Joyful News is a set of stories I’ve gathered from around the world that spark joy.
In this episode, I talk about my 15-year business school reunion, a Brooklyn bookstore crawl, roads in India made from plastic waste, a parade of planets, a new orchard on Governor’s Island with a historical twist, and a poem about joy by the beloved poet, Mary Oliver.
Transcript – Joyful News 5.3.22
Hello and welcome to the first episode of Joyful News. These are stories I’ve gathered from around the world that spark joy.
Darden business school reunion
This weekend I was filled with love and joy and hope attending my 15-year reunion at UVA’s Darden School of Business. These people and my Darden education shaped my life, and continue to shape my life in incredible ways. And they made me a better human. The relationships in my life have always been my priority. Now after this insane pandemic and beating cancer, that’s truer than ever. I’m so glad we got to be together. I always wish we had more time. Cheers to getting together again soon and more often!
We’ve all heard of a bar crawl…but have you ever heard of a book crawl? For SecretNYC, Brianna Perry reported that the bookstores of Brooklyn invited bookworms to participate in a borough-wide Brooklyn bookstore crawl! They spent the week supporting over 20 independent Brooklyn bookstores while enjoying special events and perks along the way. Bookstores included Books are Magic, The Center for Fiction, Greenlight Bookstore, Pioneer Works, and POWERHOUSE. As someone who loves reading and writing books, I hope this type of event becomes much more common.
India’s plastic roads
My friend, Cheryl, told me about this story. Plastic waste is one of the worst pollutants on the planet, degrading the health of our air, soil, and water.
Chermaine Lee wrote a piece for the BBC about a road into New Delhi where countless cars a day speed over tonnes of plastic bags, bottle tops and discarded polystyrene cups. In a single kilometre, a driver covers one tonne of plastic waste. But far from being an unpleasant journey through a sea of litter, this road is smooth and well-maintained – in fact the plastic that each driver passes over isn’t visible to the naked eye. It is simply a part of the road itself.
India has been leading the world in experimenting with plastic-tar roads since the early 2000s. But a growing number of countries are beginning to follow suit to save carbon emissions, keep plastic from the oceans and landfill, and improve the life-expectancy of the average road.
Adding plastic to roads appears to slow their deterioration and minimise potholes. The plastic content improves the surface’s flexibility, and after 10 years India’s earliest plastic roads showed no signs of potholes. Incorporating the waste plastic instead of incinerating it also saves three tonnes of carbon dioxide for every kilometre of road. And there are economic benefits too, with the incorporation of plastic resulting in savings of roughly $670 (£480) per kilometre of road.
The planet parade
This story is from my mom. The 1st career I wanted was a paleontologist. The 2nd was an astronaut. To this day, my mom sends me every news article she sees about dinosaurs and space. Case in point, last week we had a very exciting cosmic event. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, and the moon all lined up. In June, Mercury will join the parade, making five visible planets. The planets will not twinkle in the night sky, setting them apart from the surrounding stars. Experts say you won’t need a telescope or a set of binoculars to see the alignment. All you need are your eyes and a clear sky.
Governor’s Island gets a historic orchard with a side of history
Governors Island is a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. It’s only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan. Their website announced their latest public art exhibit that also serves as a monument to environmental preservation. The Open Orchard is an expansive new artwork on Governors Island by Sam Van Aken and commissioned through Governors Island Arts. Taking the form of a public orchard comprised of 102 fruit trees, The Open Orchard will act as a living archive for antique and heirloom fruit varieties that were grown in and around New York City in the past 400 years but have mostly disappeared due to climate change and the industrialization of agriculture.
The fruit varieties present in The Open Orchard are indigenous to, originating in, or have been historically grown in New York City. Using a unique grafting process, Van Aken combines multiple fruit varieties into a single tree — so different varieties grow alongside one another. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these hybrid trees undertake the critical work of preserving rare fruit varieties in a safe environment, providing a road map for innovative techniques to maintain vital biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.
As part of this monumental project, nearly 100 additional trees will be donated and planted in community gardens throughout the five boroughs in partnership with NYC Parks GreenThumb, the largest community gardening program in the United States. When it opens, The Open Orchard will also include a range of public programs, including a continued workshop series, talks and performances, fruit tastings, harvest events, culinary lessons and more.
Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver
I wanted to leave you with a poem that I talked about with Ashley Semrick on The Joy of Old Things episode this week. Mary Oliver, one of our favorite poets, wrote the poem Don’t Hesitate and it bears repeating again and again.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Thank you, Mary Oliver, for getting this down in your lifetime so that we can always be reminded to seek out and create joy. We are meant to have joy in abundance. We are meant to dance and sing and laugh and delight in the world. We all deserve that. If you’ve got stories of joy, please send them my way on Twitter at christanyc, Instagram at christarosenyc, or at my website christaavampato.com/joyproject. I’ll be back on Tuesday, May 17th with another edition of Joyful News. Until then, keep the joy going.