It Takes a Village

Scenes from Cow Harbor Day in Northport Village Sunday, Sept. 18. photo by Victoria Espinoza

Northport Village celebrated it’s annual Cow Harbor Day with a parade and fair this past Sunday, Sept. 18 Local fire departments, village organizations and the Northport-East Northport High School marching band, cheerleaders, and kick line came out to march.

by -
0 1269
Greg Crimmins, CEO, co-founder and scientist at Remedy Plan

Say what you will about Gen-Xers, but the founders of Remedy Plan could just change the world.

Greg Crimmins, CEO and co-founder of Remedy Plan, is a molecular and cell biologist, working on a way to stop the spread of cancer.

Yes, you read that correctly. A way to stop cancer. That’s huge.

Though they’re not there yet, the plan is very much in place — “Stop the spread of cancer without stopping your life.”

With Vice President Joe Biden chairing the first meeting of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force in February, we are all reminded of the toll the deadly disease takes on its victims, their families and their friends. And any new perspectives are welcome in the battle to end the disease’s tyranny.

Departing from the traditional approach to cancer treatment, Remedy Plan won’t kill cancer cells. Crimmins said it will contain them so that they can’t spread.

Cancer cells, he explained, are actually cells that have regressed to an embryonic state and hold properties that are only present in the very early stages of human development.

“We’re not attaching molecular atomic bombs to try to kill any cells at all,” he said.

“We are targeting embryonic properties of cells which are not present in any healthy cells.”

Traditional cancer treatment. Image courtesy of Remedy Plan.
Traditional cancer treatment. Image courtesy of Remedy Plan.

Based on co-founder Ron Parchem’s research in embryonic stem cell biology and Crimmins’ background creating phenotypic screens, the former University of California, Berkeley classmates were able to develop a tool to easily identify the most dangerous cancer cells and to “measure quickly and effectively which drugs can remove the metastatic properties of cancer cells,” Crimmins said.

He talked about what it was like when he and his friend realized that they were on to something big.

“It was that moment where this sort of light gets flicked on, and everything that was dark all of a sudden, you can see it for a moment….” Crimmins said.

“The potential was so big, and the science was solid.”

Remedy Plan approach to cancer treatment. Image courtesy of Remedy Plan.
Remedy Plan approach to cancer treatment. Image courtesy of Remedy Plan.

So big and so solid, in fact, that Crimmins, 35, turned down a tenure-track position at the University of Maryland to pursue Remedy Plan and to begin screening drugs to determine the initial group of potential candidates.

While his wife Allison, an environmental scientist, started a new job at the Environmental Protection Agency in D.C., Crimmins spent about three months — and his savings — sleeping on a friend’s couch in San Francisco getting the project off the ground.

Crimmins and Parchem, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, assembled an advisory team of scientists from Tufts School of Medicine, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Francisco Helen Diller Cancer Center.

To raise seed money for the project, the founders developed a business plan before going to investors, applying for grants and even launching an Indiegogo campaign.

While most people don’t exactly associate crowdfunding with a for-profit biotech start-up, the $102,925 the campaign raised was crucial to Crimmins being able to test 1,000 FDA-approved drugs.

Remedy plan technology uses fluorescent markers that change colors when certain parts of the DNA are “turned on” in a cell. Red marks the area in the cell where embryonic properties are present. This indicates how metastatic a cell is. When testing for potential drug candidates, a change from red to green or blue means the drug is reducing or “turning off” the metastatic properties. Courtesy Remedy Plan.
Remedy plan technology uses fluorescent markers that change colors when certain parts of the DNA are “turned on” in a cell. Red marks the area in the cell where embryonic properties are present. This indicates how metastatic a cell is. When testing for potential drug candidates, a change from red to green or blue means the drug is reducing or “turning off” the metastatic properties. Courtesy Remedy Plan.

“Part of doing a crowdfunding campaign is you’re pulling all of these people in. You’re letting them be a part of science,” said Allison Crimmins, who also functions as director of strategy for Remedy Plan.

“You have a responsibility too — you’ve got to maintain these updates or blog or something that lets them be a part of your successes and failures along the way,” she said.

