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Help NYC’s food businesses compost with local community sites!

 

compost071614

Dear Friend,

Citizens Committee believes New York City Council should consider allowing local restaurants and food businesses to prove their commitment to environmental stewardship, neighborhoods and customers by allowing them to give a portion of their food scraps to community compost sites rather than have them carted away to other states that are far away from the city.

You already give your dollars to local restaurants, coffee places and other food-related businesses; now ask them to support your community! Use your consumer power to help add local food businesses to the growing community composting movement.

Here’s how:

1. Please direct the owners of your favorite restaurants to this petition that helps NYC’s food businesses compost with local community sites!

2. Print out the FIRST page of the petition and take it with you the next time you buy coffee or food or a meal and ask the seller to go online and sign. Follow up with an email reminder, and send emails to businesses like your coffee shop, local beer maker and chocolate maker.

Please remind your to identify the name of the business when they sign so we can give them credit. I’m happy to report that superstar chef Mario Batali’s restaurant group got on the right side of the issue, with their name now on the petition.

Let our communities keep the benefits of organics recycling in and for the community. Let’s not have those millions of tons of food scraps continue to be hauled out to destinations way outside city limits.

Sincerely,

Peter Kostmayer
CEO
Citizens Committee for New York City

 

 

ccfny

7 Ways to Save Your Own Life

A Survival Guide For 50+ Americans

Mike Zimmerman | AARP The Magazine | June/July 2014

“Surprise is our Achilles’ heel,” says Guy H. Haskell, a 30-year EMS veteran and executive director of Emergency Medical and Safety Services Consultants in Bloomington, Indiana. “Extreme situations always sound crazy — until you’re in one. That’s when panic sets in.” And being older may not give you a leg up. One University of Iowa study found, for example, that only one in four people 50 and up has an emergency plan in place for natural disasters.

No worries here, though. We’ve cooked up seven nasty scenarios and consulted with the experts to give you the tools you need to be your own first responder. As the old saying goes, “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

Here’s hoping you never need anything you’re about to read.

A car escape tool could be your lifesaver if your car is sinking in water. — Brent Humphreys

A car escape tool could be your lifesaver if your car is sinking in water. — Brent Humphreys

1. Your car is sinking in a large body of water 

Yes, people do accidentally drive off bridges — and yes, flash floods do happen in a flash (note Colorado in September 2013). This is what to do.

Work before you sink. “As a car sinks, outside pressure against the windows and doors will only build,” says Haskell. If you submerge, it will be almost impossible to open the doors. Electric windows may or may not work because of short circuits. So try to open a door or window before the car is covered. Commonsense point: This will make a lot of water enter the car. Move fast to get out.

In a flash flood, use your car. Waters in flash floods are generally fast-moving and may not be as deep as, say, a lake. If water slams your car enough that you start moving, stay in the car, Haskell says: “Your car is now your boat. It’s your protection from strong currents, mud, debris and anything you might slam into along the way.” In shallower currents, odds are your car will bump against something that will stop it. That’s your chance to try to climb onto the roof to escape or to signal for help. Use the horn, swing a shirt — do anything to attract attention.

Be prepared. Buy a car escape tool that is part hammer (to shatter the window) and part blade (to slice a jammed seat belt). Haskell recommends a key-chain version, so that it’s easily accessible. “If it’s hanging from the ignition, it’s right there,” he says. You can find various brands at hardware stores and online retailers for about $10.

Survival Tip: A car escape tool (part blade, part hammer) can cut a jammed seat belt.

2. You meet a large animal in a foul mood

“Don’t run,” says Tony Nester, director of the Ancient Pathways survival school in Flagstaff, Arizona. “You could trigger a chase response in an animal that had no plans to attack you.”

What’s critical is to understand the basic brain of the animal — dog, bear, what have you. Even if it’s eyeballing you as a potential meal, it prefers prey that won’t put up a fight. Make sure the animal knows it’ll have to work for its supper: Spread your arms, shout and make yourself look as large and threatening as possible. As you put on this show, retreat slowly, being sure never to turn your back to the animal. If a child is with you, he or she may be the more appetizing prey (smaller, weaker), so keep yourself between the animal and the child.

A complicating factor. You could be facing an animal that isn’t hungry but is simply guarding its territory. The plan is the same, says Nester. The animal, however, will be more aggressive in this case. If all else fails and the animal attacks, use whatever you can — a stick, your fists — to fight back, concentrating on the animal’s snout.

