Social Media Efforts to Save Long Island Parks
(Long Island, N.Y.) Many business owners and solo-preneurs use social media to promote our companies, but we shouldn’t forget about another powerful way to use the medium — for social change, environmental causes, and other activities that can really make a difference in people’s lives.
Long Island’s Parks Examiner Jennifer Jones recently reported that close to 10,000 Long Islanders have joined the Facebook fan page “SAVE LONG ISLAND PARKS!!!”. These Long Islanders all feel passionately about preserving Long Island’s many acres of beautiful parks, many of which are threatened to be closed because the state can no longer afford to pay for their care, upkeep and staffing.
Brookhaven State Park and Nissequogue River State Park were two of 37 state parks already closed down due to state funding cuts. There will be no Jones Beach Fireworks on the Fourth of July this year, either.
On the positive side, the efforts of generous Long Islanders kept Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale, Orient Beach State Park, Cold Spring Harbor State Park, Trail View State Park in Woodbury, and Caleb Smith State Park in Smithtown open through charitable donations from individuals and organizations. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t in danger next year.
Spreading the Word to Save Our Parks
It is up to all Long Islanders — businesses and individuals alike — to help save the parks, and with them, the memories that have been created there and will be created in years to come. This, according to Malverne, Long Island native Allison Lyons, was the impetus behind starting the Facebook Group “Save Long Island Parks.” Lyons, who launched the grassroots effort in February, says, “If these parks are boarded up, so are all our memories, past and future.”
She notes that parks left unattended will be subject to vandalism and decay. Local business owners, who benefit from the increased traffic surrounding these recreational areas, will suffer, too. “Closing these parks benefits no one,” she says.
It took a comment from Lyons’ 4-year-old son for Lyons to realize she could take action to help prevent the park closures. “We own a house in Orient Point and visit Orient Beach State Park all the time. My father takes my son in his electric car through the park, and they stop for a ride on the swing. My son looks forward to this time as soon as the weather gets warm,” she shares. “When I read the article [in Newsday] and told my son the park was going to close, he thought it was just overnight, or maybe for the winter. I told him it was forever and he said I had to stop them. I left the room, and then came back in. He asked if I had stopped them yet. Two minutes later, the Facebook fan page was created.”
The one-woman crusade has expanded into a website, a Cafe Press site, which offers bumper stickers and t-shirts for sale, with proceeds going to help save the parks, and, of course, the initial fan page which is 9,000 + fans strong — and growing.
Donations made through the website and from Cafe Press sales go to the Long Island Pine Barrens Society. Lyons also urges Long Islanders to contact state Assembly members, our senators and the governor. And, of course, to join forces with other Long Islanders and vacationers who love Long Island parks through the Facebook page.
Lyons uses the Facebook page to keep everyone up to date on the latest news, current articles, and (sadly) any park closings. “People have been sharing their thoughts, stories, and pictures with me through Facebook and it is so touching,” she says. “I remember being so excited when we reached 100 fans and now at almost 10,000, it is just amazing. Even Christie Brinkley is a fan.”