The Bright Light of the Future

The November issue of the East End Beacon is always a quandary for us. Because we are a monthly publication, it is quite possible you will be reading this after votes are cast in one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime.

As of our November printing, we don’t know much about the outcome, and by Tuesday, you will likely know far more than we do now. 

But the uncertainty we feel every year as we put this issue to bed is likely to continue at least until mid-November as all ballots are counted.

In the waning days of this brutal campaign season, we’ve begun to look forward to the end of political posturing and the clarity this election will bring, no matter who wins, on all the vitally important work we will still have ahead of us to heal our deeply wounded nation. 

That work can’t begin until the voters have their say, but outlining what that work must be is something we have well within our grasp.

Our rapidly changing climate (atmospherically that is, not politically) has always been at the forefront of The Beacon’s coverage, because climate change truly does pose an existential risk to the future of the East End. 

In the absence of federal leadership, state and local governments have been at the forefront of the effort to combat climate change in the past four years, setting targets for the use of renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels.

New York is banking on offshore wind to provide this renewable energy, and as of this writing the state had just received a slew of bids for new projects. Offshore wind is set to reshape Long Island’s energy economy, and it is important that it be done right, protecting fishing grounds and providing power to the grid where it is needed most.

But offshore wind is far from the only tool in our toolbox. Advanced battery technology and new choices for electric vehicles are making it easier than ever for individual people to reduce their carbon footprint, investing in solar panels and batteries at home that can soon make having a grid tie-in obsolete. These systems also have the benefit of acting as a home generator after a storm — without the fumes of an old-school diesel generator.

We’re finding better ways to insulate our homes, to reduce the energy necessary to run our appliances and to mow our lawns and trim our hedges. 

Most East End governments are hard at work becoming state-certified Climate Smart Communities. A nudge from the citizens will go a long way toward encouraging municipalities to make the kind of changes you can also make in your own home. Schools could use these nudges too. This is just the beginning of the green energy revolution. We all have a role to play.

The furor over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has died down here since June, and on the East End we’ve been seeing more displays of support for our police than for Black lives in recent months.

These two ideas shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. We can support good police while supporting reforms that give our police forces the tools to behave in a more just manner.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated that every municipality with a police department in the state review its practices and sit down and engage with the community it polices to learn where the relationship isn’t working, and take steps to fix what’s broken.

This process doesn’t work if it isn’t a real, honest dialogue, and it doesn’t work if one side or the other doesn’t show up to talk. Opportunities to talk with your local police task force are beginning this month. If you marched in the street in June, now’s the time to have your voice heard by the people who make the rules. The task forces have just until April 1, 2021 to report back to the state. Now is the time to push for change.

Covid-wise, this is looking more and more like it will be a long, cold winter. Schools here are already on rolling lockdowns as students and staff test positive for the virus, and the cold weather is just beginning. Congress has not yet passed much-needed stimulus funding, long-term East End residents are losing their homes to city escapees, and our tourist economy is about to enter the off-season.

Remember the compassion and can-do, community spirit you were able to muster back in April? It’s going to be needed this winter much more than it ever was needed this past spring. 

Rest up for a few days, watch the election returns roll in, then put on a fresh pair of socks, lace up your shoes and get out there and help us all get through to brighter days.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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