York Community Trust, to continue providing critical assistance to New York City’s arts education community which has been among the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable has always responded quickly and decisively to the needs of New York’s arts education field,” said Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director of NYCAIER. “As arts education funding and programming are often among the first to be cut during times of sudden economic strife, we are grateful to NYCT for providing us with this important support so that we can continue to offer our community relief and resources to ensure field-wide sustainability through this pandemic.”

This grant will allow NYCAIER to establish an “Arts Educator Emergency Relief Fund” to award at least 300 grants of up to $1,000 to arts educators who are facing serious financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. Both teaching artists and arts education administrators will be eligible to apply with an application opening the week of August 10, 2020. Additional details and application questions will be announced the week of August 3, 2020.

NYCT funding will also enable NYCAIER to continue supporting the sustainability of arts education in New York City through free professional development workshops designed to help arts groups and individuals navigate and respond to rapid changes in the delivery of arts education in New York City. NYCAIER will also utilize newly funded resources to expand its advocacy efforts for the integration of arts education into the New York City Department of Education’s contingency planning for the 2020-2021 school year, including through targeted outreach to public officials and the media, among other programs.

NYCAIER has a longstanding history of preserving and advancing the arts education community in New York City as one of the cultural pillars of the city. This summer, NYCAIER is hosting a seven-week Summer School learning series for arts in education practitioners supported in part by the award from NYCT. The free series will feature weekly professional development sessions focused on digital skills-building, self-care, and collaborative art-making for educators, administrators, and artists.

NYCT’s NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund was created to aid nonprofit service providers struggling with the initial health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding allowed nonprofits to transition to online contact with clients and audiences, as well as purchase protective supplies, among other needs. Grants and loans also helped groups facing a loss of operational revenue from facility closings, cancelled programs, and events. Learn more about the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund.

 

About the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education in New York City. NYCAIER is a community of cultural organizations and educators that shares resources, provides professional development, and advocates for the needs of our constituents and the communities they serve. Founded in 1992, NYCAIER builds our efforts around the value that arts education is a right for all NYC students. NYCAIER produces a major annual arts in education conference, Face to Face; monthly professional development programs;  in addition to ongoing advocacy and communications efforts for cultural organizations and teaching artists in every discipline.

For more information please visit: www.nycaieroundtable.org.

Click here to access a PDF version of this press release.

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Risk Factors: Being Black During a Pandemic  

By Javan Howard

Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

This blog is a part of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s new blog series, “Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine.” As schools remain closed, we’ve invited some “Teaching Artists of the Roundtable” to help us curate a series of blog posts written for and by NYC teaching artists. We’ll be posting new blogs each Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks.

As a black man in America, I’m used to being followed. It happens everywhere, especially in NYC. I’m not sure which part is more sad: As a black man the things that I’m used to, or how what I’m used to hits differently during these times? Racism, police brutality, the inequalities, the list becoming an endless black pit. I expect it, I accept it. The innate history of racism that travels around us. Yet I still walk. Not just to get from place to place, I walk not just for comfort or a form of exercise. It’s a safe haven. An unfolding process that revitalizes my soul. For years, it’s been one of the ways I’ve dealt with my depression.

I can’t count the times that I’ve been stopped, followed, or harassed by police throughout my 32 years. It has happened all over. Luckily, I’ve been conditioned through the stop and frisk era. When I was 15 growing up in the Bronx, I spent 90 minutes in handcuffs being lectured then “Let go” for being in the park after dark. They didn’t care that I left basketball practice, walked from the #2 train and the park was the only way to get to my apartment building. I was followed from the train, but only stopped when I got to the park. That didn’t bother me. 

