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For years, a pith helmet, nearly comic determination, and astounding know-how have combined to fashion Steve Brill’s persona, as he leads expeditions through Central Park and New York’s other semi-wild places in search of edible plants and flowers.  Adventurers get a dose of accomplishment and renewed respect for the bounty of nature, right here in one of the most man-made environments in the world.  Come with us!

Oy! There are so many Yiddish words Americans (and Noo Yawkuz especially) use in everyday talking that it is really gevalt. This is a VOA Wordmaster segment where I explore what some of those words are and what they mean. Originally tailored for broadcast to places where Yiddish has never never been heard.

2009 marks the 400th anniversary of English sea captain Henry Hudson’s arrival in what’s now New York harbor. British colonists would play a major role in the development of Manhattan Island. But historian Russell Shorto says it was largely the 17th century Dutch and their pioneering settlement of New Amsterdam that influenced what Manhattan, New York City and to some extent, even America itself, would become. Shorto explains how in his book, “The Island at the Center of the World – The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America.”

The middle class suburb of Middletown New Jersey lost upwards of 45 people in the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, devastating the town. This piece checks in a year after the event on some of the families who lost loved ones that day, along with town officials, as Middletown continues its path toward recovery – or not.

It is a follow-up from a mini-doc made with many of the same people in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

The soldily middle class town of Middletown New Jersey is a peaceful suburb populated largely by people who left the city for a quieter life of green lawns and Little League. Many residents work in Manhattan and take the ferry or the New Jersey Transit train home. On September 11th 2001, upwards of 45 residents lost their lives in the World Trade Center, devastating the town, which tried to cope and help its own. This is a profile of several residents and officials soon afterward.

It is followed by a mini-doc of similar length which I made near the first anniversary of September 11th 2001 in which I interviewed many of the same people, in order to chart and report on their trajectory of continued grief and healing.

There are hundreds of musicians, good and bad, tooting and strumming and bowing and belting in the New York subway system, but Mr. Spoons is sui generis. Not only is he fantastic at playing the spoons, he has an outsize character to match. I spent some serious time with him, and filed this report for VOA.

Meet David Isay, a humane and immensely talented radio documentary maker and oral historian who has probably won every broadcasting award out there. Isay has dedicated his career to celebrating the lives of everyday Americans by recording their stories, and chronicling the experiences of underdogs and colorful characters, many of them living outside the American cultural mainstream. We meet him, and sample some of them, in this profile.

See also “Listening is an Act of Love” and “Storycorps” stories also in this blog.

In which Adam goes out with an intrepid group of artist-citizen-scientists as they explore Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal on canoes looking for seven species of crickets and katydids. Also includes some Madison Square Park exploration.

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