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From Sustainable Long Island - February 4, 2011

We Are the Voice of Long Island

It’s 2011 – by now you have had to figure out that when living on Long Island you have to be loud. Sometimes the loudness will come from yelling over the honking horns and traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Sometimes the loudness will come from singing along with the national anthem at a Long Island Ducks or New York Islanders game. Sometimes the loudness will come from shouting your order of fruit and vegetables at a local farmers market that’s bustling with hundreds of Long Islanders.

Regardless of the reason, on Long Island you need to be loud for your voice to be heard, in more ways than one. There are so many issues and topics that Long Islanders care so deeply about and so many ways that they want to express themselves. They care about their communities, what’s available, and what’s being built within walking distance. They care about their parks, beaches, and being able to enjoy the outdoors on a sunny day. They care about their town, land, properties, and the need for cleaning up any contaminated sites that may cause others to turn away. They care about their home, housing, and being able to afford a place to settle down in. They care about their schools and the education their children will receive while growing up on the Island. They care about food, having a choice in what they buy and an option in what they eat. Long Islander’s care about all these issues, plus hundreds more, and at the end of the day, they want to be taken note of.

However, as loud as they scream and as noisy as they become, it’s still a challenge for Long Islanders voices to be heard, let alone listened to. Through the clutter of government and civic associations, elected officials and government departments, high profiles leaders and news organizations, the opinion of the average Long Islander may be overlooked.

These louder voices always seem to tell us what we want, where, why, and when we want it, and for the most part, we listen. You see them on television, read about it in the papers, listen to it on the radio, but when does it get to the point where instead of being told what you want, you finally say “enough!” When will you get loud, let your voice be heard and proclaim what you want for yourself?

That means you: mother of two, sending her kids off to school, worrying about what classes are being taught and what services the school can afford to offer.

That means you: recent college graduate, commuting all over Long Island, battling traffic woes and vehicle congestion.

That means you: happy newlyweds, searching for a community that’s vibrant, safe, and revitalized, to settle down in.

That means you: hungry locavore, with an appetite for something fresh and healthy, but whose choices remain limited to burgers, fries, and pizza.

That means you: homeowner, who doesn’t want their beautiful community where they grew up to be scared by an empty lot, abandoned building, or unattractive brownfield.

That means you, all of you, all of us! We need to rise up and let our voice be heard!

If we have to shout from the top of Bald Hill in Farmingville; if we have to howl through the woodlands in the Massapequa Preserve; even if we have to scream over the estuary that is the Long Island Sound to get our voice noticed, then that is just what we will have to do. So in 2011, get out there Long Island – march, rally, petition; send letters, start groups, call meetings; join memberships, support organizations, become advocates; do whatever is necessary because it is your voice that should be the loudest and your voice that matters most.