I wanted to write a little something about chimpanzees since July 14th was World Chimpanzee Day, the 3rd annual “global celebration of respect for our closest genetic relatives”.* Happy belated! This year, Chimp Day marked the 60th Anniversary of when Jane Gooddall first visited Gombe, Tanzania and began studying chimpanzees in the wild.
*all cited information comes from the Roots and Shoots newsletters
The takeaway from Dr. Gooddall’s work over the past 60 years is that chimpanzees are awesome and worthy of our attention and protection.
Currently, chimpanzees are considered an endangered species. Over the past 100 years, the population of chimpanzees has been reduced from 1-2 million in the wild to between 340,000-150,000 across their entire range in Africa today. That’s about a 15% loss over the last 100 years. Gorillas occupy similar zones and have been similarly endangered. Human population has grown by about 30% in that same time period.
Deforestation, wildlife trafficking (think: Tiger King), and poaching/bush meat trade are some of the main reasons for this decline. Unfortunately, the problem is complex, as many human livelihoods depend upon the very activities that are contributing to chimpanzee loss. For example, industrial and artisanal mining provides incomes for families to survive, but the resulting influx of humans into chimpanzee habitat and mining related deforestation are endangering chimpanzees. It is hard to argue to protect chimpanzee life when human life is also at stake.
Fortunately, there is a solution: education. Through education, people can be inspired and empowered to develop alternative livelihoods and industries that are less environmentally destructive (same goes for the whole world).
Education is particularly important amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Since chimpanzees are so genetically similar to humans, disease transmission is a real hazard, and viruses like Covid can easily infect chimpanzees and spread throughout their population. This once happened while Dr. Gooddall was studying chimpanzees in Tanzania during a polio outbreak. Unfortunately, the polio virus had infected individuals in a nearby human village and soon was transmitted to the local chimpanzee population, which resulted in the infection and death of many chimpanzees. If interested in that saga, you can read about it in Dr. Gooddall’s book, In The Shadow of Man.
Fortunately, groups like the Jane Gooddall Institute (JGI) are currently working hard to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid to wild chimpanzee populations through education. JGI is also focused on improving captive care standards for chimpanzees worldwide by developing a Chimpanzee Welfare Index (CWI) which outlines care standards for captive chimps. The index consists of criteria that assess an individual chimpanzee’s entire existence in captivity including socialization, psychological behaviors, health, and diet. Using the Index, captive care facilities can assess their level of care and adapt their practices to better fit their animals’ needs.
Side note, the chimps rescued from the G.W. Zoo from Tiger King were transferred to The Center for Great Apes in Florida which is an accredited sanctuary. Tiger King could have benefited from the CWI Index.
Click HERE to find a list of CWI factors to look out for next time you visit a zoo or chimp in captive care, they include ASA and AZA accreditation, having limited visiting hours, having a veterinarian on staff, and a few other things to research and watch out for.
And that is what I learned from JGI’s World Chimpanzee Day 2020. Stay tuned for next year.
Now, on to updates on The Electronic Waste Awareness Project.
The Electronic Waste Awareness Project
So far, from March to present, I have collected 30 items illegally dumped on the sidewalk that would have wound up in the landfill and are now instead *hopefully* being recycled. Unfortunately, I am not confident in the recycling process, but hope, through this project, to become more clear on that matter, ie – Where exactly is “Away?”.
This is my running list of items picked up on the sidewalk since EWAP Update #1
Brother, Worksmart Series, MFC-J680DW
Haier Model: 32E2000 TFT-LED LCD Colour Television Receiver
Kenwood Compact Disc Player SL16 XS8, “Kenwood Multiple CD Player” CD-204, 1BIT dual D/A converter
Sharp Liquid Crystal TV Model LC-32D43U Serial no: 711851587
Panasonic = Plasma HDTV Model No:TC-P42S1
Emerson – Funai Corporation – Model No: LC391EM3*
*Sticker (in TINY text) on back of this item states: “THIS LCD TV Contains a lamp with Mercury, please dispose of according to all local, state, and federal laws.” It was not treated as such.
Following is the breakdown of my project expenses, for transparency’s sake. Funding was awarded in November 2019, collection activity began in January 2020, better record keeping began in March:
Transportation to and from recycling drop-off facility (taxi+tip)
Total – $115
Storage (in my own tiny apartment, RE- precious real-estate–> $75/month)
$225 (for March-May)
Total – $450
Labor Stipend (for time spent collecting and transporting)
Total – $300
Funding allotted for creating an annual report: $300
Grant total – $1400
Total used so far – $1165
*Grant cycle to end October
Since I am recognizing that my method of recycling action is limited in its impact, I’m not certain I will continue this activity for much longer, given that storing and transporting materials is taxing- energetically and space wise. I feel that education (ie talking to people face to face) is probably a more effective and sustainable solution to reducing illegal/improper disposal of electronic waste. Am I an Eco-prostelytizer? Methinks yes.
