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Binghamton, NY

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Latitude: 42.102225 -- Longitude: -75.911797

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Binghamton is a city located in the southern tier of upstate New York in the United States. It is the county seat of Broome County. The population of the City of Binghamton, according to the 2000 Census, is 47,380 (1990 Census: 53,008). The City of Binghamton is nestled in the Southern Tier of New York, at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. The city is at the crossroads of Interstates 81 and 88, as well as the future Interstate 86 (also known as New York State Highway 17, The Southern Tier Expressway). -- Source:

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Census Data for Binghamton, New York

New York 2000 Census Population Profile Map

Binghamton New York United States
Population 47,380 18,976,457 281,421,906
Median age 36.7 35.9 35.3
Median age for Male 34.8 34.5 34
Median age for Female 38.6 37.2 36.5
Households 21,089 7,056,860 105,480,101
Household population 46,136 18,395,996 273,643,273
Average household size 2.19 2.61 2.59
Families 10,419 4,639,387 71,787,347
Average family size 2.96 3.22 3.14
Housing units 23,971 7,679,307 115,904,641
Occupied units 21,089 7,056,860 105,480,101
Vacant units 2,882 622,447 10,424,540

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Join us for Losing Ground: Land Grabs and the Fight for Justice

Fordham University Lincoln Center
155 West 60th Street between Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues, McMahon Hall Room 109
Presented by Oxfam, Normal Life Pictures, and Fordham University

No matter where we live, we all rely on land and farmers to put food on the table. Join us for a screening of the film Land Rush, a documentary co-directed by Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewat and produced by Eli Cane. The film, part of the Peabody award-winning Why Poverty? series has been screened around the world, including on PBS, BBC4, NHK, and others. Following the film there will be a dynamic panel discussion. Description of film & full list of panelists below.

The event is free but advanced registration is required. 

"Fantastically comprehensive without ever losing sight of the human beings at the epicenter. Wonderful."
-The Guardian

The story: The 2008 economic crash had global ramifications which led to food shortages across the world. As a consequence, many investors began viewing agricultural land across the developing world as an increasingly valuable commodity. Between 2000 and 2010, land deals under consideration or negotiation worldwide amounted to a total of 2 million square kilometers. Many investors set their sights on countries such as Mali, where they saw significant land not producing to its highest potential. In Mali, nearly seventy-five per cent of the population relies on farming, so foreign investment is set to have a huge impact on the population.
Land Rush offers complicated and nuanced look at the interplay between corporations seeking to invest and local communities. The film focuses on attempts develop a massive sugar plantation on the land where hundreds of thousands of people live and farm.

Speakers/Panelists include:
Eli Cane, Producer of "Land Rush"
Professor Steven Stoll, environmental historian and a professor of history at Fordham University
Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of FoodFirst/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Moderated by Irit Tamir, Senior Campaigns and Advocacy Advisor for Oxfam America 

Host Committee (list in formation):
Adjoa Tetteh, Sierra Club's Global Population and Environment Program; Andre Rivera & Kelly Moltzen, Franciscan Earth Corps; Andres Martinez-Villalobos, International Public Service Association, NYU Wagner; Austin Abel & Isabella Gross, Oxfam at United Nations International School; Benjy Schechner & Nell Simon, FeelGood Columbia University; Diana Mendez, Oxfam America at Pace; Eli Cane, Normal Life Pictures; Gareth Bryant, Muslims Giving Back; Kelly Moltzen, Greater New York Dietetic Association & NY Faith and Justice; members of Oxfam Action Corps NYC

Light snacks will also be provided.  

To learn more about Oxfam's campaign on land grabs and to take action, go to
For more information, please contact the Oxfam Action Corps NYC at

Artistic Oxfam Appeal for Syrian Peace Talks

In New York City, the 68th United Nations General Assembly is currently underway. Global heads of states have gathered in an annual meeting which presents an opportunity for leaders from around the world to speak on behalf of their countries on the international world stage. With the United Nations as the host, there will be a particular focus on humanitarian aid and refugee relief efforts.

In Syria, an uprising against four decades of rule by the Assad family culminated into civil war that has lead to over 100,000 deaths and resulted in displacement for nearly one third of Syria’s population. The gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly provided Oxfam America with an opportune moment to undertake ongoing efforts in highlighting the crisis in Syria with the aim of stressing the urgency of Syrian peace talks.

