Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meeting in Queens

Hi, this is Melissa. This morning I went with Dylan and Kayan to a meeting with the Immigrants and Parks Collaborative in Jamaica, Queens. A main goal for today's discussion was to address language on signs in parks. Two days ago, Mayor Bloomberg signed an executive order that would improve language access for immigrants. It stipulated that essential public documents would have versions in the six top languages spoken in the city and that interpretation services would be available in these same languages. Unfortunately, logistics for achieving this level of communication has been slowed down by bureaucracy. The Parks Department claims that it shares the Collaborative's interest, which is in favor of the immigrants, but if there is no result to show for their supposed good will, no one is satisfied. The Immigrants continue to suffer from the inactivity of those with power. Today's discussion was often directed towards how they could impress the importance of actually translating important documents and signs. This meeting made it all the more clear to me exactly how slow the process of actually getting things done in this city is. The tiers of power always get in the way because it takes such an effort for advocates of impoverished New Yorkers and immigrants to get their point of view across to those with money and authority.
Perhaps halfway through the meeting, the guest speaker showed up. Christian DiPalermo from New Yorkers for Parks. He orally presented some of the history behind what Parks has done until now. The agency grades parks and beaches in the five boroughs and assesses safety, cleanness, and the condition of facilities. He brought up the issue of tracking crime that takes place within parks, as this is a fairly recent development. Some people presented ideas they had for there own parks in order to lower the crime rate, but it was merely brainstorming.
I found the meeting insightful. I was in a unique position because I came into the meeting knowing very little about the topics of the conversation. As someone who grew up going to many of the parks that were addressed, I found it very interesting to hear what the politics behind them are. So little is concrete because of the complications of working with the city. It was not exactly comforting to learn how much crime still exists in New York's parks, but at the same time, the rate has decreased due to all of the work that organizations for parks have done over the past decade and more.

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