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April 23, 2020  

Gil Lopez: Guerrilla Gardening in Queen, Resilient Communities and the Power of Radical Ideas 


A few words before this episode.

Gil who's interviewed here has been laid off since I recorded this episode and the NYC Compost Project and the curbside compost collection in NYC, for which he worked are coming to pass. Curbside compost pick-up will end on May 4 and the Compost Project will be completely mothballed in July, he told me. 

However, Gil’s spirit is still high.

“I’m doing okay,” he wrote to me. “I was laid off last month but I received my first unemployment check today. 

 I’m am blessed beyond words to have my community garden to go to and be outside in the sun and soil basically whenever I want”.

Now, on my side, I am sheltering in place with my wife and three daughters. We never expected to have Zoe, our 21-year-old at home with us again and are enjoying this extra time with her.

I hope you, my listeners are well. Please stay home and stay safe! 



In this episode, I am on the phone with Gil Lopez the founder of Smiling Hogshead Ranch an urban garden in Queens New York. 

The Smiling Hogshead Ranch started 9 years ago as a “guerilla garden” on a set of abandoned railroad tracks. After many backs on forth with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, they managed to secure a lease.

Today the Ranch is an agriculture farm and community garden by day, and a social club and cultural venue. 

-- Gil, I have read that you see the more important effects of community gardens as being psychological, off-setting mindsets of commodification and enhancing ideas of community.

The coronavirus is devastating our economy, deeply impacting our way of life and putting a stop to production and consumption. It is a costly reminder that in order to survive our communities must transition to a more resilient model. 


Here are Gil’s recommendations


Basic Call To Consciousness 

by Akwesasne Notes 


Documentaries (YouTube)

HyperNormalisation: by Adam Curtis


The Century of the Self

April 16, 2020  

Share My Meals - Princeton Non-Profit Keeps Restaurants Open During the Pandemic to Feed Those in Need


In this episode, I speak to Share My Meals's President and Co-Founder Isabelle Lambotte about her vision for Share My Meals Inc. The non-profit was initially created to fight hunger by recovering meal surplus from corporations and Universities cafeterias.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Share My Meals's volunteers are working non-stop to feed the community in need.

Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros from the Municipality of Princeton comments on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on restaurants and businesses in Princeton.

Two restaurant owners Michele Moriello of La Mezzaluna, and husband and wife Amar Gautam and Amanda Maher owner of The Meeting House a new restaurant in Princeton are sharing their experiences. Both restaurants have decided to keep a reduced team and to partner with Share My Meals to cook meals for the families served by Isabelle and her team of volunteers.

Patty Yates, is an African American community leader and a Share My Meals recipient. She talks of the need of her community and explains how she redistributes the meals received from the non-profit to her community.


Visit Share My Meals at


April 2, 2020  

Jessica Baxter - Princeton High School Principal - Adjusting to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic


I am Stan Berteloot and this is Back in America. Today I am speaking via Skype with Princeton High School Principal Jessica Baxter.

Jessica, as most school leaders across the globe, is faced with the challenging task of adjusting to the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic.

When the school closed, initially for two weeks on March 16 putting in place remote learning was only part of what had to be done. The staff at PHS had to ensure that every kid had access to a computer and the Internet. Curriculums had to be adjusted for kids to learn online.

Strategies had to be put in place to ensure well being of students.

Jessica, when we prepared this interview you told me that you are reassessing and re-planning what you do, not day to day, but minute to minute.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with Back in America and to share your experience keeping Princeton High School strong for the students and their families.

Jessica's book suggestions

Daring Greatly, by Brown, Brene, Ph.D. 

Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, & Identity
by Winona Guo, Priya Vulchi

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