General Project Description And Selection Policy

This project will examine the various environmentalist, conservationist movements on Staten Island throughout its history. For at least one hundred years, various people have studied Staten Island’s natural settings, and many have called for the conservation or preservation of these areas. As the Island began to develop in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, increased construction threatened to demolish large parts of the ecosystem. However, since that time, many individuals and groups have been responsible not only for the preservation of the remaining natural territory, but also for expanding parks and wildlife refuges in order to maintain as much of the Island’s ecology as possible. The relative obscurity of these movements belies their significant impact on the environment of Staten Island and on the lives of its residents, including the recent defeat of a proposal to construct a NASCAR track on the Island. This project proposes to both bring their labors to the attention of researchers and to show to how the efforts of a few people can have a special effect on the course of development in an increasingly urban area.

Selection will be based firstly on the scope or range of the materials in question. More general materials, because they provide a wider view into the lives of the participants and the ideas behind their respective movements, will be given greater weight than more specific materials. Essentially, if the topic of a document is broad, it has a greater chance of being selected for this project. In addition, the documents must somehow relate to Staten Island’s environment or to the groups established to preserve it. This includes materials created by the various groups, including newsletters, brochures, petitions, and correspondence, as well as items created by other organizations or individuals that relate in some way to the environmental movement, such as photographs (especially of landscapes or natural scenes), newspaper articles, governmental reports or memoranda, and more. One of the practical limitations to the selection process is the availability of material. Although a large amount of material is available on this subject, it is unclear if it will be easy to locate and acquire. Even though copyright is probably not a major concern, discovering where a document is may prove too difficult to include it in the project.

This project seems significant for several reasons. As mentioned, Staten Island is a rapidly growing borough of New York City, and the efforts of environmentalist groups attempt to ensure that this occurs in a responsible way. Conservation is at present an issue on Staten Island, and seeing how these groups approached the situation in the past can inform present activities. In addition, information about these groups is difficult to come by, and creating a digital resource can enable researchers and other interested parties to learn about these movements from a single source. It is important to note that this project includes all manner of environmental groups, and need not be confined to a small number of people or documents. It can expand as needed not only to include more information about Staten Island, but also a greater number of groups in the city and region.

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