I will never forget what it was like coming back to Albany after living in Potsdam for four months. In such a big city, I thought that my absence wouldn’t be recognized and to my surprise, I was dead wrong. When I visited the shops and bars along Lark Street, the workers would give me a variation of “Alex, where have you been?” It was then when I realized that you don’t need to live in a small town of 300 people for your neighbors to care about you. It can be done in a city with a population of 97,856 as well.
Albany has become my home and just like any home, there’s an innate desire to take care of it and make it better. Before I leave for grad school, I want to get more immersed in the community than I have before. My job has enabled me to meet a lot of great people with some solid ideas and I really want to make them come to fruition. For example, if things fall the way I’m working to make them to be, I really would like to organize a Bicycle Safety Awareness night for the youth because, as a cyclist, I can’t tell you how many times it breaks my heart to see kids riding the streets not only without helmets on, but often they ride against traffic and I feel that one of these days we will have a tragedy on our hands. Along with that, I’m thinking about organizing a fundraiser to help raise money to buy some helmets for youth that can’t afford them. Thankfully, my neighborhood association meeting is coming up after a three month long recess, so we will see! Finally, after talking with another woman about the recent sexual assaults in our neighborhood, I’m also thinking about organizing a SlutWalk. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the first SlutWalk began earlier this year when a Toronto police officer said that in order for women to protect themselves from sexual assault, they shouldn’t dress like sluts. Women protested against his remarks by marching; some dressed in regular clothes and others dressed in provocative clothing. Some of them carry signs with messages like this:
Since then, the movement has grown into an international phenomenon and has become one of the most successful feminist movements in recent years. I think it would be a great idea since we have a large number of colleges in the area and if we got the right organizations to support it, we could help make this a safer city. I can’t tell you how many times I have been harassed by men on the street and feared for my personal safety. This may not be a comprehensive solution but women need to let their voices be heard that we are not accepting of this behavior in our community.
This is what I love doing and even though organizing keeps me up nights and I work so hard, often for free, the end result is worth my time.