I always enjoy looking over the rooftops and bridges of New York City. The rustic appeal, especially in the summertime, casts such a romantic but haunting feeling. Behold a window view from the Lower East Side in Manhattan:


The Bronx is such a wonderful and glorious place and organizations like From the Bronx keep contributing to its greatness. Besides hosting events, From The Bronx creates cards, apparel, posters and other awesome paraphernalia celebrating The Bronx. It is about time we show our appreciation to such a magnificent company. Check it out: Mission Small Business (Sponsored by Chase and Living Social) is going to award 12 small businesses individual grants of $250,000!!!!

“If our company wins this competition, we will be using the proceeds to open a from The Bronx store in the Melrose section of The Bronx.” says Anthony Ramirez II, Co-Founder/CEO at From The Bronx.

Voting is EASY. Just visit www.missionsmallbusiness.com and search for “From The Bronx” and voilà! You too will help contribute to The Beautiful Bronx. Voting ends at midnight so please hurry and cast your votes!!

Don’t forget to also check out From the Bronx’s FB page by clicking Here. Enjoy!

“I have always enjoyed writing thanks to a wonderful set of elementary school teachers that helped foster my creativity and gave me structure. I began writing and performing poetry in 2008. It began as a method to heal from several painful events in my life that included being a teenage single mother and a victim of relationship abuse. Writing poetry allowed me to transform feelings of pain, fear, anxiety and insecurity into healing. As healing commenced, the more poetry I was able to produce and as I performed I realized ‘my story’ was the story of many women”.

Meet Peggy Robles-Alvarado: Strong like fire but elegant as a breeze on a New York summer day. Her words erupt from her soul, explode through the air, and trickle down to the ears of anyone who listens; changing their hearts forever. I was one of the lucky people who got to experience the poetry and prose of such an ecstatic, driven, and beautiful woman and feel absolutely blessed that I was able to do so.

Peggy Robles was born on December 18th, 1976 in Washington Heights and is of Puerto Rican and Dominican ethnicity. She attended John F. Kennedy High School (KISS Program), went on to major in English Literature and minor in Black & Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and obtained a Master’s degree in Elementary education and Bilingual certification at Lehman College. Currently she is a teacher and writer.

“Years ago I thought [writing] would simply be a great pastime. Something I could do aside from teaching which I have done now for 11 years. I will admit that when I was in college and I was asked about my life’s dream, I found myself repeatedly saying, ‘I am going to write my story one day. I will write a book.’ These words became the mantra that has allowed me to embrace and own the title of ‘writer’. When it came to teaching, my ground breaking moment was when I received a fellowship and was able to work with newly arrived immigrant students. Being able to ease their anxiety, embrace their thoughts and opinions while teaching them a second language allowed me to appreciate the hardships my parents endured as first generation immigrants and to see just how valuable and powerful an education can be. I wanted to be part of that power. For my second profession as a writer, the ground breaking moment was when I read several poems about surviving relationship abuse and teen pregnancy during a women’s event and received several messages from women varying in age and ethnicity. They all shared the same sentiment; ‘Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. The same thing happened to me…’ At that point, I realized that I had to provide a voice for the voiceless. I wanted to heal and help other women heal. This prompted me to compile all my poems into a book titled, Conversations With My Skin; dedicated to my daughter and our journey. This is when I became a writer.”

Inspiration Roses given out at the Homenaje a las guerreras/Homage To The Warrior Women Book Release Event

Peggy Robles-Alvarado is proof that no matter what hardships one may endure in his or her lifetime, a positive mind and attitude can overcome it. Growing from the perils of her youth, she has developed into a living, breathing inspiration for anyone to relate to or be inspired from. Her first book, Conversations With My Skin was published in 2011 and was awarded second place in the category of Best Poetry Book in English at the 2012 International Latino Book Awards. “Conversations With My Skin is the poignant and powerful transformation of a pregnant fifteen year old girl scarred by relationship abuse and her resiliency as she becomes a woman determined to redefine herself. This vivid and often times violent poetic journey is one of resolve, redemption, and healing for both mother and child”. Her second book, Homenage A Las Guerreras/Homage To The Warrior Women was relased on June 6th 2012.

