If you’re looking for the center of community life for Polish immigrants in Brooklyn you should check out the local pharmacy. This story, produced in 2005, was Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska’s public radio debut.
2010 marks the 200th birthday of the composer Frederic Chopin. For Polish immigrants his music has special meaning. FI2W’s Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska produced a radio story for WNYC on the community’s response to the great composer.
The recession and budget cuts create tough choices for older Polish immigrants in New York.
Many older immigrants in New York City’s Polish community have lived on very modest incomes for years. The economic recession has exacerbated their situation, forcing some to make tough choices.
GREENPOINT, NY – Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
A long line of voters crowded around P.S. 34 on Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, a predominantly Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The line was at times so long –in the morning at any given moment there were around 300 voters– that some people just gave up, saying they would have to come back later. Others were hoping that their employers would understand and would not punish them for coming late to work.
“I’ve never seen anything like that here,” said Krystyna Holowacz, a Greenpoint activist, while waiting for her turn to vote. “Usually it takes five to ten minutes to cast a vote in Greenpoint. Today it’s more than one hour.”
Some voters were very excited to take part in this historic election, others looked very serious and described their participation as a duty.
Older Polish immigrants stood in line among numerous young Americans who have recently moved to this increasingly trendy neighborhood. And while election fever has strongly held the country in its grip for a long time, among Polish residents of Greenpoint this was a new phenomenon.
In the past, Polish immigrants, while deeply involved in their home country’s politics, were barely interested in the American electoral process. This year, however, despite differences in their opinions on who should be the next president, Poles were showing up at polling sites in much larger numbers than in previous years, with a new feeling of empowerment.
FI2W reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed Polish voter Darius Gieczeweski in Manhattan. He voted for the first time in a U.S. presidential election this morning.[audio:http://www.jocelyngonzales.net/FI2W/fi2w_DariusG.mp3]
Polish Americans and Polish immigrants living in the US offered a variety of reactions to the missile shield agreement signed this week by the US and Poland. According to US officials the 10 interceptor missiles to be placed on Polish soil are intended to protect the US and its allies from an attack by a rogue state such as Iran.
As part of the deal the Bush administration also agreed to the placement in Poland of a Patriot missile battery – a short-range missile system that theoretically could be used in case of Russia’s attack. Moreover, as the New York Times reported, the deal came with a promise that, “at least temporarily American soldiers would staff air sites in Poland oriented towards Russia, and that the United States would be obliged to defend Poland in case of an attack with greater speed than required under NATO, of which Poland is a member.” The agreement came soon after Russia invaded Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, and a close American ally.
The move infuriated Russia. Shortly after the deal was announced a top Russian general, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said that Poland risks a military attack, possibly even nuclear, for agreeing to host a US missile defense system on its territory. “Such targets are destroyed as a first priority,” he warned.
It sounded all too familiar to Poles, who, still remembering the times when their country was a Soviet satellite, almost felt a gust of the Cold War era.
Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska’s recent story on WNYC focused on long-time Polish residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who are being forced out of their apartments by high rents and landlord harassment. She also reported that many in Greenpoint’s Polish community welcome the recent changes to their neighborhood, including new businesses and a major infusion of city funds to revitalize McCarren Park.
Click here to see the story on WNYC’s website or press play below to listen.[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news070523_greenpoint_jedrychowska.mp3]
Ewa’s story aired on May 23, 2007, and was WNYC’s #1 most emailed story for the week of May 28, 2007. You can also read Ewa’s article about the making of her story here.
To read what other websites are saying about the Greenpoint story and the issues it raises, click on the links below.