Picture your perfect, family-based neighborhood, filled with barbecues, children playing, and people jogging. Most people would first think of bright colors and clean, spotless streets, certainly not garbage-covered sidewalks with a side-order of doggy “presents” left behind by uncaring pet owners. Unfortunately this is what my childhood neighborhood has come to. The cause of this growing epidemic is mostly blamed on younger generations, including those who move in lacking a connection to a community's history. At one level, we see this with the controversial issue of "gentrification," where people "improve" neighborhoods to their liking without considering what came before. Over time generations get more and more careless, slowly losing respect for the environment and organisms living in it. Do we all really want to live in a massive pile of used condoms and McDonald’s Cheeseburger wrappers?
As we all know, people aren't perfect, and we all make mistakes. But it is never too late to learn from them. I’ve noticed my generation is quite carless, a majority have little respect for the environment which is something we all should learn more about. You see, if people have no respect for our surroundings , then our surrounding will slowly become trashed and neglected, bringing in more negative aspects such as bad behavior, violence, and of course, additional filth. Clean neighborhoods are proud ones, and have less violence than ones with garbage-filled streets and graffiti-sprayed buildings. When a neighborhood is poorly maintained such as Harlem in the late 20th century, or parts of Brooklyn, they are commonly known for violence. I’m trying to prevent this from happening to Whitestone.
It isn't just me who's been noticing these changes, I've asked my elderly neighbors, specifically because they have lived here longer than me. I knew they must have had a better idea of how much has actually changed over the years. To my surprise, they have perceived a lot more changes than I originally anticipated. Marie and Frank Rizzoli explained it was a much simpler time in our community in the ’60s. Whitestone was not only cleaner, but it was safer. Nobody had to worry about children being alone at night or crazy clowns stabbing random skaters to death. Rape and assault weren't as common as it is nowadays. Neither was graffiti and carelessly throwing garbage in the middle of parks, sidewalks, streets, even nearby waterways. Grass was greener, sidewalks cleaner, people in the neighborhood were more united in a way. Nowadays people avoid each other, children vandalize for fun, and garbage is slowly flooding every inch of Whitestone, bringing rats, roaches, god knows what else. Not only is the garbage foul smelling but it takes a toll on the environment. We learn more and more each day how important keeping the planet clean is but someone still chooses to toss that can of Diet Coke into the street. What ever happened to respect? These children are blind to the animals, both living on land and in bodies of water, suffering because of our choices. Frank made a good point: “And what does this all attract? More people who don't respect the neighborhood will slowly move in, just making it worse, it just keeps happening.” It's truly devastating watching such a beautiful location become colorless and dull because of all this trash.
Although Whitestone has had its share of setbacks, we could try and enforce a new way of acting and thinking. If people understand what they're doing is extremely harmful to the environment maybe they would have more respect. If we organized a community club that focused on the environment and the sanitation of Whitestone, it could not only educate other people on what they're doing to the environment but help keep a close eye on not only garbage, vandalism, but the animals as well. They would help keep Whitestone in pristine shape, bringing in new people who see that we care and expect them to as well.
We could install more garbage cans, increase the penalty for littering, maybe even change the billing of some summonses to community service, so offenders could pick up garbage and maybe even plants new trees.
Educating people on what they may not see as harmful could really help our neighborhood. The carelessness of throwing garbage wherever, whenever, is getting out of hand. Keeping everything clean is a major factor in a perfect neighborhood. This garbage is a small but central indicator to most of the issues Whitestone is having and it would be best to try and terminate this once and for all. The future is in our hands and we could easily rectify the situation.