Homenage A Las Guerreras/Homage To The Warrior Women

“Homenaje A Las Guerreras/Homage To The Warrior Women is a collection of poetry and prose dedicated to the inherited strength of women as expressed in their labor, love, sensuality, spirituality and movement. This book honors the vitality, power and prowess of everday women and how their rituals, wit and perceived imperfections can create an evocative legacy.

Video Courtesy of Robles Writes. Promotional Video for Peggy Robles’ first book: Conversations With My Skin.

I originally met the wonderful Peggy Robles-Alvarado at Carmen Mojica’s book reading event and was therefore invited to attend Robles’ book release event of her second book, Homenaje A Las Guerreras/Homage To The Warrior Women at the Bronx Museum. From her inviting smile to her energetic and fiery attitude on life, I was excited to discover the powerful words that are captured inside of her book. “I am inspired by healing, faith, sensuality, spirituality, and the resiliency of the female spirit. I have a set of rituals that [I] put into practice before any major event in my life that involve me thanking my ancestors, spirit guides, and praying for the best possible outcome. I use specific words, both written and spoken because I truly believe they have power to change the energy and outcome of a situation. I live by the following mantras: Be perfectly imperfect. Always hold your head high. Make magic everyday.”

Peggy Robles-Alvarado (sitting) being introduced by Gloria Rodriguez of Dealmas.org

The event was hosted by her daughter, Shanice Robles and featured other speakers like Iya Jacqueline Odusinya Martin (Priestess who conducted opening meditation to the female ancestors), Christina Tapia Echevarria (Poet and President of the Hostos Puerto Rican Club at Hunter College) and Gloria Rodriguez (Award-Winning Writer of You Are More Than Good Enough and The Founder and director of Dealmas.org). The event also featured The Legacy Women, an all female drumming troupe. With the wonderful introduction given to celebrate such a monumental woman, her words became the monumental moment of the evening. Ladies and Gents behold Peggy’s Story:

Inspiring, motivating, intelligent and driven, Peggy Robles-Alvarado continues to spread her story and advises others to express their own.“Banish fear from your core, for it is a dream killer! Fear will tell you not to write your story. Fear will tell you not to submit your manuscript to publication. Fear will tell you not to self-publish. Fear will tell you not to share your words with an audience. Fear will discourage you from taking a writing course to polish your skills. Fear will dampen your creative spirit. Fear will banish your muse. Instead, find a place where that type of fear can become productive. For example, my fears live on notes on a section of my home office wall. I write them on leaves or burlap. Then I challenge each one by writing to them or about them and then I offer them to the earth. I cover them with soil in the backyard and ask they nourish my plants. Needless to say I have a wonderful sage plant that grows out of control all year round”

Ms. Robles-Alvarado currently lives in the Bronx, NY, has been married nine years and has three beautiful children (Two sons: ages 7 & 2 and one daughter: age 19). When asked on what values women can learn from marriage and what they should keep in mind when having children, Peggy responded, “Balance, compromise, and listening are essential skills that must be put into daily practice when sharing your life, space, time and energy with another person, and always put honey on your tongue before emotionally charged conversations. [When it comes to children, they] not only inherit your physical traits but also your emotional wounds. You must be able to speak with your soul honestly, so that your children can then speak to you with honesty.” With age and experience comes wisdom and Peggy definitely has it. Beautiful, kind and ambitious, her goals for the next ten years are already percolating through her being. “I see myself teaching, writing and encouraging others to heal through the power of spoken and written words but on a broader scale. I can visualize myself traveling to many places to advocate for young women. One of my many aspirations is to establish a quality educational and social foundation for young mothers and female victims of sexual abuse to gain life skills through education, counseling services, vocational training and spiritual awareness. The goal of this organization would be to create a community of young educated women who can find healing through the arts, and spiritual development and aid in the healing of others by encouraging the idea of reciprocity as a tool for empowerment.”

Peggy, we definitely believe in you and support you.

You can purchase Peggy’s books via Amazon by clicking Here. You can also join her mailing list and stay tuned for future events by visiting her site: Robleswrites.com. She is also on Facebook and Twitter.