Their more than 280 contributors helped them surpass their $100,000 goal and made it possible for Crimmins to leave his “day” job — he was a research fellow at the Food and Drug Administration — to open his lab in Rockville, MD earlier this winter.

Ultimately, they will need about $1.5 million and are continuing to approach angel investors. The funds will go toward hiring additional staff and testing drugs for safety and their ability to stop metastatic cancer in animal models. It will also go toward optimizing the chemistry of the drug candidates that are most likely to make the cut for clinical trials.

Though this could take a few years, Crimmins is in it for the long haul.

“This is something that could change the system of cancer treatment if we’re successful,” he said.

 

by -
0 1465

Parenting, that is

Much anticipation surrounds the arrival of a new baby. Photo by Andrea Paldy

When you see a headline claiming parenthood is worse than divorce, unemployment or the death of a partner  — check out the August 11 edition of The Washington Post — you can’t turn away. You have to keep reading.

Even if the article turns out not to be quite what the headline implies, it’s definitely an attention grabber, because no matter how lacking in sleep or how many Legos you’ve collected from random places, in what feels like an endless loop, the notion that parenthood is worse than some pretty traumatic life events is kind of offensive.

Though it sounds like the study is saying having children makes people unhappy, what the researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskyla are really saying is that parents’ first go around with baby #1 can influence the choice to have a second.

Oh. Well, that makes more sense.

In fact, the longitudinal study, conducted on German couples three years before the birth of a first child and at least two years after the birth, doesn’t actually compare parenthood to unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner, at all. But, it does, The Washington Post said, use the same happiness scale that has been used to measure such milestones. Even so, the deck seems pretty stacked if you’re measuring parenthood by that first year.

I mean, you’re talking about desperately sleep-deprived adults who are faced with the highest stakes responsibility of their lives! With no previous experience, I might add. Sorry, but babysitting in high school does not count. Not to mention the isolation, decisions about careers, childcare and worrying about how and where to pump if you are going back to work. And on a less dire, but still psychically stressful note, there is deciding what to wear to work, since it’s pretty unlikely the pre-baby era wardrobe will be making a reappearance.

What I liked about the study is that it actually acknowledges the effect that those issues — along with difficulties during pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding — have on that first year. It’s hard! And as the researchers mention, childrearing is “continuous and intense” and can be especially challenging without experience or social support.

The study finds that parents reported the highest well-being either right before the baby is born or right after, but that the biggest drop-off in well-being occurs within that first year after the birth. The researchers also found that among its participants, those who decided to have a second child had “a smaller drop in well-being in the year after the birth” of their first child and “gained more in life satisfaction around the time of a first child’s birth” than those who chose not to have a second child. Again, this seems pretty logical.

And unlike all of the blogs and books and things meant to ease newbies into their roles, the study does note the importance of social support in that first year. Grandparents, of course, are invaluable, because they’ve done it all before. They can see the big picture, which at the very beginning is so hard to see. They love us and they love their grandkids and they have tons of patience. (More than they had when we were kids).

Friendships with other parents are also key. It sounds simplistic and can be rather difficult to do with short parental leaves that barely grant enough time to bond with and enjoy the baby, but there is much to be said for being able to talk to someone who has experienced what you have recently or is making some of the same discoveries you are. When a good college friend came to visit a week after my first was born, she allayed many of my anxious, new-mom concerns about whether I was doing it right, because she had just been there and done that.

Even as the children grow and you grow into your role, it’s good to have those friends with whom you can swap stories, advice, children’s clothing and even emergency childcare. It can also mean lifelong friendships for the children too. And if it gets hard, it’s okay to say it’s hard, because you’ll probably hear that you’re not the only one feeling that way.

There is no question that becoming a parent is a joyous and transformative experience with a steep learning curve. And as any parent knows, you never stop learning or worrying about getting it “right.”

