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A little kindness goes a long way | by Ed Yourdon
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A little kindness goes a long way

This photo was taken on Broadway, between 61st and 62nd Street.


The picture speaks for itself... but it also reminds me a lot of the "kindness of strangers" photo that I took several years ago, and which you can see here on Flickr:


Note: I chose this as my "photo of the day" for Sep 1, 2013.


Note: the photo was published in a Nov 13, 2013 blog titled "Today Is National Kindness Day."


Moving into 2014, the photo was published in a May 26, 2014 blog titled " Increasing your chances of receiving the kindness of strangers." It was also published in a Jun 3, 2014 blog titled "iService learning in elementary school." And it was published in an undated (mid-Oct 2014) blog titled "Four Ways to Raise Nice Kids." It was also published in an Oct 21, 2014 blog titled "Coats For The Melindas Of The World." It was also published in an undated (late October 2014) blog titled "4 Ways to Raise Nice Kids."


Note: I happened to walk past this same spot on Jan 13th, on my way from Columbus Circle to a BestBuy outlet on Broadway & 62nd St. To my surprise, the same young woman was sitting in the same spot, with the same little cardboard sign. I stopped and asked her whether she was the same person I recalled having seen during the summer, and she nodded affirmatively. I then gave her my business card, and told her that I would be happy to e-mail this photo to her if she emailed me with an email address .... so far, I have not heard from her...


(Note: as of June 29, 2014 I still have not heard from her. I hope she survived the long, cold winter okay, and that she is doing well today ...)




This set of photos is based on a very simple concept: walk every block of Manhattan with a camera, and see what happens. To avoid missing anything, walk both sides of the street.


That's all there is to it …


Of course, if you wanted to be more ambitious, you could also walk the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. But that's more than I'm willing to commit to at this point, and I'll leave the remaining boroughs of New York City to other, more adventurous photographers.


Oh, actually, there's one more small detail: leave the photos alone for a month -- unedited, untouched, and unviewed. By the time I actually focus on the first of these "every-block" photos, I will have taken more than 8,000 images on the nearby streets of the Upper West Side -- plus another several thousand in Rome, Coney Island, and the various spots in NYC where I traditionally take photos. So I don't expect to be emotionally attached to any of the "every-block" photos, and hope that I'll be able to make an objective selection of the ones worth looking at.


As for the criteria that I've used to select the small subset of every-block photos that get uploaded to Flickr: there are three. First, I'll upload any photo that I think is "great," and where I hope the reaction of my Flickr-friends will be, "I have no idea when or where that photo was taken, but it's really a terrific picture!"


A second criterion has to do with place, and the third involves time. I'm hoping that I'll take some photos that clearly say, "This is New York!" to anyone who looks at it. Obviously, certain landscape icons like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty would satisfy that criterion; but I'm hoping that I'll find other, more unexpected examples. I hope that I'll be able to take some shots that will make a "local" viewer say, "Well, even if that's not recognizable to someone from another part of the country, or another part of the world, I know that that's New York!" And there might be some photos where a "non-local" viewer might say, "I had no idea that there was anyplace in New York City that was so interesting/beautiful/ugly/spectacular."


As for the sense of time: I remember wandering around my neighborhood in 2005, photographing various shops, stores, restaurants, and business establishments -- and then casually looking at the photos about five years later, and being stunned by how much had changed. Little by little, store by store, day by day, things change … and when you've been around as long as I have, it's even more amazing to go back and look at the photos you took thirty or forty years ago, and ask yourself, "Was it really like that back then? Seriously, did people really wear bell-bottom jeans?"


So, with the expectation that I'll be looking at these every-block photos five or ten years from now (and maybe you will be, too), I'm going to be doing my best to capture scenes that convey the sense that they were taken in the year 2013 … or at least sometime in the decade of the 2010's (I have no idea what we're calling this decade yet). Or maybe they'll just say to us, "This is what it was like a dozen years after 9-11".


Movie posters are a trivial example of such a time-specific image; I've already taken a bunch, and I don't know if I'll ultimately decide that they're worth uploading. Women's fashion/styles are another obvious example of a time-specific phenomenon; and even though I'm definitely not a fashion expert, I suspected that I'll be able to look at some images ten years from now and mutter to myself, "Did we really wear shirts like that? Did women really wear those weird skirts that are short in the front, and long in the back? Did everyone in New York have a tattoo?"


Another example: I'm fascinated by the interactions that people have with their cellphones out on the street. It seems that everyone has one, which certainly wasn't true a decade ago; and it seems that everyone walks down the street with their eyes and their entire conscious attention riveted on this little box-like gadget, utterly oblivious about anything else that might be going on (among other things, that makes it very easy for me to photograph them without their even noticing, particularly if they've also got earphones so they can listen to music or carry on a phone conversation). But I can't help wondering whether this kind of social behavior will seem bizarre a decade from now … especially if our cellphones have become so miniaturized that they're incorporated into the glasses we wear, or implanted directly into our eyeballs.


Oh, one last thing: I've created a customized Google Map to show the precise details of each day's photo-walk. I'll be updating it each day, and the most recent part of my every-block journey will be marked in red, to differentiate it from all of the older segments of the journey, which will be shown in blue. You can see the map, and peek at it each day to see where I've been, by clicking on this link


URL link to Ed's every-block progress through Manhattan


If you have any suggestions about places that I should definitely visit to get some good photos, or if you'd like me to photograph you in your little corner of New York City, please let me know. You can send me a Flickr-mail message, or you can email me directly at ed-at-yourdon-dot-com


Stay tuned as the photo-walk continues, block by block ...

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Taken on August 5, 2013