Wideleine Desir, NY4P's second Fellow for Great Parks

Wideleine is the second Leon Levy Fellow for Great Parks in the Outreach & Programs Department. The Fellows for Great Parks program is generously funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. Prior to joining NY4P, Wideleine worked at Partnerships for Parks as the Summer Community Programs Assistant, aiding residents throughout the five boroughs advocate on behalf of their local park. Originally from Florida, Wideleine spent two years in Texas completing her Master’s at the University of Texas in Community and Regional Planning. A recent transplant to Bed-Stuy, Wideleine now spends her free time exploring Brooklyn with her dog, Zayn.

Why did you join New Yorkers for Parks?

I had previously seen the Outreach & Programs team on a panel discussing the City’s capital process. I was in awe at how outspoken and honest the team spoke about the weaknesses in the capital process in a room with high-level city officials. I joined the NY4P team because I love parks and open spaces more than anything, and during that panel, I saw that NY4P did, too. 

What’s your favorite part of living in New York?

My favorite part about living in New York is that I am always just a train away from a different part of the world. Growing up I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to interact with many different cultures, but in New York, on any given day, I can go from Greenwich to Greece to Kensington to Kingston in 30 minutes. 

What are some of the issues facing New York that you’re most passionate about?

While many issues are facing New York City, one of the issues that I am very passionate about is housing affordability. As is commonly known, shelter is a basic need – like food and water - for someone to live. Yet many of the people that we interact with on a day-to-day basis are struggling to live in the five boroughs due to the cost of housing. The City of New York has been working for years to alleviate the housing crisis in the city, but until the homeless population begins to lower and not a single person is burdened by the cost of housing, affordability will remain an issue for the city. 

Why do you think parks are important for healthy cities?

Parks are important for healthy cities because they bring communities together and create opportunities for healthy activities to take place. Parks give New Yorkers a place to get out and get moving. Many school playgrounds around the city do not have access to any grassy places for children to play. In a city where having a backyard is an amenity, parks offer a place for friends to share and families to bond.  While in other parts of the country parks are important for healthy cities, in New York City parks are necessary. 

What’s your favorite park?

Prospect Park is my favorite park because of the variety of people who come into the park. Bordered by a different beautiful neighborhood on each side I enjoy spending lazy days sleeping, reading, or people-watching at the park.

If you could be a park animal, which would you be?

I would be your average run of the mill squirrel. I’d spend my days taunting dogs, stealing French fries, and sleeping in trees.