Oxfam America appealed for Syrian Peace negotiations with the assistance of renowned Argentinian/Spanish 3D street artist, Eduardo Relero. Eduardo’s signature artwork enhanced by optical illusion has adorned streets around the globe. On this occasion, a large-scale painting portraying President Obama and President Putin in the midst of discussions was on display for several hours during the morning of Sept 25th at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

The colossal painting is a particularly striking presentation depicting President Obama deep in thought while a map of various regions of Syria serves as a table as well as a barrier between the two Presidents in symbolic gesture. Both presidents are surrounded by fenced in refugees, composed primarily of women and children uprooted from their homes anxiously awaiting news of developments that will impact their lives.

Oxfam America staff, volunteers and media were available in full force on the scene in order to coordinate and speak to reporters about the event, provide support, and live tweet to amplify the message of the critical urgency for imminent peace negotiations in Syria.

Oxfam staff attendees included Oxfam America President, Raymond Offenheiser, Sue Rooks, working in Communications, Advocacy, Finance with Oxfam America, Media & Public Relations Director, Matt Herrick, Oxfam International Media Lead (Humanitarian), Louis Belanger as well as Oxfam America Regional Advocacy Lead, Will Fenton.

Volunteers who participated in making the day a success included NYC’s Oxfam Action Corps NYC’s current co-leader Elizabeth Norman, brand new NYC transplant and Oxfam volunteer from Grenada, Jennifer Viechweg as well as Sinead Kennedy who was instrumental in photographing and publicizing the event. Additionally, this event was an ideal opportunity for Oxfam staff from various offices and NYC Action Corps volunteers to be able to work in conjunction in person in joint effort to promote humanitarian relief.

The refugee crisis in Syria is unparallelled in recent times as the UN refugee agency, UNHCR figures state two million Syrians have fled from the escalating conflict, of which one million are children. Additionally, internal displacement figures are estimated to be at approximately 4.25 million. The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, within eight miles from the border of Syria is currently home to over 120,000 refugees and has been declared to be the second largest refugee camp in the world. With 2,000 new residents arriving each day at Zaatari, a second refugee camp, Azraq is undergoing construction, also with a capacity of 130,000.

However, only a small number of refugees are housed in the camps, the majority are scattered across various host nations. The countries in descending order of registered refugees are Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. The influx has placed great strain on the recipient countries, several of which themselves suffer from instability and poor economies. A startling statistic that illustrates the scale and plight of the refugee crisis was recently released by Dana Sleiman, Public Information Officer for UNHCR in Beirut, Lebanon which stated that as school starts this week in Lebanon, it is expected that 330,000 Syrian refugee children will need to enroll in school in comparison with 300,000 Lebanese.

For ways you can help and to take action, please visit the following site:

By: Shireen Alam
Photography by: Fernando Olivas/Oxfam 

Land grabs: News and Updates

Oxfam America has been campaigning against land grabs since 2012 as part of its GROW campaign (learn more about food justice here). This is because more and more marginalized farmers and families are losing their lands to big companies and corporations. With farmers losing their lands, their only source of livelihood, food production is also decreasing.

Take the story of Enrico from the Philippines who fears being evicted from the land he tills to give way to a special economic zone initiated by a powerful local dynasty (

"Recent data indicates that at least 33 million hectares of land deals have been identifieed since 2001- an area the size of the Netherlands. And since the food spikes of 2008, that's been happening more and more."(

To give you a better picture of how big the problem of land grabs has become, an international coalition  of NGOs have compiled and released a list of land grab deals since 2000. To read more about it, check out this article:

But thanks to Oxfam's campaign against land grabs, we've had several victories (

-President Kim of the World Bank made a high profile public statement on land rights, highlighting the risks which come with big land deals. He said, “efforts must be made to build capacity and safeguards related to land rights”.
-Your campaigning has generated a serious debate at the World Bank. There was a real buzz about land at their annual "Spring Meetings." Staff members have told us that the President’s statement is helping get things moving. And that we’ve been keeping the World Bank on its toes.
-The Bank has committed itself to a new UN standard on how land is governed. It means they’ll work to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have their land rights respected. That’s great news. 
-There will be an independent review of the impact of World Bank programmes’ on people’s land rights 
-The Bank has agreed that land rights must be a crucial focus when they review the rules that govern their activities this year. 
- One particular loophole in the World Bank’s approach to lending to the private sector meant a greater risk that land grabs could occur. Thanks to the noise you made, the World Bank’s board members have asked staff to find a convincing way to close that loophole.

