Man on a Mission: NYS Regent Roger Tilles

It was his passion for the arts, his appreciation for teachers, and his firm belief grounded that the arts are fundamental to a good education that first led us to be intrigued by Roger Tilles. We got to sit down with him a million years ago last December. While so much has changed since then, we believe what he had to say remains relevant, perhaps even moreso than it was…

Continue reading

Local Company At Forefront of COVID Testing, Possibly Even a Vaccine

Another new friend is John Shearman, a marketing and communications specialist who has spent his career serving innovative technology companies Island-wide. He currently works for a fascinating company called Applied DNA Sciences, Inc, which is an anchor tenant of the Long Island High Tech Incubator.

A primary service of Applied DNA is to enable the authentication of products and supply chains through unique molecular identifiers — basically they literally apply DNA to things like textiles, microchips, cannabis and other products so that their authenticity can be validated.

In recent years they have also become involved in vaccines for blood cancers. When the COVID-19 crisis erupted, they quickly turned to that .

They are very excited that, in partnership with Stony Brook University, they have developed clinical tests for COVID-19 that are apparently 100% accurate. While this aspect is still receiving approvals it may even be saliva based (bye-bye-brain tickle!), and fast enough that local companies and others will be able to regularly offer safe, quick, accurate tests for their employees on a regular basis.

This is a big step toward being freed from our collective quarantine. They’re also working on DNA vaccines in partnership with Takis Biotech, some of which are already being tested on mice and seem to show some significant promise.

Here’s hoping!

Main Street News is a Must-Read

We’ve said it before, we’re going to keep saying it:

THIS IS VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT.

Vision Long Island and the Long Island Main Street Alliance continue to release daily issues of their new Main Street News.

This is a grounded, productive, community-oriented force for those who care about the economic aspects of this crisis. It’s sobering, comprehensive and helpful.

There’s news about what’s happening, what’s open, resources, proposed legislation and whatever else they can find to help folks weather the storm. They have also added a “Good News” component that highlights folks doing the right thing.

Check out their website. Follow their Facebook.

Vision is one of our strongest advocates for Long Island downtowns, and has been generally connecting diverse local stakeholders to learn and work together for the betterment of our communities for over 20 years. We strongly believe they are a huge reason why there’s as much healthy communication and collaboration in the name of true public service and community development on Long Island as there is today. We are grateful.

On the Human Services Front

A lovely piece from Firefly Kate Sydney’s Compassion Collection

One of the many folks on the Human Services front that we’ve long appreciated is Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family & Children’s Association in Nassau County. He suggest that this press update from NYS Senator Kaplan is a good resource for those who care and/or need services during this challenging time, be they senior services, hunger, housing, healthcare, domestic violence, drug addiction, or legal services.

We were heartened to hear that caring LIers crashed the LI Cares website trying to make donations. Still, food banks are facing significant challenges, especially with everyone rushing the grocery stores!

They are running an “Essential Drive in Response to COVID-19 School Closures, which you may donate to here. You can check out their Facebook Page for information on what they’re doing to serve our most vulnerable, including mobile food pantries!

From The INN: What You Can Do to Help Right Now

Housing Help has been offering info on legislative and other matters that impact housing and more

Mental Health: We don’t know where this “Waves of Wellness” is based, save Facebook, but it’s been helpful

For Veterans: One of the better sources of information we’ve come across aimed directly at vets is Patchogue VFW Commander Dave Roger’s personal Facebook Page. We are grateful for his service.

For Seniors: Stop and Shop will be open exclusively to folks over 60 from 6-7:30am starting Thursday. This lets them get there when it’s the least touched and the best stocked. We are grateful.

The Kids are Home — Now What???

The Kids are Here! by Katheryn Laible

We are grateful schools are working to provide digital education on the fly, and wish everyone the best in figuring that out. We are also grateful that they are endeavoring mightily to keep those who count on them fed.

Meanwhile, the kids are home, we really shouldn’t be taking them around other people and we need good ways to keep everyone thoughtfully enriched:

Here’s a great roundup of resources from Huntington NOW

Entertainkidsonadime.com offers 100 Activities to do at home with Kids

Funinfirst.com offers Free Online Resources for Learning at Home

Some wonderful Mrs. Fahrney offers 30 Virtual Field Trips with Links

AdventuresinFamilyHood.com has 20 Virtual Field Trips to Take with Your Kids

NESCA (Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents) had guidance on Making the most of school-closures

Meanwhile, freecodecamp.org has 450 Ivy League Courses You Can Take for Free.