Whether it’s those lifelong friends transitioning with you or new ones you make along the way, having that support can make a difference. Because, everyone needs a little help from their friends. Especially when it comes to raising children.

by -
0 1300

Air-conditioned fun

"Cinderella's Glass Slipper" is running at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center through August 23. Photo from Smithtown Performing Arts Center

It’s really hot out there and lugging the kids, the water bottles and the snacks can be enough to bring on the whining — from you, as much as from them. So, let’s bring on the air-conditioning with some fun indoor activities.

Theater

Nothing livens up the day like a little live theatah! And the kids love hobnobbing with the cast afterwards during the meet and greets.

Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, known for its great children’s productions, is putting on “Jack and the Beanstalk” on Friday and Saturdays through August 6 and “The Pied Piper” from August 7 to August 15. Not only is the price right —$10 a ticket —it’s just the right length to keep the littlest kids from squirming. And after the show, you can grab lunch or an ice cream or even have tea at The Secret Garden nearby!

For more information, go to theatrethree.com.

The Smithtown Performing Arts Center also puts on children’s productions performed by young adults. “Cinderella’s Glass Slipper” is running from July 27 to August 23 on Saturdays and Sundays. These tickets are a little more pricey at $15 per ticket.

There’s a shopping center adjacent to the theater with many lunch-time offerings, but that’s if you get that far, since an Italian ice stand is just one door away…

For more information, go to smithtownpac.org.

Museum Row in Garden City

One of the most underrated destinations on the island, in my opinion, is the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. From the moment you enter the glass-encased lobby, you are greeted with airplanes — a Blue Angel jet, for one — dangling from the high ceilings. Before entering the galleries, the kids can enjoy the playroom, complete with a life-size space shuttle and cockpit with buttons and levers to push and experiments to conduct. The kids also love to pretend to be airline passengers in the airline seats —taken from a real airplane — and in the remains of a real galley with pretend food.

Once you’ve dragged the kids from the playroom — and believe me, they’ll need to be dragged, even the nine-year-olds who are technically too old for the play area —you can hit the galleries, which give a history of flight and space. While the first few exhibits explain concepts like “lift,” the majority of the displays feature real airplane cockpits, military jets, a pontoon plane along with flight memorabilia from the World Wars and the early passenger jet days.

Some of the other highlights — really, there are too many to name — include a Blue Angels motion simulator ride, a lunar module prototype, as well as a replica of the lunar module that brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon.

Other museum offerings, at an additional cost, are a space-themed café with hot dogs and other such snacks, a Firefighter’s Museum and a planetarium and Imax theater. This museum is definitely a personal favorite, and it’s open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Labor Day. For more information, go to the website at cradleofaviation.org.

Just next door to the airplane museum is Nunley’s Carousel. We always try to stop in on our way from the museum. For $2 each, you and your children can take a turn on this classic, old-fashioned merry-go-round. Check the website before you leave home for the hours!

Many are familiar with the wonders of the Long Island Children’s Museum. From it’s Tots Spot play area where the kids can pretend to drive a Long Island Railroad train, be commercial fisherman or climb to the top of the lighthouse and slide down, to its musical instrument exhibit, this is a museum that caters to all ages.

While some of the most popular exhibits are the bubbles, the “beach” area — the sand has a real allure during the winter — and the two-story climbing structure, there are a host of activities to keep the kids entertained. Many of the more sophisticated exhibits such as the building blocks and displays on communication and music are upstairs.

There is a lunchroom with vending machines, and, of course, the café over at the Cradle of Aviation. The museum is open every day until September 7, 2015 and closed on Mondays after. For more information, go to the website licm.org.

 

by -
0 1722

Kailen Rosenberg shares the power of love

Kailen Rosenberg with Oprah Winfrey on the reality show "Lovetown, USA." Photo by The Love Architects

Huey Lewis — yes, I am so going there — had a song about the power of love. He said it could “make a bad one good, a wrong one right.” And though it’s just a song – from the ‘80s, no less – the sentiment is not all that different from that of celebrity love architect Kailen Rosenberg.

Yes, you read that right, celebrity love architect.

