2022 Assembly


Meet the street nun helping people make a living from New York’s cans.


There are somewhere between 4,000 and 8,000 people in the city who support themselves by picking up cans and bottles.

On a Saturday afternoon in early November, about 30 people are watching a documentary inside a shack in the heart of Bushwick, a post-industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn. They are all canners – people who make a living redeeming empty cans and bottles, five cents a piece. Although they all got up before the sun and have worked in the cold for hours, no one looks like they’re about to fall asleep. All eyes on the screen. The short film, streamed from YouTube and projected on a white sheet, is about a workers cooperative in Argentina.

The screening was organized by Ana Martinez de Luco, a Catholic nun who says she prefers to work “under the sun, not the Vatican”, and calls herself a street nun. Click here to read more.