“When I graduated from Columbia I said [to myself] that I know a lot of history about the State of New York and the history of the United States but I know absolutely nothing about the place I was from or where I grew up. Then I discovered that there was a Bronx County Historical Society and they had free Public Lectures. I like to consider that the price was right so I went to them and being historically [and] professionally trained, it suddenly dawned on me that the history of the Bronx was the history of the nation in microcosm. That every important movement in the history of the country, happened in the Bronx as well.”

Entrance to the Bronx Historical Society

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bronx Borough Historian, Professor Lloyd Ultan at From the Bronx’s Event: The Bronx Beer Hall Preview. Charming, Witty and Wise, I couldn’t resist setting a lunch date to discuss my favorite place in the world; The Bronx, and his personal contribution to it. At the ripe age of 74, Professor Ultan is a walking handbook of everything Bronx and has lived long enough to see how it has developed into what it is today.

Professor Lloyd Ultan

Lloyd Ultan was born in 1938 and lived on Morris Avenue on the side street of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. “I like to say my Mother was dodging traffic at the time” he said with a grin on his face. It was enjoyable to hear a first account of how the Bronx was back in the 1940’s, especially from someone who is such a comedian. As he described his childhood, a fact that immediately jumped out to me was about the New York City Transit System. Although trains looked much cooler back then, trains labeled with numbers didn’t exist and letter labeled trains only contained letters A through G. Everything else was labeled by destination. For example, the trains that currently run on the Jerome Avenue line, which are the 4 trains today, were previously referred to as the Woodlawn Jerome Line on the Lexington Avenue Subway. In Brooklyn, a major train line was called the Cover Line or the West Side Line. Despite few differences, the train stop names are pretty much the same. Although many developments have occurred in the Bronx within the past 70 years, institutions like schools for example, have also mainly stayed the same as far as location and names are concerned.

During his youth, Lloyd Ultan attended all Bronx Public Schools. The first school he attended was P.S.114 located on Jerome Avenue and 167th Street. “The principal was the name of May C. Hatton. She was everything for the kids, but a stern disciplinarian. If you want to know what May C. Hatton looked like, take a look of the picture of George Washington on the dollar bill. It is an amazing resemblance.” (Although extremely comical to hear, looking like GW, I couldn’t have blamed her for having such a stern disposition!)

From P.S. 114, Lloyd Ultan went on to Jordan L. Motts Junior High School 22, located on the corner of 167th street and Morris Avenue. “When I walked in there, [I was in the very first class], I walked into the gymnasium and on the gymnasium floor, there was powder that was left by the workmen [who were] working on the floor. So you [could] see the footprints on the floor of the gymnasium. That’s how new it was! Brand new” Amazing isn’t it? Sure, many schools are opening in this day and age, but to be in the first class in a school that opened in the late 1940’s is just classic. Literally.

Taft High School Today

When it was time for High School, Mr. Ultan attended William Howard Taft High School located on Sheridan Avenue and 171st street. While I was growing up, Taft H.S. wasn’t the best apple in the bunch so I was curious to hear Mr. Ultan’s view of this infamous school. “It wasn’t bad then in about 1951. I graduated in 1955 about 3 years later. I didn’t like Taft [because] I wasn’t really challenged. There are 2 teachers I remember, not necessarily their names but for what they were. One was a great geometry teacher. I’m lousy at math but I learned geometry. I just thrived in that course, [but] couldn’t stand math at all. The other was a teacher of European History & World History. I go into his class and all he does is sit behind his desk, which already is a mistake. He starts talking and says, ‘Marco Polo was born in Genua’. I raised my hand and said, ‘Excuse me, but wasn’t Marco Polo born in Venice?’ He said, ‘Oh yea, Marco Polo was born in Venice’. By the end of the semester I was teaching the class because I knew more than he did.”