Known for bringing people together, Kailen Rosenberg has worked with thousands of clients over the past 20 years as more than a mere matchmaker. She worked her magic with Paul Carrick Bunson on Oprah’s award-winning reality show, “Lovetown, USA,” on OWN — the Oprah Winfrey Network. She turned Kingsland, Georgia, once plagued by resentment and disagreement, into a harmonious town that thrived on love.

As her husband, a homebuilder, pointed out, Kailen is a love architect because she treats relationships as structures to be built on and added to with love. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The foundation of lasting relationships, Kailen says, are people who are healed, healthy and whole. “We can all make a tremendous shift in our world just by being gentle with our words and gentle in our thoughts,” she added during a recent telephone conversation.

Hmm. We might want to pass that on to some Facebook posters.

So how do we increase the love energy in our lives? Maybe get off Twitter and Facebook for starters. Okay, so Kailen didn’t exactly say that, but she does have a website called TheLoveRadar.com, a barometer of sorts. It can rate a city’s love or hatred based on tweets from people living there. Cool, right?

The idea behind it, says Kailen, who lives in Minnesota, is for people to see the power of positive (or negative) energy. She’s seen the proof played out in the Super Bowl. It’s actually happened that a team playing for a city with a higher love quotient has beaten one with less love, even though the team wasn’t favored to win! So much for the trash talk.

Kailen Rosenberg. Photo by The Love Architects
Kailen Rosenberg is the author of the book Real Love, Right Now, available this month from Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Photo by The Love Architects

The mother of three sons hopes to do more with the site, which her husband of 13 years built for her. Of course,  with finishing her book Real Love, Right Now and shooting a new reality show, “Stewarts and Hamiltons,” for the E! Network, Kailen has been pretty busy!

Meanwhile, Kailen, who has a master’s-level certification as a life coach, has other ways to stoke love in all the relationships in our lives.

“We spend a lot of time in life lying to ourselves by not listening to our voice,” Kailen says.

“We lose parts of ourselves because we become someone other than who we’re meant to be.”

This is why when she works with clients, singles, couples and families, she “digs deep” — 100 layers deep — to get to the heart of a person to uncover who the person truly is.  This work is important for helping clients understand why they react in ways that can lead them to disconnect from their loved ones.

Kailen, who exuded nothing but warmth and sincerity throughout our phone conversation, recommended that families come together every week “for a meeting of the hearts and minds and spirits.”

“Stewarts and Hamiltons,” a reality show featuring Alana Stewart, former wife of both Rod Stewart and George Hamilton, premieres on E! on July 26 at 10 pm.

by -
0 1414

Summer activities for the family

West Meadow Beach is not the only option for summer fun.

This blog was originally posted in July 2013. It has been updated with current information.

You may still be recovering from those last couple of weeks of careening from one end-of-school-year event to the next, but once the novelty of not having to make it to the bus in the morning or churn out homework in the afternoon wears off, boredom will set in hard and fast.

When younger kids are not in camp, entertainment often falls on mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, or whoever else is looking after the little ones.

Fortunately, our area is not wanting for things to do, and we all have our fail-safe go-to’s — the Emma S. Clark or the Middle Country Libraries for their smorgasbord of classes and activities, the fields or labyrinth at Avalon, West Meadow Beach, or the sprinklers in Port Jeff.

For those days when you want to venture out a little farther, here are just a few more ideas for getting out and about. And let me just preface my recommendations with one bit of advice: wear insect repellant in addition to the sunscreen!  The bugs are out in full force!

Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown

The nice thing about Sweetbriar is you can just get up and go without any real planning or effort, and you can easily spend a couple of hours between picnicking, walking the exhibits and enjoying the outdoor setting. Because much of it is outside, it may not be ideal for a sweltering day.

The animal rehabilitation center is home to horned owls and other birds of prey, and if you hit the right time, you might just see Iggy, the iguana who usually resides inside, walking the grounds sunning herself. The butterfly house is open for business, and there are walking trails, an English garden and an outdoor play spot, complete with water play area, chalk boards and even a log see-saw.

