All posts by Murphy Institute

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson: An Interview

By Kafui Attoh

Something exciting is happening in Poughkeepsie. In the last two years a group of local residents — under the name “Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson” (NLMH) — have been organizing to fight for the rights of the city’s low-income residents.  For those whose knowledge of Poughkeepsie begins and ends with “The French Connection,” Poughkeepsie is not unlike many postindustrial cities in upstate NY — defined by decades of capital flight, city center decline and entrenched poverty. In this context, the emergence of NLMH has been an important development.

More than anything, it has been important for what the group has already accomplished. Last year, NLMH spearheaded the passage of the state’s first municipal foreclosure bond law — an ordinance requiring owners of properties in foreclosure (mostly banks) to post a $10,000 bond to the city for upkeep. Poughkeepsie is only the seventh city in the country to pass such legislation. This year, NLMH has embarked on a new campaign aimed at fighting the Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company — the public utility monopoly that serves the Mid-Hudson region. As Central Hudson pushes for a rate hike and as local residents —already on the margins — consider the possibility of power shut-offs, NLMH has raised a set of important questions. What rights do people have to heat, electricity and a warm home? More to the point, what rights should they have? Continue reading Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson: An Interview

An Rong Xu’s “The Chinese Americans”

Photo: An Rong Xu, The Chinese Americans

Photographer An Rong Xu’s series “The Chinese Americans” connects the experiences of immigrant Americans by threading together the narratives of Asian Americans across several cities in the United States. In the essay that accompanies this New York Times feature, the artist writes that these pieces are reflections on identity. Her childhood in Queens was shaped in part by anti-Asian racism. Xu revisits the journey of her great-grandfather, documenting the physical and psychic spaces of contemporary Asian immigrant communities in New York City, Seattle and San Francisco.

Xu’s visual art responds to her painful formative experiences by mining familial and community histories that are contextualized by their immigration to America and their roles in American history. To this end, she locates relatives who have worked on the Transcontinental Railroad. Continue reading An Rong Xu’s “The Chinese Americans”

Yuppies Invade my House at Dinnertime: A Classic!

By Kafui Attoh

yuppiesRoughly two years ago, I came across a really great book that I think deserves a plug: Yuppies Invade my House at Dinnertime: a tale of brunch, bombs and gentrification in an American City. Published in 1987 and edited by Joseph Barry and John Deravlany, the book offers a compelling look at Hoboken’s transformation in the late 1980s.

Most compelling is the book’s format. The book is little more than a collection of letters printed in the editorial page of The Hoboken Reporter. Written by locals, displaced “yorkies,” gentrifiers and the begrudgingly gentrified, the letters are impassioned, angry, spiteful, nostalgic, triumphant, cringe-inducing and often deeply amusing. More than anything, they give the reader a visceral sense of both the promise and the costs of the city’s so-called “renaissance.” Continue reading Yuppies Invade my House at Dinnertime: A Classic!

Coop Event at Murphy Draws Large Crowd

On March 30th, the Murphy Institute hosted “Building a Worker Coop Ecosystem: Mondragon Meets the Five Boroughs,” a public conversation featuring Frederick Freundlich of Mondragon University and moderated by Stephanie Guico.

The conversation began with an explanation by Freudlich of the Mondragon network of worker coops in the Basque region of Spain. The network includes approximately 120 cooperatives and 130 affiliates or subsidiaries, all working across four broad areas — manufacturing, retail, finance, knowledge — and creating a livelihood for approximately 74,000 people. Freundlich discussed the history of the Mondragon system, tracing its origins back to the Spanish Civil War and describing the emergence of ancillary institutions, such as the cooperative bank, that have provided resources and support to the cooperative network throughout its development. Continue reading Coop Event at Murphy Draws Large Crowd