Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Now? Why Not?

A Railroad Grows (and Grows!) in Queens

Jacek Yerka
I used to live right across from the end of the abandoned railroad that could be developed (by 99th Street and Rockaway Boulevard) and used to stare out my windows, wondering why nothing has been done to make better use of this currently wasted space. Then I thought how nice it would have been if I could just walk all the way down to Forest Park undisturbed. It was then that my curiosity go the best of me and I really asking questions and finding ways to make it happen.

Of course, the Highline Park becoming a reality in Manhattan gave me hope that this space didn't have to remain an eye sore and I did't have to feel eerie walking by the lonely streets with make-shift garages, sketchy characters and various businesses underneath: from auto-body shops to propane and poultry.

My vision for the Queens Highline more along the gritty and green side. Like Russ Nelson said in a previous post, it would be very community oriented, where we can all literally lend a hand in creating and caring for this park and build an open space for all to enjoy, where we feel safe walking, running, biking, or just relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea.

Perhaps it would motivate more residents will leave their cars home and to come out and explore their new backyard. Wouldn't a bit of solace closer to home be nice?

Here's the dream:
  • Beautiful native gardens designed by Marielle Anzelone of NYC Wildflower Week
  • Edible landscapes thriving with Newtown Pippins and complimentary pollinators, perhaps beach plums and other "wild edibles" designed by Gil Lopez of Nourishing Cities where Wild Man Steve Brill can lead foraging tours
  • With the help of advocates like Geoffrey Croft, Michael Perlman and other community leaders and residents, I truly believe that we will make this happen
  • Learning gardens like those of Rabindranath Tagore where the local artists share their talents
  • Health and fitness programs: yoga, meditation, tai chi, intensati, ayurvedic nutrition
  • Cultural programs reflecting the rich, diverse community of Central and South Queens
  • Initiatives that support sustainable lifestyles and foster community building
  • A compost demonstration site as part of NYC Compost Project in Queens
MTNYC Tree Planting in Far Rockaway
All in all, we're re-creating the community life that has been dwindling over the years with busy households who have hardly any time to enjoy a meal together. This is especially poignant right now where the new graduates, unemployed and underemployed (aka the 99%) are searching for something more substantial in their lives.

I certainly miss the days when children played hopscotch, basketball, hide-and-seek and other games with each other in the streets, when the ice cream truck could be heard blocks away, and we lined up for what seemed like forever with sweaty dollars and hungry bellies awaiting swirly cones with rainbow sprinkles.

Shall we, once again, embrace the beauty of the slow life, where we stop to savor the sweet moments, among the blur of this fast-paced city?


  1. I really love this post, especially the last two paragraphs. As soon as I started to live a slower, richer life in Orlando I was uprooted and landed here in NYC where I have been running non-stop for a year and a half now. I look forward to establishing myself in this wonderful city enough to put down real roots and comfortably slow down a bit.
    Thanks for the mention and I look forward to the day when I can work on this project.

  2. Thanks Gil, I am definitely counting on your support and admire the work you do. The slow life is definitely richer and healthier for us all! What better way to build community?