The indoor exhibit features reptiles, amphibians, honey bees and other small animals, as well as skeletons and other educational displays. The rainforest room upstairs is a child’s favorite because of the “bridge” that extends over a faux river. Just watch out for the ginormous tarantulas hanging out, quite literally, in their tanks at the back of the room and make sure to have some pennies to toss into the “river.”

For hours, directions and information about camps and special programs, visit the website, http://sweetbriarnc.org. Sweetbriar is located at 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown, NY11787, 631-979-6344.

Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center in Holtsville

Another great place for animal viewing is the Holtsville Ecology Center. The small zoo is home to a variety of animals including a bald eagle, emu, horses and a giant pig. All inhabitants are previously injured animals that cannot be re-released.

Though entrance is free,  you may want to have change on hand to buy feed for the goats from the dispensers. Afterwards, you can enjoy a picnic lunch in their picnic area,  run around the playground or ride bikes, scooters or roller blade on the trails.   Oh, and there is an ice cream truck parked outside the entrance, so be prepared to indulge!

For more information visit brookaven.org The Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center Nature Preserve is located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY. 631-758-9664.

New York State Parks

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown and Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale both offer biweekly Tiny Tots Nature Discovery classes for children 3 to 5 years old. All you have to do is call ahead to reserve a space. The hour-long class is only $4 per adult and $3 for children!

There are also programs for older children, families and adults. This Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. there will be a bat program at Caleb Smith Park. You can learn about bats in the educational center before walking through the woods scouting for the creatures. While this particular event is recommended for those 5 and up, you can get information about other programs at Caleb Smith by calling 631-265-1054. (They are in the process of updating their website).

For more information on programs at Connetquot River State Park, go to nysparks.com.

Sailors Haven and the Sunken Forest on Fire Island

If you’re looking for a bigger adventure, take the Sayville Ferry across to Sailors Haven on Fire Island, where you’ll find the Sunken Forest and a beach with fine sand and huge seashells for collectors. A boardwalk connects the visitors’ center, the showers, beach and forest. You can either wander around on your own, or take a free ranger-led tour.

Bring your own snacks, since the snack shop is closed while the marina is under construction. Both should reopen at the end of July. The good news, though, is there are lifeguards on duty and the bathrooms and showers are open.

As you can expect, attire for the woods and attire for the beach are not exactly compatible, especially because the forest, situated on freshwater bogs, is extraordinarily buggy — we’re talking total feeding frenzy. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are not advisable, or you will be running to avoid being devoured. Bug spray is ESSENTIAL.

The Visitors Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit the website nps.gov or call (631) 597-6183.

 

 

 

by -
0 1967

Pondering the circle of life and all that

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor receives honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, at the Icahn School of Medicine commencement, held at Avery Fisher Hall in May. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

I went to my first graduation at two. My father was receiving his Master’s in Public Administration and, according to my mother, I spent the duration of the ceremony on her lap, kicking her with my white patent leather shoes.

Since then, there have been more graduations than I can properly recall — including my own — and along with an upgrade in footwear, my attention span has also much improved.

To be fair, most of the graduations I attend these days are for work, which means that I should be paying attention if I’m to properly report what occurred.

But this year, in addition to the ones I covered, I had my daughter’s moving-up ceremony from kindergarten, which marked the end of her time — and our family’s time — at the school she and my son attended for preschool and kindergarten. (Yes, there are a lot of emotions there, but I am not going to cry. Sniff!)

And, I attended my cousin Crystal’s graduation from Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, where she received her Master’s of Public Health degree. (This is my “baby” cousin, whose kindergarten “graduation” I’d attended back in the ‘90s). And though this graduation was almost three (!!) hours,  it left me inspired, hopeful and with a sense of how interconnected we all are.

One of the speakers, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist, vice provost at University of Pennsylvania and leading bioethicist and health care policy reformer, practically scandalized the audience when he said something to the effect that no one remembers the speeches given at graduation. After a brief moment of indignation, I thought back to my graduations and realized that he was absolutely right. Yet, I remembered the gist of his words without the luxury of jotting them down. What made his words — and those of the medical school dean, Dr. Dennis Charney — memorable was that though they were talking about medicine and health care, they were also addressing universal truths.