I was 21 in Pennsylvania, a year from my own graduation when I went to court against a PA state trooper who cited and charged me for disorderly conduct. My friends and I were asked to leave by this officer for being too loud at a local diner near my school during graduation weekend. The waiter never asked us to quiet down, no one in the restaurant even complained. Our only crime was being in a restaurant at the same time as this officer who felt his break was being disturbed. Or maybe it was being the only black table in his empty section. We were escorted out, embarrassed, lectured and degraded for over an hour. We found out later this same officer had several complaints against his dealings with people of color in the community. I was emotionally and financially supported by my college throughout the trial and charges were eventually dismissed. 

I was 25 in Long Island, when I was stopped with groceries in both hands by an officer drawing his weapon because I “fit the description” of a suspect who robbed a gas station. I admit my life froze. However, I was just as concerned about what would happen to me in that moment, as much as my eggs if I dropped my bags. So still, that didn’t bother me. Maybe it should, but on most days it doesn’t: It’s just a regular day in America. 

 

To be black in America is a risk itself. Am I ok with the inequality that exists? The disproportionate numbers that correlate with people of color being harassed and arrested? No, I will never be. My soul hurts. We all know about the inhumanity of police brutality. It’s written across our history. But what about during a pandemic? Are we not supposed to be more human? I ask where are we safe? As the protest increases, riots spark for a government shutdown, I walk afraid of having my life being shut down by the government.  

I assess the risk factors of being black while going out during Covid-19. I could mention many, but my worst fears are captured by the two black customers kicked out of walmart for wearing a protective mask. I feel some kind of way by going out without an “appropriate” mask. My skin doesn’t allow me the same protective privileges as others. I think about how threatening I look when I leave my home. Does my homemade scarf or mask look gang related? Will I be allowed in the store or followed for wearing it? Why do I even have to think about this? 

I’m used to walking daily for my own health. However, due to Covid-19 and our NY Pause, I walk less and less. I feel like I suffer because of it. I’m at a loss now more than ever. I ignored walks entirely the first few weeks of lockdown. Now, I try to average about 2 walks a week. The way I process my emotions is at risk. I went out this past weekend and almost immediately regretted it. It’s those additional risk factors the government neglects to mention associated with proper social distancing and being black in a pandemic. I had gloves, and an appropriate mask. I wanted to do my usual route which would take about one hour to complete walking over Bayshore. 

I had my music and was in peak spirit when I passed the LIRR Bayshore station and saw a cop car and thought nothing of it. I made it towards Main Street when I noticed the same cop car near my updated location: let’s call it a coincidence. (By default, I picked up a habit of memorizing cop cars that pass me.)  After starting to reverse my course, the same car was parked across the College and slowly trotted out when I passed the car. I made it to the corner, but the light was green and cars roared across the crosswalk. I could still see what awaited me across the street. I admittledy panicked upon seeing 3 cop cars at the corner Seven 11 (directly across from the Bayshore LIRR) now windows down and that officer talking to them. 

I’ve been here before, too many times. Like many of you, I just wanted to be left alone and get home but could feel the pressure forming in the pit of my stomach. The light was red. They dispersed many ways. One kept straight, one turned left, the other went right but crept slow. They waited to see what I was doing. I wanted to stay straight but didn’t. After some hesitation, I took a sharp right off the path. I saw lights and the cop car making a u-turn, Luckily the family dollar was open. I went in. They didn’t follow. Due to social distancing, I was in the store for 40 mins waiting in line. I spent $20. I didn’t plan on spending the money, but thought it was a worthwhile investment in my own safety.

I’m writing this as I’m questioning a lot of things. The blatant murder of George Floyd, the unnecessary death of Ahmaud Arbery and why it took so long to arrest his murderers, all while another black man Dreasjon “Sean” Reed streamed his death live on facebook, as he feared for his own life. I fear for my own life, but have long ago normalized the atrocities of inequities that exist for people of color: police brutality, educational gaps and inequality, guilty until proven innocent. I fear for my safety from the virus and take protections and precautions against a supposed “invisible enemy” (Covid-19) that is killing people still disproportionately in communities of color. But how do we take protections and precautions against racism, the real “invisible enemy” that has been killing my people for years? Although I haven’t accepted it, I can definitely say I’ve normalized a lot of things when it comes to being black in america. However, I didn’t think we would have to normalize those same issues during a pandemic. 

