It's true-- sometimes living in New York City can be ravenous, you can often feel like you're being preyed on by vultures and vampires at every turn. Or worse, that you're simply ignored by the hustling masses.
However, there is so much altruism thrumming beneath the ground of our grand and shining city. There are so many good people who get up every day motivated by a singular goal: to make the world a better place, in whatever way their passion leads them.
These people refuse to give up on the hope for a better future, and they're working hard to make the world a better place right here in NYC.
Here are 12 wonderful things that'll give you hope about the future and make you feel amazing about living in this city, where so many people work so hard to make the world a better place.
1. PEN America
Do you think free speech should be an elemental human right? So does PEN.
Located in Soho on the corner of Houston and Broadway, PEN's staff work tirelessly all day long to advocate for all the writers throughout the world who are in jail for their words.
Did you know writing is the number one crime for which people are incarcerated in the world?
At PEN, they're working to end the practice of seeing words as crimes. Promoting literature and defending free expression, they also put out a literary journal with fiction, poetry, and essays that celebrates the free speech that we're fortunate enough to have in America.
2. Seeds of Peace
At Seeds of Peace, the principal is celebrating the love that can form between any two humans, regardless of their demographics or learned beliefs.
The thing about war is that you typically don't ever see your “enemy,” you just hear a ton of dehumanizing jargon about them.
SoP fosters the crossing of these barriers by bringing together children of conflict at a summer camp in Maine. That way, the kids from countries that are at war, kids who would otherwise hate each other without ever having met, eat their cereal, sleep in the same bunks, and play basketball together.
Their headquarters is here in New York City, and it's a pretty beautiful organization.
3. Cave Canem
Located at 20 Jay Street in Brooklyn, Cave Canem is committed solely to cultivating the growth of African American poets.
Started in 1996 by Toi Derricotte and Corenlius Eady, CC is dedicated to providing African American poets with a place to call their own, giving them the space and support to write about the truth, and to participate in the parade of revelations inherent in literature.
In the past sixteen years of Cave Canem's existence, emerging poets have found a home for their most true and shining work, two book prizes with prestigious presses, the publication of three anthologies, and nationally based readings and panels.
If anything should give you hope about the vitality of art and literature in NYC, it's Cave Canem.
4. Yoga to the People
Don't have $30 to drop on a pretentious yoga class that'll make you feel bad about yourself for not being able to balance on your head? Yeah. Me neither.
At Yoga to the People, they do sometimes ask you to balance on your head, but it's all about your practice. So they make it very clear that if you have to chill out in Child's Pose for a little while, that's okay.
At the beginning of every class, they ask you to release judgement and just let yourself be. To abandon your idea of perfection. Which, compared to the daily stressors and pressures of NYC, is actually a pretty big gulp of relief ... like stepping onto the heated subway car after being outside in the frigid winter air.
Oh, also, did I mention that it's either $5, $10, or pay what you will? And they have a bunch of locations throughout NYC, in Brooklyn, St. Mark's, and Midtown.
5. LGBT Center
America has been making huge strides in the department of Civil Rights for gay people (like, we're finally starting to acquire equal marriage rights!).
Nestled near Union Square is New York City's LGBT Center, a place devoted solely to empowering the LGBT community; especially youth, and celebrating all people for who they are. Because of the alarmingly high suicide rate for LGBT youth, having a place for them to come and be not just appreciated, but celebrated for being exactly who they are is pretty integral to their self confidence and for a healthy society as a whole.
In addition to health and wellness programs, arts, entertainment and cultural events, the LGBT Center also provides parenthood and family support services for families coming to terms with their children's sexuality, which is a pretty important service.
Advocating for justice and opportunity for an LGBT community that's been largely ignored and subjugated by society is another service capable of inducing tears of relief in all of us who believe that everyone is entitled to a full experience of love, and should definitely provide hope to all of us in NYC.
6. Free activities
From kayaking on the Hudson River to free yoga classes in Washington Square Park, the fact that there are plenty of wonderful, giving people who are willing to volunteer their time to improve community life in NYC is heartwarming, to say the least, and completely and gut-wrenchingly inspiring, to say the most.
The fact that during the summer months anyone can, without paying a single dollar, receive access to kayaking on the Hudson River or taking a dance, yoga, or exercise class in Bryant Park says a lot about the symbiotic nature of the NYC community.