3. In triple-digit temperatures, your car dies while driving in a remote area

“Be smart with your sweat,” says survival-school director Nester. “Contrary to what people think, a person can survive up to 48 hours in a hot climate without water. The secret is limiting evaporation.” Think about how cowboys and Bedouins dress. Shorts? Tank tops? No, they cover as much skin as possible — including their heads — with clothing. This helps hold in body moisture. Some other tricks Nester teaches his desert-survival students:

  • Prepare seriously. If you know you’ll be traveling in harsh conditions, stock 2 gallons of water per person, per day, along with some salty snacks, to replace the salt you lose during sweating. Throw a couple of big golf umbrellas in the trunk for instant shade. If hiking, don’t travel alone, and let someone know where you’re going and for how long.
  • Check your tires. Before you leave, make sure your tires are properly inflated. “In hot climates the biggest cause of vehicle breakdowns is tire pressure,” notes Nester. “If the air is 100 degrees, the pavement can be between 180 and 200 degrees. Blowouts are common.”
  • Stay with your vehicle. You may be tempted to walk for help. Don’t, says Nester: “Your car is a rolling survival kit. It’s easier to see a car than a person. A car provides shade and shelter. And it has lights and a horn for signaling.” In the high heat of the day, keep the doors open for ventilation, and lift the hood so anyone who sees you knows there’s a problem.
  • Get off the ground. That’s the 180- to 200-degree ground, remember? Nester suggests sitting on one of the tailgating chairs you’ve stocked or pulling out the seats in your SUV.
Passengers sitting behind the wings of an airplane have a better survival rate in case of an emergency landing. — Brent Humphreys

Passengers sitting behind the wings of an airplane have a better survival rate in case of an emergency landing. — Brent Humphreys

4. The pilot announces that your plane must make an emergency landing

The plan. Plane crashes are any traveler’s deepest dread, because the general assumption is “Plane goes down, everyone dies.” Unfortunately, this does sometimes happen, but it’s not always the case.

Consider Flight 1549, piloted by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, which landed safely on the Hudson River in 2009, with all passengers and crew escaping alive. “For those who think there’s no reason to look at the safety briefing card or listen to the safety demonstration because you think we’re all going to perish anyway — it’s simply not true,” Sullenberger says. “Even major crashes are survivable.” Here’s what you need to know before you board.

Sit in the back. In 2007, Popular Mechanics published an analysis of 36 years’ worth of airline seating charts and 20 accidents, back to 1971. The numbers were decisive. Passengers sitting behind the wings had a 69 percent survival rate in an accident. Folks sitting over or in front of the wings had a 56 percent rate (first class was lowest, at 49 percent).

Identify the nearest emergency exit. “Count the number of rows ahead and behind you to the nearest exit,” Sullenberger says. “You may have to find it in a darkened or smoke-filled cabin.”

Dress for tough traveling. “Imagine running away from a burning plane in a muddy field in high heels, clogs or flip-flops,” says Cynthia Corbett, a Federal Aviation Administration human-factors specialist. Long pants, long sleeves and athletic shoes give you the best mobility.

Stow your carry-on. Just not in the overhead bin, says Corbett. Putting your carry-on under the seat in front of you can protect your legs. Also, rest your forehead against the seat you’re facing and let your arms hang loosely. This way your head doesn’t have far to travel forward, lessening any impact.

Listen closely. Flight attendants will give you direct, no-b.s. instructions in any emergency. Follow them, Corbett says. Oh, and enjoy your flight!

5. While alone, you’re overcome with a wave of nausea and light-headedness

Your mind is no doubt racing — is this a heart attack? Stroke? Vertigo? The fact is, there’s no way to know, says Travis Stork, an emergency-room physician and cohost of the TV show The Doctors. “Forget self-diagnosis, and react to the immediate situation,” he says. “If you think you might black out, sit or lie down so you don’t fall and hurt yourself further if you faint.” Next:

Call 911. Then try to unlock your front door so anyone coming for you doesn’t have to break it down. If you feel yourself fading, get down on the floor and call out for help if you can.

If this happens while you’re driving, calmly pull over to the shoulder of the road, put on your flashers and call 911. Do not get out of the car, as you might fall into the road.

