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April Thursday

Virtual Program | Refuge Among the Refuse: The Lost History of Barren Island


On the site where Floyd Bennett Field now stands, there once was a diverse and resourceful community of recent immigrants and African Americans who thrived in a part of the city dismissed as a dumping ground.

In her book Brooklyn’s Barren Island: A Forgotten History, author Miriam Sicherman salvages this little-known history, telling the story of the people who turned Barren Island’s mountains of garbage into usable goods, along the way building a community with businesses, houses of worship, and self-contained services on the island. Join her as she shares this piece of Brooklyn’s past in a virtual program.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

6:00 pm

Online Program via Zoom Webinar


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    Miriam Sicherman

    Miriam Sicherman is a 21-year resident of Brooklyn and a longtime public elementary teacher at Children’s Workshop School in Manhattan’s East Village. She developed an interest in garbage when her students discovered discarded artifacts as much as a century old in their classroom closet. This “closet archaeology” project has become an ongoing excavation and research activity. When she learned about the scavengers and garbage processors of Barren Island, Sicherman made their neglected community the focus of her history master’s thesis at Brooklyn College. This book evolved from that work. Sicherman is also a graduate of Oberlin College and the Bank Street College of Education. She lives with her daughter about seven miles from the former site of Barren Island.