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To the Editor:
Last Thursday night I went down to an off-site sustainability meeting for Occupy Wall Street. Our community garden needs compost and they have it. It’s a win-win. As I walked to the bus I passed young adults in my neighborhood partying in a bar and at a well-heeled gallery opening. When I got to the meeting area there was an atrium full of young adults — and people of other ages — gathered in clusters strategizing about media, sustainability, sanitation, facilitation, education, etc. on behalf of O.W.S.
Did you know that after their generators were taken they hooked up bikes to batteries to power their electricity? Did you know they are looking into solar power and building a model wind generator? They are creating power-generation models that we might all need to know how to build someday. They are figuring out recycling. (City parks are not required to recycle.) They are composting, they have a gray water reclamation model. They are building possibilities for sustainability that as community gardeners we’ve been working toward for more than 30 years now.
On the Lower East Side, we still have a vibrant neighborhood: diverse, interesting and rich in culture and uniqueness. I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else.
But in my neighborhood another teenager was murdered a few weeks ago, despite the courageous attempts by his parents to organize against youth violence. One of the few remaining low-income senior homes was sold for luxury condos. Those longtime residents were scattered away from friends and families. More unemployed workers and fewer housing options for this community’s elderly resulted. I wish we had thought to “Occupy Bialystoker.”
As a parent, I know it’s hard to live next to noise and crowds. We’ve been subjected to an unending barrage of luxury construction on the Lower East Side and a high-end bar scene that has generated noise, murders and not a few wasted evenings spent trying to rein this scene in. We have seen a burgeoning of mindless wealth accumulation and the required mind-numbing activity that accompanies it. We have seen the despair in our low- and middle-income youth over the realization that they will never be a part of the American Dream while witnessing the relentless economic decline of their parents. Over-the-top wealth inequity is not news here.
If I had a choice between living with the (loud) sounds and inconveniences of youth organizing for a better world, trying to take charge of their futures, as well as the future of all of us, or living with the status quo — I know what my choice would be.
They are welcome next door to me. Bring it all. Drums too. Because I think it may be past time to end our silent consent to the travesties going on around us.