That being said, I do continue to find items on the sidewalk and recently discovered most items can now be brought to Staples (up to 3 printers/person/day and TVs less than 20 inches) for recycling. This is a huge relief since there is a store in walking distance and relieves the need to use my own apartment for longer term storage. In the height of Covid, that was not an option since Staples had been closed.
I also found out that Goodwill does not accept electronic waste, only electronics that are in working order and suitable for resale. I haven’t been testing the items I collect to see if they are working, but suppose that is something to consider since there is also a Goodwill in walking distance. Note: in the recycling hierarchy, reuse comes before recycling:
Best buy has a recycling program similar to Staples. Re-these are all places people can go to recycle electronics. It takes more energy than setting them out in the trash, which is probably why most people don’t do it. There is really no incentive to exert the extra energy…unless one cares a whole awful lot…
It seems that a lack of enforcement on illegal dumping is making current regulations ineffective. Supposedly there is a $100 fine for setting electronics out with the trash, but I doubt these fines are being issued. Perhaps if fines were issued, people would start to make the effort. But who will issue the fines?
Last week, while walking home from work late at night, I saw 2 TVs set out in the trash, one on each side of the street. By the time I picked up one and went back for the 2nd, it was already gone. It had been picked up by the garbage men who were making their way down the street. I decided to stop and ask the sanitation workers what they do with electronic waste when its set out with garbage. The gentlemen explained that they used to have special trucks that would come around for electronics, but that was now suspended. He said that now, if the items are large, too large for the recycling trucks to pick up, that they put them in the garbage trucks. They go to the landfill, hazardous waste in all. He candidly expressed doubt in the recycling system as well. Sad. I felt defeated by the system, but also glad that at least I had saved that one TV and all the other items I’d picked up in the past 6 months. There has got to be a better solution.
Thankfully, the city has recently resumed collection of e-waste from building of 10 units or more, but for smaller residences, nothing, which is why it is difficult to identify who is responsible for the electronic waste that is currently, needlessly, heading for the landfill when placed next to curbside garbage and recycling.
My next step is to interview the Sanitation Department for their official statement. I’m curious how the department itself would describe its policy on how to handle e-waste that is left out with regular garbage or dumped randomly.
That’s all for now, thanks for reading!
As a treat for readers who have made it this far, a music video collaboration made with my music and produced by choreographer Jenn Rose for a “Screen Dance” class at Steps on Broadway. The dancer is Becca Fox and the guitar track (pre-whistles) was recorded and produced by my guitar teacher Dave Muto. It was recorded in Ridgewood, Brooklyn.
Also another video by Jenn Rose, showing how tap dance can be used for political commentary:
It is quite unlikely but entirely possible that you’ve all been gripping your seats in anticipation, wondering what would happen with all that e-waste I had stored in my apartment for the past few months. Lets pretend that has been the case, for the dry humored among us.
Well, prepare to unclench those fists and breathe a sigh of relief, for I found a free drop off site in Astoria that took everything, all 20ish items listed here. The company, Green Chip – E-waste and ITAD Solutions. Glorious.
Huzzah! So exciting, I know.
No idea where the items went after I left them. A subject for further exploration as the EWAP develops.
Haven’t been seeing as much e-waste lining the streets this past week. Save for a printer I encountered during a long walk through Queens the other day. Unfortunately it was too hot, and the item too heavy, for it to be salvaged. Alas, I cannot close the e-waste loop on my own.
I am curious, dear readers, if you are reading this, might I call upon you to take a tally of electronics you might be holding onto at home, ready for disposal. What are the barriers preventing us from recycling e-waste? Are there any? How do you dispose of your unwanted electronics? Do write in if you have any thoughts on the matter. I’m collecting data and here to help.
And now, onto other topics of import perhaps to no one but myself –here is a list of tap dancers today that are quite spectacular, each in their own special way. I’ve broken them into categories. Mind you, there are a lot of amazing dancers that have been left out here, this is merely a list of dancers that have struck my personal fancy. I am including this list to showcase the variety and versatility of tap as an art and entertainment form and to introduce some of today’s best tap dancers for those who are interested in delving in to the world of contemporary tap.
Most entertaining to watch//best stage presence//most likely to end up on the big screen:
Before too much time passes and in effort to curb writing procrastination, I wanted to write y’all again to say hello and give some updates.
First off, I have made my return to NYC after a month-long break in California, where I spent a lot of time eating delicious plums. MMm. The particular plum tree I was enjoying, I am told, is of the Santa Rosa variety with thin, freckled reddish skin and ruby/magenta flesh. Mm. I must admit I am a little obsessed and have been for the past few years. Here are some photos of the tree and fruit, followed by a slideshow of some quintessential Santa Cruz images in case anyone is interested in the natural beauty and quirk of the California Central Coast.
