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March 2006
Staten Who?
By Keith Parascondola

 

Staten Island view. Photo by Keith Parascondola
The Greenbelt in winter. Photo by Keith Parascondola

Staten Island. Many consider it the “forgotten borough,” while others only recollect that it was once home to the world’s largest garbage dump. I call this smelly, forgotten place home.

Until 1964, and the building of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Staten Islanders had no access to the rest of New York City except by boat. Staten Island’s ferries were the only way on and off the island, which allowed for little development and kept the borough very rural. Fast-forward to 2006 and Staten Island is the fastest growing county in the state of New York, and now home to nearly a half million people.

Staten Island has it all, you just have to look for it.

Staten Island Greenbelt
With its growth, concerned Staten Islanders have fought to preserve as much land and open space as possible. Through their hard work, Staten Island now has more park land than any other borough, amounting to nearly 10,000 acres, the jewel of which is the 2,300-acre Greenbelt. When you think of New York City, spending a day in the woods or hiking up a mountain aren’t necessarily images that come to mind. Located in the center of Staten Island, the Greenbelt is home to an array of nature trails, animal sanctuaries and even a carousel. Several of the highest points on the East Coast are found in the Greenbelt, serving up some of the best views in New York City. Access is available all year and each season brings something new to see. (718) 351-3450, www.sigreenbelt.org.

Peace Action of Staten Island
Living in what is considered to be the most conservative and Republican borough, activism amongst islanders is becoming more necessary each day. Luckily, there is a growing community of concerned and energetic citizens with goals of ending unjust wars, protecting and enhancing our rights and achieving peace in our lifetime. One of the leading organizations for activism is Peace Action of Staten Island. They hold monthly vigils to end the war in Iraq, sponsor trips to Washington DC, and their presence is frequently felt in front of our Republican Congressman’s office to protest his unfavorable voting record. (718) 442-3504, www.peaceactionnewyorkstate.org/SI.

Being Vegan
Being vegan on Staten Island isn’t always easy, but we are lucky to have some great health food stores like Family Health Foods and Tastebuds Natural Foods. We also have an amazing vegan Chinese take out restaurant, Chin Chin Palace, and several organizations dedicated to protecting animals. An organization leading the way is the Staten Island Council for Animal Welfare, which is committed to finding good homes for abandoned, stray and unwanted animals and upholds a no-kill policy. They are always looking for volunteers to lend some much-needed love and affection to their animals. www.petfinder.com/shelters/sicaw.html.

Keith Parascandola is a 24 year-old Staten Island native currently working in politics trying to make the world a better place. He prefers bicycles to cars, enjoys being an encyclopedia of Staten Island history and useless facts, reading books that make him angry, and all things music. Keith can be reached at keithparas@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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