Tireless work pays off at old Greenpoint Hospital
by Emily Gallagher
Oct 24, 2018 | 1548 views | 0 0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When I was growing up, every school year felt like a long time. The beginning of September meant peering down an abyss. It always ended the following June, but who could ever tell who they would be by then?

It was a nice and simple way to organize my life, and I like so many other students got used to it.

Time started to change shape when I graduated from college and got my first jobs. Different commitments meant different things.

Starting out with internships and grant-funded positions, I always knew where the mile marker was. But eventually I started to make commitments that had no iconic end date.

With early jobs, I was always looking for the sign that it was time to jump and do something else. Sometimes the signs were evident, and sometimes they were impossible to notice until it was an emergency.

Commitments are important to me. I don’t like quitting even when it’s quitting time. I am the classic worker who will watch the clock pass 6 p.m. and know that the work day is done, but really I just need to finish just one more thing...until I’m exhausted.

So you can imagine how deeply I felt the accomplishment of my friends when I was invited to celebrate the community’s win on the Greenpoint Hospital.

GREC, a project affiliated with St. Nicks Alliance, Conselya Block Association, Neighborhood Women, Cooper Houses and UNO, started advocating that the buildings become low-income and affordable housing in 1982.

I was born in 1984. This battle has been going on longer than I’ve been alive. Now it is 2018 and they have won!

On Sunday, I was invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the achievement of this community dream. At the center of it was a core of activists who simply did not quit, even when they could have decided to.

Every hurdle they encountered, they found a new ally to help fight it. At one point this meant working simultaneously with two separate social justice lawyers because there were so many different battles occurring at once.

Maybe I am compelled towards community activism because the greatest local activists know that someone saying “no” to a beneficial community proposal are actually just asking you to take a new tactic.

It is an occupation for the dogged and obsessed. I am so inspired to honor people like Jan Peterson and Tish Cianciotta, who simply don’t quit. Currently co-chairs of the Women’s Issues Committee on Community Board 1, the whole community benefits from both their historic and contemporary work.

When it comes to effective social progress, there is no quitting time. It’s an occupation that stretches on indefinitely; the rewards are often few.

But I know this neighborhood and community that we all enjoy is because of this ceaseless and invisible labor, and I am pleased and proud to know the source of some of it.
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