Of course, there is more work to be done, to ensure that land grabbing is stopped. And here are some things we can do:

1.) Educate ourselves on the issue of land grabs (read Oxfam's research here:

2. Join the GROW campain here:

3. Campaign and spread the word through social media!

The Power of Information: Thoughts by Hon. Kan-Dapaah on Transparency in U.S. Foreign Aid

On Thursday, August 8thOxfam Action Corps NYC, Oxfam America, and various members of the community came together at the New York Open Center to learn about U.S foreign aid transparency in Ghana from the Honorable Albert Kan-Dapaah. Before becoming a co-founder of the non-governmental organization FAT-AFRICA(Financial Accountability & Transparency-Africa), which aims to pressure government officials to honor their promises of development, Kan-Dapaah was a Member of Parliament in his country as well as held the positions of Minster for Energy, Minster for Communication, Minister for Interior, and Minister for Defense over the course of 8 years. Needless to say his extensive work in government has given him a first hand view of what happens to foreign aid in Ghana.

The night began with an informative talk on the state of transparency in foreign aid from the perspective of the U.S. Where it stands now is that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) ranks 27th out of 72, according to Publish What You Fund's 2012 Aid Transparency Index, when it comes to being open about the types of projects being funded in foreign countries as well as the amount of aid given to each project. This means that it's hard for citizens of the U.S. to access information showing exactly where their dollars are going and if they're being put to good use.

Luckily, work is being done in the Executive Branch, the House of Representatives, and the Senate to fix this problem. However, in order to make sure that the work on this issue continues, a citizen push is needed to show that it is something we care about. That is exactly why the event began with a discussion on foreign aid transparency from the U.S's side. As citizens we can demand a change by supporting the The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013, which has been introduced to both the House and the Senate as H.R.2638 and S.1271 respectively. 

At the event we were encouraged to call our representatives to ask them to support the act as well as to check out the websites and for more background information on why this piece of legislation is needed. In regards to how The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 would positively impact countries receiving financial assistance from the U.S, the Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah was introduced next as the main speaker of the night.

In order for us to better understand the reasons why this act would be so beneficial to Ghana, Kan-Dapaah began his talk with a small lesson on what life is like there. According to him, it is a relatively peaceful country where the judicial system functions, human rights are respected, and a good education is available to students. The two main exports are gold and oil, with the latter being recently discovered. Although there is wealth in the country thanks to these exports, there is still a disparity in how people are living thanks to corruption and the mismanagement of funds, which is why 30% of the budget in Ghana is made up of foreign aid. This is precisely the reason why Kan-Dapaah started FAT-AFRICA. He got tired of seeing foreign aid being misused and he wanted to encourage the people of Ghana to stand up and say, "it's time for some reform." This is where the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 would be helpful.  

If projects that were being funded by the U.S. as well as the amount of aid being given to them were shown on a website that could be accessed by all, the citizens of Ghana would be able to hold their government officials accountable for promised projects that haven't been started yet. The website would provide the needed proof that the funds are going somewhere or to someone else who is unauthorized. This in turn would then put pressure on the government officials to find out where the money is going and who is responsible for taking it. Thereby, discouraging officials in the future from pocketing foreign aid because the possibility of getting caught would be a reality.

To give us an example of what the outcome of all this would be in real life, Kan-Dappah told the audience about a past U.S.-funded development project in Ghana through the Millennium Challenge Account that worked. He told us that in this particular instance greater accountability was present and information was provided during the construction of the project that showed exactly how the aid was to be spent. Therefore, making it possible for a new and beautiful road to be completed on schedule, which made the people of Ghana proud, not because of it’s actual beauty or functionality, but because of how it was built with a sense of honesty and openness.

To end his talk the Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah finished by saying that The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act is important to Ghana because it would provide a way for its citizens to take part in the financial management of their country. With this act civil society would be demanding change, which according to Kan-Dappah is the only way it will come since government officials won't break a system that is working in their favor. Thankfully the desire to break the cycle of corruption is growing in Ghana, especially with the youth. They are ready for a system that works for them and they hope that reform in the way foreign aid is handled brings good jobs and secure futures built on sustainability.

If you want to help the citizens of Ghana as well as people in other countries receiving foreign aid, I urge you to go to to write a letter to Congress asking your representative to vote yes on The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013. You can also read an Oxfam America blog post about transparency at spread the word to your friends and family. The more support we have the better! 

by Khristina Rhead; photo by Nikko Viquiera

GROWing the Farm Bill

The significance of the Farm Bill cannot be overstated. The five-year policy bill generally encompasses all related fields such as conservation, climate conditions, nutritional assistance, sustainable agriculture, research on organic crops, crop subsidies, etc. The Farm Bill is also known as the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 and historically served as a comprehensive agricultural policy bill. 

Oxfam America lobbied relentlessly for amendments to the proposed 2013 Farm Bill, in particular the Royce/Engel Amendment which would provide for reforming the current system of Food Aid for which updates are long overdue. This bipartisan amendment, proposed by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) is stated to potentially save the federal government approximately $215 million per year by allowing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to spend up to 45% of food aid funds on local food instead of spending it on shipping costs for sending food from the US. 

