Turning 40 means it’s not too late. It means that it’s not too late to take a community inventory and decide to change course– to point the ship in the direction we always intended to go – to correct the errors of a focus on making more money, or offering better amenities, or being different from what we are.
I know a little bit about turning 40. The Tram is slightly older than I, but my next birthday is something I think about. I understand that it has to do with unmet goals, but it is also about going back to basics and just doing what feels right, what has always felt right, instead of worrying about what sounds good or looks good.
Roosevelt Island and I have a lot in common.
Roosevelt Island has never been cool. It’s Manhattan’s other Island. The appeal of Roosevelt Island was never amenities in the swanky apartment sense. It was always (supposed to be) about the community and each other and the open space and the kids and families and diversity and seniors and the disabled, all co-existing. The plan was that we’d all garden together, RIRA together, go to the Main Street Theatre to see shows together, and enjoy Island-wide festivities like Roosevelt Island Day together. But we started believing the hype. As a result, we almost lost our Tram a couple of times, and we have let the developers win way too many times. It is not too late to take some time to meditate on what our priorities have always been and remind ourselves that community is both a practice and a
goal. It cannot be bought. It is a choice we can make every day.
One important thing about 40 is the gravitas that comes with the age. You’ve made it this far, you obviously know something about something. The General Development Plan may have seemed naïve in 1976, and maybe even in 1986. But Islanders have learned a lot in these past 40 years. Somewhere between our goals and the lessons our experience has taught us lies the path to our future. Let’s take that future back.