jessie adler

#regram from @earthrightsintl .
I will be posting there all week from our explorations of communities along the Mekong River.  If you’re not following them already, you can go ahead and do that now.  Might be the best decision you make all day.

#regram from @earthrightsintl .
I will be posting there all week from our explorations of communities along the Mekong River. If you’re not following them already, you can go ahead and do that now. Might be the best decision you make all day.

After the hurricane, Robyn made soup. It led to so much more.

 ”Every journey begins with one step…” - Robyn Hillman-Harrigan

Thrilled to share Idealist’s video on Robyn and how she’s making the world a better place one meal at a time with Shore Soup.  I’m honored to have witnessed and photographed her in action and humbled by the incredible ways she is improving her community.  Delivering healthy homemade soups to the incredible residents of Rockaway via tricycle made my year in 2013, and I can’t wait to see what Shore Soup accomplishes in 2014.  

Resilient Rockaway Part VI: Leah

"I lived on 42nd street right by the beach.  I came back and saw the waterline is up to here (my neck) and I’d lost most of my things, my clothes, everything.  I also lost my job.  I was working at my church in daycare as an assistant teacher and the downstairs area and everything got destroyed.  For six months I was on unemployment and had to move in with my mom, who lives by the bay and didn’t get hit as bad, and I’m still there now. I got money from FEMA but it wasn’t much.

It was really a growing experience for me.  A lot of people think it’s a negative thing because they think of all the things they lost and all the things they can’t get back.  Some people get depressed.  I felt devastated.  These were all my things, stuff that I can’t get back but then I reflected on it and said, “Well I’m still alive.  I still have choices that I can make, decisions.  I can make this into a positive situation, I don’t have to think negative.”  So what I did was I kept trying to find work and get myself out there, and eventually I did a couple of jobs and then I eventually found Build It Back.  I felt like, okay, I can help people who went through the same thing I went through, and I feel real good about it.  I feel good that I can impact people.

A lot of people weren’t expecting Sandy to happen.  After, a lot of people came together and helped people gut out their house, clean up, things like that.  I think it maybe made people realize we have to stick together rather than be separate.  Dealing with devastation like that is really hard.  A lot of people had to allow other people outside their family in just to help them out.  I think it really made people see each other in a different way. It’s like okay, that’s my neighbor, we’re cool and we can work together, we should work together.  This has impacted all of us, not just one.  We are one but it impacted each and every one of us in a different way so why not just help each other. Do what we can do, it won’t be the same like it was before Sandy but it can be better.   We can change it, we can make it better, but we have to stick together.

Nobody really knows about us, we’re Far Rockaway, we’re like the peninsula.  It’s like who cares about them, it’s just Rockaway.  Nobody wants to come to Rockaway, forget Rockaway.  But we matter in our way because we’re just like everybody else.  We have our own communities, we deal with same thing they deal with so why shouldn’t’ we matter just like everyone else. Who’s to say we can’t impact each other. We matter, in our own way we matter, even if no one thinks we do.

I don’t think you should let the storm run you out. I try to stay positive about a lot of things and it’s really hard.   But I’m just going to stay positive because good things come to those who wait and I’m waiting. ”  -Leah Joyner, 22, Rockaway 

Interview by Claudia Santino

See here for more from this series

Resilient Rockaway Part V: Vincent


"I was here the whole time.  The morning after Sandy my neighbor and I took some surfboards and went around helping neighbors out of their houses.  A couple of neighbors who have diabetes, we had to half float-walk down to help them get ice because diabetics need to keep their meds on ice.

On my street the boardwalk had come down a whole block and half.   There was no way to get out of the neighborhood.  There was too much debris, too much sand.  Nothing was open.  There was no food, no electricity, no water, no phones. 

Read More

Resilient Rockaway Part IV: Louisa

"Hurricane Sandy impacted us in a way that at first seemed to be a curse and then became a blessing. My husband opened a surf shop, Breakwater Surf Co, in July 2012.  I was pregnant and we lived in Harlem back then and we decided to move to Rockaway to be closer to the shop.  We had a hard time finding a place, I was seven months pregnant and it was getting a little stressful.  We finally found a nice 2-bedroom apartment and just when we were about to move our landlords wouldn’t let us out of our lease. When it finally came time to sign our new lease, Sandy hit. We came back anyway to see what was going on and found there was a lot we could do.

Read More

Resilient Rockaway Part III: Dexter


"It’s funny, the things that we take for granted.  Just to be able to turn on the faucet and have clean running water.  To hit a light switch and here’s lights, to be able to cook and have gas.  These are common everyday things that we do with out thinking and when it’s taken away from you it’s really an eye opener.  It was scary and it just puts things in perspective for me on how fortunate and how lucky we really are.  As Americans and as New Yorkers, we’re really fortunate. Maybe we need to pay closer attention to these types of things, the type of services that we do have and the lifestyles that we’re able to live.  To take hot showers every day.  Just some basic stuff that a lot of us just don’t think about.  We get so caught up in our day-to-day travels and we just don’t take them seriously, we just take them for granted.

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Resilient Rockaway Part II: Angel

"I’m a Vietnam veteran and for a long time I was pretty unstable because I couldn’t refill my medications and I couldn’t get in touch with my doctor because there was no phone.  Thank God for my landlord, he’s been a good friend.  It was touch and go for me but his steady hand helped to stabilize me and I thank God for that because I could have regressed.  It was very disorienting.  I’m looking at the situation half-full now.  

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Resilient Rockaway Part I

I started visiting Rockaway this time last year.  The days following Hurricane Sandy were surreal and chaotic, as everyone knows.  I remember leaving each day so overwhelmed by the range of experiences and reactions that I saw each day, as people attempted to process what had just happened and what it meant for their future.  Scattered throughout the distress were stories of strength.  Block bonfires warmed cold days.  Neighbors created potluck gatherings from donations, pop up community centers, and what they had salvaged from their kitchen.  Residents joined together and decided to better their communities, which had already been suffering and were now totally destroyed.  I was continuously impressed with the amount of optimism I encountered despite the devastation Sandy wrought.  Weeks and months of cold and darkness, and a year of painfully slow—and at times stagnant—recovery that is still ongoing for many residents throughout Rockaway.

The series of portraits I will be posting over the next week are coupled with interviews by Claudia Santino to tell the stories of just a few of the many incredible people we met in Rockaway over the past year.  In showing these, we hope to portray the resilience of character that so many of them embody.  We are grateful to them for sharing their stories and commend them for the incredible strength, courage and resilience they continue to show.  

Superstorm Sandy, One Year Later: Self-Portraits by Communities in Distress

One year ago, more than 800,000 photos were uploaded and tagged as Superstorm Sandy made landfall. On the anniversary of the devastating storm, Fred Ritchin writes for LightBox on the power of the photograph as self-documentary in 2013.


Mirror Image - The Blonds FW13. Photos by Jessie Adler.