Future Food Aid Reform will play a crucial role in assisting smallholder farmers and agricultural communities around the world. The US would also benefit in terms of gaining value for money by being able to distribute aid to a larger number of individuals without any additional expenditure of funds if Food Aid is reformed under the proposed system. 

Presently, Food Aid must be comprised of at least 75% American produce and the majority of this aid is sent on selected US ships which take between four to six months to arrive. 
High transportation and overhead costs consume up to 53 cents of every dollar of grains shipped. Thus, less than half of the funds spent on Food Aid is spent on actual food. Furthermore, local markets are able to provide cost effective emergency food aid far more swiftly and these markets would enjoy the added benefit of being in demand, thus reducing their economy’s dependence on aid and effectively creating a sustainable food system. Disturbingly, US Food Aid in its current form is ironically preventing developing countries from becoming self-sufficient. Higher efficiency reforms to Food Aid will allow lifesaving aid to reach greater numbers of those in need at no additional cost to US taxpayer. 

Although, the US House of Representatives (“House”) voted against the Royce/Engel Amendment to the Farm Bill on June 19th, 2013, the final tallies were close with 203 voting for and 220 voting against. Members of the New York House of Representatives delegation largely voted towards passing the amendment, those who voted against the Royce/Engel amendment are listed as follows: Reps Sean Maloney, Tim Bishop, Peter King, Michael Grimm & Christopher Gibson. 

New York, a state that is known for outstanding social welfare programs fought tremendously to pass the Royce/Engel amendment. Rep. Eliot Engel of NY’s 16th Congressional District, comprising of parts of the Bronx & Westchester county, introduced the bill, as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee stating, “Hunger pangs shouldn’t be subject to shipping schedules. Sometimes it seems that we lose sight of why we have a food aid program in the first place - It’s to prevent men, women and children in the developing world from starving to death.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York’s 5th Congressional District covering parts of Queens including Jamaica, spoke eloquently and passionately on the House floor in support, just moments before the vote on the Royce/Engel amendment took place.  Congressman Meeks urged fellow members to support the Royce/Engel amendment in a one minute heartfelt articulate delivery summing up American efforts in alleviating global hunger and promoting Royce/Engel. In doing so, Congressman Meeks encapsulated the essence of the amendment by stating, “why not reach millions more for what we are spending today?”

It should be noted that only a small number of votes prevented passage of the Royce/Engel amendment, hence the issue of Food Aid Reform is steadily gathering advocates. The voting outcome displays increasing Congressional support for Food Aid Reform which thus remains a likely possibility in the future. 

Additionally, the Farm Bill has recently been flung into the spotlight and gained mainstream attention due to the complete lack in funding for supplemental nutritional assistance programs (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. This is due to the fact that on July 11th, the House passed a Farm Bill excluding any form of SNAP provisions that would help combat hunger. 

There are two main components of the House Farm Bill - SNAP & Farm Subsidies. Both of which were historically noble causes - ensuring food security for all and providing much needed assistance to farmers working tirelessly to feed America on low profit margins. While, the numbers of those going hungry in America has been rapidly increasing in recent years, the need for farm subsidies (financial assistance from the US Government) have declined. This is particularly the case because the vast majority of financial assistance goes to recipient farms which are run as commercial agro-businesses enjoying high profits while additionally receive subsidies. Therefore, there exists a desperate need for spending on food stamps to feed the hungry while farm subsidies catering to industrial farms are proving to be largely unnecessary and disproportionately wasteful. 

Furthermore, Congresswoman Grace Meng of NY’s sixth Congressional District which includes the neighborhoods of Bayside and Flushing, has stated compelling reasons why SNAP is important to New York State by highlighting that SNAP stimulates the economy with every dollar in benefits generating $1.70 in economic activity. Rep. Meng added, “Cutting one of our nation’s strongest safety nets will only serve to further the suffering of disadvantaged children and senior citizens across the country.”

Despite this, the House version of the US Farm Bill was passed to include no federal aid for food stamps while additionally maintaining farm subsidies at an even higher level than previously proposed. Thriving commercial agricultural programs have been allocated billions of dollars in subsidies while an estimated 50 million food insecure Americans living in poverty are left to fend for themselves. 

Although, the lack of nutritional assistance programs & wasteful subsidies are a great cause for concern, an unexpected positive consequence has been that this shift in trends has shed light on policies that play a role in current American nutritional policies & hunger dynamics. The latest developments in the Farm Bill has sparked a widespread national conversation on the growing numbers of both Americans as well as our global counterparts who are food insecure, consequently drawing much needed attention on the practices that have lead to the current status quo. 