Being the Bronx Historian and describing his early school years, it’s apparent that Mr. Ultan always had a deep interest in History. When asked how his interest sparked and what his earliest memory was, he reminiscently responded, “My interest in history started when I was a toddler, and I am

Franklin D. Roosevelt

not kidding. I was always interested in what happened before I was born. I would ask my parents, I would ask my Aunts and Uncles, [and] neighbors. I also remember very, very clearly, living on 165th street, which was a side of a hill. In the apartment house next door there was an old man who would sit on the stoop. That is what he would do all day. I would totter up to him to say ‘Hello’. My earliest memory came at the age of two. I know this happened at the age of two because when I explain this to you, you’ll know why. Suddenly, my mother takes me by the hand and runs up the side of the hill of the Grand concourse, stands [at] the wall separating the service road from the main road. I look across and on the opposite wall there is a woman wearing a print dress, (At the age of two I remember this). Suddenly she leans forward and looks to her left; my right. She starts applauding and looks like a seal, (you know with her arms extended down) and I look into the direction she’s looking. There is a car coming up the Grand Concourse; convertible, top down, and in the back seat talking to somebody sitting next to him was Franklin D. Roosevelt. I looked up at my mother who was 150 ft. tall and said, ‘President Roosevelt, here?’ And that was my earliest memory.” Laughing he added, “He was campaigning for re-election!”

President of Hunter College, George Shuster

Naturally as one would suspect, Mr. Ultan majored in History when attending Hunter College in the Bronx in 1955. Currently Hunter College is located at 695 Park Avenue in Manhattan however when Mr. Ultan attended, one of its branches was located where the Lehman College Campus is today. Hunter College actually started out as an all Women’s school. In the wake of World War II and the GI Bill, money was available to veterans and therefore the Hunter College Bronx branch became integrated with Veterans (which included High School male students). “By 1955, when I was admitted into Hunter College, the President of the College, George N. Shuster, after which Shuster Hall is named, (I knew him) said that [my class] was the first class admitted into Hunter College in the Bronx that had an equal amount of men and women” Behold, the Historian makes History! During this time, CUNY (City Colleges of New York) schools were referred to as City Colleges and were FREE. I almost fell out of my seat when I heard this. Today, CUNYs are significantly cheaper than private schools however that doesn’t compare to free! According to Mr. Ultan, City Colleges were free to attend and the only fees to pay were Lab Fees (which was about $35.00 per year!) and books. Hunter College actually lent out books which had to be returned at the end of the year. Unfortunately, this all stopped with inflation. “Starting in the 1960’s and the implementation of tuition, I still remember students walking with buttons saying, ‘Our Position, No Tuition!. It was wonderful”. After four years of attending Hunter college, Mr. Ultan graduated. “Thank God for Nelson Rockefeller. New York State funded the New York State Regents College Teacher Fellowship (Nelson Rockefeller’s idea). The idea was that [New York State] would provide the money [after passing a test during a state competition] for tuition plus room and board, if you pledged that once you get your graduate degree, you will attempt to teach at a college in New York State…Well, I got it. Columbia University.” After graduating Columbia in 1961, he initially taught as a substitute teacher in Dewitt Clinton High School and became part of the development of the Bronx Historical Society. In fact, Mr. Ultan’s influence on the Bronx Historical Society contributed to the first journal ever published by them in January of 1964. Today it is the oldest continuously published Journal of New York City History.

Due to his previous accomplishments, especially with the Bronx Historical Society, shortly thereafter in 1964, Mr. Ultan scored a position with Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. As time passed, Mr. Ultan attended more lectures and read more and more about Bronx History. Many people say that he knows everything about the Bronx and he certainly begs to differ. “Don’t ever say that. I do not know everything about the Bronx because every day I find out something new. If I find something new [about it] every day, that means I don’t know everything about the Bronx!” Although what he says is true, his vast knowledge of the Bronx has many people believing otherwise; believing he truly knows as much as there is to know about the massive mainland. Many people have been in awe as to how much knowledge he has acquired about this wonderful borough and in 1978 his knowledge would be spread throughout the world. In that year, Mr. Ultan met a publisher doing research in the Bronx Historical Society’s library who was fascinated with his vast expertise. Ultan recollects, “[This publisher approached me saying] ‘You’re just the guy I’m looking for. I’m looking for someone to write a book called, The Bronx Story of 27 Wonderful Neighborhoods’. I said that’s a terrible title. You know, it should be called, ‘The Beautiful Bronx'”. Indeed it was. In 1979, The Beautiful Bronx was released to the public.