Dr. Charney moved the audience by telling of the heartbreaking loss of an infant with an incurable disease. His expression of powerlessness despite the resources and knowledge at his disposal was made all the more painful when he revealed that the child had been his granddaughter. But what he wanted graduates to take away from his personal pain was the idea that they could build on the knowledge of others. He told graduates to stand on the shoulders of those who had come before them to find cures.

These are words that can resonate with us all as we strive to add to — or improve on — what pioneers in our own areas of expertise have discovered, invented or created. We also do this when we stand on the shoulders of  family members who sacrificed so that our dreams could be bigger.

As for Dr. Emanuel — did I mention that he’s Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s big brother? — his words were just as wise. He said even if you are a great doctor, if the system is broken, your patient can still be harmed. Again, this is not a sentiment unique to medicine. This holds true in government, education, the judicial system and even the media. But this holds even more sway coming from a man who has worked within the system and has dedicated much of his career to fixing it. When we call on doctors and policy makers or other members of society to see beyond themselves and to work to fix what’s broken around them, we are reminded that we are a part of a larger network.

This idea of how knowledge is passed on and then used to sometimes inch, or even propel, ourselves forward came full circle at last Sunday’s Ward Melville High School graduation. The valedictorian — who will be attending my alma mater — gave a moving speech highlighting the talents of his classmates. He mentioned several of them by name before moving on to acknowledge the guidance of his junior high and high school teachers and, of course, all of the parents.  He closed by urging his classmates to pay it forward. Though he didn’t say it in the way Charney did, he was telling the class of 2015 to allow others to stand on their shoulders.

Though most people don’t really enjoy all the sitting and listening and waiting, graduations are momentous occasions because they are a chance to look back before moving forward. They reinforce the bonds we have with those who have helped us, and they inspire us to be the boost that guides others to success.

This philosophy couldn’t have been more apparent as all doctors were asked to stand and recite the Oath of Maimonides with the new Icahn graduates. My Uncle Donald began his medical career as a resident at Mount Sinai and now, at his daughter’s graduation, he represented knowledge and experience.

The moment was sentimental and it was also a proclamation. It showed that we achieve with the help of others, and we achieve by helping others.

 

 

 

by -
0 1834

The final chapter for WholeSoy & Co.

Stonyfield Organic O'Soy yogurt at Wild By Nature is one option to fill the hole left by WholeSoy.

It’s been a month and a half since my stash of Trader Joe’s organic soy yogurt ran out, and I still haven’t found anything equally as satisfying to fill the void in the lunchbox. Though it’s never been confirmed, I’ve always believed that family-owned WholeSoy & Co. made Trader Joe’s soy yogurt, since both brands always seemed to disappear from stores at the same time.

Now, after two years of following WholeSoy’s battle to keep its yogurt on the shelves, I bring you the anti-climactic conclusion. The 16-year-old company shuttered in March.

This premature end was particularly surprising, since things seemed to be looking up back in January when Maryland-based Nutroganics licensed the WholeSoy & Co. name for the production and sale of soy milk. Whether this marriage will remain intact, or even extend to soy yogurt, remains to be seen.  The company, which owns three other “healthy lifestyle” labels, did not return calls for comment.

This is not the way epics and stories about underdogs are supposed to end.

WholeSoy, based in Modesto, Calif., fought valiantly to pick itself up after its factory — known as a co-packing plant — closed in 2013. I tracked the progress as the company moved to a new facility, and then, because the facility couldn’t meet its huge production needs, put together funds to build and operate its own dairy-free yogurt-making facility. Then we all waited yogurt-less, month after month, as deadlines came and went and the yogurt we yearned for didn’t return to store shelves. Finally, after almost a year, it was back in April 2014, and all, it seemed, was right with the world.

Not quite a year later — in March — I noted the dwindling supply of yogurt at Wild by Nature and knew something was up. A visit to the WholeSoy website confirmed it. A letter to customers explained that the company simply could not afford to both run the business and cover the debt it incurred while off the shelves and from building a new facility.

