Monday, March 24, 2008

Who are the women behind the wheel?

Johanna Gomez, Humera Mian, and Maria Helena Hormaza have two things in common. They all live in Queens. And they all drive N.Y.C. yellow cabs.

Johanna holds a degree in Digital Filmmaking and is driving to pay off her loans. Humera is a single mom from Pakistan who drives in order to support her five children. Maria Helena left an international merchandising business to be closer to her family in New York and now drives a cab.

Female drivers make up 155, or 0.3 percent, of the 45,900 licensed drivers in the city. Most women would shy away from such a stressful line of work in such a male-dominated industry. What is it about these women that led them to decide to drive cabs?

"Women in Transit," seeks to answer that question, focusing on Johanna, Humera, and Maria Helena. Meet these women at

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gay Immigrants Find Safe Space in New York

Gay immigrants who come to the United States often do not know they have an option to apply for asylum based on persecution from sexual orientation.

One resource for many of these immigrants is the Aids Center of Queens County, or ACQC, which serves 5,000 people infected with HIV in eight locations throughout Queens.

ACQC's services and food and clothing pantries are not limited to those infected with HIV, but are open to all in need, including gay asylum seekers, according to executive director, Phil Glotzer.

Today, immigrants fleeing persecution are applying for asylum in fewer numbers as deportation rates are increasing. Heightened immigration controls have made it harder for immigrants to obtain visas, and many who are eligible do not apply for asylum because they fear being deported if their application is rejected.

Seven years ago, Dane Solomon fled his native country of Guyana, leaving his son and family, never to return. In the years since, he suffered a stroke, beat brain cancer, and coped with HIV, poverty and the uncertainty of being undocumented in New York.

"I lived in constant fear that I would not be able to put up this facade," Solomon said. "Knowing who you are inside and pretending to be somebody else takes everything from you."

We tell Solomon's story, Dane Solomon is No Longer Afraid, in the Space Issue of The multimedia story presents videos and resources on U.S. asylum trends and the challenges facing immigrants within the LGBT community.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

People Die, Stuff Lives
Ridgewood, Queens

People die every day in New York City. But what happens to the stuff they leave behind?

In a warehouse in Ridgewood, Queens, Nick DiMola of DiMola Bros. Rubbish Removal has curated a personal museum of other people's junk. Decal signs, gold teeth, receipts from the 1930s, crutches, wedding portraits and a menagerie of pre-1970 memorabilia blanket every surface of his office.

From this junk collection to the thrift store shelves, objects take on new lives in the wake of their owners' death. They find homes in hipster living rooms, immigrant kitchens and even the developing world. These objects have also become the muse of artists, breathing some heart and soul into their creations.

People Die, Stuff Lives by Lisa Biagiotti and Kenan Davis is a multimedia story that traces the places objects go before reaching their final resting place in landfills. Below is a video profile of DiMola.

Please visit for other multimedia elements to this story. The print story was also cross-published in the Queens Tribune.