Although Mr. Ultan has released other books like The Bronx: It Was Only Yesterday 1890-1925, The Birth of the Bronx 1609-1900, The Northern Borough: A History Of The Bronx, and The Bronx in the Frontier Era: From the Beginning to 1696, The Beautiful Bronx is deemed the most popular. Today, Mr. Ultan continues to learn more about the Bronx, hosts walking tours through the Bronx Historical Society and enjoys classical music. Truly it was a pleasure talking with him. The amount of information he has retained is incredible and I feel honored to have met such a wonderful person.

Video Courtesy of James Hannon. Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang

For more information on Mr. Ultan’s walking tours click HERE or call 718-881-8900. The Bronx Historical Society is located at 3309 Bainbridge Avenue Bronx, NY 10467.


Midwood, Brooklyn = Beautiful. Getting off the Avenue J train stop, it was as if I traveled to a beautiful town in Massachusetts. This area is seriously one of my favorite places to live in the future. Enjoy!

“The focus of my work is the empowerment of women and people of the African Diaspora, specifically discussing the Afro-Latina Identity. I utilize my experience as a birth doula to raise awareness on maternal and infant health for womyn, highlighting the racial disparities in the healthcare system in the United States. I am studying to become a midwife to continue to advocate for womyn and their overall well-being.”

Meet Carmen Mojica Fabian: Beautiful, Bold, Headstrong and being only 26 years old, is already shocking the world with her earthquake words of wisdom and ideas for change. Being of Afro-Dominican descent and originating from the amazing Bronx, New York, I actually first met Carmen 11 years ago at a Youth Program called YMPJ (Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice). Although she may not have knew it back then, she was already on the road to greatness. She is currently a Birth Doula, has already written two books, “Hija De Mi Madre” and “Odas De La Mujer de Miel“, and is on her way to becoming a Mid-Wife and continuing Advocate on Women’s health and wellness. I was therefore ecstatic to find out that she was reading excerpts from her first book, “Hija De Mi Madre” and poetry from her second book, “Odas De La Mujer de Miel” at Word Up Books a few weeks ago.

“[“Hija De Mi Madre”] is the culmination of both personal experiences and undergraduate research that illustrate my identity as an African Latina. It is a combination of memoirs, poems and research material that explain the effects of race on identity from an academic standpoint while sharing my own life as a living example…”Odas De La Mujer de Miel” is a collection of poetry in Spanish.” For both books she wanted to make sure that, “…the Afro-Latina perspective was represented in literature and academia.” There are so many powerful words that can try and attempt to describe this woman, her work, and her words but doing so will cut her short of her eternal greatness. It is such an honor to see how the once 15 year old girl I once knew has blossomed into the extraordinary woman she is today. When asked, what changes would she would like to see in the world and her future plans, she boldly responded, “[I want] For all of the birthrights that human beings inherently have to be respected, more compassion and more love. [As for myself] I am studying at the moment to be a nurse-midwife with hopes of continuing to speak about health as it relates to womyn, highlighting the experience of womyn of color; I also want to speak about trauma as it relates to mental health and wellness”.

It is for a fact that all of her wants and goals will be fulfilled as she is one of the most dedicated, sincere and hard working women I have ever met. For more information on Carmen Mojica’s mission, words of wisdom and prose, please visit her site These Waters Run Deep. You can also find her on twitter by clicking HERE and purchase one of both books by clicking HERE.


The weather has been pretty drab lately, but I prefer drab warm weather rather than icy cold weather on ANY day. The Beau and I recently took a trip to Roslyn Duck Pond located in Roslyn, Long Island. Yes, there was an overcast, but that didn’t stop the Swans and ducklings from hanging out! On a nicer day, I’m sure there would have been more animal life around and the view of this massive pond would’ve been more appealing. I still enjoyed myself though and I’m sure you would’ve too! Be sure to take a visit!