Emergency responders will often place you in what they call the recovery position — designed to protect you from injury during loss of consciousness. Arrange yourself in this position by lying on your side, with your bottom arm extended out from your body. Bend your top arm 90 degrees, and drape your top wrist over your bottom elbow. Drape your top leg over your bottom one. Organizing your limbs like this will prevent your body from rolling into another position.

For extra protection, Stork recommends always keeping a cellphone handy, especially if you have a condition such as heart disease.

Survival Tip: If you feel like you might pass out, lie down on the ground and place yourself in the “recovery position.”

6. You’re driving and suddenly realize you’re going to hit something or are about to be hit

The plan. Your action depends on how well you’ve developed certain road skills, says Jeff Payne, a former professional race-car driver and the CEO of the nonprofit driver-training firm Driver’s Edge in Las Vegas. The big three targets you’ll most likely meet on the road are other vehicles, debris (anything from tire shreds to a refrigerator falling off a truck) and wildlife. Call upon the following road rules and you’ll either avoid these targets or minimize the damage.

Use your “driver ESP.” Whenever you get behind the wheel, be aware of where cars are around you and what your immediate options are if something bad happens. For example: The car in front of you slams on the brakes. “If you know you have room on the right, you may be able to change lanes, or at least maneuver to minimize the impact,” Payne says. The real point: If your brain is engaged in predicting what every driver around you will do, your brain is engaged, period. You’ll never be a distracted driver.

Embrace smooth and cool. Our first instinct when something appears in front of us is to hit the brakes and swerve. Bad idea. “No matter the situation, drive as if you have a cup of water on the dashboard and don’t want to spill a drop,” says Payne. “Even if that’s not true, having that mind-set will eliminate sudden moves that could cause you to overcorrect, lose control and make the situation worse.”

Minimize the impact. If you can’t avoid impact, alter it. For example, if you’re the only one in the car, try to angle it so the front passenger side takes the hit. If you’re in the car with a loved one, angle it so your side takes the hit.

Focus on the main event. It’s not easy, but if an object appears in your lane, register it as danger, but don’t fixate on it. “Your eyes act as your guide,” says Payne. “If a crate falls off a truck in front of you and you stare at the crate, you’ll hit the crate. Look for a safe route, and that’s where the car will go.”

Hit the gas (maybe). There is only one time when you’ll want to accelerate before hitting something: When a large animal is in your path. Before you cry out in protest, think about it this way: If you slam on the brakes before hitting, say, a deer, the front end of your car will dip. This makes it more likely that the animal will fly up over your hood, come through your windshield and hit you right back. Speeding up before impact will make the front end rise and possibly confine Bambi to the bumper. “If you can, aim for its rear end,” advises Payne. “If an animal bolts, it never bolts backward. You might just miss it.”

7. Someone is pointing a gun at you

If it’s a robbery, “give up the goods immediately,” says Steve Kardian, director of NY Defend University and a former police detective. “Don’t challenge them. Treat it like a business deal.” Unless you believe you’re about to be shot, Kardian doesn’t advise going for the gun. Instead, “fake an illness, maybe like you’re going to throw up or have a heart attack. Then bolt.”

If you hear shots, beware denial. “Believe your eyes and ears,” says Kardian. Those shots probably are from a gun, rather than a car that’s backfiring. If you’ve only heard the noise but haven’t seen the shooter, you still have time to run in the opposite direction. If you see the shooter and, worse, he or she sees you, put something large between the two of you — a car, a wall, anything that might stop a large-caliber bullet. The shooter may focus on more convenient targets. If you must run and you’re in the line of fire, run away in a zigzag pattern. “Even if the shooter has had some formal firearm training, it’s hard to draw a bead on an unpredictable target,” says Kardian.

Be proactive. Problem-solve a worst-case scenario in your head. Say you know you’ll have to walk to your car in the dark. What’s your plan? Your escape route? “Visualizing like this opens a file in your brain, almost as if you’ve lived it,” Kardian says. “You’ll react much better during the real thing.”

Heirloom Seed Suppliers

Seeds For Planting

Here is a useful list of 40+ 230+ companies supplying heirloom / non-GMO / organic seeds. If health is wealth, then this page is solid gold! :) Please share this important information. If you have any additions or corrections for this list, please let us know! We welcome genuine suppliers based anywhere in the world. Let’s make the biggest and best list we can!

