We are very excited to welcome Justin Cristando to the NY4P team!
Why did you join New Yorkers for Parks?
I’ve found that living in a city gives you a different perspective on open space and what it means to have a lack of it. Open space is crucial to urban environments because it serves as a meeting place for community, allows us to connect with the outdoors, and makes our communities and the people who live in them healthier. I’m excited to be joining New Yorkers for Parks because I know that my work will both serve to protect NYC’s open spaces and make them more equitable for the people who depend on them. I wanted to help support NY4P’s fundraising efforts so the organization can carry out its programs successfully.
What’s your favorite part of living in New York?
New York City requires us to live in close proximity to all of our neighbors, so I’ve found that the collective community and the different ways that you can engage in that community through parks, arts, and food are pretty unique. In terms of New York State, I love that I can wake up in Brooklyn, take a train to spend the day in the mountains or on a beach, and be back home before the sun sets.
What are some of the issues facing New York that you’re most passionate about?
The intersections of income and lack of access to public goods for people living in poverty is something that I have always been very passionate about. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to reach equity in access to quality education, health and healthcare, transportation and open space, and New York has had such an upsetting history of forgetting its vulnerable populations. When we fail our most vulnerable communities, we all lose.
Why do you think parks are important for healthy cities?
Parks are critical to the physical and mental health of people living in cities. They offer us a place to engage in physical activities, spend time with our loved ones, and get away from the stresses of living in a city. Because cities can be so limiting when it comes to physical activity, parks are necessary.
What’s your favorite park?
It’s really hard to choose only one. I have recently grown to love Prospect Park – something about being in New York City and feeling like you can still get lost in the woods is pretty remarkable.
If you could be a park animal, which would you be?
I think I would want to be a Great Blue Heron. I really enjoy marsh and river environments, and flying over beautiful expanses would be a dream. Plus, I’ve always wanted to learn how to fish.