I’ve Raised Two Eco Warriors

As we sat in the dedicated public meeting room at our local Panera Bread establishment, I was reminded once again of what two remarkable young adults I raised. We’re all proud of our kids for their many talents and accomplishments. I’m proud of mine because they’ve now taken their skills and knowledge to a new level.

We are engaged in a struggle in our town to stop overdevelopment. Developers in cahoots with local town board members are trying to rush through dozens of proposals to build multi-level apartments in every available space in town. We like our town the way it is: a suburban town of mostly family residences, with a lot of natural beauty and historical sites.

My son started our engagement in the political process when he became aware of how a local bar and three adjacent houses near us are slated for demolition and the construction of a four-story multi-use apartment building. He began an online petition and got us all involved in his efforts. We soon learned this project is just the tip of the iceberg of development plans for our town.  This past weekend my husband and I spent both Saturday and Sunday canvassing some nearby neighborhoods, handing out fliers about the various development proposals.

Tonight we hosted a strategy meeting of local people who are interested in helping our cause and are willing to appear at tomorrow night’s Town Board meeting. Several of the people my husband and I met during our canvassing did show up for the meeting. My son did most of the talking, and explained most of the background information that is available for public knowledge about this issue. My daughter, sitting beside him, spoke about her experiences during the past few town board meetings. I sat there quite impressed that my progeny, ages 34 and 36, were the two key people at this meeting. I was impressed by their knowledge, their poise and their commitment to conservation issues.

After the meeting adjourned, one of the new participants asked me if they were my children. When I said, “yes,” she replied that she was really impressed with them. I explained to her that since my kids were very young we had a family ritual. Every Sunday we went for a walk in nature in all seasons. I have always referred to our walks as The Church of Nature. I attribute my son’s and daughter’s passionate affinity to nature to these weekly excursions. We walked in many different locales: meadows, paths through woods, hikes along the beach and wetlands and through many local neighborhoods. During our walks, they grew familiar with the flora and fauna of the local area as their passion for nature grew. As they got older, they have explored many different parts of the world, with an eye on nature.

Today they are both avid naturalists and conservationists and clearly are willing to staunchly defend their cause if need be. I am very proud of them and left the meeting feeling I had nurtured Two Eco Warriors!

Fighting To Take Back Our Town!

I’ve been so involved in a recent bout of neighborhood activism, that I completely forgot I had to compose a post today.  My daughter and I just finished correcting some flyers a friend had copied for us in which she made a significant error. Sitting at the table with the white-out bottle, we felt like two revolutionaries at work in our political cell.

The issue is over-development in our town. The previous town board was very corrupt and made back-door deals with a lot of developers and town lawyers.  The result is there are dozens of plans in the works, some already in construction, for apartment buildings to be squeezed in every nook and cranny of the town…adjacent to and, in some cases, on precious wetland areas.

The construction has been going on for the past year or two, but at a much slower pace.  Suddenly, several stories are being added on to one-story shops in town, and mega-apartment buildings are rising everywhere.  Those of us who love our suburban town, in all its splendid funkiness, are alarmed.  At this point in time we can hardly ever find a place to park, the traffic is dense and unsafe, and the open space is closing up quickly.   Developers are making a ton of money, and when they are done, they will move on to the next neighborhood…the next town.

I know we are not alone.  Friends in other towns on LI are seeing the same thing happening.  We have reached a tipping point; our quality of life is seriously threatened.  I’m worried about the pedestrians who have nowhere safe to walk, the bicyclists who have nowhere safe to cycle, our children who cannot afford these very expensive apartments and must either live at home or leave the area completely.

I know there are larger issues happening all over the nation and I care deeply about them.  But right now, my beloved town needs me and anyone else willing to fight for a moratorium on the rampant over-development. It will take a village to turn this trend around. This is definitely not how I thought I’d be spending my precious, carefree days of retirement!