**UPDATE** This page has proven to be massively popular…! Recommendations for more heirloom seed companies to add have been pouring in. We started with 40 but now have over 230 heirloom seed suppliers from all around the world – and the sheer diversity of undiscovered plant varieties we now link to is turning this page into a real treasure trove! Please continue to send more heirloom / organic / non-GMO seed suppliers to biosphere@off-grid.info, we are gathering them up and will add them to this page as soon as we can. Thanks so much to all for your contributions and for spreading the word! <3

Below is a list of New York Suppliers. For a FULL list visit www.off-grid.info and Please Like Off-Grid On Facebook to stay in touch and receive our latest posts!

Harris Seeds – New York, USA

They supports the success of organic growers by offering high quality organic and untreated seeds, organic plants, and OMRI listed supplies for organic growing. Contact:(800) 544-7938

Hudson Valley Seed Library – New York, USA

They only offer heirloom and open-pollinated seeds- no hybrids and nothing genetically engineered. Contact: 845-204-8769 and Email: mail@seedlibrary.org

Fruition Seeds – New York, USA

All of their seed is certified organic, open-pollinated, grown and selected to thrive in the Northeast. Contact: 585-300-0699 and Email: matthew@fruitionseeds.com

Ommas – Aarden – New York, USA

They are selling heirloom seeds and have signed They have signed “The Safe Seed Pledge of The Council for Responsible Genetics” Contact: 315-681-0351 and Email: ommas.aarden@yahoo.com

Rooftop Ready Seeds – New York, USA

Rooftop Ready Seeds is the first seed company to offer New York City gardeners a line of locally-grown open-pollinated and grown using organic methods seed tailored to the unique urban climate and container planting conditions. You can contact them through the contact form in their website.

WinterSown Educational – New York, USA

WinterSown does not and will not knowingly purchase, accept donations of, and/or distribute genetically modified or engineered seed. They have signed “The Safe Seed Pledge of The Council for Responsible Genetics” Contact: wintersown@optonline.net

Workshop: DIY Projects

Small plastic covered greenhouse or hothouse interior with tomat

Workshop: Build a Hoophouse (Greenhouse)

Join us for another DIY workshop to learn how to build a hoophouse in your community garden! A hoophouse is a simple greenhouse structure that can extend your growing season and protect your plants and seedlings from harsh weather. We will be working in a community garden so that participants get the hands-on experience of planning and building a hoophouse.

Sponsored by the generous support of the National Grid Foundation.

This workshop has been rescheduled from June 28th – there are still spaces available on the new date.

Saturday, July 12
East New York, Brooklyn
10:30 AM – 3:30 PM

This is a free workshop, but space is limited.
To RSVP, contact Arif Ullah: aullah@citizensnyc.org | 212.822.9580
Link to the event and a flyer.

Workshop: Build a Tree Guard

Learn how to build a tree guard from scratch. Join us to pick up the skills necessary to construct a sturdy, simple, attractive, and affordable wooden tree guard.

Sponsored by the generous support of National Grid Foundation.

Saturday, July 12
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
10:30 AM – 1:30 PM

To RSVP, contact Arif Ullah at aullah@citizensnyc.org or 212.822.9580

Citizens Committee is Hiring!

Citizens Committee for New York City is hiring a Program Coordinator to join our team.

If you know of qualified, community-minded people who would be excited to support grassroots groups working all over the city, please share this job description with them. Applications due July 14.

Community Events and Opportunities

Stay up to date on events happening around the city by ‘liking’ our facebook page! We post information daily about events, workshops, and other resources for community groups.

Summer Movies with CariBeing: Join grantee CariBeing for summer movies and family events! The first showing will be of Akeelah and the Bee, accompanied by a spelling contest, prizes, and snacks for kids and families. July 9 and various dates throughout the summer.

Harlem Green Workshop Series: Project Harmony is holding a series of workshops in uptown community gardens; visit their facebook page for more information.

  • Sustainable Seedlings: JD Wilson Memorial Garden, 219 West 122nd Street. 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM. Wednesdays in July: July 9, 16, 23, 30.
  • Let’s Preserve Those Tasty Berries, Canning Demo: Carrie McCracken/TRUCE Garden with Cindy Worley et al —118th & St. Nicholas Ave. 12:00 PM- 2:00 PM, July 12.
  • Smush it! Wine-Making for the holidays and Any day!: The JD Wilson Memorial Garden 216 West 122nd Street. 5:00 PM. July 17.
  • All About Bees—A to ZZZZZZZZZ!: Help construct a bee hive from the ground up! The JD Wilson Memorial Garden, 219 West 122nd Street. 2:00 PM. July 19.
  • Composting In Every Way!: The William B. Washington Garden, 127th/St. Nicholas, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. July 23.
  • Put the Sour in Sauerkraut!: The JD Wilson Memorial Garden-219 West 122nd Street. 5:00 PM. July 24.
  • “Renewal & Restoration!-Lessons for Mind, Body and Spirit” with Vivian Kurutz, Founder and CEO of The Harlem Wellness Center /HWC: Place, Date and Time TBA
  • Thursday, July 31st, 5PM: “Lacto-Fermentation” with Alison Ogden—Healing Coach & Fermentation Expert at the JD Wilson Memorial Garden-219 West 122nd Street.

