NYC’s forgotten borough

Category:  News
Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 at 7:16 PM

The Al Stone Intergenerational Learning Center in the basement of Diebold was bursting at its seams on Oct. 11. The lecturer, Dr. Roger Solberg, who was voted the 2017 Faculty Member of the Year at Edinboro, attracted a large crowd of students, faculty and community members who came to hear him speak about his childhood on Staten Island and the process of memoir writing in a lecture titled, “New York City’s Forgotten Borough: A Staten Island Boyhood and the Art of Memoir-Writing.” 

Solberg began his lecture with an introduction to Staten Island: “Just a little geography reviewed here. Some people don’t have a clear sense of the New York geography. You know there are five boroughs in New York: Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.” 

He continued by painting a picture of the area where he grew up: “This is my house. Across the street from it was a lake that we called ‘the swamp’. And on this lake we paddled canoes, paddled a homemade raft, we went fishing, we hunted for frogs and turtles. I am sure when you think New York City, this is not what comes to mind. This is exactly the environment in which I grew up in and thank goodness it is still that way today. In fact, that whole area of the Island where I used to live is now a New York State Wildlife Preserve. So, we’ve got several square miles of nothing but unbroken wilderness still within the confines of New York City,” Solberg said. 

While he presented, Solberg referenced a collection of props laid out on the table in front of him. These included melted plastic in a shape reminiscent of a brain, an award from a fake competition that he and his friends created in high school, and various bits from toy chemistry kits that he played with as a child. 

Older members of the audience drew parallels between their experiences as children growing up around Erie and Solberg’s experience growing up in what many consider the “big city.”

Memoir writing, Solberg said, is about creating a narrative around the non-fiction of the remembered life. Any life, he said, even at its most basic, will resonate with many. 

The fall block of the Al Stone Lecture Series will conclude on Thursday, Oct. 18 with Dr. Xin Chen’s lecture on “China’s One-Belt-One-Road Policy: Mutual Aid or Hegemony?” The lecture is hosted by Dr. Robert Rhodes. Interested parties can enter Diebold through the side entrance leading downwards on the north side of the building. 

Shayma Musa can be reached at

Tags: news, nyc

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