At that point, I did the only thing I could do. I went to Trader Joe’s and cleared the shelf — actually, I think I left about four containers behind. If this was the end, we were going down with a boatload of soy yogurt.

While WholeSoy stood out for making organic soy yogurt with ingredients that had no genetic modifications, it was also notable for its transparency. In an effort to be “honest and forthright” it tried to keep its customers in the loop through regular posts to its website and social media. At one point, the executives even apologized for promising and then delaying (several times) the yogurt’s comeback “and not taking into account consideration of all of the potential pitfalls.”

It was also no secret that executives had poured their own money into the business along with a $400,000 loan from Whole Foods. Yet, in the end, it wasn’t enough.

“[W]e have exhausted all possible sources of additional funding and can no longer continue to operate,” the bare-all message said.

And yet, aren’t these precisely the companies we want to see thrive?  It’s sad, really —and not just for vegans and people with dairy allergies — that an independently owned, environmentally and socially conscious company was unable to survive despite the high demand for its product. According to them, they were the number one selling soy yogurt, and based on all of the love notes customers have left as recently as this month on their page, it’s clear that they had quite the following.

Certainly, there are other soy yogurts on the planet, but even my own little soy yogurt connoisseur votes with a spoon and declares that the others do not taste the same. Besides, after watching our protagonist face and overcome so many obstacles, this denouement is less than satisfying.

I can only hope for a sequel in which the WholeSoy founders are able to rise from the ashes to build a stronger, even more successful business.

Until then, I’ll echo their final words to customers back to them.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and farewell.”

 

by -
0 1600

The Long Island Maker Festival debuts in Port Jeff

Spectators view demo of the Voxiebox which will be on display at the Long Island Maker Festival Sunday. Photo by Sean Kane

Opening my web browser the other day, I was dropped into the middle of an Apple “special event” product unveiling where an executive enthused about some app or service or the other. It was something to customize my newsfeed. Since I’m good with the way I currently get my news, I didn’t pay too much attention and moved on.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming — keeping up with apps, worrying about issues of privacy and multi-tasking — all of which can erode productivity and promise access to more content than we could ever properly consume. And yet, we can either be intimidated by technology or energized by it.

People who turn that energy into creativity — makers, doers — can be an inspiration to us all. That’s why this Sunday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson Village and KidOYO are hosting the Long Island Maker Festival.

The largest maker festival in Suffolk County, it will showcase the work of people who have seized technological innovations and turned them into opportunities to become innovators, says Cindy Morris, the event’s organizer.

As Cindy describes it, the maker movement stems from accessible innovation.

“Technology has changed so much, you can do almost everything from your own home,” she says.”

You don’t need millions of dollars or fancy hi-tech facilities to realize your ideas.

I have to admit that I love the word “maker.” People who create, contribute and value utility. It’s the opposite of consumption and requires grit and ingenuity. How could anyone not be excited by that?

Sunday’s family event will bring together 50 volunteers from ages 11 on up to the Port Jefferson Harborfront Park. There will be scientists from across the island wearing shirts saying, “I’m a scientist. Ask me a question.” They want to encourage those who attend to learn more about the science behind what they will be seeing.  And Cindy assures there will be lots of science — professional robotics, a children’s science exhibition, a demonstration of green screen technology and a hologram machine built in a garage — to name just a few offerings.

Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane
Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane

The maker movement encompasses more than just science and technology, Cindy says. There’s art, performing art and crafting, much of which will also be seen Sunday.

Stony Brook University’s theater department will demo theatrical make-up, while attendees can take sewing lessons, observe an African drumming circle, or take in other musical performances. Workshops from computer coding to organic gardening will also be offered.

“We always talk to our children about being imaginative, but as we get older, we stop doing it ourselves,” Cindy observes.

This event, this gathering of creators and entrepreneurs, is to show that “anybody can do this,” she says. “We want our children to know that they don’t have to be adults to be creative, and for adults to realize that they don’t have to be children to be creative.”

All of this came together in four months, which Cindy sees as a show of the community’s interest and desire for such an event.  There are close to 100 makers participating, and organizers expect the festival to draw some 3,000 attendees.

