I joined Straus News on Nov. 1, and a week later, Election Day would change the life of our city, as well as our country. National news quickly became local news. One of the first stories I edited was a piece about the hundreds of New Yorkers who turned out for community meetings held by Mark Levine and Daniel Squadron to express their concerns about the incoming Trump administration’s policies on immigration, health care and the environment. Other New York elected officials held standing-room-only events—Helen Rosenthal on the West Side, Dan Gorodnick on the East Side. Crowds swarmed a town hall at NYU with U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler.
Protests have emerged as the signature action of New York’s civic life. We’ve seen the #WomensMarchNYC in Midtown; New Yorkers streaming to Terminal 4 at JFK Airport after President Trump’s initial travel ban; weekend gatherings in Battery Park; a veterans’ protest on the steps of City Hall; an LGBTQ rally at Stonewall Inn in the Village; “Not My Presidents Day” crowds in Columbus Circle.
Religious leaders and congregations are in the mix as well, as this issue of our paper chronicles (“Faith in Sanctuary”). At Congregation B’nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side recently, Rabbi Rolando Matalon said he had been to five protests in three weeks.
Will this new activism lead to greater involvement by New Yorkers on the local level? Engagement is vital to our communities, on issues like education, safety, development, business and the environment. Alexis de Tocqueville famously observed that the power of American democracy lay in the strength of civic organizations, a phenomenon he described as unique to this country. As Zoe Davidson, 16, told our Madeleine Thompson in last week’s story, “City Teens Seize the Moment”: “The most important thing, especially at this stage in our lives, is to get in the habit of being civically engaged.”
As New Yorkers, we are proud to live in (cue music from “Hamilton”) the greatest city in the world. But there’s always work to be done. In the past few months, we’ve checked out concerns that our readers have alerted us to: safety issues, possible landmark violations, problems with bike stations.
We encourage you to respond to our stories, and to submit ideas for commentaries about the issues that affect your neighborhoods. What worries you? Encourages you? Delights you?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Editor in Chief, Straus News-Manhattan