 

Will we ever take the next step? I find myself answering the same questions as I walk back through the events of the past few weeks. It’s the same questions traveling throughout my blood and my history that my people have been asking in this country for years. Where can I be black, instead of just blackened out? Where can I be me? 

*****

Javan Howard is a poet and writer from Bronx, NY. He truly believes that the lived experience is the ultimate teaching tool and uses poetry as a social forum to foster discourse about love, culture, and identity. He has facilitated workshops across NYC with The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Voices UnBroken, The GO Project and Wingspan Arts. He currently is a Teaching Artist for Teachers & Writers Collaborative and USDAN Camp For The Arts. He is also the Lead Mentor for Teaching Artist Project at Community Word Project.

To learn more about Howard’s work visit:

www.Javanjhoward.com

URGENT ADVOCACY ALERT: Submit Written Testimony to the New York City Council in Support of Arts Education

NYC Arts in Education Roundtable logo in black and orange.

Posted on May 19, 2020

The following letter was sent out to the Roundtable mailing list on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. To stay up to date with weekly e-blasts about advocacy efforts, best practices, current trends, upcoming events, and more, please subscribe to the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable mailing list.

Update (June 19, 2020): The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable recently launched the #ArtsAreEssential campaign to preserve arts education funding in the 2020/2021. For more information about the campaign, please click here. 

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Latest Memo from NYC Department of Education Office of Arts & Special Projects

Updates from OASP, NYC Department of Education. Pictured: NYC Department of Education and Office of Arts and Special Projects logos.

Posted on Friday, May 8, 2020

Yesterday, the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects shared the attached memo with the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable regarding the continuation of remote learning services.

As it relates to our community’s ongoing advocacy work, the memo states:

“…Arts services that are provided remotely in collaboration and in support of schools’ remote teaching plans, and fulfill mandated services and/or New York State graduation requirements can continue to be offered.

DOE managers will ensure that invoices for services rendered to schools and central offices prior to April 1st, as well as any services which meet the above criteria offered after April 1st, will be paid accordingly.”

For questions about Arts Partnership Grants, please reach out to Audrey Cox, Director of Arts Partnerships at ACox16@schools.nyc.gov. For any other questions, please reach out to ArtsAndSpecialProjects@schools.nyc.gov.

 


Our Suggestions

Based on our understanding of this memo, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable offers the following suggestions:

  • Review your Purchase Order(s). How can your organization provide contract deliverables remotely? How do these activities and objectives align with city/state arts learning standards and/or standards in other academic subjects?
  • Be prepared to justify why your program(s) fulfill mandated services. Highlight required arts instruction hours, graduation requirements, arts support for student sub-populations (i.e. students with disabilities, ENL students) and arts education’s impact on student learning, health, and wellbeing. **See helpful research links below.
  • Advocate directly to the school principal with these points clearly laid out (and ‘CC partnering educators, arts liaison, and other support staff). Give them what they need to make the case for your services. Be clear on PO deliverables in digital space, provide program rationale, and attach the memo from OASP.

It is our understanding that it will ultimately be up to each individual principal to justify and advocate for the continuation of arts vendor services. Given the current uncertainty about the future landscape of in-person education, we hope you can use these suggestions as a way to continue building relationships that will carry into the next school year.


Research / Policy

We hope you can use the below policies and studies as a jumping off point to advocate for your programs now and in the future.


Our Next Steps

The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable would like to thank our community members who helped advocate for these written assurances from the NYC Department of Education. It will be a long road ahead, and there is more work to be done. The Roundtable will continue to advocate on behalf of our membership to address the challenges that lie ahead and to ensure #ARTSareEssential in the “new normal”.

We hope you will join us on Wednesday, May 13 from 10:30am – 12pm for A Roundtable Conversation: Advocacy in Action to discuss how we can use our collective impact to move the field forward from here.

