Mayor De Blasio Invokes the New Deal for Lessons on How to Tackle the COVID-19 Crisis

In a March 16 media appearance, New York City Mayor Mayor Bill De Blasio discussed school closures across New York City, part of what he calls a wartime approach to combat COVID-19. This crisis might put millions out of work and will require extraordinary interventions. De Blasio pointed out that we already know how to do it because we did it before in the New Deal.

Exhibit: Posters for a New Age Inspired by New Deal Art

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Update:

The Fri., March 6, 6-8pm – Opening Reception will take place as scheduled.
We will not to serve food this event, but will provide wine, beer, and water.
We will also provide soap/water and hand sanitizer.
An update about the March 20 event will be posted next week.

Fri., March 6, 6-8pm – Opening Reception

Fri., March 13, 6pm, “Art and Activism, Posters as Tools of Social Change,” presented by LND founder Gray Brechin and Max Slavin, Creative Action Network.

Fri., March 20, 6pm, Program featuring the Sunrise Movement: “Taking Action for a Green New Deal,” presented by the Sunrise Movement.

Opening March 6 at Canessa Gallery in San Francisco, “Art and Activism: From the New Deal to the Green New Deal,” and exhibit of WPA and contemporary posters, connects the Green New Deal to its New Deal roots.  As the Creative Action Network notes, “During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal employed artists, graphic designers, and printers—many from the San Francisco Bay Area—to produce posters promoting public health, education, national parks, and the arts. Today, in response to the climate crisis, a new generation of activists turns to the power of poster to demand a Green New Deal.” the opening reception is on Friday, March 6. On Friday, March 13, the gallery will host the Living New Deal’s Gray Brechin, speaking about the New Deal, along with Max Slavin of the Creative Action Network. On Friday, March 20, a program featured the Sunrise Movement’s activism for a Green New Deal.  All events are at 7pm.  RSVP is requested. Find more details here and here, and RSVP here.

Professor Eric Rauchway, Living New Deal Board Member, Interviewed on National Public Radio

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945) signs the Social Security Act, 14th August 1935. (Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Eric Rauchway, UC Davis Professor of History and Living New Deal Board Member, spoke about the New Deal with Kara Miller of Innovation Hub, National Public Radio. Rauchway examined how the Roosevelt Administration’s reforms changed Americans’ lives and restored faith in government. Listen to the program here.

In a recent Living New Deal Newsletter post, Living New Deal Founder, Gray Brechin, reviewed Eric Rauchway’s latest book, Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal. 

Professor Teresa Ghilarducci Joins the Living New Deal New York City Branch’s Advisory Council

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(Photo by: Martha Susana Jaimes)

We are thrilled to welcome Teresa Ghilarducci to the Living New Deal NYC branch’s Advisory Council. A labor economist and nationally-recognized expert in retirement security, Ghilarducci is the Bernard L. and Irene Schwartz Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research. She is an ardent supporter of a Green New Deal—and also, a gray one.

In her recent keynote address at the annual meeting of the Association for Social Economics, Ghilarducci drew attention to what she called a “doomsday” for pensions. Without a Gray New Deal that allows seniors to receive pensions and retire in dignity, she predicts that almost half of middle-class workers over 50 will be poor or near-poor retirees by 2030. Get her take on the policy debate surrounding retirement present and future here.

The Orange County Register Reports: Historic Sewage Digester Building in Laguna Beach Might be Saved

Laguna Beach Water treatment tower was built in 1935. Photo by Photo: Charles Swaney © Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2013.

The Orange County Register writes that a prominent family has offered to save from demolition the historic sewage digester building at entrance to Laguna Beach. Last year, the Living New Deal raised awareness about Laugna Beach resident’s efforts to save the tower.

“In a letter to the city that arrived hours before the City Council was set to debate the building’s fate, philanthropists Barbara and Greg MacGillivray cited the New Deal structure’s historical significance and offered to pay a portion of the renovation cost.

Previous estimates put demolition and renovation at about $2.5 million.”

Read the story here.

2020 New Deal Legacy calendar

By Evan Kalish

The 2020 New Deal Legacy calendar highlights another dozen fantastic projects undertaken by various agencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. This year’s collection takes us all across the country, from the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Northwest—and everywhere in-between. It includes magnificent artwork and gorgeous Art Deco structures; projects large and small from New Mexico to New York. Get your copy here.

Also by the same author, the Postlandia Calendar 2020 tells the stories of another dozen amazing post offices from across the United States. You can purchase the calendar here.

Travels with the American Guide Series: Friendship, Maine and Seabrook, New Hampshire, A Study in Contrasts

The American Guide Series, produced by the Federal Writers’ Project, is one of the most well-known WPA projects. Written as a collection of travel guides, the series included recommended tour routes as well as essays on the history and culture of each U.S. state and territory. This post, following a suggested tour in Maine, is the third in a series of articles based upon the guides.

