Category: Stories

Linyak/Lagniappe

I received the following gift from a long-time friend, Tony Mitchelson, who sent me a poem last week for the holiday season. I had been to one of his readings in the past, but realized I didn’t know the meaning of the word “Linyak.” I asked him what “Linyak” meant and he just sent me the following:

“Linyak is my revised spelling of the word Lagniappe which is a Creole word which means to ‘give a little something extra.’  The way it is used down in Louisiana is if your mother sent you to the store to buy something,  when you paid for the goods the store owner would give you a little  something extra.  If you were a kid, he might give you a little brown bag with a few pieces of candy in it.  If your mom sent you for vegetables, he might throw in a sweet potato, ear of corn or some item in the bag.  That is called giving Lagniappe.

“I thought Linyak ‘giving a little something extra’ was a very good concept.    So I brought the concept back to New York and formed an organization called ‘The Linyak Project’ where me and my friend and fellow writer, Layding started putting shows together with poetry, jazz, plays, medical and business info given to the public, and it was all free.  We wanted to give a little something extra to the community that they didn’t have to pay for.  At some of our events we also gave out food and beverages, all free.  We had crowds of oven 100 people at places like schools, churches, book stores and cultural centers in New York City and in backyards of homes.  We’ve hosted a Jazz Series at Layding’s brownstone home in Harlem.

“So that is what I’ve been doing for 11 years now.  Usually we host 3 or 4 special events a year.  We also hosted a once-a-month Fat Tuesday Linyak Project program at Sista’s Uptown Bookstore in Harlem where audiences could enjoy cultural events and show their talents to the public.  We paid the performers out of our pockets and the audience experienced what Linyak is all about.  We only hosted one Linyak Project event in 2020 due to the pandemic.  Hopefully 2021 will allow us to continue spreading Linyak.”

We can all learn this beautiful concept and use it in our daily lives. Thank you Tony for this beautiful gift!

Testimonial

I loved my time at Judy’s Playgroup. I’m 32 and my best friends are still from there! It’s a community, creative loving and engaged. I feel so lucky.

  • Lena Dunham, Class of 1989

Quill Pig Farm

My daughter, Sara, and her husband, Doni, have created a wonderful life on a farm in Plainfield, Vermont.  They raise beautiful and healthy pigs, primarily, and have the meat humanely processed.  They sell their delicious products in Vermont, also delivering to Manhattan and Brooklyn once a month.    

This may seem shamelessly self- and family-promoting (I guess it really is), but suffice to say I am immensely proud of them and their pure intention to be honest and trustworthy business people.  

When Sara was little, she wanted to someday live in the country.  She has certainly fulfilled that dream, and then some! 

The name “quill pig” is a folkloric name for porcupine, no doubt because it looks to be very much part of the swine family, but with quills.  Doni found a dead one on the property a few years back, looked into the origin of the name, and together with Sara, decided that was the absolute perfect name for their farm.  

Last summer I stopped the car on a back road, and my granddaughter, Audrey, and I watched in awe this prehistoric-looking creature lumber down the road, stopping from time to time to raise its quills upward.  As quickly as it could, it scrambled into the woods.  I learned later that porcupines don’t propel their quills when threatened, but simply release them into those unlucky enough to be in contact with them.  Indigenous people would throw a blanket over them, and the quills would release into the blanket.  They would then be used for decoration.  Brilliant!

If you want to learn more about the farm, please go to quillpigfarm.com.

Testimonial

There is no better introduction to the social world than Judy Stevens’ playgroup.  Our two sons graduated years ago but the values they learned and the experiences they were introduced to in such a small egalitarian group of three boys and three girls easily counts in their long journey through childhood to adulthood.  Where else can you find a teacher who makes everyone a cape then encourages them all to decide whether it’s a skirt or a magic carpet or an accessory for space travel! As an artist Judy’s creative ideas are endless and open but that doesn’t mean life at the loft is willy-nilly. In fact just when you need help in potty training, guess what, Judy facilitates that too and if you’re little one hasn’t quite grasped the concept of sharing yet, well this is where they will learn it because at Judy’s there is always a teaching moment going on. In the landscape of early childhood schools and playgroups, Judy’s Playgroup is the cherry on top. Its specialness is evident the minute you take your shoes off and enter the soft matted floor of her bright loft. In this safe and homey place your children will dance, plant seeds, conquer puzzles, role play, build sculptures from magnets, learn to be a friend, share lunch, navigate differences and above all have fun. What could be better.

– Leah Singer and Lee Ranaldo