*****

Keeping the He(ART) Alive: Adapting and Setting Boundaries

By Lauren Extrom

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2020

This blog is a part of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s new blog series, “Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine.” As schools remain closed, we’ve invited some “Teaching Artists of the Roundtable” to help us curate a series of blog posts written for and by NYC teaching artists. We’ll be posting new blogs each Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks. To view other blogs in the series, please click here.

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My grandfather (who was already quite sick before the virus arrived in the states) went into hospice care in his home in early March, before the stay-at-home orders were put in place, so I decided to take a trip to the suburbs of Chicago to say goodbye to him and to visit with family. I didn’t realize that my planned trip of five days would turn into a month-long trip, with little to no idea of when I would be able to return to my apartment—my life—in Brooklyn. 

I went over to his house, sang to him with my sister, and visited with family on the evening of March 11th. The next morning, I learned that he had passed away in his sleep. We planned to hold funeral services the following weekend but had to cancel due to the restrictions on public gatherings. Now my grandfather is sitting on our dining room table, cremated, silently reminding us of the impact he had on our lives. 

I’m not sure if any of us have processed it. I wish I could hug and comfort my family members who took care of him until his day of passing, but, unfortunately, hugging is not really an option in our culture anymore. So, we just take each day as it comes, do our best to remember that death ultimately is a part of life, and try to stay focused on our priorities. 

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Social distancing. Hand sanitizer. Business closures. Unemployment. Stay-at-home orders. Quarantine. Pandemic. 

All of this terminology has become such a large part of our everyday vocabulary, yet I still find it difficult to comprehend that all of this is actually happening. 

Whether we work on the frontlines or from home, it is safe to say that this virus has affected all of our lives in some way. My mom still goes to work as a nurse administrator at a hospital just outside of the city and is required to wear a mask all day. My dad still drives downtown every day to go to work at a small law office; two of his coworkers recently got sick with what they think is the coronavirus, but my dad still goes to work because he is 65 and is worried he may not have a job after the pandemic ends. My sister works from home but is worried about losing her job due to increased layoffs. I just finished graduate school and was in the process of interviewing for jobs in NYC, but now I am unsure of my next steps toward future employment in the arts. This pandemic is now a part of our reality, and as much as I wish it weren’t, I must accept it. 

I recognize that I am much more fortunate than most during these times; I have a loving family whom I can stay with outside of NYC and will be receiving financial support from them until I can find some sort of remote work. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure how I would be able to pay my rent for my apartment in NYC and put food in my stomach. I’m very grateful to have this time with my family, and I certainly don’t take that time for granted. 

Still, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the solitude I usually have access to in my apartment, and to the artistic community that I am a part of in NYC. For me, my practice as an artist is a personal one and is often done in solitude when I am not performing or collaborating with others. I would spend hours in a practice room if I could, writing songs and practicing music and monologues, all of which usually involves a lot of self-acceptance, weird vocal exercises, and silly faces and tongue shape examinations in the mirror. Although I have a piano here in my parents’ house and can isolate myself in my childhood bedroom to do some writing, I can’t deny that I have had to make some adjustments to my routines and artistic goals as a result of my new living situation. 

When it comes to boundaries, I used to be a doormat. It wasn’t until I started following emotionally intelligent trailblazers such as Brené Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert that I began to see boundaries as essential to any relationship, especially my relationship with myself. 