Do you see what I see? Capitola, Ca
In other news, I had my first day of work at an Emergency Vet hospital in Midtown Manhattan today. I’m training to be a receptionist. Thankfully, I have come to my senses and am transitioning out of manual labor and schlepping yard-waste around NYC via subway (being an urban gardener), and am now trying out a full time job with benefits and all that jazz. We’ll see how it goes. I am hoping I like it since this was my childhood dream job. If this doesn’t stick…I don’t know what will.
In other other news, and the real reason I wanted to write today, is to talk about tap dancing. The one other article I have on this site about tap dancing is the single most visited page on my site, somehow bringing in at least one person from the web almost every day. With the sort of traffic I get on my site otherwise (very minimal), that is a lot. So, I’m curious–if I write more about tap dancing, will random people from the web find this article as well? Or are they only curious about Tap Shoes vs. Clogging vs. Irish Step? Only time will tell. Experiment commenced.
Today, since it is getting late, I am going to start by sharing a video of today’s most prominent and successful touring tap dancer: Michelle Dorrance. She has a company of dancers who have been touring the world for the past few years, with this coming year slated to be the busiest yet. Without further ado, here is a video of Michelle Dorrance and her feet:
I gotta find me a good floor like that to practice on. To date, I have experimented with a few different types of practice floors. I started off with a very large slab of Masonite from Home Depot (~$50), but that wasn’t portable, so I bought myself a foldable board called Fasfoot (~$175), which I have worn to shreds through a process that fancy tap dancers call “shedding” but which really just means practicing.
Recently, I bought another floor from a couple of bluegrass musicians living out of a Sprinter Van. Their boards are called Leo Percussive Dance Boards and I ended up with the larger of the boards which cost $100. Honestly I can’t even find a link for those online but when I do, I’ll share it. So far I like this board because it is raised off the floor and thus gives my knees a little break and has a more resonant sound. Like the Fasfoot, it is portable and sounds best when played outside, but I’m finding at this stage in my tap game, that I want a larger space to practice on, one that enables me to move around more, and also one thats not so loud since I practice in a basement most of the time and the sound gets trapped down there in a way that I don’t like. I think next I will get another piece of masonite since at least that provided more space, is affordable, and sounds pretty ok (not sure about how it will fare in the basement, however). So, that is where I am at with tap dancing today. Stay tuned for more rambling as year 3 of my NYC tap dancing adventure continues.
Up late after a relatively short day of work and a trip up to Harlem (I swoon) for an Earth Day art show put on in a fancy apartment, showcasing the work of another garbage artists named Daniel Lanzilotta.
He makes work using all sorts of plastic bits he finds strewn about the streets of the world:
This piece in particular includes Tropicana orange juice bottle caps (the orange disks) among other items he has collected around Brooklyn and melts down into funky shapes.
Lanzilotta uses art to speak about plastic pollution and how it is affecting our oceans. He mentioned lighters as being the number one harmful litter he finds due to the butane and other chemicals inside which leak out onto the street when they inevitably break, eventually making their way into our oceans after rains and such.
He is collecting 1,000 lighters for an upcoming piece which he described briefly and which I’ll keep an eye out for and report back about. Coincidentally, lighters have been on my radar lately, as I have been collecting lighters and Juul pods (e-cigarette butts) during my walks around Brooklyn and Manhattan. I recently assembled these colorful items a canvas (also found in the garbage). One man’s trash is another’s treasure, no? Take a look:
Ok, enough about me. The takeaway point I got from Lanzilotta as he spoke about his work is #1 don’t use plastic. Is that possible? Hope so!
As a group, the gallery attendees were encouraged to discuss ideas of things we could DO to raise awareness in society about plastic waste. The main idea I heard was to try to have a plastic free day, and to invite others to do so as well. May be harder said than done, considering most of our clothes, our shoes, our brooms, our toothbrushes, etc etc have plastic in them. I even heard plastic is now being found in salt chrystals…so we are eating it. Oy vey.
Well, lets stay calm. Remember, it’s all about baby steps. Identifying the items in our lives that are made of plastic and slowly replacing them with non-plastic products is a good way to go. Doesn’t have to be an overnight transition! Baby steps…
So, to close for the night I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Earth Day.
This year marks the 49th celebration of Earth Day. To commemorate the day, Jane Gooddall released a video wishing everyone a happy day. In the video she thanks us for even thinking about Earth Day and encourages everyone to think about our “blue and green planet” everyday, to “make a commitment as individuals to do all we can to get together with other like-minded individuals so that we can ensure a healthier planet for future generations.” So, here’s to doing that for the rest of 2019 and beyond!
And now to really close it off, some tap videos!
Leo Sandoval, Artist in Residence at the American Tap Dance Foundation and member of Dorrance Dance at the Something’s Afoot New Choreography Showcase this past Saturday:
And me and my teacher Christina Carminucci at ATDF last week, working on a piece Christina is choreographing for this class for the adult showcase in June. The song is called Stormy Weather by Oscar Peterson. Enjoy!
Oh, and I saw this the other day and liked it as a message to stand up, sit down, speak up for what we believe is right: