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Oases for the Mind

How Do New Yorkers Soothe Their City Minds?

By Catherine Roberts  |  @catharob
May 12, 2015


Isaias Vega is 17. He’s a youth leader with Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, and a regular volunteer at clean-ups along the Bronx River and parks in the southeast Bronx. But he didn’t used to be so involved in his community. It wasn’t until his mother lost her job, started volunteering in her neighborhood and bringing her kids along with her, that Isaias learned to love the environment where he lives.

He tells the story of how the Bronx River has come to define his life, symbolized by a piece of history he found during one early clean-up in Concrete Plant Park.

For Sandrine Milet, 25, art is both a job and a passion. That makes New York City the perfect place for her, since art is available all over. Many art spaces in the city – galleries, performances, special exhibitions – aren’t the best places for her to de-stress, however, since they’re so tied into her work representing experimental performance artists.

A few spaces, however, strike just the right blend of nature, city and art for her to truly relax. One of those is The High Line, the raised park built along a former train track on Manhattan’s west side. It may often be packed with people, but Milet says the subtle inclusion of free and accessible art into the park’s design make it one of her favorite spots in New York City.

If it’s possible, Laura Solís, 28, rides her bike to get where she’s going – often it’s her job, 14 miles from her home. She’s also the Bronx organizer for Transportation Alternatives, which advocates for better biking, walking and public transportation infrastructure in New York City. How did she get to be such an intense cyclist?

“As a very empowered feminist,” she says, “I will say it was a guy.”

A boyfriend noticed she had an old, dusty, vintage bicycle in her room and suggested she fix it up. She did, and she’s been riding that – and other bikes – ever since.

She describes how the craziness of New York City’s streets is the best way she knows to calm and center herself whenever she’s feeling stressed.

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CityMind explores mental health in New York City. The articles produce reflect the mental health concerns of particular communities, explores access to quality care and delves into larger social issues concerning stigmatization. The stories are New York based but reflect the larger issues of mental health nationwide. We hope the project will serve both as a news source and a resource.

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