Ali Abbas joined the communications at NY4P team in early 2018, and has since made an invaluable contribution to our online presence. As our social media intern he creates and manages much of our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram content, and helps us generate fun and creative stories. A digital media artist, Ali is also the person behind many of the great photos of parks that you’ve seen popping up on our feed!
We asked Ali a few questions to learn more about why he joined NY4P, what issues drive his work, and most importantly, which park animal he’d most like to be.
Why did you join New Yorkers for Parks?
I joined New Yorkers for Parks because I am a New Yorker. This city has given me so much: food, music, street-style, diversity of culture. Growing up low-income in NYC meant my recreational activities were limited to low- to no-cost activities, so of course NYC also gave me parks. I joined NY4P because I want to give back to the city that gave me so much.
What’s your favorite part of living in New York?
My favorite part of living in NYC is accessibility. Access to so many different cultures, languages, food. Access to parks. Access to CUNY. Access.
What are some of the issues facing New York that you’re most passionate about?
Gentrification is an issue which is significant to me and New York. Low-income people of color are at risk of being displaced simply because they can no longer afford to live in that neighborhood. NYC has enough housing to end homelessness but wealth disparity continues to increase. Queens is one of the most diverse urban locations in the world and gentrification poses a threat to that diversity and those people.
Why do you think parks are important for healthy cities?
I feel that the significance of parks is reduced to their benefit to the physical health of a city. I agree that parks are essential for physical health but what gets overlooked is how parks can benefit the mental health of a city. Parks offer a change of pace and environment in a hyperactive, heavily industrialized city. Parks allow the mind to rest, meditate, to sit and be in solitude with nature. And if meditation is not your thing, “play” is also linked to good mental health. A healthy city isn’t just a physically healthy city, but a mentally healthy city too.
What’s your favorite park?
My favorite park is Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It is and has been within walking distance since I moved to Forest Hills when I was eight years old. The park is expansive, scenic, and is an oasis from all the concrete and skyscrapers.
If you could be a park animal, which would you be?
If I could be any park animal, I would be a hawk. Hawks are sharp, perceptive and have keen observational skills. And because they soar above, they have a “higher perspective.”