The Roaring 20[00]s

All but since its inception, CUER has been involved in working to address issues of noise in New York City, particularly with regards to the effects of elevated subway noise on elementary schools. Noise is an inevitable part of urban living and is something with which essentially any New Yorker contends, whether in Manhattan, or in Bayside, Queens. The New York Times has even recently been revisiting the broad impacts of noise throughout the City. The dangerous effects of noise have been well documented (see, e.g., the list of publications at GrowNYC) and yet people either do not seem to listen or think they are powerless to act against noise. After all, the roaring din has long existed. As Gizmodo points out, one can now escape the sounds of today and hear how New York sounded over 80 years ago. Certain noise complaints are even documented.

However, complaints are not the only way to address the problem. Noise is a form of pollution, and ever since Americans have increasingly looked to the government to deal with social ills instead of traditional tort suits, New Yorkers can likewise look to their city  and state government to further address the problem. Like any citizen-based campaign, it takes participation and patience, and the knowledge of how to get involved. Sometimes something as simple as a letter to your elected official might be enough; a neighborhood petition could be even better. Attending public meetings is another way to involve oneself in the process. Calling 311 to lodge a complaint is beneficial but also goes only so far. Many sources of noise are beyond the strictures of the City’s Noise Code and thus are beyond the ability of the City to respond. On the one hand, it allows for a documented complaint of a type of noise and might be influential on what the government should regulate; on the other hand, I would not be surprised that most complaints that are of no avail are thrown out at least at the end of the year if not earlier. Thus, bringing the issue to the attention of those in power may be the best means for meaningful change. At other times, we can all pay attention to our effects on those around us–one voice in a large room may sound quiet, but thirty voices can be a roar. This roar can also be used to improve the fabric of life when turned into a viable message to those we elect to govern us.