Cindy’s background as a strategic planner for non-profits — she owns The Benson Agency — definitely came in handy when gathering sponsors. Without them, the undertaking would have cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, she estimates.

Port Jefferson Village is allowing the organizers to use the Harborfront Park rent free, while The Rinx, the roller rink at the Village Center, is offering all attendees free roller skating for the day. Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences and its department of technology and society, Stony Brook Medicine, Hofstra, The Science Academy Camp at Park Shore, Long Island Parent and PSEG are among the other sponsors.

If you are a mover and a maker, or you want to be one, head “down Port” this Sunday. Maybe something you see will spark your sense of invention!

Tickets: Purchased in advance $10/person or $40/family. Day of $15/person or $60 family. www.limakerfest.com

by -
0 1420

"Remembering Things Past"

Waugh's painting from her exhibit "Across the Pond" looks at how the same language renders different meanings "across the pond."

When it comes to the power of Annemarie Waugh’s art, the writing is on the wall — elegantly scrawled in technicolor chalk on a black cloud of paint that remarkably, though unintentionally, resembles a map of the United States.

Her latest work, “Across the Pond,” features 166 “Britishisms” brought to life in paintings on canvas and with expressions written directly on the walls of the Islip Museum of Art.

It’s all part of the show, “Remembering Things Past,” running at the museum until the end of March.

The small room where her art is displayed is filled with wonderful British idioms, like “snog,” (to kiss), “faff,” (to waste time) and “mucky pup”, (dirty child). My personal favorite is “all fur coat and no knickers” (to have a sophisticated appearance but no substance). They’re the sort of expressions that would make you feel oh, so witty, were you to slip them into your daily conversation. Though, I’m not sure they’d sound nearly as nifty without the equally smart British accent.

Annemarie says the idea for the project began to percolate last Christmas when she was at home in England. The almost clichéd advice, “write what you know,” got her thinking.

“I know England. I know these expressions,” she says.

Inspiration to begin her text series, illustrations of some of these expressions — almost like an onomatopoeia in pencil and acrylic— soon followed. She describes the process as “thinking about the differences of the two countries and finding a visual voice that brings those memories and experiences into the work.”

Before she picked up her tools though, she started with a short story — about a paragraph long — to go with the words. Her first word was “snog.” From there, she went on to do more research in books and dictionaries, rediscovering and uncovering more expressions. She still uses some. Some, she’d forgotten. Her list has grown so much that she is actually compiling it into a book.

Annemarie told me that when she first showed the series in Patchogue last October, she didn’t want to display only paintings, so she had to figure out a way to showcase additional expressions.

“I started thinking of England and chalkboards and schools… chalkboard brings you back to remembering days long ago. It was a natural fit,” she says.

So she started practicing on the chalkboard in her son’s playroom. Though she’d used stencils for her paintings because she thought of her handwriting as “chicken scratch,” the artist says she found chalk freer and less inhibiting.

As the whole concept formed, “It was like another person stepped in and did it for me,” she says.

Installing the chalked portion of the exhibit was a project in itself. Annemarie says she was at the museum from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — leaving in time to get her son off the bus —for four straight days.

She painted the wall and wrote the 166 British expressions on one wall and the corresponding “American translations” on another. She very nicely numbered everything so they can easily be matched. On the fifth day, she worked with a proofreader. After all, that is a lot of writing!

Annemarie_definitionsAs Annemarie explains it, evenings were spent going through her lists of expressions to choose which would fit thematically and physically in her piece.

To see how she has managed to perfectly alternate each color — red, pink, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple and white— for each expression, so that the same color is never contiguous, is an impressive and powerful feat.

It’s almost like performance art, because to show the exhibit elsewhere, Annemarie would have to do it all over again!

When I asked her if the thought made her want to take a nap, she laughed. “Oh no! I’d love to do it again!” she said.

“Remembering Things Past,” can be seen at the Islip Museum of Art, 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, through March 29. Viewing is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays, and noon to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Call (631) 224-5402.

Social

4,795FansLike
5Subscribers+1
983FollowersFollow
19SubscribersSubscribe