Sunday, February 16, 2014

Donating Old Clothes? Bin There, Done That

The New York Department of Sanitation has been busier than usual removing what they believe are scam drop-off bins for donated clothing. Thirty-seven huge metal receptacles, which were illegally placed on the streets of New York, have already been removed over the past half a year. That figure represents a 23 percent surge in the number of bins removed since last year, when only 30 were taken away during the entire fiscal year.

A Legitimate and Legal Way to Donate Used Clothing
The large pink bins began to appear on New York sidewalks over a year ago in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. None of been spotted yet Manhattan. Their purpose is ostensibly to be an easy way for good citizens to donate no-longer-needed used clothing to charitable organizations; to help clothe the poor and raise funds for related organizations. Unfortunately, in the case of these bins, it is unclear in whose hands the clothing ends up.

“They are a scam and people need to be careful who they donate clothing to,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens.  He is suspicious of the bins, believing that the clothing does not end up helping the poor.

“They’re eyesores and attract vermin,” he added.

In January the Sanitation Department warned the owners of one bin located on 18th Avenue near East Second Street in Kensington with a yellow sticker saying that the owners had 30 days to remove it from the street. During that time the bin began to overflow, leaving an unsightly mess of discarded clothing on the street next to the bin. Pedestrians and businesses were, to say the least, unhappy with the situation. Finally the bin was removed, taken apart, and recycled for its metal.

Not all the illegal bins have yet to be removed. Brooklyn has taken away the most, removing 24 since July 1. The Bronx took away eight, Staten Island removed four, and Queens, one.

Dromm is pushing for a law that will required all bins placed on private property to have a name and phone number clearly marked. It will also require the bin owners to list details about where the donations are going.

“There's a level of deception that may rise to criminality,” Dromm said.

There are legitimate methods of donating old clothing. The Sanitation Department has its own clothing drop-off charity. The bins for clothing heading for re-fashioNYC are found inside commercial and residential properties.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Move Over Tower of Babble: Here Comes Boombox Art

Reaching to the heavens is a work of installation art which is not only a feast for the eyes, but for the ears as well. “Got the Power” is a display of over 100 boomboxes arranged into a tower, with the accompanying sounds emanating from about a dozen radios within the structure playing songs and oral histories which are relevant to life in Brooklyn.

Created by Bayeté Ross Smith, an artist from Harlem, “Got the Power” is only the most recent of his creations. His first boombox piece was installed in Harlem. Later he erected similar sculptures in Minnesota, Alabama, and elsewhere. The radios play music which the locals have chosen. Ross Smith requests from the residents where his tower will reside for their favorite songs and stories, creating a soundtrack that is site-specific.

"The exhibit references the role boomboxes have played in urban communities and within popular culture, the resulting sculpture and soundscape is a symbol of pride, power, and autonomy," said Ross Smith.

For his Brooklyn boombox tower, which will be located at the BRIC Arts Theater at 647 Fulton Street, Ross Smith collected stories from talking with residents in cafes, at events and getting his own connections involved. He has participants in his latest project from Fort Green, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Kensington,
Bushwick and Sunset Park.
Babbling Boomboxes Speaks to Brooklynites

The tower will be on display from February 19 to April 27, 2014. Ross Smith is still in search of donated boomboxes, oral stories and songs about Brooklyn for his latest effort.