Please take action by urging your local member of Congress to support food aid reform policies such as procuring food from local and regional markets. For the latest on food aid reform, please

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lentfer
Posted by: Shireen Alam 

The Power of Information: US Foreign Aid Transparency in Ghana

Everyone is invited!

The Power of Information: US Foreign Aid Transparency in Ghana
Featured speaker, Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah, former Ghana government minister

Thursday, August 8, 2013
7:00-9:00 pm
New York Open Center, Room 3-A (third floor)
22 East 30th Street, New York, NY 10016

Please RSVP at

Please join Oxfam America and Oxfam Action Corps NYC for a talk by Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah, a former government minister in Ghana. As a former government minister, Kan-Dapaah knows the value of timely information on American foreign aid. Transparent aid helps governments to plan, helps American citizens to learn more about foreign aid, and helps civil society activists in developing countries to hold governments and donors accountable for results. Yet, the U.S. government lags behind many donors. In 2012, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) ranked 27th out of 72 donor agencies in Publish What You Fund's 2012 Aid Transparency Index. Recent executive branch actions, such as the creation of the U.S. foreign assistance dashboard (<>) seek to make the U.S. a better donor. Congress is taking action as well. The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013, a bipartisan bill that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives as H.R.2638 by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and in the Senate as S.1271 by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). Oxfam America supports the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 because it will open the books on U.S. foreign aid, and make sure U.S. aid is working as well as it can to fight poverty.

Kan-Dapaah is touring the U.S. to build awareness of aid transparency. For more on the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 and to take action, visit the Oxfam America website at

Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah served in both industry and professional practice for over 15 years before entering politics and serving as a Member of Parliament of Ghana for 16 years. He served in various leadership roles in government over the course of eight years as Minister for Energy, Minister for Communication, Minister for Interior, and Minister for Defense. A chartered accountant by profession, Kan-Dapaah recently co-founded a non-partisan think tank - Financial Accountability & Transparency-Africa (FAT-AFRICA). FAT-AFRICA is committed to the development and practice of efficient and effective public sector financial management systems in Africa.

Oxfam Action Corps NYC
Mobilizing public support for policies to end poverty and hunger

Oxfam Action Corps Retreat

FIFTEEN OXFAM ACTION CORPS NYC VOLUNTEERS AND TWO OXFAM AMERICA STAFF participated in the annual retreat held at Holmes Camp and Retreat Center this past June 28-30. The retreat was an opportunity for participants to build rapport with one another, celebrate and evaluate the activities of the past year and plan many events in store for the team in the coming months.

Participants arrived Friday evening at the retreat center, surrounded by lush greenery and a beautiful lake. The retreat began with a meal shared by everyone gathered around the campfire. Over the next two days, team members had a chance to bond and get to know each other’s background, skills, strengths, and vision for the action corps. Each participant was given time to share stories and experiences that moved and inspired them to become part of the Action Corps. Members also joined in ice-breakers and team-building activities, such as an early morning hike and singing around the campfire. Teamwork was also highlighted in simple tasks such as cooking, dish-washing, building a fire, and cleanup, where members took turns being in-charge and helping out.
Will Fenton, Oxfam America regional advocacy lead, presented on the roots of Oxfam America, how it has developed over the years into what it is today and its advocacy goals. This was followed by a presentation from Brian Rawson, senior volunteer and community organizer for Oxfam America, which summarized Oxfam’s history and presence around the globe. Elizabeth Norman, Oxfam Action Corps NYC co-leader, then overviewed the past year’s activity, which recently included the annual International Women’s Day celebration, a lobby effort around food aid reform in the Farm Bill, and the Behind the Brands Campaign.
The issues tackled by the Action Corps were discussed more deeply in various sessions. Brian talked about the Behind the Brands Campaign and how volunteers have managed to convince several large food companies such as Nestle and Mondelez to agree to address development issues on the supply side of the food industry. These are issues that impact women, climate, land and water use. Tad Kroll discussed why the food aid reform amendment to the Farm Bill, which failed to pass in congress, is important in ensuring a more efficient distribution of food aid to developing countries. Liz Tillman then introduced Oxfam’s latest advocacy campaign beginning in the fall of this year, which aims to stop big corporations from grabbing land from small-scale farmers.

To prepare the team for planning the year’s activities, Paul Schutz lead the group in analyzing the relationship between power, oppression and privilege and how awareness of this relationship is central to understanding to how each one should participate in the fight against social injustices.

