Friday, October 29, 2010

A day of citywide action - A day with NYCC, elected officials, UFT reps, 32BJ, LIUNA Local 78!

Sometimes working on a campaign can be a little surreal. When you are back in the office doing background reading, making calls and fielding emails – there’s some distance. The campaign can feel like a series of tasks, things to check off my “to-do list”. But a day out in the streets brings things roaring back into perspective.

On Tuesday, October 26th, I stood with elected officials and organizers from New York Communities for Change getting petition signatures and talking to parents about potential PCB-contamination in their children’s schools. As I explained the PCBs problem to parent after parent, I was surprised to learn that many of them were unaware of the issue. Once they got it, though, they were really perplexed. Why would the City put their children in harm’s way? They all asked good questions and most wanted to know why they weren’t aware of what was going on. Why weren’t more people in the NYC Public School community told about the pilot study? Why wasn’t there more education and outreach coming from the City about something that could be so harmful to their kids? All good questions, all things we are trying to make happen. And, yes, they want testing. They want testing now. Something else we want to make happen.

PS 149, 8:15 a.m., Harlem – It was so good to see Council Member Jackson and Senator Bill Perkins interact with their constituents. It made such a difference to have the community’s representatives there talking to the parents, engaging so energetically in the issue (sometimes chasing them down the street to make sure they understood what was at stake and press them for signatures on the petition; talk about energy… that was awesome!).

PS 270, 2:30 p.m., - Brooklyn – Council Member Tish James talking with the members of her community, making everyone feel at home, like they were meeting in her back yard. Despite that comfort level and the affection with which she delivered the message, she was frank, clear and made sure parents understood the urgency, the need to sign this petition and get the City to do the right thing.

NYCC was at a total of 8 other schools, including one on Wednesday morning. I have to imagine that thousands of signatures were collected. I commend NYCC’s time-defying, intensive, highly ambitious and great accomplishments during this action. I can’t say enough about the amount of energy and drive my fellow organizers displayed, heading out to far flung places (try Far Rockaway at 7:15 a.m. when you live at the opposite end of the City’s universe!) and getting out the message.

All in all, there was a real sense of community, moments of shared concerns, shared stories, shared connections and a shared commitment to get this thing done.

Test Our Schools-- A Citywide Day of Action

By Gigi Gazon, Community Organizer, NYLPI

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