Almost two years ago, my dear friend and writer Robert Roth asked me if I wanted to contribute a piece to his magazine And Then. “Can you write something about street vendors in New York? It can be anything, as long as it’s short and accessible.” It took me longer to knock out a 200-word piece for a broad audience than a full-blown scholarly article for fellow historians.
Visiting Scientist Day was by far the most enriching outreach event I have been a part of so far. NYU’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs co-organized this exciting day where fourth and fifth graders, with their clipboards and pencils in hand, fired questions at a group of seventeen scientists of different backgrounds, ranging from STEM research to archaeology and food studies.
NYU’s CityFood Symposium (New York, April 3rd-6th) expanded on the rich repertoire that scholars and journalists have developed in relation to street food, by initiating cross-comparisons of case studies and themes to better understand the micro and macro contexts shaping the political, economic, social and spatial dimensions of street food vending. The result was an enriching interdisciplinary forum that examined urban street food across place and time, with additional discussions concerning methodologies and data sources, paving the way for further conceptualizations.
Last week, I attended a workshop on science communication organized by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at NYU. The panelists discussed how story telling can help scientists and scholars communicate their work to an audience of non-experts. And so I tried to tell the story of Mohammed.
October 2016 is a milestone in the history of street vending in New York City. On October 13th, Council Member Mark Levine announced the introduction of the Street Vending Modernization Act and on October 26th, hundreds of street vending advocates testified at the City Hall Hearing in favor of the Act. As its name suggests, the SVMA will tackle the outdated and problematic practices both street vendors and New York City have been struggling with for decades.