The retreat ended with participants assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the action corps, the various challenges facing the team and the many opportunities that could help the group pursue its goals this year. Participants then proceeded to plan the upcoming events for fall and spring using the open-source method, where members got to choose which activity they would like to help plan, given their interests and skills. During the farewells, it was clear that participants were leaving the retreat rested, recharged and ready to continue their fight against poverty and hunger.

Meet the Oxfam Action Corps NYC Leaders and Members!

Oxfam Action Corps NYC just keeps getting better and better! Oxfam Action Corps NYC has decided to improve the structure of our current system by having leaders in different realms of activities carried out. These leadership positions (with members interested in such) within the corps include social media, logistics, rapid response,community coordinator among many others. In the coming days we will be posting profiles of our new leaders. Get to know them here:

Isaac Evans-Frantz
Alliances Coordinator

Isaac is a reproductive health educator in Northern Manhattan. He has volunteered with Oxfam Action Corps NYC since 2007, when he helped launch the group. He is excited about helping the action corps build relationships with other organizations.

Sarah Hwang
Co-Lead Organizer
Hello friends - My name is Sarah Hwang and I'm from NYC. Through volunteer work abroad, I saw first-hand the devastating impact of oppression, social injustice, poverty and hunger. Through these experiences, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some truly amazing and inspiring people -- children and adults alike. It's my memories and commitment to them (and those in similar circumstances) that have led me to Oxfam. I'm excited about all the initiatives we have planned for the NYC Action Corps. 

Elizabeth Norman
Co-Lead Organizer

I live in Brooklyn, NY. I have loved being involved with the Oxfam Action Corps for the past year. I moved to New York after graduating from Oberlin. In addition to working on the budget of a humanitarian NGO, I am studying French. I love to travel, and I had the opportunity to volunteer on a cheese-making sheep farm in France last summer. I am originally from North Carolina where my parents grew up on a farm. This photo was taken near the Alimentarium, a food museum owned by Nestle near their world headquarters in Switzerland.

Brittany Wilson
Concert Outreach Coordinator
Brittany is a fashion designer in NYC who has volunteered with the Action Corps since 2007. She loves music and is excited meet new people at outreach events.

Jameelah Muhammad is a native of Metro-Detroit Michigan, where she graduated from Southfield Public Schools. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Health from Oakland University, with a specialization in Resource Management. While at Oakland University she was a 2008 Young People For Fellow, a 2008 Leadership Academy participant, and a YP4 Alumni Board Member and Mentor. Currently she works as the Program Director at the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut and serves as an Adjunct Lecturer at Bronx Community College. From late 2010-2012 she was the Community Program Coordinator at the Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College (CUNY) and she continues to advise and support various projects there in a consulting capacity. Prior to this, she worked on the Green Collar Jobs initiative and the Good Food, Good Jobs campaign at New York Jobs with Justice and Urban Agenda. Mrs. Muhammad is a certified ROOTS of Success Environmental Literacy Instructor and advises several community education projects. She is an alumnus from the Green for All Fellowship Program and has done climate justice advocacy work nationally and internationally. Most recently she has traveled to Bolivia and South Africa for her work. Mrs. Muhammad is committed to empowering people in her community and passionate about helping people to see the interconnectedness of the environment, the economy, and social justice.

Diversity/Outreach Role

I am seeking to connect local community based organizations to some of the work and campaigns that OXFAM currently is organizing. I want to provide opportunities for young people in those communities to engage with OXFAM to learn more about international environmental issues and how involvement in these issues is relevant to local environmental issues. I am also interested in providing support in the creation of Anti-Oppression training for OXFAM volunteers and staff to get a better understanding of the local environmentally injustices. I want to provide a safe space to discuss the relevance of cultural diversity, inclusion, and effective dialogue in the organizing work and campaigns that OXFAM engages in. 

Success Story: Emiliana Aligaesha

From left: Justa Lujwangana & Emiliana Aligaesha

Dining for Women together with Oxfam Action Corps NYC collaborated to host an evening of discussion centered around Tanzanian farmer, Emiliana Aligaesha, first runner up in Oxfam’s prestigious Female Food Hero contest in 2012. Emiliana was joined by volunteer translator, Justa Lujwangana and Mwanahamisi Salimu Singano of Oxfam Tanzania in sharing her success story. 

Emiliana Aligaesha from Karagwe district in Kagera region was born and brought up in Tanzania, became a full-time school teacher, married and had children. Upon being widowed, she was able to successfully create a sustainable livelihood by utilizing her agricultural and entrepreneurial instincts through which she single-handedly provided her eight children with a university education. 