Beautify Our Bike Lane with BIG!Compost: Learn how to keep trees happy and healthy with the NYC Compost Project hosted at Build It Green!NYC! Help prepare local tree beds along the Vernon Boulevard bike lane in Long Island City for the hot summer months ahead. They will be weeding, cultivating the soil, and amending tree beds with locally made compost and mulch to help them thrive in our urban environment. Please wear sun protection, closed toed shoes and bring a water bottle with you. BIG! Compost will provide water, snacks, gloves, and gardening tools. RSVP is required, please email compost@bignyc.org to sign up for this event.

  • Wednesday, July 2: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM; meet at south side of 36th Ave at Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens 11101
  • Wednesday, July 9: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM; meet at north side of 36th Ave at Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens 11101

Herb Workshops: Sustainable Flatbush is partnering with Sacred Vibes apothecary to offer free herb classes at the herb garden. The series will kick off with two workshops: Remembering your Passion at 10:00 AM and Healing for Healers at 1:00 PM at the Flatbush Reformed Church, East 21 Street at Kenmore Terrace, Brooklyn. July 12.

H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths Tree Stewardship: Join H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths and Million Trees NYC at a tree stewardship day. Learn how to care for street trees and help to steward these new trees planted on Staten Island. See the Million Trees NYC calendar for other tree care workdays. July 16.

How Much Does Your Garden Grow? Learn how to track your community garden produce with Bronx Green-Up and the Leave it Better Kid’s Garden. Participants will learn how to weigh crops and receive a record-keeping toolkit from the Design Trust for Public Space. Register by emailing bronxgreenup@nybg.org or calling 718-817-8026. Garden is at the corner of West Tremont and Grand Avenue, across the street from MS 331. 10:00 – 11:30 AM. July 19.

Tree Giveaways: Through the MillionTreesNYC Tree Giveaway Program, New York Restoration Project has built a network of over 75 organizations throughout the five-boroughs giving away tens of thousands of trees to New Yorkers! Join this community by applying to host a Tree Giveaway in your neighborhood this fall! Fall is the ideal time for planting trees – giving the tree plenty of time to establish roots before the stress of the hot summer months. For questions regarding the tree giveaway program please contact Claire Turner at cturner@nyrp.org. July 23.

How Can I Improve My Park? Launch: Join Partnerships for Parks, the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and New Yorkers for Parks for the launch of the informational publication, “How Can I Improve My Park?” Attendees will receive a copy of the publication that they can use to plan for improving their local green space. July 24.

Community Garden Survey: Help Grow NYC keep track of community gardens in the city by adding your garden to the Oasis map. Take the quick garden survey to help them keep track of how people use gardens and highlight the positive impact that community gardens have on our city.

NYC Hotels and Development: NYC is changing and hotels are popping up in places we never would’ve guessed. Community organizations across the city are asking what they can do about the serious side effects of hotel development. Noise, traffic, and the loss of space for housing, community and cultural uses are real concerns. Until now, many longtime residents and community groups have been left on the sideline as hotels are built as-of-right, but it does not have to be that way. Want to know more about how you can have a seat at the table when it comes to hotel development? The Hotel Trades Council is working to do just that. Call us at 347-946-0094 or email them at dmaroney@nyhtc.org to get involved.

 

ccfny

FREE Zumba Class

zumba

United Community Center’s is proud to host;

FREE ZUMBA CLASS

Sponsored by JCPenney

Every TUESDAY starting 

 July 8th 2014  from 6:30 -7:30pm

@United Community Centers 

613 New Lots Avenue

UCC will host a series of Zumba classes sponsored by JCPenny. Starting July 8th participants will receive a Free Full Zumba Outfit gifted by JCPenny. Participants are encouraged to attend our Outdoor Zumba Dance Event sponsored by JCPenny on July 12th;  Free Zumba Dance Class, free delicious smoothies, tons of giveaways and blender raffle. Starts @ 10am SHARP!

