2007-03-16 / Columnists

It's My Turn

By Peter J. Mahon President, Broad Channel Civic Association

As the new President of the Broad Channel Civic Association, it is my personal opinion that our biggest fault as a community, and maybe as individual human beings, is our failure sometimes to believe in ourselves and invest in our own potential. This failure, at least to me, is made obvious by the poor attendance and participation at recent civic association meetings over the past several years.

I have shared this opinion with many of you in the past and inevitably, the response is always the same: "a lack of time," stemming from our jobs, our families, our homes, our involvement with other organizations, inconvenient meeting dates and times, and so on. After a period of time, absent some crisis, we tend to forget about the community as a whole and, in a matter of speaking, we dispose of it as an issue that does not affect our lives. This sense of community apathy is not limited strictly to Broad Channel. We live in a throwaway culture. People, plastic, pop bottles, principles. Everything is disposable. Our entire nation suffers from a memory disorder….

Two hundred years ago? Impossible to imagine!

A hundred years ago? Too hard to think about!

Fifty years ago? Ancient history!

A movie made ten years ago is considered "old."

A TV series made five years ago is considered a "classic."

Most books today have a three month shelf life and then they are relegated to the dollar bin!

We are so obsessed with what's new today that we inadvertently destroy the past by ignoring it or pretending that it did not happen. Unfortunately, when everything becomes disposable, communities can be thrown away too! They can be thrown away by the residents of that community choosing to ignore the history, present vitality and potential of their town and, in choosing to ignore that history and potential, they also choose to abandon their individual responsibility for the future of that community.

I know the world is changing fast and sometimes we worry about being left behind. We worry about our elderly and infirm and we worry about our children. Sometimes we wish "we could stop the world so we can get off," as the old song said. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that the world isn't stopping and it is not going to slow down. And so my friends, I believe it is time we started running to catch up. And catch up we will but only if we come together as one community and envision what we want for Broad Channel, not only this year, but five years from now, ten years from now. We can work together to improve our neighborhood so that Broad Channel is not only a good place in which to live, work, learn and raise a family, but a great one.

We are an island community in the middle of Jamaica Bay. Our natural resources not only provide beauty and recreation, they are the lifeblood of our community and must be safeguarded.

Our longtime residents and our newer young families, their children and the schools they attend are the foundation of our community as well as the future of Broad Channel. They must be protected. Our local businesses are the economic engines of our town. They must be supported.

Our local organizations provide the vitality and life essence of our neighborhood. They must be sustained.

The character and reputation of Broad Channel is the means by which others will perceive our community and must be safeguarded. There is an old Japanese proverb which states, "The reputation of a thousand years can be undone by the actions of one hour."

In June of 1881, some one hundred and twenty-six years ago, Broad Channel became a stop on the railroad that crossed Jamaica Bay from the mainland to the Rockaways. Our town has grown considerably since that time. Just as our predecessors found the strength, courage, wisdom and commitment to conquer the challenges of their day, I am confident that we too can rise to meet the challenges of ours.

If you are interested in making sure that the growth and development of our community continues, I hope you will find the time to join us at our monthly civic association meetings and participate in this process. More information about the association can be found by visiting the Broad Channel Website FORUMS section at http://broadchannelny.com/Forums/forum.asp?FORUM_ID=73.

Broad Channel is unique and possessed with incredible potential. Reaching that potential starts with the magic of "believing." Not a belief in me or the civic association, but rather a belief in our town and more importantly, yourself!

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