Two Community Visionaries, One Green Cause: Part II
by Michael Perlman
Aug 22, 2012 | 4719 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Without a doubt, residents of Forest Hills and New York City are increasingly becoming conscious about “going green,” and some are embarking upon great journeys to achieve their dream. Aiding in the cause is Facebook, which has become a leading means for activists to network and join forces.

Last week, this column’s readers heard about the success and future aspirations of Anandi Premlall, an “artivist” and founder of the Facebook Page, SustyQ (Sustainable Queens).

This week, we meet Erin Molyneux, another Queens advocate who is using Facebook to engage members of the community by motivating them to explore and play a role in green initiatives.

In spring of 2011, five-year Forest Hills resident and Brooklyn high school teacher Erin Molyneux founded Sustainable Forest Hills, a Facebook group that attracted 55 members.

His group believes the health and prosperity of our neighborhoods, nation, and planet face numerous challenges, reflected by global climate change, diminishing natural resources, higher energy prices and declining health and economic prosperity.

His vision is to begin overcoming such challenges by collaboratively creating a sustainable, vibrant, healthy, and prosperous Forest Hills.

Molyneux believes that as a community, we can take a proactive approach and empower ourselves to create a more resilient environment to help withstand an event occurring beyond our immediate control.

That can be either manmade disasters, such as such as a financial collapse or power outage, or natural disasters such as a drought or hurricane.

“When everything runs smoothly, we expect it always will, but if Indian Point nuclear power plant blew up, where would 12 million plus people go?” he asked. “It is on a fault line only 40 miles from New York City.”

Local issues become larger issues, according to Molyneux. He supports Speaker Christine Quinn’s FoodWorks New York proposal unveiled last November, where Quinn proposes having a stronger regional food economy, which focuses on combating hunger and obesity, preserving regional farming and local food manufacturing, and decreasing waste and energy use.

“We would be strengthening the economy not only for New York City, but for the region around us,” Molyneux said.

Molyneux embraces the highly successful establishment of the Forest Hills Greenmarket, and applauds the greater demand for greenmarkets citywide. In addition, he feels there should be more markets where people can exchange locally produced products.

“In a recession, people should find other means of making a living, such as repurposing used items,” he said.

He is in favor of reactivating the concept behind “victory gardens,” which enabled personalized food production in neighborhoods such as Forest Hills and Rego Park during word War II, and boosted our nation’s morale.

“We did this when we mobilized for WWII, but now people are mulled into a false sense of security,” Molyneux said. “I would love to see more rooftop gardens and farms such as Brooklyn Grange, and public spaces for food consumption and urban foraging.”

Volunteerism is strong in Molyneux’s past. While attending college in Huntsville, Alabama, he created that city’s first critical mass bike ride in 1997, which is still going strong. He also volunteered with New York City’s White Roof Project, Habitat For Humanity, and Project Angel Heart.

He was somewhat of a dormant environmentalist, but fully realized his passion as a biology major in college, and sustainability and resilience were some of his major concerns in 2003.

Sustainable Forest Hills’ primary target audience is residents of Forest Hills. Molyneux is open to community input and volunteer work, from young children with parental supervision to senior citizens, since everyone can offer some insight.

“I hope Sustainable Forest Hills will be a launching pad for members of the community to collaborate on their own resilience and sustainability,” he said.

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