FREE ZUMBA OUTFIT FOR ALL THAT ATTEND JULY 8TH CLASS !!!!

To RSVP or for more info contact Heather at:

heather@eastnewyorkfarms.org

Call (718) 649-7979

 

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east-new-york-farms-logo_tn

East New York Farms!
United Community Centers

613 New Lots Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11207

(718) 649-7979
Fax (718) 649-7256

www.eastnewyorkfarms.org
Like us on facebook for more updates!

Top 10 unsexiest home improvement projects

Senior editor at Angie's List, Mike LaFollette

Senior editor at Angie’s List, Mike LaFollette

If you’re a first-time homeowner, the thought of home improvement probably conjures visions of installing a state-of-the-art kitchen with the latest appliances, or a sprawling patio that transforms your backyard into an outdoor oasis.

Not only do these projects boost the value of your home, but they’re functional and fun to show off to friends and family.

Your fantasies probably didn’t include sump pump failure, backed-up toilets, overflowing gutters or black mold lurking in your crawl space.

The reality is that home ownership often proves extremely unpredictable. However, one thing you CAN count on is spending a considerable amount of money on unglamorous maintenance projects you can’t show off to neighbors, but will keep your home healthy.

10. Cleaning gutters. This seasonal task involves climbing on a ladder and scooping out decaying leaves, animal waste and other random sludge that have been marinating in your gutters for months. But you’ll have bigger problems when a blockage sends water spilling down the sides of your home, which can ruin siding, flood your basement and rot the fascia boards that hold the gutters.

9. Installing windows. Adding one window will set you back a couple hundred dollars, and a major window replacement job can cost thousands. New windows offer increased efficiency and should lower your energy costs, but unless you install stained glass or security bars, your neighbors are unlikely to comment.

8. Repairing the foundation. You might crack up at the thought of spending hard-earned money to repair the slow-growing crack that stair-steps up the basement wall, but foundation fissures are no joking matter. Not all cracks signal impending collapse, but have it checked out before it’s too late.

7. Removing mold. Eliminating the patch of black mold hiding behind the bathroom wall may not be at the top of your to-do list, but failure to remove mold can cause serious respiratory problems. Make sure to hire a remediation company that pinpoints the source of the mold. Avoid the contractor who wants to paint over it.

6. Fixing the toilet. Although the insides of some toilet tanks resemble the cockpit of a fighter jet, resist the temptation to put off toilet repairs. You’ll be glad you called a plumber the next time nature calls.

5. Adding insulation. Insulation stays out of the spotlight, but performs an important role. It’s dirty and expensive to install, but offers a good return on your investment through lower utility bills and increased comfort. Just don’t count on anyone showing up to your insulation viewing party.

4. Replacing the sump pump. You won’t be pumped when your basement floods because you failed to replace your sump pump. Make sure to install a sump pump with a battery backup and alarm system for extra security.

3. Updating electrical wiring. It costs several thousand dollars to rewire a home or modernize an aging electrical system, and what do you get to show for it besides a bunch of wires hidden in your walls and attic? You should at least sleep better knowing there’s a decreased risk of fire because you removed the 1920s-era knob-and-tube system.

2. Pumping the septic tank. Pros recommend pumping your septic system every three to five years to prevent backup. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s better than sewage backing up in your toilets and spilling on the lawn. Just don’t be like Cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation” and empty it into the sewer.

1. Replacing the sewer line. This unsexy situation starts with raw sewage backing up in your home and ends with contractors digging up your front yard and landscaping to bury a new sewer line. Trenchless replacement methods exist that bypass the backhoe, but often come at a higher cost.

 

Angies_list

Avoid scams by hiring right

by Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List

Angie Hicks

Angie’s List found, Angie Hicks

SCAM. IT’S A SCARY WORD. A healthy fear of bad service is one reason some join Angie’s List. The unfortunate experience of actually having been a target of shady operators directly led others to become members.

In nearly 19 years of working closely with consumers and service providers, we’ve learned a lot about how to hire right and avoid disappointments or scams. From our earliest days, we’ve offered reviews of local companies as well as independent reporting on consumer issues. In reviewing the lowlights of last year, our staff documented a variety of complaints, including stories of shoddy and unfinished work, as well as contractor failure to be appropriately licensed.

