Friday, August 7, 2009

Recap of Eastchester’s Green Day Expo

“Hello!” I greet cheerily from behind the friendly and inviting Clean Air NY table at the Eastchester’s Green Day Expo. Amidst the increasingly cloudy grey sky, I receive a hurried glance as the person picks up a Clean Air NY Travel Choice Guide and tip pen. I’m confident that even though he did not stop to chat, he will at least read the informative brochure and learn a thing or two from the tip pen about how he can improve NY’s air quality.

“Hello!” I greet once again, this time aiming my hello a mother of two, casually browsing the vendor tables.

She slows down, makes eye contact, and responds as the first rain drops start to come down, “Hello. Clean Air NY? What are you guys about?”

Yes! Finally a potential Clean Air NY individual partner.

“Well, I’m glad you asked! Clean Air NY is an initiative of the New York State Department of Transportation that works to improve the air quality in the region. We are here to provide you with tips on how you can improve the air quality in the area. We’d also like to sign you up for our Air Quality Action Day Updates. We will send you an e-mail or text message the day before the air quality is predicted to be particularly poor and provide you with some tips on things you can do to help improve the air quality such as taking public transit, carpooling or refueling after dark.”

Intrigued, the concerned mom responds, “Why not? I like clean air and my children have asthma, so it’s definitely an important thing to know. Where do I sign up?” After she signs up, she mentions to me that her family walked to the Green Day Expo since they lived close by. I thanked her for doing her part to improve NY’s air quality.

And thus we have successfully added another name to our growing list of concerned citizens making the commitment to clean air. And it is a win – win – win situation. The new individual partner can leave with a more interesting story to tell her husband about her day involving her heroic attempts to save the world, her children have proof that moms are really superheroes and Clean Air NY get support to continue on our mission to single handedly reverse the negative affects of car emissions – or at the very least to reduce the vehicle miles travelled by single passenger cars in New York.

This very chain of results is why being able to help out with the Clean Air NY program will definitely remain one of my most positive internship experiences. I am left with the genuine feeling that I have made some contribution, however small it may be, to improving the quality of life on this planet. Also, it’s inspiring to see people who are willing to help out where they can, even in the rain, because they realize that in the end it is not about being a citizen of one specific area; it’s about being a world citizen, participating in a movement to reverse the damage that careless use of new technologies has created.

Saving the world is a big job, but I mean someone has to pull out their umbrellas, stick it out and do it, right?

You can sign-up to receive Air Quality Action Day Updates at

Thea Charles, Clean Air NY/MetroPool summer intern.

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