The discussion highlighted many positive aspects as well as challenging issues within the agricultural system in Tanzanian society. A lack of buyers has often resulted in crops going to waste. It has proven to be difficult to sell crops at a fair and sustainable price, despite the fact that land is tremendously arable and farmers enjoy a wide range of climatic variations as well as diversity of agricultural terrain, allowing for an assortment of produce ranging from passion fruit to plantain. It is disheartening and often wasteful to be expending energy and effort to grow yields which are eventually sold at a low rate or not sold at all. Above all, despite toiling in time-consuming, fatiguing and demanding labor, most farmers continue to live in poverty. 

Although, women farmers far outnumber men both within the farming community and also in the rural areas in Tanzania, merely three percent of women own land. Furthermore, 99% within that three percent are non farmers. Approximately 70 percent of the farmers in Tanzania are female but they have limited means of progressing any further from their status as laborer farmers. 

Mwanahamisi Salimu Singano, Oxfam Tanzania
Very few women farmers are landowners due to inequities within customary norms in rural areas, thus women’s access to land is restricted. Generally, it is the case that men own farmland but women produce the crops. For the most part, the nature of rural Tanzanian farming is largely composed of intensive manual labor as the availability of convenient farming tools remains limited. Therefore, although women do the bulk of the work, their labor is not widely recognized in an official capacity and as a result they do not have ready access to credit or training programs. 

Thus, the matter of food insecurity combined with unsatisfactory policies and social norms, which include women being the last members of the family to be able to eat at mealtimes, have all played a role in leading women to be marginalized to the extent that they are often left to feel inferior to their own children. As is the case in both developing and developed countries around the world, women are given both an inferior social status and fewer rights. As a result, even relatively achievable tasks are often far outside the reach of most women and many needlessly facing a lifetime of struggle. 

In Emiliana’s case, she had the advantage of access (but not ownership) to a six acre family farm through inheritance rights.  Along with her fellow community members, she was able to thrive by forming a private company, Karagwe Peasants Development in order to sell coffee and beans. Karagwe gave out micro-credit loans to mothers and reinforced the idea of purchasing food directly from smallholder female farmers which assisted in levelling the market.  In due course, Karagwe was able to form a thriving agricultural establishment to the extent that the World Food Programme (WFP) is now one of their purchasers.  Additionally, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been helping to guarantee prices for Emiliana and her fellow farmers. 

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency and fights hunger worldwide. The World Food Programme provides relief in emergency situations such as conflict and natural disasters by delivering food aid. It works towards the objectives of saving lives and protecting livelihoods, preparing for emergencies, rebuilding lives after emergencies and strengthening the capacity of countries to reduce hunger. Approximately, 12,000 people are employed by the World Food Programme, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry. On average, they aim to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in over 70 countries. 

Emiliana further stressed the importance of maintaining a relationship with the World Food Programme as a buyer as it has eliminated problems such as the scarcity of buyers, instability, as well as the pitfalls of an irregular income. Emiliana further stated that one of the best ways to ensure that Kaldera are able to maintain this crucial economic tie is by supporting the World Food Programme with charitable contributions which will increase their budget and enable continued support to smallholder farmers allowing them an opportunity to prosper. 

Additionally, the United States is one of the largest supporters of the World Food Programme. Hence, if we are able to reform our own food aid laws, this will be instrumental in enabling the World Food Programme to have wider decision making powers in responding to food crises around the world. Reform within the field of food aid will have an impact on US Government spending measures and USAID which then directly impacts programs such as the World Food Programme. 

Therefore, there are numerous ways in which we can provide assistance in order to empower and support women around the world and farmers like Emiliana.  

Supporting an organization such as Dining for Women is an ideal way to learn more about empowering women. Dining for Women is an organization which collects dinner donations that help change the lives of women and girls worldwide. Dining for Women holds dinners once a month during which chapter members dine in together, each bringing a dish to share and in doing so the dollars which would have otherwise been spent dining out at a restaurant are instead sent to thoroughly researched, carefully selected programs with an aim to empower women around the globe.

Buying fair trade products from socially responsible companies that support small scale farmers is another key way to help. As mentioned in previous blogs, supporting Oxfam’s GROW campaign and Behind the Brands campaign either through making donations or volunteering will work towards ensuring justice within the food system. Oxfam are urging supporters to encourage all the companies targeted in the Behind the Brands campaign to stay committed to the UN Women Empowerment Principles. 

Furthermore, Food Aid Reform is a key issue at the moment which will play a key role in helping smallholder farmers and agricultural communities around the world, the vast majority of whom are women. Oxfam is currently lobbying members of the US House of Representatives to work towards reforming the current food aid system which is outdated. Presently, food aid must be comprised of at least 75% American produce and the majority of aid is sent on selected US ships which takes between four to six months to arrive. 

