It seemed fitting that today, on Lincoln’s birthday, my husband and I were out knocking on people’s doors and/or putting fliers in their mailboxes to alert them of an imminent environmental problem in our neighborhood. Since the election of Trump I have actively participated in signing petitions, sending emails, and showing up at local demonstrations related to government issues. But this local issue is near and dear to my heart, and truth be told, I am tired of allowing Trump to take over my life. Exhausted, in fact. And the local issue demands immediate action.
So there we were walking around the area in which we live to disperse the one hundred 2-page fliers my husband had created. At first it felt odd to be doing this, but then we really got into the rhythm of it. And besides, the walking we were doing counted toward my daily walk! As we walked along the narrow roads adjacent to our harbor, and up and down the lanes of our neighborhood I had a close-up look at many of the homes that we don’t pay much attention to as we drive past them every day. The act of walking and delivering the petitions made me feel more connected to the local residents than I usually do. This is a sizable town, and although we have friends, it’s a big enough place to feel a bit isolated from most of the population.
Our mission was to alert the people who live in our area to the encroaching overdevelopment of multi-story, must-use apartment buildings which will seriously affect the quality of life here. We live very close to a harbor surrounded by fragile wetlands. Whenever we have a serious rainfall, local businesses and residents’ basements are prone to flooding, and at times our main road has actually flooded to the point where cars can and do get stranded. This despite the fact that the New York State spent millions of dollars on a flooding-remediation project within the past few years.
The proposals to continue to build on and near this land will bring us beyond a tipping point of saving this environmentally sensitive area. As it is, the runoff from local residents’ lawns and local streets feeds an enormous amount of pollution into the harbor already. Paving over everything within a mile of the harbor will cause this runoff to increase in volume and the increasing population density will put the final seal on this lovely harbor. As a bird watcher I am also aware of how what we do on the ground and in the nearby waters affects the local bird population. It is fairly recent that ospreys have staged a comeback from near extinction due to spraying pesticides in the wetlands to fight the mosquitos, an action which also pretty much killed the local lobster population.
As a lifelong resident of this coastal area on Long Island, it breaks my heart to think that our town is allowing developers to run amuck and build wherever they can find a parcel of land to do so. In addition to distributing the fliers, we plan to attend a local zoning-board hearing on Thursday night to express our tremendous dissatisfaction with the plans for further development. And so, it’s back to the streets to fight this sad state of affairs. Back in the late 60’s and 70’s I never dreamed I’d still be marching in the streets, making signs and protesting. Nor did I ever dream that I would become an avid user of digital technology to connect with like-minded people. That said, I still believe in the power of face-to-face, door-to-door conversations. The few people we spoke with who were home today were very civil and supportive.
Being an activist is not a choice for me. If there’s a cause I feel strongly about, I will want to speak out for or against it. I also believe that if you’re going to talk the talk, you must walk the walk. And that is exactly how I spent my afternoon. Walking the walk…but this time as a senior activist!