12/27/2005 04:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Up From NYC: A Broad’s Side View: Year End Quick Roundup of Things to Be Grateful For (Yes, There are Some!)

Despite all of the miserable goings on in this country during the past year – a few that I’ve commented on -- there are some good things happening here at the end of the year in the NYC area. Really.

Here’s a short list naming just a few of my personal favs:

* Wide Right’s album, “Sleeping on the Couch” makes Rolling Stone's Magazine’s list of top 50 albums of 2005.

Wow. My very first blog on the HuffPo was about this hard rocking band, headed up by Leah Archibald, a band so excellent that the “dean” of rock critics, Robert Cristgau of the Village Voice, invited himself over to Leah’s house for dinner – and then wrote practically an entire page of glowing prose about the band and Leah. If you’re looking for excellent rock from a band and a woman with real progressive working class values, it simply doesn’t get better than this.">Here’s the Rolling Stone piece. If you go to Wide Right’s site, you can also sample some of their music:

*Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx wins a MacArthur “genius” award.

Long time South Bronx-based resident and activist, Majora Carter, who is the granddaughter of a slave, was named one of the 2005 MacArthur Fellows. A brilliant Bronx native who could have done lots of different things, she chose to return to the Bronx after attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut to fight for environmental justice and other rights long denied and overdue to the poor and working people of the South Bronx – mostly low income people of color. She created Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 and has been expanding its reach and programs ever since. Check out Sustainable South Bronx here: and the MacArthur awards here: http://{DD826DBF-DAE6-4730-A35C-8AA6FF8AF3DE}¬oc=1.

*New York City’s North Star Fund is named by The Nation’s Katha Pollitt, in her “Ho Ho Holiday Donations” column, as one of eight “extraordinary groups that are working to make next year better. Put them on your holiday list, right after the champagne.”

Congrats to North Star and its Executive Director Hugh Hogan. It’s one of the few funds that actually gives money directly to local, grassroots activists in NYC. Read what Pollitt had to say here and find North Star here.

*Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods wins the years-long struggle to site waste transfer stations more equitably.

What?? If you’ve read my blogs – or have been reading the papers in NYC for the last five or six years – you’ll know that a coalition of groups from the five boroughs of NYC, called the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods has struggled to get the City of New York to create a garbage plan that does NOT include dumping on the same neighborhoods exclusively – again, mostly low income and communities of color (isn’t it just an amazing coincidence that all of these environmental woes seem to land in the same neighborhoods every time ???) Finally, after a political end game of chicken played out between Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, the OWN forces won the very crucial environmental justice fight to site four waste transfer stations on the water -- one, most notably on the Upper East Side, a neighborhood that produces a lot of waste but that hasn’t one working transfer station – or any other environmental burden, for that matter. Congrats to all the activists who worked for years, literally, to get this far. Special recognition has to go to OWN’s lead organizer, Eddie Bautista, who works for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). Find more info at the NYLPI website.

*Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres wins the Brooklyn Surrogate’s seat.

In yet another blog, I’d written about the struggle here in Brooklyn to clean up the Brooklyn judiciary. One of the main problems: a long entrenched Brooklyn Democratic organization that likes to pick judges the, shall we say, “old fashioned way.” After a squeaker of a victory against a machine backed candidate, Judge Lopez Torres, the only Latina who sits on any bench in Brooklyn, and who has a stellar reputation, was finally “sworn in” at a very packed public event at Brooklyn Borough Hall on December 19th. In a year of few progressive victories of any kind, especially at the electoral level, it was a tear-inducing triumph.

These are just a few of the people and organizations who haven’t given up, run away, changed direction or otherwise fallen into a motionless rut of despair, which would be easy to do.

Here’s to a healthy, just and peaceful 2006.