Tell us about yourself.
My name is Mamnunul (Mamnun) Haq. I immigrated to the US from Bangladesh twenty two years ago and live on Ocean Parkway, in Kensington, Brooklyn with my wife and children. I’m working as a Community Health Worker for the DREAM Project at the Center for the Study of Asian American Health, NYU School of Medicine, carrying out research and health promotion intervention activities with study participants.
I was a full time NYC yellow medallion taxi cab driver prior to working at NYU and was also a co-founder of the largest taxi drivers union, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), and worked to develop and organize over 17,000 members through community outreach, media campaigns and political/legal advocacy. I’m a long time organizer and a leader of the Bangladeshi community in Kensington as well as NYC. I’m also the coordinator of the city wide outreach committee of Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) and a member of Brooklyn Community Board 12.
How did you first get involved in PB, and why?
I received a call from my Councilmember Brad Lander who is a champion of PBNYC, and he explained how he would like to spend a million dollars from his discretionary funds in our collective community through PBNYC. He asked me if I would join with him in the process. It was a new and interesting process that aimed to directly involve community members. The Bangladeshi community is often left behind and less likely to take part in civic engagement and election processes. As a leader of the community, I thought the PB process would be a great way to get them involved as well as work as a stepping stone to future civic engagement opportunities.
It was heartwarming and inspiring to see members of varied immigrant communities come out and vote. Many of these community members are not fortunate enough to be able to vote in local, state and federal elections.
What did you end up doing in the PB process?
I attended community events to talk about PB and explain why it is so important for us to participate. I worked with faith-based organizations (Mosques) and community organizations to make this process more successful and relevant to its community members. In the past few years of the PB process, I have worked as a budget delegate, district committee member, and most recently, as a city wide steering committee member representing council district 39 – all working to implement the PB process efficiently and effectively.
What most surprised you about your experience with PB?
I was happily surprised by how the PB process allows community members to directly dictate where they want their tax dollars spent. It is always wonderful to see people of all backgrounds come out to support these integral projects, be it for school bathrooms, cleaner parks, or safer streets. This is different from my previous experiences with community engagement because it is truly based on community building and the response has been positive all around. People enjoy having a hand in deciding how their communities are improved.
What were the biggest impacts of PB on the community? On you as a person?
It was heartwarming and inspiring to see members of the varied immigrant communities in council district 39, especially Kensington, come out to vote. Many of these community members are not fortunate enough to be able to vote in local, state and federal elections. Because of the PB process, these community members received the opportunity to have a voice in deciding where money is allocated in their neighborhoods and their district. It was easy to see the glow on their faces and the happiness they felt in taking part in a truly democratic process.
– November 2013
Photo by Adam Stoltman.