Here are even more ideas from the New York Times

Support Local Business & Community Groups

Main St, Northport

Photo of Northport Village by Katheryn Laible

This is a really tough time to be a small business or a not-for-profit organization. While everyone is rightly encouraged to stay home and keep their hands off the world, bills are still coming due and people are wondering what’s going to happen to their income.

When you see one of your most go-getting survivors of a friend seeking donations for her employer, you have to stop and think — What are we going to do for our people here?

Vision Long Island is one of our region’s strongest advocates for Main Street. They have just released their first Main Street News offering a great guide to what people can do in terms of personal initiative, resources and advocacy.

Another strong advocate for local business that has been posting good stuff on their facebook page is the Long Island Business Council.

In general, some ideas that have seemed good to us include:

  1. Buy Gift Certificates. Consider simply sending a donation to your favorite local business
  2. Realize small businesses are often better for social distancing because they tend to be less crowded. They may even have that hard to find supply!
  3. Restaurants are closing, but can still do takeout/delivery. Even for alcohol!
  4. Realize many of these places care about their own health, your health and the community more than most ever realized. Know that many local shops are going out of their way to safely keep on keeping on — Book Revue in Huntington, for example is offering curbside service and even delivery. We’ve heard report of local hair stylists all but wrapping their stylists in bubble wrap. Look up their website/social media. Even if they aren’t advertising it, call them to inquire!
  5. Special events are hugely important for organizations. Had an event cancelled? Send a donation! You can check our newsletter archives to find 100s of great local organizations
  6. Strongly consider supporting policy proposals that directly support individuals and small businesses. While they are going out of their way to come up with creative means of keeping going, there is only so much they can do,
  7. Just be kind — Especially to the cashiers, service providers and others working through this. Just. Be. Kind.
 
 

Networking Can and Should Continue!

Photo provided by Robbie Samuels

We thought this article from our friend Robbie Samuels was really helpful:

9 Ways to Network During a Pandemic

“Due to an abundance of caution, we’re canceling our event.”

All over the world, event organizers have had to make the difficult decision to send this message.

According to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, 76% of people surveyed said that networking was a top driver for why they chose to attend a live event.

How do we keep networking if live events are being canceled, postponed, or becoming virtual events?”

Read Robbie’s Suggestions here

Online Virtual Meeting Tools

We’ve also been thinking about how to meet remotely, and what services might be helpful. Our friend, Deb Ingino brought Zoom to our attention, which was also recently recommended by a dear friend Kathy Kuthy.

Thanks to Pilar Moya, we learned that Google is making their premium version of Hangouts Meet free until July 1st. She also led us to be reminded about Skype Meanwhile, our kids have having a lot of their own meetings on Facebook Messenger.

Of course, the phone still works, too. 🙂

Art is Life. Life is Art.

Now is a time for story telling, picture painting, music making and dance. We firmly believe these things are fundamental to the human spirit and will choose to be grateful that for now, perhaps, we’ll have some more time to practice our crafts.

We at the Firefly Artists will likely be closing our physical doors for a while, but we will also be ramping up creative endeavors to support art and our artists.

One Firefly, Helen-Murdock Prep has been crafting sweet, funny, honest videos that we are sharing now.

Like the Firefly Artists on Facebook for that and so much more.

Plus:

12 Famous Museums offering Virtual Tours

Mo Willems is hosting a Weekly Live Stream Doodle

We’ll post more at The Firefly and on our own Synchronicity Facebook Page as we find it!!!

Plant Seeds

Photo by Katheryn Laible

Now is an excellent time to start a garden. Dark green leafies and other cold-weather crops can be sown outside now, and many dreams of early summer can be started indoors… plus…flowers…

The Mulch is a really neat gardening resource

Unfortunately, some of our favorite places are closing for the moment, but we’re heartened to hear that Main Street Nursery in Huntington takes online orders and is currently delivering.

Check out your own favorite local gardening places to see what they may be doing, both locally and online. We’ll post resources as we find them. .