Here are a few of the ways in which I have tried to set healthy routines and boundaries around my artistic practice while living with my family. Every day is certainly not the same, and no matter what, I try to be kind to myself as I navigate my new living situation. I also know that every artist’s at-home situation is going to be different, so not all of these ideas will work for everyone. Regardless, I try to keep these ideas in mind as I tackle each day: 

  • I try to let my family members know about my schedule. If I want to spend an hour (or more) undisturbed in my room to do some writing, I will let them know ahead of time so that they don’t assume that something is wrong or that I am ignoring them. I also will let them know when I plan to practice the piano and/or sing, as I will inevitably be heard by everyone in the house, no matter what room they are in. And on that *note*…
  • I try to set and stick to a schedule for myself. I won’t lie—this took me about a week or so to get used to, as I’m used to having a different schedule every day in NYC. For me, this schedule always starts with a yoga and meditation session (I even wear ear plugs so I can try to tap into my peace even while my sister’s dog is wildly barking downstairs). I also only check in on the news in the late afternoon and again later in the evening, after I’ve spent some quality time on my projects. And, at the end of each day, I’ve started to have solo dance parties and literally shake off all of the energy I don’t need to hold onto anymore.
  • I try to nest into my working space. The more I can feel at home away from my home in NYC, the more vulnerable I can be with myself in my artistic practice. I’ve even considered putting up inspirational quotes on my walls in my bedroom, just how I have done in my room in NYC, so that I can remember that no matter where I go, my passion for my art is always with me.
  • I try to tap into other artistic disciplines when I feel stuck in my own. Part of the reason why I enjoy my little dance parties is so that I can get out of my head and into my body, which is something that really helps me let my music compositional ideas flow through me instead of building up inside of my head.
  • I try to remind myself that my artistic practice is my own, no matter what others may think. It can be easy to let a loved one’s comment or opinion of your artistic practice get on your nerves, especially if you’re not used to having an audience tuned into your practice session. I couldn’t tell you the number of times someone in my family has said, “Oh, why don’t you sing something for us?” when I just wanted to practice in peace.
  • I try to stay in touch with my other artsy friends. Seriously, I have never been more grateful for technology. Between virtually watching a play with two of my actor friends, to participating in a Zoom chat with my fellow choir members, it really helps to share ideas and struggles with those in my artistic community.
  • I try to set mantras to live by each day to lift my spirits. I am a huge fan of personal mantras, especially as it relates to my artistic practice. For me, my practice as an artist requires me to be very vulnerable with myself. If I feel that the people in my space don’t respect or understand that, I internally coach myself through my mantras so I can stay focused and not let my insecurities distract me from practicing.
  • When in doubt, I try to stay resourceful and open-minded. As much as I would love to belt my heart out during my practice sessions, my sister works from home and is on calls for most of the day. Therefore, I have started to educate myself more on music history and vocal pedagogy topics through YouTube videos and documentaries on Netflix. Even if I can’t practice in all of the ways I would like to, I can at least educate myself more in my artistic discipline.

It has taken some time, but I do think that I have been able to garner a lot of respect from my family members regarding my artistic lifestyle. Because I am the only working artist in my household, it can be challenging to explain what I do and why I do it. However, my family really does support me and has given me space to practice when I ask for it. 

In some households, this might not be the case, and therefore boundaries may not be respected. If this is the case for you, past experience has shown me that bargaining can actually be quite useful. Proposing ideas such as, “I will walk the dog later if we can keep the news off or on mute while I practice the piano for 30 minutes” allows both parties to feel respected and cared for. 

Additionally, if you are struggling to find some quiet space in your current quarantine location (depending on what restrictions currently reside in your area), perhaps it is possible for you to go on a brainstorming walk outside, or even listen to some music to circulate your thoughts. At times, even just being in a different room from others for a few minutes can help establish a sense of personal space, so that you can check in with yourself and your energy levels. 

Ultimately, I’m trying to see this time as an opportunity to dive deeper into how I approach my art form, because I’ve had no choice but to get creative with it. And, who knows: perhaps by sharing our artistic practices with those in our households, we may find that we even grow closer to them, or inspire them to get in touch with their artistic sides as well. We could all use a bit more art in our lives these days, anyway.

