The Civic Scene: Going Green in Queens full of conservation tips

The Civic Scene: Going Green in Queens full of conservation tips
By Bob Harris

On March 26, the Going Green in Queens event was held at the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It was sponsored by the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces, the Queens Civic Congress and TimesLedger Newspapers, among other groups, and had tables with exhibits, workshops and environmental films. Next year, the event will be on March 24, 2012.

There were refreshments and giveaways. A favorite for the younger crowd was the composting table with worms, which children held and let wiggle through their fingers. In a conference room, a workshop taught people how to compost kitchen waste. One of the presenters was Elaine Young, first vice president of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association. Booklets, comics, sheets, pamphlets and fliers provided information from many organizations about ecology.

One sheet from Con Ed warned children and adults not to touch electrical cords that are broken or have wire showing, bite electrical cords, stick fingers or objects into light sockets, pull cords to unplug appliances, touch anything electrical if wet or stand in or near water, fly things near power lines and climb trees close to power lines and to stay away from any downed power lines and anything marked “Danger,” “High Voltage” or “Keep Out.” Call Con Ed at 1-800-75-CONED if there is a problem.

One of the sheets given out by the state Department of Environmental Conservation told how to eliminate plastic water bottles. As of 2006, people in the United States used 31 billion plastic water bottles with only about 10 percent being recycled. We spend $11 billion on bottled water every year, but the state’s local governments provide high-quality drinking water.

The cost of bottled water is about $10 per gallon. We spend millions annually to clean up plastic bottles that litter our streets, highways, parks and oceans. We waste energy producing and picking up those bottles. People are asked to recycle, pick up bottles, use a reusable water container and drink tap water.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli provided a brochure entitled “Green Initiative,” which describes what his office is doing to save and conserve. Also given out was a small sheet titled “Recycle Queens.” It encourages people to recycle usable items instead of dumping them. The group can be reached at recyclequeens.org.

The Long Island City Business Development Corp. gave out a booklet supported by the Citi Foundation. It describes how a business can go green and the benefits of going green. For information, contact Dan Miner at [email protected] or call 718-786-5300, Ext. 27. A sheet from NYC CoolRoofs encourages people to paint their black tar roofs white as a way to cool the building, save air conditioning costs and prolong the life of your roof. All nonprofits can ask for a free inspection. If the roof is suitable, then NYC CoolRoofs will get volunteers to coat the roof white under professional supervision at no charge. For information, e-mail [email protected].

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The last city schools chancellor has resigned and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott has been chosen to fill this position.

The good part is that Walcott was a kindergarten teacher, has a bachelor’s and a master’s in education and attended public schools in Queens. He started out his first day as chancellor by walking his grandson to the same public school he attended in Cambria Heights, where they live.

The bad part is that Walcott will follow the same education policies that the mayor advocates. While it is admirable to close a truly failing school to reinvent it, the city seems intent on closing all the large high schools and putting smaller schools in these buildings, some of which will be charter schools created to make money for their owners using public funds. The history and traditions of communities are being destroyed by these closings.

Another bad activity is blaming all the problems of our schools on teachers and taking away tenure so older, higher-paid teachers, who have the institutional memories of their schools, can be fired and replaced by newer, inexperienced, lower-paid ones. Then there is the problem of the 30 percent or 40 percent of English as a Second Language students who have many different kinds of special needs which the big, older high schools try to service. One can only hope the new chancellor will see the problems and change some policies.

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