Struggling with housing issues in NYC?

As part of the LawHelpNY tech team, we’ve launched an online “mini-portal”: It brings together resources to help low-income NYC tenants struggling with housing issues. 

The portal features:

  • Three interactive Do-It-Yourself court forms 
  • Videos that describe how to navigate Housing Court.
  • Know-Your-Rights resources related to differences between eviction non-payment cases or holdover case, how to get repairs, how to file for an exemption from rent increases, and more.
  • Info on NYC-based hotlines that can talk a tenant through their housing problem and provide referrals.

The portal was built using the LawHelp mini portal platform developed by our friends and partners at

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Oct 17, 2014 4:56 pm

Tech Is Not the Strategy: Visualizations for Promoting Change

In this world of a multitude of new media and technology tools, its important to keep in perspective that these technologies are never the strategy. Rather its (1) why and (2) how we use them that should always be the focus.

Here is a case study looking at mental health issues in New York state, which provides some tips on how visualizations can be used to promote change.  Click on the title to read.

Oct 04, 2014 12:59 pm


Travel back in time and explore the Museum archives on October 5th!

Celebrate New York Archives Week by coming to the Museum Library to discover the Museum’s rich history of scientific exploration from around the world. Rarely seen collections of field notes, films, photography, artwork, and memorabilia will be on display to tell the hidden stories behind the Museum’s world-famous dioramas and exhibitions.

Watch early moving-image footage from historic Central Asiatic Expeditions to Mongolia, in which a team led by Roy Chapman Andrews discovers the first dinosaur eggs, or browse the original landscape studies painted in the field during Carl Akeley’s perilous expeditions to Africa. The Library staff will explain how these one-of-a-kind objects are cared for and give hands-on demonstrations of the new Digital Special Collections, an online endeavor to make the Library’s extensive image collection available for research and reference. 

This event is part of the New York Archives Week, which runs October 5-11, 2014, an annual celebration aimed at informing the general public about the diverse array of archival materials available in the metropolitan New York region.

The tours, which run between 12 pm - 5 pm are free with Museum admission.

Register today!

Sep 28, 2014 1:15 pm
Sep 23, 2014 1:52 pm is Live/Vivo!

The Spanish mirror site to our popular public news blog Rights, Education, Access, Law - NY (REALNY) is now live. 

I developed this website with the same interactive elements as the English version.  Like REALNY, the mission of this site is to provide Latino/as with information on their legal rights and community events and resources as well as opportunities to voice their concerns and opinions through regular community polls and discussion forums. will also feature a local Latino/a state leader in our new: Community Leaders (Líderes de la Comunidad) section.
Check it out for yourself and feel free to send me any feedback:


Sep 15, 2014 10:49 am

Top 10 Lessons from Presenting at the American Political Science Association 2014 Conference (#APSA2014)

After three months of traveling and working from Europe, I arrived in Washington D.C. on August 29 for the American Political Science Association (APSA) 2014 Conference.

What was supposed to be a pretty routine and mundane process of conference presentations, networking, and attending events turned out to be one of the most epic ways to end my long journey. 

Below is a list of my top 10 lessons from this year’s 2014 APSA Conference:

1. Do not (and I stress DO NOT) attempt to write your presentation, jetlagged the night before you have to present in the morning: When you actually go to present and begin talking, you may be terrified to discover that your thoughts are not logically laid out and what were once brilliant thoughts on the proposal, now sound like the mumblings of a lost scholar.  

2. Force yourself to smile and smile often: It exudes confidence and makes you more approachable.  I mean what’s more intimidating than a bar or room full of political scientists clustered by subfields.

3. Make sure you iron your outfits:  You’d be surprised how many dapper dressed political scientists roam the conference.  A wrinkled outfit will standout.

4. Be prepared for negative criticisms:  Do you know the weaknesses of your research/presentation? If not, do so now.  Present your work often and get an idea of the common critiques.  I was personally thrown off by some of the critiques of my work and did not always do a good job of addressing them.

5. Develop a thick skin! With that in mind, be prepared for criticism.  This is academia for pete’s sake what do you expect.  We are trained to analyze and criticize.  Your best friend may just turn out to be the guy who stood up after your presentation and said he did not think your research design worked.

6. Make sure you present a clear and strong research design and methods:  Nobody wants to know what amazing and unique findings you have unless they truly understand the ins and outs of your research design and methods.

7. Make friends with Powerpoint:  The majority of the time, I side with Edward Tufte who finds Powerpoints style to routinely disrupt, dominate, and trivialize content.  Therefore, I try to avoid them at all costs, however, I learned during this conference that it still has a place (sadly).  Powerpoints can still be an effective medium to convey limited amounts of information in a clear manner in 15 minutes or less.  I learned this the hard way and instead spoke for 15 minutes (hence, lesson #1 above). 