*****

Lauren Extrom (she/her/hers) is a practicing artist, arts administrator, yogi, and aspiring teaching artist. Though she considers herself a dancer and a storyteller, she tends to identify mostly as a vocalist/musician/composer/lyricist. She received her BA in Music and American Studies from Boston University, and she recently received her MA in Performing Arts Administration from NYU. When not practicing social distancing, she resides in NYC and sings as a solo cabaret vocalist, as well as a back-up vocalist in an indie rock band. She also travels to Boston to rehearse with a non-profit choir, VOICES 21C. Lauren is currently working on a few video editing projects for her friends, and is also orchestrating a musical album, which she hopes to release later this year.

Contact: lae315@nyu.edu

Website: https://laurenalyssaextrom.weebly.com/

You’re Not Going to Write King Lear and That’s Okay: On Finding Empowerment Through Art for Art’s Sake under Covid-19

Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine. Post by Chelsea Asher. Background image: NYC apartment building and blue sky.

By Chelsea Asher

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2020

This blog is a part of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s new blog series, “Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine.” As schools remain closed, we’ve invited some “Teaching Artists of the Roundtable” to help us curate a series of blog posts written for and by NYC teaching artists. We’ll be posting new blogs each Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks. To view other blogs in the series, please click here.

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Teaching artists are no stranger to the American hustle culture – if anything, it’s the nature of the work we do. In New York City, we’re on and off trains, buses and subways. We’re in and out of classrooms, federal institutions and midtown buildings. We’re on late night and early morning weekend calls and basically just doing the whole damn lot. Before I was faced with the reality of losing many of my employment opportunities, sudden social distancing, and isolation, you might have caught me saying, “Well, if only I had more time, I’d be able to finally write my novel.”

The nature of the pandemic has forced many of us to interrogate truths we ordinarily wouldn’t have had to. This looks different for everyone, and has been particularly poignant, as ever, for communities living below the poverty line. As a teaching artist, I am anxious about the impact a recession will have on arts education and our students, as well as the pressure on many artists to hustle: to commodify and monetize their newfound “free time” toward an unattainable benchmark of success.

“Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear,” musician Rosanne Cash, and many other Twitter users along with her, began as the pandemic was actualized in the states. Thomas Nashe wrote Summers’ Last Will and Testament and Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron during historical plagues. Isaac Newton invented his theory of gravity while quarantined and Edvard Munch continued to paint even when he contracted the Spanish Flu.

One could argue that none of these people had access to Hulu or Netflix, but that’s not what’s important. These singular, historical creators are being upheld as the pinnacle example of optimism, goodness and, let’s face it, profit coming from our immediate times of uncertainty and hardship during Covid-19. Can you imagine a cultural standard that drives us, even during an outbreak, to think of how our own pandemics can look successful? Allow me to take the pressure off. Take a breath, unclench your shoulders, and release. You are not going to write King Lear. You probably aren’t even going to write King Lear 2. And that’s more than okay.

Let me pose a different question: when is the last time you created without the idea of product, success or audience in mind? At the start of my social distancing and isolation, I painted for the first time since I was a teenager. As a writer, I can’t explain what drew me to create this way, but as I took to the page with color and made something imperfect, I felt free. I video chatted with friends and colleagues this week and found them answering in the midst of baking recipes from their childhoods, learning guitar for the first time, and taking online dance classes. Lack of time may not have been stopping us from writing a Nobel-worthy novel, but it has kept us from the liberating nature of creating for fun, for experimentation, for solace and, most importantly, for ourselves.

In a time when the hustle is pushing down upon us, when everything remains uncertain, I wonder what our communities would look like if we could take a moment together in solace to start this artistic revolution without the expectation of volume, quality or driving a profit, but by the nature of creation itself? When I video called my friend the other night, she answered in the middle of cooking a harrowing recipe she’d been trying to get right for almost two hours. I laughed and marveled why she was putting herself through it. She just shrugged. “Why not? What else are we supposed to do?”

*****

Chelsea Asher is a writer and educator, living in Queens, NY. She received her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence college and her work has been featured in Lunch Ticket, Dark Moon Digest and more.