Exploring Route One is not all sweetness and light. The route was the main highway during colonial times and it remains heavily traveled today. Even in 1937, the Federal Writers’ Guide described long stretches of abundant ugliness: 

“Though US 1 runs through many attractive areas, its roadside for long sections, as
on other express highways of the country, is depressingly ugly, being characterized by hideous shacks, enormous signs, dumps, and raw cuts.”

But I encountered no ugly areas just off Route One in Friendship, Maine. It remains very much as it was when the guide’s writer described it: 

“A fishing village of small neat homes, is at the end of a peninsula. Local travel here being generally by boat, small floats or wharves appear at the ends of the side streets, which slope sharply down to the shore. Pride in the building and care of small boats is traditional in Friendship, as evidenced by the large number of well-painted craft in the bay.”

Friendship’s fishing village character still remains today. The WPA writer would recognize exactly what I saw this week. The houses are modest, 19th century wood-frame farmhouses and fisherman’s homes. 

The streets still end in wharves jutting into the harbor. And the boats offshore are lobster boats and dinghies. Not a single luxury sailboat in sight. 

Fishing and boat-building are still the mainstays of the economy. Lobsters and shellfish abound and charter boats are still available for deep-sea fishing. It is just as the Guide says: 

“Salt-water fishing, from both sail and motor boats, is the chief pastime in the vicinity of Friendship, the coastal waters offering many kinds of fish. Casting
for mackerel has become popular, but heavy catches are often made by trolling in the early morning and in the evening; these fish are as lively and agile as trout. 

Gunners, excellent pan fish 12 to 15 inches in length and up to 1 pounds in weight, are usually caught on the incoming tides, with sharp hooks on straight poles baited with worms, clams, or periwinkles. 

Pollock, gamey as salmon, are caught with a fly rod, by trolling bright flies in a swift current, or with herring attached to a colored spinner. The silver hake,
which when fresh is one of the most satisfying foods for a hungry fisherman, can be caught from small boats near the shore. 

As at other points on the Maine coast the skipper who takes parties out for deep-sea fishing is generally an entertaining fellow who knows the fish runs, as
well as many fish stories; he furnishes tackle and good advice, and cooks a tasty chowder.”

I couldn’t find a fisherman to cook me a “tasty chowder” but the local lobster shack did it quite well.

The next town, Seabrook, New Hampshire, is of historic colonial lineage dating even farther back than Friendship. Seabrook was likewise a small fishing village in 1938. In fact, it remained so isolated that the names of some of the original settlers had persisted for the intervening three hundred years: among them such names as Byrd, Peavear, Boynton, and Bachi.

“Seabrook (1,666 pop.), a village with limited accommodations, is Old Worldish
in appearance and atmosphere. Its landscape has been unchanged for three centuries; cocks of salt hay still dot the wide sand dunes beyond it as they did in Colonial days. A part of the people
of Seabrook speak a language reminiscent
of rural England, and at times almost unintelligible to a visitor. The names of some of the original settlers have come down for almost three hundred years, among them such names as Byrd, Peavear, Boynton, and Bachiler.“

Some remarkable traces remain. For example, the White Pages still lists 87 Peavears, 412 Boyntons, 108
Bachilers, and 1034 Byrds living in Seabrook today. 

So, too, The First Meeting House in Seabrook, beautifully restored, still sits directly on Route One today. 

But today’s view across the street is radically altered.

Driving on Route One, any additional traces of the old village have been completely obliterated and, instead, the road is lined with strip malls, as ugly as the guide suggests. 

Other sights have been altered as well. One cannot access the “wide sand dunes” anymore. The road that would take you there in 1937 now leads directly into the parking lot of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. 

I drove it on a Sunday. There was no one in the guard house, no one outside the main entrance. The only indication that it I might be unwelcome or that it might be unsafe to visit was this sign: 

Unless you are fascinated by strip malls or want to participate in an anti-nuclear protest, I’d recommend giving modern-day Seabrook a pass. 

Fern L. Nesson May, 2019 

Living New Deal Mentioned in Smithsonian Magazine Story about George Washington

Photo: Jim Wilson / The New York Times / Redux


Smithsonian Magazine published a story by David Preston about young George Washington and his role in the French Indian War. Preston also briefly reports on the struggle to save the Arnautoff mural at the George Washington High School.

“The city’s board of education initially voted to paint over the murals, but hundreds of academics and preservationists protested and signed a petition. Richard A Walker, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus who leads the Living New Deal project, insisted that the murals had been designed to show “uncomfortable facts” about the nation’s first president. In August, the school board voted to cover the paintings rather than destroy them.”

Read more here