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  1. Thoughts From a Guiding Spirit

    Thoughts from a guiding spirit.
    by Joe Svehlak

    Following up on what our President, Emma Guest-Consales, has recently advised-- listen, communicate and get involved-- here are a few thoughts from an old "I Remember" New Yorker.

    I remember riots, drugs, impending bankruptcy, fires, and looting back in the 1960s and 70s. The night of the 1977 Blackout, I slept inside the front door with a crowbar while stores on the avenue were broken into.  The subways covered with graffiti were not safe. On trips to the Bronx I would have a two-foot chain wrapped around my hand in my coat pocket. I know this all sounds very dramatic, but they were very uncertain times and we got through them. However, racism and social injustice are still with us.

    I'm sure you are all doing your best to help make a better life for everyone. I think it's in a tour guide's DNA to interact and teach by example. Dealing with the chaos back when I was a lot younger, I learned about organizing neighbors and community. For social change to happen, grassroots community activism is most effective.

    If you don't know your neighbors, introduce yourself. Drop a note under their door. Communicate your concern for their well-being. Offer to take them on a walk for free around your neighborhood when it is safe. (Future business? I've done "Know Your Neighborhood" tours for real estate firms.) If you don’t have one, start your own block, building, or neighborhood association.

    Join local civic associations (community boards or school, library, park, police associations) and other community-oriented organizations. Your voice can make a difference. Offer them a free tour. Again, who knows where that may lead.

    Run for office. In my old Sunset Park neighborhood, a friend's daughter is now running for State Assembly.

    As you know, change starts with our everyday acts and interactions. When possible, communicate with protesters and police alike.  A simple "thank you" may lead to more dialogue. Listen to what others have to say. At Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza last Thursday, thousands of demonstrators of different races and ages (a majority were young) came together peacefully. Police were on the perimeter nearby. I didn't notice anyone in dialogue with the officers. They should know that we appreciate their good services. They also have a difficult road ahead and could use a kind word. As a kid, I remember the days when they walked the beat and used to talk to us. If we saw them coming, we would hide the stickball bat (mother's old broom handle.) They warned us about breaking a window when we played ball.

    We are witnessing and making history. As an old person with memories of times past, I have faith in our common humanity and that working together, the world will be a better place.

    I am so grateful to GANYC and for all my fellow guiding spirits especially at this most difficult time. Thank you for indulging me about what many of you already know and do so well. I wish you all the best of health. I have plans for many FAM trips. Hope to see you soon. Better days are ahead. In the meanwhile, let the NYPL lions, Patience and Fortitude, be our guides.

  2. GANYC Stands With Black Lives Matter

    GANYC stands with the Black Lives Matter movement and we condemn all police/military brutality against US citizens.

    Tour Guides from the Guides Association of New York City (GANYC) are experts in our city’s history with a unique ability to see the entire city through that historical lens. We are well aware of our tumultuous past, a past that includes oppression, riots, and rebellions. Today we are witnessing and participating in a very difficult chapter in our city’s history, but one that pales in comparison to the injustices and hardships New Yorkers of color have suffered over the centuries.

    GANYC tour guides represent one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world, and the contributions the African-American community has made to New York City is incalculable. As a profession, tour guiding needs to make efforts to better represent the diversity of the communities in which we lead visitors. The GANYC Executive Board is committed to fostering diversity in our ranks and helping to build a membership that is reflective of the multiracial and multicultural identity of our city. While some progress has been made, we acknowledge that there is much work yet to be done.

    Protests have always been a means of expression, and we have the constitutional rights to assemble and to make our voices heard. However, we are also cognizant of the very grave health dangers created by large assemblies; we sincerely hope all protesters are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others while the risk of COVID-19 is still present. We know, too, that there are people who would distort voices raised in protest to sow discord and to cause destruction; please do not let the opportunistic looting and destructive behavior of the few distract from the overwhelmingly peaceful message of the many.

    In these very trying times, it is sometimes difficult to determine what actions individuals, organizations, or companies should take in order to address and, hopefully, eradicate systemic racism. One thing we can certainly do, however, is to simply listen -- listen to our African-American neighbors and friends, and try to sustain a supportive community that recognizes Black Lives Matter. GANYC is listening.

  3. June 3 Monthly GANYC Meeting

    GANYC held its June monthly membership meeting online via Zoom. We will be holding all our monthly meetings in this format for the next several months. At last night's meeting, President Emma Guest-Consales gave her presidential report. Most importantly, we featured three excellent guest speakers:

    • Fred Dixon, President & CEO, NYC & Company. He provided updates on how they are preparing to relaunch NYC.
    • Thomas Dunne, founder, CEO and President of OnCell. He discussed how his company creates immersive digital experiences for cultural institutions that can be both on or offsite to stay engaged with visitors.  Recently they have created an app for tour operators and guides.
    • Jon Peahl, President, SanSee Systems. SanSee is the first global hygiene program designed from the ground up exclusively for tours and attractions.  In the wake of Covid-19, SanSee was formed with two goals: Boost the confidence of the traveling public, and  help tours and attractions reopen faster by offering a science-based design and cleaning program.

    We also had a preview of the Tour Your Own City website that will launch soon.


  4. Susan Birnbaum Spotlights "The Real Little Italy"

    DiverseCITY, a product of CUNY TV, is a series that "highlights the beautiful mosaic that is New York, one neighborhood at a time. The monthly series features a bit of history, shares community issues of concern, and profiles businesses that are unique to their neighborhood. The show hopes to familiarize New Yorkers with their neighboring communities."

    An episode from this past December highlighted the neighborhood of Belmont, in the Bronx, best known for being the home of Arthur Avenue. GANYC member Susan Birnbaum was spotlighted in the episode, sharing her love of taking her customers to "the real Little Italy" of New York. Susan also discussed how the famous Arthur Avenue Retail Market (as well as similar markets in Manhattan) emerged in the LaGuardia era as an evolution from the traditional pushcart retail of the immigrants who built these communities. Her segment highlighted several of the great businesses that make Belmont and its Italian food culture so beloved by natives and visitors alike.

    You can skip to 10:46 in the video to see Susan's segment specifically:

  5. ABC7 Spotlights GANYC And Its Plans For Guides

    ABC7 reporter CeFaan Kim spoke with GANYC President Emma Guest-Consales and Member-at-Large Kevin Lawrence in Chelsea yesterday afternoon to discuss how NYC guides are envisioning giving tours again in our new reality. Tour guides are the storytellers of New York's history, and we look forward to a time where we can again tell those stories. GANYC's Tour Your Own City initiative, launching this Summer, will aim to connect locals with NYC's best guides to safely explore the city so many took for granted until now.

    ABC7: "Tour guides hard-hit by pandemic offer a glimpse into the future post-COVID-19"



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GANYC is an association of independent tour guides. Each member is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. GANYC provides a listing of all member guides to the public. GANYC is not liable, or responsible, for contractual obligations made between clients and tour guides. GANYC stands for Guides Association Of New York City.
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