To The Children's Children's Children's...From G-Pa Cliff
ZERO PLUS 1140 DAYS--New
York, NY, Tuesday, October 26, 2004--
PROTESTING FOR VIGILANCE
First - Not Business First - Stop The Bid"
Yesterday was my first real protest.
I stood with a sign chanting: No Restauarants
For Playgrounds as Mayor Bloomberg walked by, shrugged his shoulders
at us and said: "Somebody's gotta pay for it!"
It was a sad commentary. The mayor of the world's
biggest city simply shrugged his shoulders and said: "Somebody's
gotta pay for it," and with that Complacent resignation,
virtually sold off Union Square Park to commercial interests.
I joined the battle against putting a restaurant
on public park space a few weeks ago when I was approached to
sign a petition while watching our two-year-old grandson playing
in one of three playgrounds located in Union Square Park, one
of the oldest in New York City and famed for its historical
relation as place of public gathering and protest.
the youngest of my grandchildren, seemed fed up after
hearing the Mayor's announcement
Located between 14th and 17th Streets at the
bottom end of MidTown and upper end of the East and West Villages,
Union Square is a hub of political, social and public activity.
It is surrounded by hundreds of restaurants,
ranging from the Number One ranked in diner's guides to McDonald's
and Starbucks. The need for a restaurant in Union Square Park
is about equal to the need for another squirrel in Union Square
But, for $5 million bucks--the amount the 'anonymous
donor' gave to refurbish the park on condition of having the
restaurant built into the package--the restaurant was shoved
through the local community board with little to no communication
with the public--especially the parents of the kids who use
the North End of the park daily.
Since my grandkids have used that park from
virtually the day of their births forward, I had an umbilical
relation to the issue. I felt duty-bound to fight for the rights
of my grandkids and their kids, since once that land is locked
down by a restaurant, there will be no more room for playground
expansion in the future.
Plus, there is the bigger issue of public versus
private domains--and whether the city has a right to turn over
public property--regardless of the enticement.
So I stood with my sign and chanted as the
mayor went by. I handed out flyers. I got threatened by the
police for going too close to the mayor. My wife was followed
into the playground by a plain clothes cop to insure she wasn't
going to hold up her protest sign in the playground with the
other children. She had our two-year-old grandson with her and
was only intent on watching him as he played Thomas train in
It was an interesting day.
I felt like an ant crawling up an elephant's
The Mayor(X) announced
to the public the Third Phase of Union Park's Restoration
included the use of land at the northern end of the park
be used for a restaurant
Here was the mayor announcing before the media
a chest-thumping roar that Union Square Park was going to be
fixed. The old was going to be replaced by the new. A fresh
new look was going to appear--all thanks to private funding
that rescued public budgeting. And, the only cost was selling
out the kid's land.
Of course, he didn't say that. But, as he looked
at us and shook his head, the implication was: "Hey, kids....sorry...but
I had a scary feeling. I almost felt like a
Democrat...a liberal who opposes big business and government.
That sensation swept over me like a chill.
But I remained apolitical on this issue, as
I try to on all issues of Vigilance. What I saw was children
being abused--or their rights being abused, and there is little
difference when you stand before the Angels of Vigilance for
a blink it seemed to be done
That sinking feeling was based on the machinery
of public funding versus private funding, and how quickly something
like shifting the ownership of land from the public to private
sector can occur.
In a blink, it seemed to be done.
I wondered how many other "rights"
were being shifted away from children on a daily basis, and
realized that I was fundamentally Complacent on this issue.
I had only stumbled on the issue in the park
and the next thing I knew I had a sign in my hands and was chanting
at the mayor like so many protestors I often chided for impeding
But there I was. There was my wife. There was
my grandson, immune to all the noise, but nevertheless a key
part of it.
In summary, I felt good.
I took The Right Actions for future generations
One of the keys to being a Sentinel of Vigilance
is having the Courage, Conviction and Taking the Right Actions
for future generations.
Yesterday I took the Right Actions for future
generations, for the Children's Children's Children. The park
may fall into the hands of the private sector, but not without
I wondered how many parents have selected one
cause they believe will benefit future children and sought it
out to stand up for the future.
I thought it would be great if each Parent
or Grandparent of Vigilance took on one cause--just one--and
stood up for it.
Maybe by doing so, the future of the children
will be protected.
To Yesterday's Story: "Special
Report From Union Square Park: A Letter From The Children Wondering
Why The Adults Are Trying To Steal Their Playground Land To
Build A Restaurant"
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