As is all too frequent, we found that elderly homeowners, as well as victims of weather disasters, continue to be targets of companies that take the money and run, do poor work or otherwise take advantage of consumers. The accompanying tips offer some guidance on steps to take in the wake of poor service. But it’s easier to avoid a problem in the first place, so educate yourself on these common contractor scams:

  • Scare tactics: Be leery of a contractor who alarms you with the dire consequences that will follow if you don’t hire him or her to fix something right now. Get multiple bids on any major project, with all details covered in writing. Also, if a contractor working on one project suggests others that need to be done in a hurry, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
  • Uninvited guests: Avoid contractors who show up at your door unexpected, especially if they claim to haw surplus materials from a nearby job that they can use cheaply on a project for you. Being sure to get multiple bids from highly rated contractors will help you avoid getting scammed from a door-to-door operator.
  • Price boosting: Some unscrupulous contractors offer a low initial price and then try to charge more later due to “unforeseen” problems. To avoid this, negotiate a price ahead of time and put the details in a written contract.

Shady characters are endlessly creative in finding new ways to scam consumers, so these are just a few of the practices they’ll employ. Use your common sense, and rely on Angie’s List to help you stay informed.

Follow Angie on Twitter @Angie_Hicks

Bad business?

If you’re a victim of unsatisfactory work or questionable business practices, consider the following actions:

  • Submit an Angie’s List review and contact our Complaint Resolution Process team.
  • File a complaint with your state’s attorney general or, if your state has one, contractors’ board.
  • If your contractor is bonded, contact the issuing agent for possible reimbursement.
  • Depending on the amount you’ve spent, take your issue to small claims court. Or, talk to a private attorney who has experience with your type of situation.

Angies_list

DIY Danger

DIY_inforgraphic_webEach year, tens of millions of homeowners take on home improvement projects themselves.  Many save money, with optimal pride-swelling results.  But an estimated one-in-five DIYers end up getting hurt in the process.  Know your limits.

Trim trees safely:

30,509 are treated annually in emergency rooms for injuries related to chain saws, typically used for cutting down trees, branches and firewood.

TIP: Follow manufacturer’s instructions, wear protective eyewear and gloves, and use a rope to safely lower large branches.

Watch your wiring:

431 people die each year in the U.S. because of electrical shock related to consumer products, including drills.

TIP: Shut off power at the breaker box before working on anything involving electricity, such as when installing new lights.

Respect tools:

293,184 people visit the ER for injuries involving home workshop equipment, from jacks and welding tools to power saws.

TIP: In addition to minding manufacturer’s instructions and wearing protective eyeware, watch your hand position and shut off defices when not fully engaged in a task.

Tread carefully:

191,006 people are treated in the ER for injuries related to the use of ladders.

TIP: Place your ladder on firm, level ground and make sure to use one that extends at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.

Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; Consumer Reports / Home Safety Council.

You’re invited to the United Community Centers Garden Party!

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United Community Centers Garden Party

Please join us for an evening in the garden. Meet our Board, staff, program participants, and neighbors. Enjoy appetizers, drinks, performances, music, and a raffle while the sun sets over East New York.

Friday, June 6, 2014 from 6:30 to 9:00 PM

New Vision Garden
Corner of Schenck and Livonia
East New York – Brooklyn 11207

$20 donation (but we would love if you can give more, or bring some extra cash for the raffle!)

RSVP on Facebook or just respond to this email and let us know you’re coming!

P.S. Can you donate raffle prizes, food, or volunteer assistance setting up the event?
Contact Rachel at 718-649-7979 or rbishop@ucceny.org!

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East New York Farms!
United Community Centers

613 New Lots Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11207

(718) 649-7979
Fax (718) 649-7256

www.eastnewyorkfarms.org
Like us on facebook for more updates!

Protect Your Family & Home — Call Before You Dig

Call 811 before starting a home improvement project that requires excavation. If you don’t, you could hit gas, electric, water, sewer, cable, or telephone lines, and endanger yourself and others.

Call 2 to 10 days before starting – whether planting a tree, putting in a mailbox or working on larger projects.
Utility companies will mark the pipes and wires with color-coded paint.
If you smell rotten eggs, you may have a gas leak. Leave the area immediately, and take others with you. Once you’re at a safe distance, call 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633) or 911. National Grid customers should call 1-718-643-4050. Your call can be anonymous.
For more gas safety tips, click here

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