8. Get out and explore the city where the conference is taking place: I mean dont get me wrong, there is obviously nothing more fun than hanging out with academics for 3-4 days straight, but there is really a much larger world out there.  Get yourself out of the academia world for atleast 30 minutes each day.  Go for a walk, get your nails done, hangout at a park, or in my case take your daughter to the zoo.  Getting out helps to put so many things into perspective.

9. Be smart and realistic about how you network:  Everyone knows that conferences are largely about networking and networking you should do.  But dont let it be your be all to end all.  Before going to the conference try to have a list of 1-3 people that you would like to meet or chat with at the conference.  Attend their presentations (if they are presenting) and chat with them afterwards.  Do not feel like you should be networking or socializing 24 hours a day (especially if you are attending alone).

10. And last but not least, make sure to pack clean and nice looking pajamas!  See #APSAonFire, enough said.  It will be both endearing and humiliating to see academics with their boxers and barefoot.  But hey we are all humans!  Definitely, an unexpected and memorable way to finish my #APSA2014 experience.



Sep 01, 2014 12:43 pm

Launch of: Hacking Justice: Immigration Dreams and Access in the Electronic Age

I cant imagine that anyone working on their first film feature is 100% satisfied with their work.  But at some time you just have to stop editing and release it to the world.

With that in mind, Im proud to announce the launch of my first video short.  I’m very grateful for everyone who assisted in its making, from the interviewees, to friends and family who lended a pair of critical eyes and ears during the film and sound editing. 

This video accompanies two curriculum:

1. College and High School Level Audience: This curriculum will be used in immigration classes throughout the CUNY schools.  More info here:

2. Staff of Nonprofits and Community Groups:  This second curriculum targets staff of nonprofit organizations and community groups who want to learn more about the different tech iniatives out there serving immigrant communities.  You can download this curriculum via Dropbox here: Community Groups Lesson Plan.


Aug 20, 2014 3:45 pm

Can SMS Deliver Vital Information to Domestic Violence Victims? - Pilot Study

Last week we launched a new SMS service for victims of domestic violence in New York.  This is a pilot project focused on assisting immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence.  The pilot project is also centered on Bronx, Orange, and Suffolk counties (three counties with a high Spanish-speaking immigrant population).

If someone text SAFE to 877877 (in Spanish SEGURA to 877877) they will receive information on emergency assistance hotlines as well as links to “know your rights” resources and legal aid programs that can assist with an order or protection or other legal matters.  

In the coming weeks as we do on-the-ground outreach in these three counties, we’ll be looking closely at the usage.  We are hoping to learn if this will be an effective way to help victims of domestic violence or if we will encounter challenges or low usage.  Regardless, it will be a valuable learning experience.

Will write more about it soon and please help pass the word out!


Aug 05, 2014 5:04 pm

How much can you really express in 140 characters? The case for pictograms and ideograms

Having to analyze political-related tweets in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, its clear that some languages offer much more character efficiency within the 140-character limit of Twitter. In fact, scholars conclude that Chinese (Chan, 2010) and Japanese (Summers, 2010) characters are “more expressive” per character than other languages.   

The reason East Asia languages’ great expressive potential is mainly because these languages are ideogrammic, not phonetic.  By ideogrammatic I mean that by combining two or more pictograms or ideograms, you can create a new concept.   The idea of pictorams or ideograms is not a new one and stems back to the beginning of civilization (i.e cave paintings). 

Which brings me to the point about pictograms and ideograms.  As the world is getting more multicultural, a more visual-based language sounds increasingly appealing.  Besides being more economical, pictograms and ideograms also have the advantage of being intelligible to people who speak different languages.  For example, this is why they are used in airports around the world (ex. toilet = bathroom, fork = dining/restaurants). 

The Noun Project maintain the largest free and public visual dictionary of the highly recognizable icons from around the world.  However, the Noun Project is not only a library, as the founder has said, “Its also a workshop, where concepts are visualized and shared freely. It’s a new way of thinking where language is seen, not spoken.

Visit their website and search for any keyword to see the images associated with that word around the world.


                              Noun Project - Search for an icon

All Noun Project symbols are licensed under Creative Commons, which provides licenses for the open sharing of content, knowledge, art and data.

Here is a phrase I’ve created with pictograms and ideograms from the Noun Project.  Its basic, but hopefully it will illustrate the expressive potential of communicating using a visual language.




Jul 19, 2014 5:41 pm

A few months ago, I launched REALNY (Rights, Education, Access, Law) New York as part of my work with the LawHelpNY Consortium.  My goal was to find a way to make learning about your rights and social and community issues fun, relevant, and engaging.  Often times, know your rights materials and resources are often complex to understand and dry.  So, with REALNY, I wanted to find a way to use design, multi-media, and short and informative plain-English articles to help New Yorkers learn about their legal rights as they apply to current events and community resources.

The website includes lots of interactive features such as:

  • polls
  • discussion forums
  • videos and image galleries

I am currently working on the Spanish mirror site version of this site.  Hopefully, to be launched in another month or so. 

Jun 30, 2014 6:56 am

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