By Akosua Kathryn Albritton
Harlem Congregations Wires Buildings
The search for nonprofits that are closing the digital divide has identified management assistance groups in midtown Manhattan and Washington, DC, and nonprofit community groups in Coney Island and the Bronx. It’s wonderful when investigations are fruitful.
Another group to applaud is Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI). Founded in 1986, HCCI brings together over 90 interfaith congregations to execute a coherent program of economic development, housing provision, resident self-sufficiency and lifelong education. Lucille McEwen, Esq., is the current chief executive officer. HCCI partnered with One Economy to rehabilitate and wire the buildings for high-speed Internet access. The latest project involves 41 units found in 209, 213 and 215 West 147th Street. HCCI director of communications Moikgantsi Kgama explained, “HCCI managed the rehabilitation phase and One Economy was responsible for the DSL wiring throughout the buildings.” Bronx-based Urban Telephone and Video is the Internet service provider and Per Scholas, a nonprofit that refurbishes computers, also located in the Bronx, will supply each apartment with a PC running on Windows XP and the Microsoft Office suite. The future residents are welcome to take HCCI’s free computer courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. Tenant leasing is estimated to complete by December 31, 2007.
Funk Master Bill Curtis is Back
Here’s a blast from the past, Bill Curtis, leader of the Fatback Band, did an impromptu interview with me recently. After years of churning out such hits as “Yum Yum (Gimme Some),” “I Like Girls,” “Bus Stop,” “I Found Lovin,” and slow jam “To Be With You,” the band found die-hard fans and ready bookings outside of the US. After twelve years away from the US music scene, Bill returned to set up stakes in North Carolina.
The band stays in touch with fans through their Web site, www.fatbackband.com and MySpace page, www.myspace.com/billcurtismusic. The Web site features e-commerce, biographies of the ten band members, photographs, discography and contact information to book the band. Keyboardist Bob James blogs about tour happenings on the “News” page. His short entries etch a picture of the locale and people they play for. The MySpace page has concert videos and a player for a few of their tunes. Similar to the Web site, there’s a petition to have the band play in New York. Clicking through the Web site reveals that the Fatback Band released 35 albums and audiotapes.
“We do a lot of parties in the UK, Russia, Europe and Japan,” explains Bill Curtis. He says, “The old Soviet bloc countries are just getting into funk music.” Apparently, they love it because Curtis describes the enjoyment like “a hunger and the people want to know more about it.” His mention of Japan led to an inquiry about the rest of the Far East. “The fan base is primarily in Japan. The other countries like the current Top 40.” For him, “They’re copycats of the West.” That’s too bad for him. The remedy may be writing a new song and drive it up to the Top 40.
The Fatback Band has set its sights on working cruise ships, retirement communities and Caribbean music festivals. They have the essential technology to make it happen. Curtis has a cell phone with an international card. Bob James maintains his ritual of blogging band events. MySpace has tens of millions of friends to find. The band has currently over 3,000 friends. Tour clips and interviews are on YouTube. Who knows? One summer evening, maybe the Fatback Band will grace the Martin L. King Summer Concert Series at Wingate High School field.
Indian Summer? Not!
This year, summer clung to the Mid-Atlantic region for several weeks. October had unusually warm days. The TV weather reports did not explain them away as Indian summer. Add to that the out-of-control fires raging through southern California. One may suppose global warming is the root cause.
Stemming global warming is in the hands of each person living in the developed world. Yes, each, apparently small, act has an impact. Using home or business printers as examples, the world would experience a reduction in gas emissions when toner drums and printer ink cartridges were recycled. The Climate Crisis Solution section of the Live Earth Web site, http://liveearth.org, states the Earth would experience a 10% reduction in total gas emissions. They compare this reduction to taking 10,000 cars off the roads. To learn other actions people can do to improve our world visit http://liveearth.org.