High transportation and other overhead costs consume up to 53 cents of every dollar of grains shipped. Thus, less than half of the funds spent on food aid is spent on actual food. Local markets are able to provide cost effective emergency food aid far more swiftly and these markets would have the added impact of being in higher demand, thus reducing their economy’s dependence on aid and effectively creating a sustainable food system. Lobbying for higher efficiency reforms will allow lifesaving aid to reach greater numbers of those in need at no additional cost to the US taxpayer. To take action in support of women farmers such as Emiliana, and to learn more about food aid reform, visit:

Photography by: Nikko Viquiera
Posted by: Shireen Alam 

The Red Stairs

This is a close up photo of the red stairs that was installed in the middle of Times Square above the new TKTS booths. The stairs are made of red plastic panels trimmed with metal strips and lighted from beneath. At night the structure looks like a glowing red wedge.

Notice the reflections on the plastic panels? The buildings in the reflections are some of the skyscrapers on Broadway and 45th Street. [N.B.: Excuse the quality of the photo. It was taken with my iPhone.]

So what is your favorite color?

Bangor Daily Photo

I've moved to Bangor, Maine.

Bangor Daily Photo is now online!!

New York City Daily Photo Is Closed

New York City Daily Photo is closed as of today.

Thank you for the 3-1/2 years of wonderful friendship and photo sharing experiences.

I will update you on what is going on in my life in the next couple of weeks or so .

Queens From Above

This photo was taken as the plane I was on was preparing to land at Laguardia Airport in Queens, New York. The photo shows townhouses in Woodside (I think) on the foreground and Long Island in the background. I have been to Woodside many times and I remember seeing airplanes landing at the nearby airport every 15 minutes.

So how far are you from your airport?

Take Out The Trash

I saw this colorful trash bags left outside the CITE furniture store in SoHo earlier this week. It's that eye catching?

So who takes out your trash?

Pizza Truck

There are so many different varieties of food vendors in NYC that sooner or later, I would see a pizza truck and voila, I saw one by Pizza Truck NYC on Union Square yesterday. Pizzas are sold by the slice ($2.50 for regular) and are served hot from the oven inside the vehicle.

So would you buy a slice of pizza from a truck parked outside a busy street?

Weekend in New Jersey 3

Seagulls make the one of the most annoying noises I've ever heard in my life -- almost as annoying as car alarms going off outside my apartment window at 3 AM in the morning.

What annoys you most?

Weekend in New Jersey 2

This photo was taken at Margate City, which is south of Atlantic City in New Jersey. As you can see, the weather was perfect for a little sunbathing. Me, I rather hide in the shadows.

So do you like sunbathing?

Weekend in New Jersey 1

I was in New Jersey this weekend when I saw this guy walking his dog on his skateboard. He even did a turn ran by me again so I could take his photo. The weather was perfect -- warm with low humidity.

How is the weather over at your end?

Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side. This wing of the museum is dedicated to Asian Art with objects from Northern Asia to South East Asia.

So how is your weekend so far?

Grand Central Station Main Concourse

This photo was taken a week ago when I bumped into two wonderful tourists from England. They were in NYC for a couple of days to celebrate their 25th (I think) wedding anniversary before jetting off to Hawaii for the weekend. We started talking because we have the exact same camera (Canon G9) and we were both standing on the stairwell photographing the same scenery as you see in this photo above.

So have you usually talk to complete strangers?

Spring Romance

Spring is here and these Mallard ducks are getting ready to start a family soon. Although ducks are not known for their monogamous relationships like swans and cranes, this pair seemed to be spending a lot of time together.

So what is your favorite Spring activities?

Times Square Sanctuary

For the last two weekends, Times Square in midtown Manhattan has been shut down to automobile traffic to create a 'sanctuary' for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the 'crossroads of the world'. The city even provided lounge chairs (some of which were stolen) for the public. Motorist, especially the taxi drivers were not happy with this plan but most people (in the photo) think this is a great plan.

What do you think of the plan? Would you hang out at Times Square if there were no automobile traffic to worry about?

Two Towers

Here are the Two Towers from the 1964 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens. But most people will remember them as one of the spaceships used by the insect alien to escape Earth at the end of the movie, Men in Black.

So have you been to any site or set where a movie was shot?

Theme Photo: Feet

It's June 1st so this is theme day. The theme this month is FEET. But I don't have any photos of feet. I do, however, have a photo of hands!! This photo was taken at Fishs Eddy at Union Square.

Like always, see how this theme inspired the other members of the community.

Lamp & Tiles

This photo shows the base of the Queensborough Bridge on the Manhattan side. The tile work was what caught my eyes when I walked along 1st Avenue and 60th Street. The lamp provides an interesting dimension to the photo.

So how is your weekend so far?

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