Two Community Visionaries, One Green Cause: Part I
by Michael Perlman
Aug 15, 2012 | 4336 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 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.

Facebook has become a leading means to network and join forces. Meet Anandi Premlall, a Queens advocate who uses Facebook to motivate people to explore and play a role in green initiatives for the well being of our families, friends, animals, and the environment.

SustyQ, or Sustainable Queens, is a Facebook page founded in January 2012 by Premlall, an “artivist” living in South Ozone Park. SustyQ’s goal is to inspire, integrate, and support sustainable lifestyles in under-served communities in Queens.

Its members create and inspire random acts of beauty and kindness. Their consensus is that the earth is their shared home, and home is where it begins.

Born in Guyana, Premlall practically opened her eyes to a natural lifestyle, surrounded by plants and trees. At age 5, she settled in Queens. She first became active in community causes in the 5th grade by designing artwork for campaigns through the tutelage of teacher Sheila Mertzer. Premlall has become increasingly active within the last decade.

Premlall hopes SustyQ will help beautify Queens by actively introducing more street trees, potted plants, raised beds, and sitting areas, as well as improving safety for families. She also supports composting as a way to fight increased waste.

“A lot of friends and family are surprised about how many items can be composted, including hair, dryer lint, fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, or any food which doesn’t contain dairy or grease,” she said.

Premlall explained that if a property has limited outdoor space, people can pursue indoor composting.

“Red wiggler worms will be happy to eat your food scraps, and give you rich, free compost in return,” she said.

Membership on SustyQ is represented by 755 “Likes” and is intergenerational.

“Green has many levels and shades, and we can learn a lot from our youth and elders,” Premlall said.

Premlall feels everyone has something to contribute, and would like to increase the membership “organically through inviting friends from Queens and beyond, since they can share what proved successful in the Philippines and Australia. We want people to be physically involved to create better neighborhoods.”

SustyQ uses art to inspire environmental activism.

“With Queens youth groups and artists, we are designing and installing moss graffiti in southern Queens,” Premlall explained. “This piece of art will add green to the community and filter the air, so stay tuned for the words and images to grow.”

As development grows in Forest Hills, mature trees and some front lawns have been sacrificed for concrete.

“It is tragic it’s happening so quickly,” Premlall said. “We need to preserve our historic spaces. This takes away from our community’s culture. Now our neighborhoods are not as attractive, green, clean, or quiet.”

Premlall is also a steering committee member of Friends of The Queensway.

“This has brought lots of interest in creating a cultural green space on the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch line, connecting central and southern Queens,” she said.

If it will be developed as conceived, “this will be a space for families to enjoy and kids to play, since it’s something we are running out of locally,” Premlall added.

In March 2012, SustyQ teamed up with New York Restoration Project and the Richmond Hill Development Council to donate 250 trees to the public, and held a stewarding and composting demonstration. It was Richmond Hill’s first tree giveaway.

Her memories of the event included a sense of community instilled in the young. She saw a man taking his three-year-old grandson for a stroll through the park at her tree giveaway, and she cannot forget her pride when he became Queens’ youngest tree adoptee.

Premlall once designed and painted green-inspired murals for a Brooklyn school, and that 5th grade class later visited Far Rockaway’s Michaelis-Bayswater Park to plant trees. Since many local schools are overcrowded, and the Board of Ed built additions on what should be green recreational space, Premlall said it was nice seeing children running around and being kids.

Being green with such passion can rub off. Some of Premlall’s greatest influences are her family, all of whom have been active in our communities

“We built a greenhouse in our backyard to grow more local foods,” she said. “My family is eliminating a lot of meat products, and is seeking ways of getting fit.”

In Forest Hills, SustyQ is interested in partnering at the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance’s Tree Giveaway on October 14, in affiliation with New York Restoration Project, and coordinating a tree stewarding and compost workshop.

“We can learn and share a lot from the community and groups already established in Forest Hills,” said Premlall. 

Join the cause by visiting: www.facebook.com/SustyQ



Stay tuned next week for Part Two in this series, which will explain how another community resident is making a difference in a similar way through Facebook.

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