Happy new year everyone! (When do you officially stop wishing people a happy new year anyways?) After leaving South America, we parted ways for a few weeks to spend some time at home with family and friends before jumping back into self-employment-- a feat much harder than you might imagine. As some of you might know, we are currently working on two documentaries. One, which you may have been following over the past few months, is the story of ZZ and her family in Peru. The other is the story of a community in Long Island that could not be more different than South America.
Enter Riverside, New York. Lauren first came here over the summer while doing some freelance work. As soon as she met the people there and the story of the community began to unfold, she called Izzy immediately and said “You have to come down here.” Next thing we knew, we were working on a second documentary. We were both so drawn to the story of the Riverside community. We felt it had a history and an evolving present that were largely untold and needed to be recorded.
Riverside is a hamlet that is a part of the town of Southampton (as in the Hamptons). Riverside is located in the East End of Long Island, right at the split of the two forks: the North Fork, made up of farms and vineyards, and the South Fork, home to the Hamptons. Contrary to the common image of the Hamptons, Riverside is the most economically distressed hamlet in Suffolk County and is in one of the most racially segregated portions of the country. It has a large minority population and has historically been neglected by local government action and resources. Riverside wasn’t always this way, and we are working on uncovering pieces of its history to illuminate the vibrant Riverside of the past and its potential for the future.
Right now we are spending most of our days meeting with people in the Riverside community. It’s pretty easy to be self-employed when you get to spend your working hours meeting incredible, interesting people and listening to their stories. We’ve been slowly collecting an archive of stories, photos and other footage from the community. This past week we sat down with several community members, attended a community meeting about the area’s redevelopment, and did some serious archival digging at the County Center through deeds tracing back to the 1930’s!
When we’re not working on the documentaries, we’ve been enjoying drives through the countryside, unbelievable winter sunsets, going to Costco and watching a lot of epic movies. We made it through Jonas (the blizzard)-- Lauren got to experience her first ever snow storm and building a snowman! Big shoutout to Lisa Lowenstein, who has been generous enough to put us up while we're working here, impart her culinary knowledge upon us, and set up a man cave in the basement for us to call our own. We’ve been working hard, and have been enjoying every second! We’ll be adding a Riverside page to our website within the next week, so keep your eyes out for more on this documentary.