Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mary Spink

During the rezoning of the East Village, many supporters of the plan expressed their disagreement with me, often caustically. Mary only once confronted me on it.

She didn't defend her view, she didn't attack mine. She didn't mention the rezoning at all. Taking a step back, turning to me, she tossed her head up, staring right at me as if accusing, "I know what you're doing" she said. I braced for the worst. "You're standing for what you believe," and, as if she were ordering me around, "you're going to fight, you're going to fight for your principles. That's what you're doing."

We all already knew the issues. We all already knew our differences. We all already knew where we stood, and we all already knew why. What else was there to say?

Those were the best and smartest words anyone ever said to me during the rezoning of the East Village.
After the rezoning was implemented, I went to the Community Board in support of a social service building that Mary was planning on my block. I was the only local person who spoke. A few weeks later, she told me that that support was useful at the Borough President's review. She was immensely happy about it, and I was gratified to have played some part, however small. So she invited me to her annual award ceremony. And that's how I got to see a bit of what she had created. It was kind of wonderful -- especially the educational awards, encouraging young adults to succeed in college -- what Mary accomplished.

At the memorial, held at the Great Hall of Cooper Union, with a good few hundred in attendance, it was clear that she inspired many with the same sentiments as mine: I respected her, I admired her, I liked her a lot, and I will miss her.

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